Click on the images below to download our application
and complete enrollment!
Vanessa is an outstanding writer and a joy to work with.Aimee Trudeau, Web Developer, Kizmato.com
By W.O.R.D. Ink Founder & Executive Director, Vanessa Ziff Lasdon
There’s a writer in all of us because there’s language in each of us.
Have we not all shared the same spark of joy in first learning to write our very own name?
Writing is self-discovery and self-expression.
We begin with a spark.
To inspire a child to write we must reignite that very first wonder and delight, and we must hold the spark steadfast with the intention of kindling a long lasting love of language within the child.
Guest post co-written by W.O.R.D. Ink team members, Gannon Daniels & Vanessa Ziff Lasdon
In the first two installments of this WRITE-themed blog post series on literary response essay techniques (Part 1; Part 2), we addressed 5 of the elements of fiction that our acronym, PSSST, CoMe IN! represents: Narration, Plot, Setting, Style and Mood.
In this final post we’ll survey the most important element of fiction, CHARACTER, followed by 3 final elements that are a bit trickier to grasp at first, yet no less commonly addressed in essays: Symbolism, Irony, and Theme.
Guest post co-written by W.O.R.D. Ink team members, Jaya Mukherjee & Vanessa Ziff Lasdon
I love the revision process because in writing and life, to revise our process can signify more about us than the art we create. The challenge we must pose to ourselves is to revisit something familiar with completely new eyes. Whether it’s an essay, a facet of our own identity, or our perspective on the world, if we approach revision with an open mind, the process can be an opportunity of discovery and exploration. I find this notion of revision to be particularly pertinent during the holiday season.
Guest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Gannon Daniels
My brief introduction of the first installment back in September considers how students don’t always know how to approach analysis of literature and often are not as familiar with the terms used by instructors when asked to write an essay about literature. The lesson I propose minimizes terms, empowers students, and creates a clear path to student-based discovery and learning.
As an educator, I watched my students struggle with nonfiction texts, namely newspaper literacy. Though my ambition was to make my students secular-minded world scholars, the interpretation of current event articles traditionally proved to be an overwhelming assignment for them. The language was over their heads or the content of the story was framed in an inaccessible way to children. Parents would often call to tell me how frustrated the assignment made their children. If they weren’t already tired of scouring the Internet looking for a particular news story, then they were spending hours deconstructing the story.
Newspaper literacy is an essential skill. Without it, we are not setting our kids up to truly understand what is happening in the world or how they fit into it. Nevertheless, my experience with my students is undeniable proof that our kids need more support in this endeavor; they need one place to turn to, a way to compensate for journalistic language that they may not grasp yet, and a set of specific questions to anchor their understanding in the content of the story. Recently, the W.O.R.D Ink team found such a place and it’s appropriately called Newsela.
Guest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Gannon Daniels
I have seen countless papers; pages of paragraphs: Essays. These essays were written for composition courses of many levels by community college students with varying degrees of talent and ability. I have been an instructor and tutor at a community college for 13 years. What have I done? Looked at essays.
Some students are heart-broken when they get a “C” on their paper. “I worked so hard on it,” they say. I believe them, and yet I know there is something they don’t quite get.
Guest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Dr. Susan Kawell
“Let’s start with my newest story,” suggests Tasha. “The second one I wrote.”
So I begin to read her story –-
“No, no, I’ll read it.” And she does – perfectly. Why?
Because it is her story, and Tasha is becoming a better reader by learning to read her own words. That’s what LEA does – LEA, Language Experience Approach, teaches young children or reluctant readers, whatever their age, to read.
Writing about literature can be daunting, no matter what grade or skill level. Before writing begins, students need to have a general understanding of literary elements in order to feel confident when they encounter the language of fiction often found in literature essay prompts. Early in my teaching career, I shared a lengthy literary devices handout with my students. It covers everything from alliteration to leitmotif, and the author kindly uses color-coding to clarify which terms are “elements” of fiction and which are authorial “techniques.” I thought at the time I was doing my students a great favor by providing this comprehensive resource, but I was only causing more confusion. A case of “more is too much.”
Why do We Revise?
An author’s written work is like their child. They nurture it, they care for it, and they want it to grow up to be the very best it can. That’s why when an author finishes a draft, they know it’s only the beginning. Now the real work begins, the work of revision, the work of taking something good and making it great, the work of taking something great and making it truly inspirational.
But what exactly is revision? I thought I knew.
Watching Students Learn
As I scatter the puzzle pieces on the teaching table in front of my fourth and fifth graders, I expect them to dive right in, strategy in mind, and finish by the end of the hour. Instead, most just stare, as though a puzzle is a foreign object, and for many I soon realize, it is. Those with some experience approach first, while the others observe. By the end of half an hour, all hands are on deck and, working together, they solve the puzzle by the end of the period.
I’ve never learned more about the way my students think than I did while observing them put this puzzle together. Two years later, I find myself watching with the same fascination as my infant daughter begins to explore the world around her, with no prior notions about how anything works, no system or rules, just curious hands and a mind to match.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I’ve truly always found students to be puzzles. Some have all the pieces and know exactly how to place them, while others have either misplaced a few or had theirs depreciated or taken away. It’s my job as a teacher and specialist in learning disabilities to help these students relocate and utilize their missing pieces, and then determine what strategies helped the most. The only way I can effectively do my job is through observation and connection. I must watch my students read, write, grapple with math problems, and interact with others. To truly help students learn and grow, I have to know them, understand them for where and who they are, and ensure that they trust in me.
The Internet is bursting with research illustrating the value of connecting with students and strategies for building and sustaining those connections. Connection nurtures success on all levels, from classroom management to grades, but how does connection help a tutor? (more…)
Teachers, Librarians, Homeschool Parents, and Children’s Writers: Do not miss one of the most enriching personal and professional development opportunities of the summer: Teachers Write. By participating in Teachers Write – renowned author Kate Messner’s free, on-line summer writing camp – you learn to be a better writer, you instantly integrate into a community chock-full of captivating individuals from all over the world, you have opportunities to interact with an awesome panel of authors AND you can win free books for your classroom or library!
Times are changing fast and furiously. Smart phones, iPads, iPods, and tablet devices are seemingly glued to everyone’s hands. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make the most of the latest technology this summer – or at least understand what your kids are doing with it!
This week’s DISCOVER post uncovers the best of Apple’s mobile apps for kids of all ages, as well as for educators, professionals, parents, and writers. While an app like Angry Birds is just plain addictive, consider these engaging mobile applications that offer hours upon hours of educational value. They are worth checking out! (more…)
It’s an exciting and busy time for W.O.R.D. Ink. We are in the midst of expanding our company services, employee base, and client reach. Amidst the buzz, Team Ink needs to honor personal, familial, and additional career commitments. For that reason, we’ve decided to scale back our W.O.R.D. of the Week blog from weekly to biweekly posts for the time being, so that we can maintain a steady stream of useful content while simultaneously focusing on other aspects of professional and personal growth.
There’s a reason the MAKER FAIRE has wound its way around the globe in seven short years and spawned over 60 mini-Maker Faires from Tokyo to Oslo. This is not just another social gathering – it’s a mega-science expo, an inventor’s haven, and a county fair rolled into one.
Yes, the Maker Faire is a geeked-out weird-science fest. But, really, it’s so much more. The Maker Faire is totally Geektastic for every age, gender, and profession — for anyone who makes anything and everyone with a thirst for knowledge, resourcefulness, and creativity!
I had planned to hit the hiking trail yesterday as my reward for teaching two weeks of intensive writing workshops over spring break. Both workshops are still in their infancy. Before this spring, I’d taught the Writing Skills Intensive only once last summer and the Tabletop Moviemaking course twice previously. But I’m a fanatic about research, revision, and reflection. Throughout the workshop weeks I’d constantly tinkered with my curriculum, adjusting its scope, sequence and delivery into the wee hours of the morning, making note of future changes like a mad scientist on the brink of a breakthrough.
So like I was saying…hiking. That was the plan on a glorious Monday morning. Coffee in hand, sneakers tied, I rifled through a few emails, browsed my favorite blog feeds, and well…one thing led to another (damn you, Internet Rabbit Hole.) Anyway, I found myself –- by way of the righteous GOOD.is – first at the articles written by, then at the personal website of, my friend and ex-colleague, Chris Thinnes.
A.) Wow. Chris never disappoints. He’s one of the most articulate, intelligent and exciting guys I’ve ever met.
B.) Serendipity? Chris’ recent guest post on GOOD, (“Stop Exploring ‘Innovative Education Models’: We Need Action Now”) made me jump on the couch in bounce position. Forget the hike. I was already headed to church.
For this week’s OBSERVE post, W.O.R.D Ink implores Angelenos to March As One this Saturday, February 16, 2013! Stand by educators, families, and public education advocates participating in a crucial community march and rally to drive voter registration and turn out for our March 5th school board and mayoral elections, to raise awareness about unequal access to high quality education, and to ask our candidates to listen to the community and commit to strengthening our public education system.
Keep Calm and Read On. That’s the theme for this year’s California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) Convention, taking place February 8 – 10 in Santa Clara. W.O.R.D. Ink is devoting our week’s blog post to considering this theme, with a slight variation extended to all learning:
Why is it important for a teacher to keep calm and teach on?
W.O.R.D. Ink is taking a short break from full-post blogging this week, but we still want to leave you with nine outstanding learning resources. Our discovery dump today is brought to you by one of our favorite learning resources, Edutopia.org. Edutopia, part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, empowers and connects teachers, administrators, and parents with innovative solutions and resources to better K-12 education. We hope the links you explore inspire you to share with others!
