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Write Cook

           Writing tools, tips, and tricks!


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New School Year

Posted on September 6, 2015 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (13)
Greetings to all,

The new school year has begun. I wish all teachers, parents, and students a wonderful and successful teaching and learning experience.

My teaching resources continue to be available through my website and my Teachers Pay Teachers Store: 

I'm no longer tutoring or posting tutoring lessons on this blog. Instead I'll be posting occasional writing-related comments and product announcements.

Happy writing!

Write Cook

National Poetry Month

Posted on March 29, 2015 at 6:27 PM Comments comments (0)
Dear students, parents, and teachers,

State testing is over (for now). I'm enjoying a well-deserved break, and I trust you all are too.

April is National Poetry Month. Scholastic has great poetry activity ideas for teachers.

Also, go to my poetry page (Scrumptious Poetry) and check out my free poetry resources, plus I have similar resources for sale in my TPT store:

The National Poetry Month website has celebration suggestions and cool posters:

Here's the poem on this year's poster:

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

It reminds me of the poem "How to Eat a Poem" by Eve Merriam:

Don't be polite.  
Bite in.  
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that  
May run down your chin.  
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.  

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon  
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.  

For there is no core  
or stem  
or rind  
or pit  
or seed  
or skin  
to throw away. 

April is the perfect month to write some scrumptious poetry. I know I will!

Happy writing,

Write Cook

Happy new year, writer!

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 12:57 PM Comments comments (0)
Dear students, parents, and teachers,

Happy new year!

I love my new job as librarian. I get the chance to do reading advisory (helping students find books that they'll enjoy and that'll make them better readers), share books I love with students and teachers, and discover and read new books. Plus I enjoy the process of maintaining the library. It all makes me very happy. 

Because of my workload, I'll be blogging less from now on, and, since I'm not tutoring students at present, I'll not be posting lessons, but rather interesting "stuff" having to do with writing.

So here we go:

A fun writing exercise:

Walk around the school or your neighborhood pretending to be a detective or a spy. Notice everything around you: the surroundings, the people, the noises, the smells. Write down anything you find interesting, including actions and conversations. Add lots of descriptive details.  

This exercise will help you become a better observer, an important quality in a writer.

Later, take a look at your notes. They may spark an idea for a story or a poem. 

Also, read books about detectives (Young Sherlock Holmes, Harriet the Spy, etc) to learn about how they observe the world around them.

Most importantly: have fun!

Write Cook

Goals and Plans

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, young writers,

It's been a while since my last post. This past summer I taught a fun writing class on creating stories through comics. I learned a lot of new things about comic books and even created my own! I'll share some of the skills I learned while teaching in one of my next posts. 

In August I started working as part-time middle school librarian. I love it! I've been very busy, but also quite happy. I had to put my writing and blogging  on hold for a while, but now that I'm getting the hang of things at my new job, I'm ready to get back on the writing saddle.

I trust that you're all improving your writing skills by working diligently on your school writing assignments. Be grateful for your education and always do the best you can. You will not regret it.

Because the school year is well on its way, I thought it would be a good idea to pause and reflect on our goals as writers.

My Writing Goals:

1- Schedule a time to write, and fight for it. (A writer must battle distractions, interruptions, and procrastination.)

2- Add to each of my blogs (I have four!) at least once a month (one blog each week).

3- Revise, edit, and publish my present writing projects.

4- Read, read, read!

5- Start writing something new. Get in the writing zone. Have fun!

Now it's your turn. What are your goals? Write them down. I'll give you an example:

Your Writing Goals:

1- Schedule a time to write, and fight for it.

2- Keep a journal.

3- Revise, edit, and complete present school writing assignments/projects.

4- Read, read, read!

5- Start a fun personal writing project. 

Notice that these goals are very similar to mine. That's because a writer is a writer is a writer -- no matter the experience or age. :)

That said, here are my writing suggestions for the month of October:

1- Write down your writing goals.
2- Get ready to achieve those goals: organize your desk and gather your writing materials. Start a writer's notebook if you haven't already done so.

3- Read something awesome by a writer who inspires you to write.
4- Start a fun personal writing project: a collection of poems, a story, a memoir, a comic book, etc.

Happy writing!

Write Cook

Grammar Review

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 3:28 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, students, parents, and teachers,

I trust you're all enjoying your summer vacation! 

If you'd like to review and improve your grammar skills in preparation for the new school year, go to the lessons I posted last summer. Start with the lesson titled Nouns and Pronouns posted June 10, 2013.

Have a great 4th of July. I will post again after Labor Day. 

Write Cook

Fun with Poetry

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 2:31 PM Comments comments (0)
Dear students, parents, and teachers,

Studying the language of poetry was fun. You'll be spending the last weeks of the school year writing poems (even more fun!) that showcase what you've learned, especially the use of imagery. Your poems may be on any topic, but should incorporate sensory details (descriptions that appeal to the five senses) and figurative language (similes, metaphors, etc.)

The following documents will help:

Writing Poetry (PDF — 219 KB)


And here you'll find examples to inspire you:

Have fun writing and sharing your poems!

Write Cook

Poetry Break

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 10:31 PM Comments comments (6)
Dear students, parents, and teachers,

I trust you all had a wonderful spring break. 

Let's take a respite from essay writing:

One great way to develop language usage is to study and write poetry. Many elements of poetry can be applied to writing fiction and nonfiction. Writing poetry also helps us develop an eye for revision. Plus it's a fun and wonderful way to express our feelings and our view of the world.

So how about following spring break with a bit of poetry?

Begin by learning a few things about poetry:

About Poetry (PDF — 176 KB)

Reading Poetry (PDF — 170 KB)

Then, check out and enjoy a few awesome poetry collections and anthologies from the library. 

Finally, chose a few poems that you particularly like, and identify the reasons you have for liking them (the rhythm? the rhyme? the words? the message?).

This month you'll study poetry. Next month you'll write it. Fun times!

Write Cook

Time for State Assessments

Posted on March 2, 2014 at 8:49 PM Comments comments (0)
Dear students, parents, and teachers,

Best wishes to all who are taking the state assessments in the next few weeks. 

Here are a few documents to help you review how to write a persuasive essay:

And here are a few tips on getting ready for the tests:

1- Get a good night's sleep.

2- Have a protein-rich, nutritious breakfast. For example:
-one egg (hard-boiled or scrambled) or a couple of slices of ham or turkey
-one slice of whole-wheat toast 
-low-sugar cereal
-low-fat milk
-a small serving of fruit or fruit juice

3- Wear comfortable clothes.

4- If possible, don't sit next to students who could distract you.

5- Take a few relaxing deep breaths before the test.

6- Pace yourself: don't rush, but don't spend too much time on any section.

7- Apply what you've learned. 

8- For the writing section: Follow the writing process, but don't spend too much time planning (15 minutes should be enough). Allow enough time to revise.

9- For the reading section: Skim the questions before reading the selection.

10- For multiple-choice questions: Answer the ones you're sure of first. Then go back and tackle the troublesome ones. Don't make wild guesses; use the process of elimination and narrow down your choices.

I'll post again after Spring Break. Enjoy your vacation -- I know I will! :)

Write Cook


Revision Rocks

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 9:23 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, students, parents, and teachers,

I've spent the last three weeks testing middle school students in reading and writing. A problem I've noticed is that most students complete the first draft of their writing tasks, and then they're done. Almost no one goes back to reread and revise their writing, even when they have plenty of time left to do so. 

That makes me sad.

Revision is an important part of the writing process. It's the difference between a partially proficient paper and a proficient one or a proficient paper and an advanced one. Revision significantly improves the quality of a written response, whether it's a simple paragraph or a lengthy essay. Revision rocks, period.

Writing is hard and mentally exhausting, but when we're taking a test, we must push ourselves to try our best up to the very end. Every precious minute counts. We must revise and revise and make our writing better and better all the way to the last remaining second. Slacking off is not an option if we want to do well on a test!

We could argue that because students take lots of tests--perhaps too many--it's okay if they slack off every once in a while. But the thing is that each and every test can be a learning experience and an opportunity for students to move to the next level of independent performance. Tests in elementary school prepare students for middle school; tests in middle school prepare students for high school; tests in high school prepare students for college. So, no, it's not okay to slack off. 

When we (myself included) realize that tests are unique learning opportunities (a chance for focused, independent work), our attitude changes, and we become more motivated and engaged. We want to do better (i.e., revise our writing) because we're doing it for ourselves.

That said, I believe that most students want to do their very best on every test they take. However, because writing is hard and revision can be overwhelming, they don't go back and reread and improve their writing. It's not that they're slacking off; they just don't don't know how to tackle that next step of the writing process (or perhaps they feel insecure because they haven't practiced it enough).

What those students need is an easy plan that they can effectively use to revise any form of writing. The following documents may help:

Students: I'll post again in a couple of weeks and share documents on the persuasive essay in preparation for the state assessments (more tests!). Until then, practice revising paragraphs and essays you have already written. Remember: Revision rocks! 

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Write Cook

Plagiarism and Essay Writing

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, students, parents, and teachers,

First of all, happy 2014!

We'll be spending the first three months of the new year reviewing how to write expository and persuasive essays.

But before we begin, we must define and understand an important term: plagiarism.

Plagiarism means to use (to copy or to paraphrase) another person's original words or ideas in your writing (or any other form of communication) as though they were your own (without crediting or citing the source or sources of the words or ideas you used). 

Common-knowledge information, however, does not need to be credited or cited. For example, a writer wouldn't need to credit the idea that rain comes from clouds (since it's common knowledge), but would need to cite his/her source(s) of information if he/she were to explain the process in scientific terms (not common knowledge). 

The following websites will shed more light on what plagiarism is and how to avoid it:

Here's a document on creating a "works cited" page.

And this visual is especially useful:

Remember that plagiarism is wrong because it's both stealing and lying. Plus, you can't learn to write well if all you do is copy someone else's writing. In other words, when you cheat, you cheat yourself out of learning. And you'll probably get caught. So instead, trust yourself to do your very best writing, and cite your sources.

Now on to the expository essay. An expository essay is a multi-paragraph paper that presents, explains, or analyzes information (personal or not; researched or of common knowledge) on a particular subject.

The following documents will help you review how to write a proficient five-paragraph expository essay. Study them and then plan and write the first draft of a personal or common-knowledge (no research; no need to cite) expository essay on a topic of your choice.

Steps to Writing a PAPER (PDF — 59 KB)

Ideas for Writing a Hook (PDF — 102 KB)

Methods of Elaboration (PDF — 98 KB)

Paragraph vs. Essay (PDF — 85 KB)

Next month we'll take a look at the revision process and move on to the persuasive essay.

Happy writing,

Write Cook