A Casework Book for Coaches & A Giveaway

Casework CoverCasework in K-6 Writing Instruction, edited by Jenifer Jasinski Schneider, is a great book for any literacy coach’s bookshelf. The book describes nineteen different classroom vignettes, all centered around writing instruction.  For example, one case describes the launching of a kindergarten writing workshop, while another case describes a one-on-one conference with a struggling writer.  Here is a sampling of some of the other case titles:

  • “Not Your Grandmother’s Writing Lesson: Teaching Concepts and Conventions through Digital Interactive Writing (First Grade)”
  • “‘This isn’t what we normally do:’ Test Preparation and the Teaching of Writing (Fourth Grade)”
  • “Hot and Spicy Words: Motivating Writing and Vocabulary Development (Fifth Grade)”

Some, but not all, of the topics covered in the cases are balanced literacy, prompted writing, digital writing, word study, student choice, conferring with writers and mentor texts.  Each case includes a narrative account of the classroom, as well as direct transcripts of both student and teacher language.  Following each case is a set of discussion questions.  For example, “What strategies could you use to prevent revision from becoming punishment for your students?” or “In this lesson, how are the Common Core Standards addressed?”  Finally, each case is concluded with a section titled Reflection, which highlights some of the key concepts of writing instruction which are featured in the case.  This Reflection section connects the cases to current writing research and theory.  The cases included are very realistic and often imperfect.  The book also contains a “Common Core Crosswalk” which highlights the relevant CCSS for each case.  I especially appreciated this feature, making the book very user friendly for any literacy leader looking to use the book for staff development around the CCSS.

Literacy coaches or administrators could use this book in a number of ways:

  • Cases could be read and discussed at weekly staff meetings as a jumping off point for larger issues in the field of writing.
  • PLNs could use this book to discuss effective (or ineffective) writing instruction.  The cases could be dissected and debated in study groups.
  • Certain cases could be used to illustrate the application of the CCSS in any school still working to implement the CCSS.
  • Grade-level teams could read and discuss the cases relevant to their grades.
  • A review of a case along with a “What would you have done differently?” discussion among teacher teams.

The book is very easy to navigate and will be great fodder for discussion in any learning community.


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Casework in K-6 Writing Instruction.  Many thanks to Jenifer Jasinski Schneider for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Casework in K-6 Writing Instruction, please leave a comment about this post by Monday, January 26 at 11:59 p.m. CST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Wednesday, January 28th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, Jenifer Schneider will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of COACHING CORNER BLOG – (Casework in K-6 Writing Instruction). Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are closed.

Congratulations to the winner of Casework in K-6 Writing Instruction, Kristina Sacks.  Her comment was:

The digital interactive writing in 1st grade sounds amazing. I can’t wait!


Reading Logs

I decided at the start of the new year to track my reading on Goodreads.  I’ve tried unsuccessfully to log my reading before, but I never stuck with it.  One reason I want to track my reading is to see exactly how many books I read in a year.  I’m just curious.  Since I’m thinking about reading logs, I decided to create my next installment of PD for the Potty using my favorite designing tool, Canva.  I’m hanging these posters in the staff bathrooms this afternoon.

Created using Canva.  Click on image to enlarge.

Created using Canva. Click on image to enlarge.

EdCamp Tidbits

I attended the EdCamp Chicago “unconference” this past weekend.  It was my first time going to an EdCamp, and I am so glad I went.  The last session I participated in was for instructional coaches, and I wanted to share two quick and easy tidbits for coaches.

First, we discussed the importance of coaches being visible in their schools.  One of the participants noted that even when coaches are out of the office and working in classrooms, they are technically still not visible.  Very often, the only person who sees the coach during those times is the classroom teacher.  I’ve always posted my weekly schedule outside my office door:


Click image to enlarge.

However, one of the coaches at EdCamp suggested hanging a white board on the office door with a message stating your whereabouts.   This is one way to increase your “visibility” as a coach:


The second tidbit straight from EdCamp (and this is really exciting!) is that we created a new Twitter hashtag for coaches to use.  It is#IlEdCoach.  Add this hashtag to your TweetDeck to stay up to date on coaching conversations!


Book Chats

We just completed our first round of PLCs/Study Groups.   Teachers could choose which Study Group to participate in:

Study Groups

Each group is reading a professional book and meeting as a team to discuss the reading.  Since we know that learners need time and opportunity to practice new learning, we are also incorporating classroom visits and “try it our self” time into each Study Group.