Last week I made a plan to write and I did not stick to it. At least, not the way I’d intended.
Life got in the way again, and I just let it barge right through my carefully carved-out quiet time. Then I spent the rest of the week feeling terrible about not having kept the promise to myself. Well, today, I’ve decided to shorten my post in OBSERVANCE of the writing I must complete.
You will find Silas House’s observations on The Art of Being Still quite apropos for creators of all kinds. Please take a look, if only to press the “reconnect” button within yourself as an artist. The essence of House’s reflection boils down to this:
Stop talking about writing or not writing, and Just Do It already.
Hello, 2013! Year of the Snake! Let’s make this year a time of steady progress and attention to detail, of focus and discipline in achieving what we set out to create.
Merry Christmas, word lovers! I feel so honored to share this special holiday with you! Today’s post is on DISCOVERIES, so please enjoy the following three Seeds and Sparks. May they inspire you and ignite your imagination! Share with family and be sure to curl up on your own to savor them, too. Remember: the holidays are also a time to be loving and joyful with yourself! You deserve it!
If you’re like me, the holiday season is somehow slipping from your grasp and your shopping days are limited. What’s more, you want to find just the right gift for each person on your list, although – let’s be honest – some are nearly impossible to please and you’re really trying to steer clear of the plastic gift card route.
In life, I’m big into intentionality, so when I gift, no matter what the age, I go for:
Check out the following 10 supercool hi-tech-meets-lo-tech gift ideas for kids and teens that I’ve personally sized up. Each is sure to make everyone’s spirits merry and bright!
Have you OBSERVED your students’ online habits lately?
I first spotted this infographic created by KBSD Digital Marketing on Lisa Nielsen’s Innovative Educator site, and decided, along with Nielsen’s reference links, that it was a must-share with you all. The infographic does such a great job conveying the reasons and ways we can help our students (as educators and parents) manage their online reputation, that I have little need to add my own two cents. Except to say this: kids do not inherently understand the value and impact of their e-reputation. They are not necessarily tuned into the challenges they face each day in maintaining strength of character and in preserving the integrity of their digital identity, as they trawl their favorite social media platforms. While we have them in our sights, let’s be aware of our own obligation to teach and model responsible online engagement. Regardless, mistakes will happen. Boundaries will be crossed; lessons learned. Whether you are an educator, a parent, or both, share this post and reach across the proverbial aisle to observe how both schools and families can play key supporting roles in an ongoing dialogue about students managing their e-reputation.
A Team Ink guest blog special: Jenny on personal truths, Becky on self advocacy, a revision gallery by author Kate Messner, & Simona on CA Prop 30 versus 38.
Thank you to my three guest bloggers from the W.O.R.D. Ink tutoring & editorial team, who participated in this special, multi-topic W.O.R.D. of the Week post!
“I’m too busy.”
Do you know how tired I am of iterating that refrain? How I wince at the worn-out words?
It’s been my ball-and-chain, my masochistic modus operandi, for the past twelve years. Yes, I’ve been a slave to responsibility. The calendar is my master. It reminds me to take my vitamins and floss; to get dressed, clean the cat box and water the plants; to see a client, post to Facebook, and go to bed. It even dictates, “Saturday – Free Time: 11:30-3:30.” Worse, that free block inevitably shrinks as extra work spills over from other times in the week when I was too exhausted, too distracted, or too disinterested to complete a “Must Do”; when I defied orders, reshuffled priorities (aren’t they more like suggestions, anyway?), and caught up on Modern Family. I’m surprised I haven’t squeezed in a regular, “Have a good cry, 3:30-5.” Of course, getting a business off the ground is no easy feat, so some allowances need be made when I’m still working through L’s and my Friday Breakfast Night routine. Still, busybodies are boring and I refuse to accept “workaholic” as my permanent middle name.
It’s not only me. All my clients and friends are “completely booked” too. And living in Los Angeles, you factor in drive time with every activity. So half the time, I’m just rushing around in raging traffic. Busy is an Angeleno’s norm, as sure as our Cali-blue sky and insatiable caffeine habit. Some of us cling to the craze with pride; for others, there’s just no way out right now. Many of us haven’t stopped to consider whether there’s an alternative.
W.O.R.D. of the Week is a blog and virtual writer’s notebook that explores the power of words in four fundamental ways: through writing practice, observations, re“vision” techniques, and discoveries. This is a place for writers and word lovers, parents and professionals, students and educators to share in the essential ingredients of becoming a wordsmith. Two elements concern the CRAFT (writing and revising) and two focus on the JOY (observing and discovering). Believe that you can accomplish all four, that you possess a unique voice, and that what you have to say matters.