Margin Notes

Hacking The Writing Workshop


Angela Stockman defines future-ready writers as “courageous explorers who know how to sit with discomfort.  They’re other-centered and attuned to inequity and privilege.  They’re committed to learning more about those who are different from them and experiences they’ve never had, to create things that change the way people think and feel and live.  They consider the consequences of only writing about what they know.  They consider whose voices are missing, whose stories need to be told, and who is disenfranchised.  They write for the world, not for themselves or the small audiences they find inside of their classrooms, homes, and local communities.”  In Hacking the Writing Workshop: Redesigning with Making in Mind, Angela Stockman outlines ten hacks for creating environments where these writers develop:

  • Hack 1: Designing a Future-Ready Workshop
  • Hack 2: Recognize and Engage the Maker in Your Midst
  • Hack 3: Renovate Your Space
  • Hack 4: Create a Writer-Centered Workshop
  • Hack 5: Build a Better Notebook
  • Hack 6: Co-Create a Just-Right Curriculum
  • Hack 7: Make Room for Serious Play
  • Hack 8: Tinker Through the Process
  • Hack 9: Uncover and Share Learning Stories
  • Hack 10: Frame Better Feedback


Book Relays


Why Relays?

In Teaching Reading Using YA Literature, Jennifer Buehler uses the expression “teacher as matchmaker” to describe the work we do to connect students with books. She says, “If we as teachers truly want to support teens as readers, we must develop broad, deep, personalized book knowledge.  As we build this knowledge, it makes sense to invest a good portion of our effort in building knowledge of young adult literature.”  In other words, if we want to match kids to books, we need to know the books they will want to read.

We’ve previously written about recognizing and addressing our reading gaps and the necessity of reading well outside of our personal comfort zone.  This helps us to have conversations about books with all the students in our classroom and make recommendations to them based on their individual interests and needs as readers.

How it Works

I puzzled over how to give the middle level teachers I work with the opportunity to sample a (more…)

Young Canada Reads at Fredericton High School


Here at Margin Notes, we love the opportunity to celebrate students as reading ambassadors, so we were very excited to hear that four Fredericton High School students are participating in the local youth version of CBC’s Canada Reads. Each reader has chosen a Canadian novel to champion:

Sarah Kelly – Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Juliette Tristant-Akret – All the Things We Leave Behind by Riel Nason

Patricia Forestell – Saint and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Jake Dow- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

You can hear them talk about their books on CBC’s Information Morning this week and you can show your support by voting for them on the CBC Facebook page until Friday. Their book pitches will be aired on the Daily Roar video announcements at FHS this week as well.

These four students are doing an outstanding job representing FHS and youth in general as articulate and insightful readers. We are very appreciative that CBC Fredericton has created a forum for teens to engage in authentic reading talk and we look forward to seeing how this programme grows!

You can read more on the CBC Website

Spread the word to your fellow book lovers!

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman


Sammy Wallach is feeling the pressure of looming AP exams and wondering if Jamie Moss is going to ask her to Junior Prom.  Things aren’t much better at home.  The bank where her dad is CEO has been targeted by protesters and that’s creating tension for everyone.  On top of all that, her best friend got tickets to see their favourite band, but Sammy’s parents have forbidden her from going.

Things quickly get far worse than Sammy ever could have expected when one of the protest groups hacks into the Wallach family’s private cloud and posts everything online—texts, emails, and, worst of all, Sammy’s diary.  Not only are Sammy’s innermost thoughts exposed to the world, but she also becomes privy to email conversations between her parents that they never meant for anyone else to read, especially their children.

In Case You Missed It invites us to reflect on how we differentiate between our public (more…)

Conversations about Artifacts of Learning- Write Like a Filmmaker


This is a summary of our first conversation about artifacts of student learning as part of our Visible Learning project with our colleagues Michelle Wuest and Shelley Hanson and their Grade 11 students at Leo Hayes High School.  You can read a description of the project here: Making Learning Visible

In making our own learning visible, we decided to follow a protocol based on the Project Zero See-Think-Wonder thinking routine to structure our conversations and capture our thinking and reflections.  We recorded the conversation and I summarized our observations, wonderings, and reflections.

 Description of Artifact

 Inspired by the opening credits of “Dexter” and the way the scene is set through a combination of long, medium, and short shots, Michelle created an assignment that invited students to “write like filmmakers.” (more…)

Read Like a Teacher of Writing


The title of this post comes from one of my all-time favorite professional resources, What You Know by Heart by Katie Wood Ray.  It is the title of Chapter 6 where we are reminded:

“Every time we see writing, we are seeing examples of what’s possible in writing, and so we have to read the texts we encounter across our lives differently than other people.  We read these texts like teachers of writing.  We are on the lookout for interesting ways to approach the writing, interesting ways to craft sentences and paragraphs and whole texts, interesting ways to bring characters to life or make time move or get a point across.  When we read, we are always on the lookout—whether we intend to be or not—for interesting things we might teach our students how to do” (Wood Ray, 90).

In September, when I was setting up a new writer’s notebook, I created a space to record mentor text possibilities I find while I’m reading.  I am challenging myself to record them when I discover them so that I am only noticing but also naming the choices I see the writer making.  Plus, when I write them down, I know I can find them later when I am looking for them!  Here are four examples from my recent reading: (more…)