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Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg is an experienced educational consultant and staff developer with twenty years of classroom teaching experience who has never stopped learning. She is as much a teacher of English, grammar, reading, and writing as she is a teacher of grit, perseverance, and character education. She has spent her career rethinking approaches to learning and developing curricula that motivate and inspire students to want to grow and learn. She believes in integrating authentic learning experiences into every classroom to help kids find meaning in their learning.
During her two decades of teaching, Vicki has helped hundreds of students achieve their dreams of becoming novelists and published authors.
“Maybe writing novels or publishing short stories and poems wasn’t actually their dream at first, but in English class that’s about as authentic as you can get. I can tell you that for a middle schooler, there is nothing more rewarding than accomplishing an enormous, seemingly impossible task like writing a novel in thirty days or establishing long-term step-by-step goals that lead to real world publication.”
As a gifted support teacher for a number of her early teaching years, Vicki often wondered why kids in the regular classrooms weren’t given the same opportunities to challenge themselves and experience what it meant to accomplish a real goal within a community of learners. So she returned to the regular classroom as an English and language arts teacher, vowing to make sure that every child she teaches knows what it’s like to “feel smart.”
“I believe that all kids have the ability to accomplish extraordinary things; and as teachers, it is our responsibility to create opportunities for our students to become extraordinary. The fact is that all of our students want to know what it feels like to be smart and successful. We need to provide these experiences for all kids at every ability level without ‘dumbing it down.’ Adolescents thrive in an environment that is both challenging and relevant to their lives. They need to learn that their voices do matter in the classroom and out in the world, and we need to give them the platform to be heard.”
Vicki earned her undergraduate degree in speech communications and secondary English education, and she earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She loved being a public middle school teacher and staff developer in Maryland and Pennsylvania before relocating to North Carolina. She is a Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project fellow and spent years as a site coordinator for their Young Writers/Young Readers Summer Program. She is currently involved in a writer’s critique group where she is working on writing a YA novel. She is also consulting with local classroom teachers, and looking into doctoral programs so she can continue to impact education.
“What are we teaching our students about writing, if it isn’t what actual writers do?” This provocative question begins the journey Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg takes us on in The Author’s Apprentice.
With the popular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)—an event each November during which participants attempt to write a novel from start to finish—as her inspiration, she reinvents the writer’s workshop using an authentic and engaging “apprenticeship” approach that is based on the writing advice of middle grades and young adult authors students are currently reading.
The book integrates classroom practices from Kelly Gallagher, Ralph Fletcher, Lynne Dorfman, and Nancie Atwell with writing practices from authors such as Rick Riordan, Lois Lowry, Gordon Korman, and Margaret Peterson Haddix. Using the experiences of these successful teachers and authors, Meigs-Kahlenberg creates a classroom where student authors contribute their words to the world and gain the self-confidence to become independent writers who apply their skills to any writing task.
In Vicki’s classroom what she does goes beyond November as she pushes kids past the limits of what they thought was possible. It stretches and accelerates their growth as writers by developing their writing fluency and stamina. It grounds their learning in the real world and gives their reading and writing purpose that matters far beyond a test or grade.
The Author’s Apprentice provides a yearlong planning guide, weekly writing challenges, ideas for publication possibilities, step-by-step lesson plans, and hundreds of author quotes to motivate student learning. The ideas and lessons in this book are not a quick and easy journey, but becoming a better writer—an author—never is.
Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion