Stacy Mozer dives deep into ways to enrich your writers' workshop, why it's important to develop a relationship with your local librarian, and how reading is a writing and a teaching superpower.
My mind is 100% on school right now. I'm thinking about how I can make this school year better than last year, and one way to do that is by facilitating a better writers' workshop. Stacy gives listeners a ton of tips in this episode including offering students a smorgasbord of planners, how to help students develop multiple leads or hooks or attention grabbers, and how to help individual students revise in whole group settings-wow! Listening to Stacy was just what I needed to get me jazzed up for writing with my students.
Many podcast guests have talked about how getting to know their local librarian helped them research their books, but Stacy's librarian story is different. Her local librarian taught her about children's publishing. Granted, not everyone's local librarian is a member of the Sibert Committee or the Caldecott Committee. Nevertheless, the point is librarians have knowledge, and they're more than happy to share it. So, be sure to ask them for help.
Superpowers! We all have them. One of Stacy's superpowers is reading quickly, which helps her in the classroom and when she's writing. During readers' workshop, Stacy rapidly reads a chapter of a student's book before conferencing with them, unless of course she's already read the book! For writing, Stacy's reading superpower helps her know just which mentor text to turn to, when she wants to create a craft move in her own work.
Here are Stacy's book recommendations for the upper elementary classroom:
The One and Only Ruby by Katherine Applegate
Stacy says this is a book that lives in her heart and that it's a fabulous story about friendship.
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
This is a 2023 Newbery Honor book. So, obviously Stacy isn't the only one who thinks it's a wonderful read. I agree 100% with Stacy. This book is set in a fantasy world, where family heritage determines one success. But even though the main character has no family legacy, she's an incredible artist who gets to participate in a high sea adventure full of friends, foes, and fantastic beasts.
The Last Beekeeper by Julie Carrick Dalton
In this dystopia, all the honeybees are presumed extinct. But when the main character sees a honeybee on her family's abandoned farm, she knows it's important. Meanwhile, there's a company trying to control all the world's technology that produces the world's food supply. I haven't read it yet. But, it's definitely on my tbr list now!
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit
This book is about a little girl who loves baseball and who also has autism. She learns how to throw a knuckleball and becomes a successful little league pitcher. This is an epistolary novel told in letters written by Vivy and a local major league star. This book pairs well with Stacy's middle grade novel, The Sweet Spot, which is also about a female little league star.
The Secret of the Dragon Gems by Rajani LaRocca and Chris Baron
Full disclosure-I love anything written by Rajani and Chris. Last season I interviewed Chris. Click here to listen to his episode. This novel is told from two points of view. Two campers become friends at a summer camp where they find some rocks, which they feel connected to. They take the rocks home and communicate through email, texts, and letters. Meanwhile, the owners of the camp are looking for these rocks, too. I haven't read this one yet, but my classroom has a dragon theme this year. So, this seems like it would be a perfect read aloud.
Don't Want to be Your Monster by Deke Moulton
This is one of the most interesting novels Stacy has read because it's a vampire novel for middle grade students. This novel debunks the way we see one another, and why we're scared of people who are different than ourselves. It also addresses anti-Semitism. I haven't read this one either, but it sounds fascinating.
If you would like to be eligible to win a 30-minute virtual classroom visit with Stacy, write a comment below by Friday, September 1st. The winner will be announced on the next episode.
Before our next episode, be sure to read one of H.M. Bouwman’s fantastic middle grade novels. Gossamer Summer just came out this past May. In addition to being truly delightful, it’s less than 200 pages. It’s a quick, fun read jam-packed with magic.
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