Vanessa is high-energy smarts and charm, the kind of writer and teacher who captures and captivates readers of all ages.New York Times bestselling author, Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ms. Ziff maintains a good balance of knowing when to give more help and when to insist that you rise to the challenge of the learning situation. She instills confidence, honors excellence, and respects effort.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
While we continue to be impressed by Vanessa’s many attributes, it is her high energy level, extraordinary patience, and passion for what she does that make her truly unique.Melissa and Rob Weiler
Vanessa got my 8-year old son excited and intrigued to dig deeper into his experiences and bring his thoughts to life. Now Evan’s words dance and sing, which makes me want to dance and sing!Sally Micelotta
The skills Vanessa taught my son--particularly the value of revising many times […] attention to detail, and high standards—are still with Nico several years later.Liz McNicoll, Attorney, Paramount Pictures
All of us remember teachers who inspired us to greater heights and who influenced our lives. Vanessa Ziff Lasdon has played this role in my daughters' lives.Jack Tauber, M.D.
Ms. Ziff is always organized, resourceful, and ready for anything. She believes in a process, [...] the best of all being the Ms. Ziff approach, which makes her spectacular.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
My son learned more about writing and literary appreciation from Ms. Ziff in fifth grade than in any other year of school. I wish all teachers had Vanessa’s passion for teaching and inspiring!Kim Ford

Vanessa is an outstanding writer and a joy to work with.

Aimee Trudeau, Web Developer, Kizmato.com
Ms. Ziff is definitely not just my teacher and tutor; she is my mentor.Lexi 7th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Ms. Vanessa has challenged me to stretch my writing and I am excited for what I will do next.Evan, 3rd Grade
Whether it’s teaching a student to become a more vivid creative writer, a more effective analytical writer, or a more selective business writer, Vanessa can do it all.Meli and Stephen Rose
The writing skills my daughter, now excelling in ninth grade English Honors, left Vanessa’s class with continue to be an invaluable set of resources.Betsy Leva
I honestly don’t know what kind of a writer and reader I would be without the tools I learned with Ms. Ziff. She was always a very understanding, rigorous, and involved teacher, and an incredible mentor.Maddie 9th Grade, Marlborough School
Ms. Ziff set the foundation for my analytical, constructive, and creative skills. Whether writing a sonnet or writing an essay, I still have her lessons in my mind.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa is a true master of her craft. She is a blast to work with, completely trustworthy and utterly authentic. To work with Vanessa is a privilege; you just want to soak up all her talent, and bottle it up for yourself! She is an inspiration.Sarina Fierro, Head of Lower Elementary, Curtis School
Vanessa’s vast skills, complete dedication, and clear purpose construct a solid core for every student she teaches. Her passionate nature produces both a fun and rewarding learning experience.Michele Noble, Director, Writer, Filmmaker
Ms. Ziff always pushed me to do my best, and never let me slack off.  She introduced me to my love of writing and gave me the confidence I needed both academically and in myself.Georgia 9th Grade, The Buckley School
Ms. Ziff’s friendly demeanor and enthusiasm made communicating easy and learning exciting. She taught us to understand and appreciate the material, and have fun in the process.Alivia 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
What our daughter values most about her time in Vanessa's class is being inspired to become an organized writer who could convey her thoughts in a meaningful manner.Laurie and Chris Harbert
Having an eight-year old highly gifted boy was not enough to make him put all those brilliant ideas on paper. Daniel feels constantly challenged by Vanessa and that ignites him.Liliana Benitez
Vanessa Ziff Lasdon possesses the dynamic combination of an incisive intellect and boundless passion when it comes to teaching her craft and sharing skills with her students.MaryLynn Richmond
Vanessa has a gift for inspiring even the most reluctant writer and her passion for writing is infectious. She is a favorite workshop leader at our Young Writers’ Conferences.Julie Moore & Rena Svetic, Young Writers’ Conference Founders
I learned as much from teaching with Vanessa as any of her students under her guidance. Where so many others fall back on old tricks, Vanessa taps into her extensive experience to invent new methodologies for each and every one of her clients.Patrick Kieffer, Fifth Grade – English & History, The Packer Collegiate Institute
Vanessa’s methods are creative, thorough and innovative. She makes writing fun and has turned our daughter’s “like” of writing into a true “LOVE”.The Altmans
It's obvious that Vanessa is a wordsmith: "Write. Observe. Revise. Discover...W.O.R.D."  These are the four essential ingredients for becoming a writer; two of them about the work (writing and revising) and two of them about the joy (observing and discovering.) Vanessa accomplishes it all.  Julie Larios, award-winning poet and children’s author
Vanessa transformed our son Josh from a decent writer into an excellent writer.  We wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa and her ability to draw out the best in your child’s writing ability.Jill and Larry Krutchik
Vanessa captured the essence of what I wanted to relay on my site without sounding trite, unlike my experience with previous writers.Martin Pugh, Musician
I know that the many fun and challenging lessons I’ve learned from Ms. Ziff will help me achieve my goal of one day being a professional writer and filmmaker.Jaren S. 7th Grade, The Buckley School
Vanessa is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher. She’s extremely organized, communicates ideas effectively, helps motivate, and has a lively, engaging teaching style that brings out the best efforts in all of her students.Howard Tager
Vanessa’s greatest ability is to help each student realize his or her own untapped potential. It’s the stuff that changes lives!Jacqueline Frohlich

Posts Tagged ‘technique’

Boost Core Upper Elementary Writing Skills & Creativity This Summer with Vanessa! July 21-Aug 15

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Click on the images below to download our application

and complete enrollment!

Summer Writing Camps

 


 

 

Summer S.T.E.A.M. Camps

2014 Course Catalog & Inspiring Kids to Write!

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Vanessa Ziff Lason

Head & Heart to Hand & Page:

Inspiring Kids to Write

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.

 

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PSSST! CoMe IN: Character, Symbolism, Irony & Theme

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Guest post co-written by W.O.R.D. Ink team members, Gannon Daniels & Vanessa Ziff Lasdon

Gannon Daniels

Vanessa Ziff LasdonWelcome back and Happy New Year!

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.

PSSST! CoMe IN and explore with us!

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PSSST! CoMe IN: Plot, Mood & Style (Part 2 of a 3-Part Series)

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Gannon DanielsGuest 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.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-11-at-12.20.39-AM

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Learning to Revise in Order to Communicate Clearly

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Gannon Daniels

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.

Writing is rewriting.

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Language Experience Approach: Engaging New & Reluctant Readers

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Susan Kawell

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.

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Pssst! Come In: Opening the Door on the Elements of a Literary Essay (Part 1 of a 3-Part Series)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Gannon DanielsGuest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Gannon Daniels

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.”

james joyce

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Rework or Rewrite? An Important Consideration During Revision

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Michael BelsonGuest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Michael Belson

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.

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The Power & Puzzle Behind Connection

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Becky French, W.O.R.D. Ink team memberCo-written by W.O.R.D. Ink Team Member, Becky French & Founder, Vanessa Ziff Lasdon

 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.

Puzzle-piece

Why Connect?

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 Write! A Virtual Summer Writing Camp for Adults

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Teachers-Write-Button

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!

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New from W.O.R.D. Ink! Customized, “Build-It-Yourself” Summer Workshops for Kids, Teens & Adults

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.37.25 PM

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Alice…in Widdershins

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Widdershins. Isn’t that a great word? Means “counterclockwise energy” in Wicca tradition. I actually borrowed the word from an interesting 2010 lecture by poet, author and professor Cynthia Huntington, while at a VCFA alumni retreat. I collect weird words (wabi sabi is another favorite of mine. Means “perfection in imperfection” in Japanese), in case I ever decide to recycle them into new creations, such as for today’s post. 

On Widdershins, and counterclockwise energy.

The kind of unusual, down-the-rabbit-hole energy required for…Revisions.

down the rabbit hole

Mary Blair

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Velveteen Rabbit Revisions: How to Bring Your Writing to Life (with a Whole Lot of Love!)

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Have you ever tried to solve a What’s Wrong With This Picture dilemma? Where you stare at the image for an hour straight without seeing a darn thing, but when you walk away for a while and then take another look, the answer jumps right off the page?

Color Illusion

Welcome to the Revision Process.

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The Thrill of Suspense

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

suspense

We’re all about the thrill of the chase for today’s quick WRITE post. (more…)

10 Ways to Write Tantalizing Titles

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Titles. What agony. How to condense an entire piece of writing into a single phrase or solitary word? How to grab the reader’s attention in a heartbeat? Whether fiction or blog post, essay or email subject line, without a great title, the rest of your content – even those spiffy subsections or chapter headings – may as well not even exist.

catchy titles

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Six Word Memoirs

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Today’s WRITE Post is dedicated to six-word memoirs, a reminder that an entire story lays hidden within a single sentence. (And a brief marvel at how the whole of our personal existence might fold neatly into six well-chosen words.)

“For sale: baby shoes, never used.” — Ernest Hemingway

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Keep Calm and Teach On

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

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?

 crown (more…)

Edutopia Resource Discovery Dump!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

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!

Edutopia.org

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Sweat the Small Stuff: Shape Voice with Sound & Syntax, Part 3

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

What is Voice? (Part 3)

In this 3-part revision series, we’ve debunked several mysteries behind the magical element within every great work of writing: Voice. It’s my hope that you’ve been able to see Voice not as an elusive and unattainable ingredient, but rather, as a series of deliberate, layered choices made throughout the revision process, and as accessible to all who practice the craft–within every genre and for any purpose. May you walk away from this series inspired to “Re-Vision” your writing with techniques that work!

revisionbulb

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Be Still Already! Coach Your Mind to Live Like a Writer

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
concentrate

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.

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On The First Day of Christmas, Three Inspiring Links

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

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!   

storybird pg13-top100 choice literacy podcasts

 

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Sweat the Small Stuff: Shape Voice with Sound and Syntax, Part 2

Monday, December 17th, 2012

What is Voice? (Part 2)

In this 3-part revision series, we’ll debunk several mysteries behind the magical element within every great work of writing: Voice. It’s my hope that you’ll see Voice not as an elusive and unattainable ingredient, but rather, as a series of deliberate, layered choices made throughout the revision process, and as accessible to all who practice the craft–within every genre and for any purpose. May you walk away each week inspired to “Re-Vision” your writing with techniques that work!

TapDance

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Please, Sweat the Small Stuff: Shape Voice with Sound & Syntax

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

What is Voice?

In this 3-part revision series, we’ll debunk several mysteries behind the magical element within every great work of writing: Voice. It’s my hope that you’ll see Voice not as an elusive and unattainable ingredient, but rather, as a series of deliberate, layered choices made throughout the revision process, and as accessible to all who practice the craft–within every genre and for any purpose. May you walk away each week inspired to “Re-Vision” your writing with techniques that work!

Fred Astaire

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Dear Luck: Keeping the End in Mind

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Today is a WRITE post, and that means providing you with the encouragement and opportunity to get your thoughts down on the blank page. Consider this Dear Luck post a spiritual pick-me-up quick-write that you’ll want to revisit time and again.

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Self Advocacy for Learning Differences, the Top Rule in Writing, a Revision Gallery, & The Vote for Education

Monday, October 29th, 2012

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! 

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6 Little Known Tools to Flesh Out Your Sentences

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

(As first seen on Through The Tollbooth. Thanks for the guest post opportunity, ladies!)

Ready for today’s grammar lesson?

Arrange these phrases and punctuation marks to build a complete sentence. (*Note: just because Harry’s name is capitalized does not necessarily mean he begins the sentence)

,        ,        ,        ,        .

holding his broken glasses up to his nose

dizzy

covered in soot

Harry got gingerly to his feet

bruised

Lots of ways to arrange these pieces, right? I count ten at least.

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Writer’s Block: 12 Ways to Cure a Monster of a Problem

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This is Grumble.

Grumble’s my Writer’s Block beast, and boy, he’s a moody one. A real monster of a problem, especially when the delicate creation stage of a project begins. Grumble can smell the sweet scent of hope and acrid stench of fear from a mile off. He squares off with The Muse on my left shoulder, perching on the right, just inches from my ear, and an arm’s length away from the DELETE button. There’s no finer victory for Grumble than a day without a word on the page. He delights in looming over me with his hairy eyeballs and doomsday expression, squashing seed ideas and spitting on sparks before either can lift off.

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Magic Formulas, Multiple Intelligences, Voice, & The Kindle Fire

Monday, September 24th, 2012

WRITE: Forget Magic Formulas. Find Your Unique Way.

Let’s pretend that writing derives from a mythic Magic Formula. I can’t imagine it being simple, for one thing (W = Butt-In-Chair x Heck-of-a-Great-Idea / 2 cups of coffee?) There are too many variables involved. This is more like it:

Now, on the surface of things, a formula is the process by which we’re able to spew out a solution on the other end. Formulas create order out of chaos, and that is why we gravitate toward them in every facet of our lives, even if you were to adamantly deny your affinity for math. Plug in the numbers, follow x, y, z, and Sha-zam! Success.

But with a formula as complicated as this (which, by the way, represents the calculation behind lacing an average shoe with six pairs of eyelets), you are bound to wind up with two trillion ways to success. (I’m not kidding. There are two trillion ways to lace a shoe.)

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W.O.R.D. of the Week

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

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.

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