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May 2014 eNewsletter

5 Tips that That Trigger Your Students to Revise

Help Us Win a Bammy Award!

California Approves WriteSteps on ELD list!

Freebie: Transition Words Poster

New Arrivals at WriteSteps!

Upcoming Conference Schedule
"If children are told to revise, it usually leads to corrected spelling and punctuation. We need to teach that revision means "to see again."
~Donald Graves, in Writing: Teachers and Children at Work

5 Tips that Trigger Your Students to Revise
Your students have spent hours working on a writing piece, and it's almost finished. They've poured their hearts and souls into it. Then, the final moment comes when they're asked to revise their work. The look of frustration and anger they give you is heart wrenching. You can see them imagining how good it would feel to throw their notebook at you, or toss in the towel and give up on their writing completely. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

Revising can be the most challenging writing skill to teach. Yet revising is essential. All writers do it, students need to learn how, and it's a Common Core Standard. Writing Standard 3.5 states that students should, "With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing."

How can you make revising more enticing for your students? Here are some tips I've learned that help:
  1. Tell your students this is the most exciting part of the writing process! I've said to my students, "All the hard thinking work has been done…now you get to go in and give it a makeover." We make revisions with blue markers so we can see the improvement, and I point out, "Even if we've only changed four things, we just improved this writing in four ways!"
  2. Emphasize the positives first. There are always parts of the draft that are so good that I tell the student, "Don't do a thing to it!" But then I'll say, "Now look back at the beginning of your piece; are you equally pleased with that?" Starting positive opens students up to looking at their own work through a different lens.
  3. Reinforce exactly what revising is. When teachers say revise, students tend to think, "What? Go back and erase half my piece?" Once they really know what revising looks like, they don't mind. Revising is:
    *substituting word choice
    *moving things around
    *deleting
  4. Let them know good writing doesn't happen automatically-it's a process. I remind my students frequently, "Right now we're in the planning stage," and "Now we're in the drafting phase," and "Now we're in the revising and editing phase."
  5. Connect it to their reading. I tell them: "We love great books like Because of Winn Dixie. Why? Because they're not in draft form! You've put all this work into your writing, so do it justice by polishing it for your audience."
We're Nominated for a Bammy EdTech Award and Would Appreciate Your Votes!
We've been nominated for a Bammy EdTech Award for best-in-class in the category of web sites and resources by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences! Want to change a child's future? You can by helping spread the word about our program by voting for us! We believe writing is one of the most important skills for children to have, and it was Suzanne Klein's (founder and former teacher) dream of helping her students become better writers that spurred the creation of WriteSteps.

Click here to vote for us! We know your time is extremely valuable and we appreciate the two minutes you take to vote for WriteSteps. Once you follow the link, there are directions on how to vote. Thank you for helping us spread the word about WriteSteps and helping us with our mission to empower K-5 teachers with writing and grammar lessons that provide children with the essential skills they need for a lifetime of confident writing. We wouldn't be able to reach students and teachers in classrooms across the nation if it weren't for you!

WriteSteps Approved for the California ELD Supplemental Instructional Materials Board List
It's official! We are now included on the California Department of Education's ELD Supplemental Instructional Materials State Recommended list!

Arlynn King, our fabulous Coaching Director, played a huge role in getting us approved. "Out of 12 programs, WriteSteps and three other programs were recommended," she explained. "We believe that WriteSteps is a program that's very helpful for English Language Learners. These students are being taught mainly in mainstream classrooms by general education teachers. WriteSteps is designed for these classrooms and these teachers."

General education teachers need programs that use time wisely, and teachers need to be able to enhance their students' English while teaching the core curriculum. Many experts say the best way to support ELLs is by using Reading Workshops and Writing Workshops (like WriteSteps). By using WriteSteps, California schools will be able to better serve the needs of all of their students.

WriteSteps Freebie: Transition Words Classroom Poster
Do your students sometimes struggle with transition words and phrases? This poster is a useful tool that will help them link their ideas with words, phrases and clauses. Hang it in your classroom so your students can refer to it during their writing. Click here to download your free poster.

New Arrivals: WriteSteps Welcomes our Youngest Team Member, Rose!
Rose King Villa is pictured in her green dress that the WriteSteps' team gave to welcome her into this beautiful world.
Rose King Villa was born with lightning speed on March 20th, weighing in at 6 lbs, 12 oz. She was welcomed with much fanfare by her 4-year-old sister, Ruby, who croons homespun love songs to her with titles such as "I Love You Really Much" and "Rose Is The Silliest Goose In Our House." Rose's dad is Rob Villa, our wonderful Implementation Specialist, and you also might know her Grandmother, Arlynn King. Rose brings to the team a sweet nature, infectious smile, and grand set of lungs. Congratulations to Rob and his family on their little bundle of joy!

Paige Dickens Joins WriteSteps!
We'd like to welcome one of our new Awareness Ambassadors Paige Dickens to the team! Paige is in charge of spreading the word about WriteSteps in central North Carolina.
Paige is pictured with her family on Mother's Day this year. "I'm very excited about this opportunity and feel that students will benefit immensely by becoming lifelong confident writers with WriteSteps!"
Paige comes to us with a Masters in Elementary Education and has experience as a consultant for a variety of education publishers focusing on grades kindergarten through 8th.

"As a student, writing wasn't fun for me and it was my least favorite subject in school," explains Paige. "I would love to help students who are discouraged when it comes to writing by introducing educators to WriteSteps. One thing that really attracted me to WriteSteps is that the entire program was written by educators. You can tell that the company works together as a whole and really loves what they do, especially through all of the educational experiences each team member brings with them."

Paige believes writing is an extremely important tool to possess in order to be successful in any profession. Outside of work, Paige spends time with her children and family, is involved in Crossfit, and loves participating in adventurous activities like mud runs, skydiving, and hiking.

Coming to a Conference Near You!
June 2-4, Washington D.C.
Founder and CEO, Suzanne Klein, will be attending the Content in Context Conference, located at the Capitol Hilton. If you are heading to the conference, make sure you say hello!

June 11-12, Austin, TX
Kim and Terry Gates will be at the Texas Elementary School Principals and Supervisors Conference at the Austin Renaissance Hotel to answer any questions you have about WriteSteps.

June 19, Madison, WI
Kresta Byington will be presenting "A Formula for Common Core Assessment Success" to attendees at the Quality Educator Convention. Make sure you come to her presentation at Morona Terrace to receive valuable tools to help with your Common Core assessment.

June 25-27, New Orleans, LA
Want to learn more about our Common Core writing and grammar program? Jerry Sudden-Loth will be exhibiting at our booth at the Staff Development for Educators Conference, located at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He'd love to talk to you about how we can help improve writing at your school!

June 29, Spokane, WA
Kresta Byington will be exhibiting in her home state of Washington at the Washington Association of School Administrators Conference, located at the Spokane Convention Center. Stop by our booth to learn how we provide students and K-5 educators with all of the tools they need to become effective writers and teachers in the 21st century.

June 29, Las Vegas, NV
Kim and Terry Gates will be in fabulous Las Vegas at the National Charter School Conference. WriteSteps will be a booth #1713 in Mandalay Bay. We look forward to seeing you there!


"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."
~John Powell, American Composer