One of the groups is reading Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne.  We read and discussed the first four chapters last week.  In Chapter 3, Steven writes about teachers giving book chats in their classrooms.  I had asked teachers to bring their favorite book with them to the Study Group, and we practiced writing Book Chats.  Here is our Intermediate Special Ed teacher practicing the beginning of her Book Chat on us:

Can’t you just imagine her students – especially the boys – clamoring for that book?  Here is another teacher (4th grade) practicing her Book Chat:

Well, I want to know what really happened!

Aren’t they great?  I really admire teachers who are willing to jump in, give it a go, and try something new.  Well done, teachers.  Bravo.

PD for the Potty

This week’s bathroom poster:


Just giving the staff something to think about while they… sit.

Study Groups

Our PLC model has undergone some shifts in recent years.  About five years ago, we had no cohesive model.  Then, we adopted a Lab Teacher Program for a couple of years.  While that model did have its successes, there were some obstacles to its implementation.  Last year, that Lab Teacher Program sort of morphed into Study Groups, where small teams of teachers met periodically to learn more about a topic.  For example, one group studied a couple of the Common Core State Standards and another group studied conferring with young readers.  The best part of these groups was that after we did some learning around the topic, we went into the classrooms to see a lesson or a conference in action.  The best way to learn is to get your feet wet, right?

This year, we are keeping the Study Group format (small groups of teachers, classroom practice in action), but we are adding a professional text to guide the learning component.  The idea is that we will read the book, discuss the major concepts, and then get into some classrooms and try it out.  This might mean we plan a lesson together and watch a colleague teach it, or maybe do some one-on-one conferences using the fishbowl method, or maybe watch a demo lesson done by the literacy coach.

To generate some interest, I hung mysterious signs in the bathrooms last week:

Study Groups

At Monday’s staff meeting, I will book talk each of the chosen books.  Teachers will choose one of the study groups to participate in, or they may choose the sixth “opt out” option.  I find that having the teachers make their decision before leaving the staff meeting usually increases participation.  This way, nobody forgets to sign up or loses the sign-up sheet in a sea of ungraded papers.

I hand-picked our professional texts off of my bookshelf, picking five of my favorite books for teachers.  Our options for this year are:

Hows It Going

Talking to Writers (3-8)

This study group will work to improve our one-on-one writing conferences.  Conferring with young writers is an art that takes practice and time to develop.  Let’s get our feet wet together!  We will learn a format for conducting a writing conference, and we will learn how to teach students their role in a writing conference.  We will use the book How’s It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers by Carl Anderson as our guide.


About_the_AuthorsWriting Workshop for the Youngest Children (K-2)

This study group will examine the intricacies of writing workshop in the primary grades.  The focus will be on making books, and we will take a detailed look at routines, minilessons, and assessment in K-2 classrooms.  We will also look at some specific units of study and some excellent mentor texts we can use in our classrooms!  We will use About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray to guide our learning.



IgnitingA Love of Books (3-8)

This study group will learn how to create a culture of literacy and a love for reading in your classroom.  If you’ve always wanted the kind of classroom where kids are excited about reading and books, this study group is for you! We will learn how to give great book chats and how to really get to know the readers in our classrooms.   Our learning will center on Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne.



What Readers Really DoAuthentic Readers

This study group will learn how to meet some of the Common Core State Standards, while keeping authentic reading experiences at the heart of their classrooms.  We will learn how readers infer, develop notions about theme, and work their way out of confusion.  We will practice some of these reading experiences ourselves and then go into the classrooms to teach kids how to be real readers.  We will use What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton as our guide.


Celebrating WritersLet’s Celebrate!

This study group will work to make our writing workshops places of joy and celebration.  We will discover ways to build a true community of writers.  We will learn about celebrating not only finished pieces of writing, but also learn how to find and celebrate all the successes along the way.  If you are looking to put fun and excitement in your workshop, this book is for you.  Let’s look at student work through a lense of celebration!  We will learn from Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres.


I am feeling really good about these selections and the current PLC model.  Stay tuned for updates throughout the year…



Bathroom PD

Being the sole literacy coach in a K-8 building, I am always trying to think of ways to reach more teachers.  This year, I decided to meet them where they are… in the bathroom.  I hung the first of many professional development posters this week.  I hung the posters on the refrigerator doors in the teachers’ lounge, and I hung them directly across from the toilets in the bathroom.  I figured it would give the teachers something to think about while they… sat.

This week’s poster highlighted the 5 parts to a successful mini-lesson:

Bathroom PD Minilesson

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