Teaching (and Reaching)

Young People Through

Writing-Centered Instruction 

Michael Leannah


"We Think With Ink reveals a joy for language and word play that teachers and children alike are craving."

--Susan Schwiebert, classroom teacher

"This book is like a celebration of the act of writing."

--Jamie A. Swenson, author, librarian,

writing coach

"A treasure trove of ideas for both new and experienced writing teachers."

-- Helaine Kriegel,

emerita faculty, University of Wisconsin

"I wish We Think With Ink could be in every classroom. This book is astoundingly good."

-- Jill Esbaum, author





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    We Think With Ink relies on the sharing and critiquing of stories. We share our stories, compare notes, ask for honest opinions, help each other to improve our skills.

Writers who work together must know each other well and develop a sense of trust.

     To jump-start the process, “Get to Know You” activities are employed. Because we are complex individuals and our feelings change over time, it is good to work in a “Get to Know You” activity once every couple of months throughout the school year.


                                                      All About You


     Teachers may give this as a piece of homework on Day One and ask for it to be returned in one week, giving participants plenty of time to analyze and describe their interests, likes, and dislikes.

     Encourage students to explain their answers fully, using well-written sentences. Because the papers will later be shared (read aloud or passed around to be read silently), participants should provide information that is interesting and — to an extent that is comfortable — revealing.

     Students are required to answer at least seven of the ten questions. When it is time to share, students will read their answers aloud, or ask a friend or the teacher do it.

                                                  All About You 

  1. In what cities have you lived?

  2. What do you like about your favorite food?

  3. What character in a book or movie do you admire?

  4. What character in a book or movie scares you?

  5. What character in a book or movie would you like to be for one hour?*

  6. What animal would you like to be for one hour?*

  7. What is your most prized possession?

  8. What’s the scariest or most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?

  9. What would you say or do if you met your favorite famous person?

  10. What do you think you’ll be doing when you’re 30 years old?

             * When asking a “What would you like to be” question, I recommend putting a time limit on it. Would I like to be a lion or a mosquito or the president of Germany, Brazil, or Zimbabwe? For an hour, maybe, but no longer than that.


            Look for another “Get to Know You” activity here next month.



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