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Paula Bourque is a K-6 literacy/instructional coach in Augusta, Maine. She has been an educator for over thirty years. She grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University and then trekked halfway across the country to start her career as a classroom teacher in Maine. Her love of literacy led her to a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine. Intrigued by how students learn to read, she became a Reading Recovery teacher and honed her skills on keenly observing and scaffolding her most puzzling students. Her passion for reading and writing led her to become a Title I literacy specialist, supporting her schools’ at-risk students and their families. She became a certified literacy coach and earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in literacy leadership from the University of Maine. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher, recently earning a Literacy: Reading Language Arts -Early and Middle Childhood Certificate.
Paula’s first book,Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6, was inspired as she became curious about her young writers’ strategy (or lack) of closely reading their own writing. This led her to examine the relationships they were developing with their writing. Her latest book, Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms,builds on her belief that we become better writers by writing a lot, for a variety of purposes and audiences. She also believes writing is a way to explore thinking; that we can write to discover what we want to say. “Through my own writing, I realized how writing not only reflected what I was seeing and thinking, it was shaping what and how I was thinking and experiencing the world.” She wants students to have that same experience through writing.
Beyond her work in Augusta, Paula has presented at numerous national conferences, created writing webinars for Maine’s Department of Education, taught graduate courses in literacy, and worked as a consultant in school districts across the country. She blogs about her passion for reading, writing, and teaching (LitCoachLady.com) and enjoys continuing her own lifelong learning along with her Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter (@LitCoachLady). She lives in Maine with her husband, daughter, and son, who are growing up way too fast. She is rarely seen without a camera in her hand and a book in her bag.
The act of writing helps shape our thinking and is an important life skill we need to nurture in even our youngest students. In her new book, Spark!: Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, author Paula Bourque recommends making writing a daily habit through enjoyable "quick writes" - short, frequent bursts of low-stakes writing that lets young students think and play with ideas on paper. Bourque believes that "quantity produces quality" and suggests writing exercises that can be infused throughout the day.
In just 5-10 minutes each day, Spark! can boost student confidence and transform the way they think about themselves as writers.
Build Skills and Stamina: By creating a daily writing habit, students can improve their writing, find their voice, and strengthen communication skills
Spark Creativity: Low-stakes writing can reduce anxiety in students and encourage them to take risks, play with language, develop ideas, and write creatively
Packed with Prompts: Bourque includes a wide variety of "quick write" prompts, including visual, auditory, and verbal art that can stimulate thinking
Community of Writers: During the writing process, students become exposed to and can explore diverse thoughts and ideas of others
Spark! offers purposeful and practical approaches that meet your students where they are in their writing development. Through volume writing, students can find their voice, build their language art skills, and gain confidence as a writer.
How closely do your students read their writing? What are the implications for those who do and those who don’t? During her work in classrooms, literacy coach Paula Bourque noticed that students who read their own writing closely are engaged in their work, write fluently, are able to produce lengthy drafts, and incorporate teaching points from mini-lessons into the day’s writing. In this comprehensive book, Paula shows you that no matter what structures or lessons you use in your writing classroom, the strategies in Close Writing will help you make these better by creating student writers who are more aware of what effective writing looks like, who care about what they write, and who take ownership and responsibility for their growth as writers. Paula argues that a key element in close writing is learning to look and looking to learn by closely reading our own writing. Instead of focusing on the mechanics of their writing, she encourages students to read their words for understanding, clarity, and the effect they will have on an audience. She urges them to recognize their habits and their approaches to writing and to build upon them. Close Writing is based on research and methods that are reliable and valid best practices, but it will not prescribe lessons or structures. It gives you a peek inside classrooms where teachers just like you are working with budding authors just like yours. Paula also provides considerations for ELL writers, as well as a section of interviews with authors. She shares an extensive reference/resource guide, and a companion website with students’ work samples, reproducibles and templates, and videos of classroom writing lessons round out this must-have resource.
Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion