No Series: Ms. Noonan: Making Students into Better Writers


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • W:  Writing
  • 5:  5th Grade
  • 4:  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA: 

    English Language Arts

  • L: 


  • 5: 

    5th Grade

  • 1: 

    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

    a. Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.

    b. Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses.

    c. Use verb tense to convey various times, sequences, states, and conditions.

    d. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.*

    e. Use correlative conjunctions (e.g., either/or, neither/nor).

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • L:  Language
  • 5:  5th Grade
  • 2:  Demonstrate command of the conventions of
    standard English capitalization, punctuation, and
    spelling when writing.

    a. Use punctuation to separate items in a series.*

    b. Use a comma to separate an introductory
    element from the rest of the sentence.

    c. Use a comma to set off the words yes and no
    (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question
    from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It\x80's true, isn'\x80\x99t
    it?), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that
    you, Steve?).

    d. Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to
    indicate titles of works.

    e. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly,
    consulting references as needed.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Ms. Noonan: Making Students into Better Writers

Lesson Objective: Use a one-on-one conference to give specific feedback and instruction
Grades 3-5 / ELA / Writing Workshop
ELA.W.5.4 | ELA.L.5.1 | ELA.L.5.2


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Notice how many ways Ms. Noonan highlights very specific strengths Why does Ms. Noonan choose two areas of focus for Crystal?
  2. How has writers workshop affected Crystals perception of her own writing?


  • Private message to Julie Aubrey
This is beautiful! It inspires me to find time to conference with my students one-on-one about their writing. Thank you.
Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Gina Wood
Your videos have been super helpful giving multiple ideas to try in my own classroom. As a 3rd grade teacher I struggle with teaching writing and find conferencing a bit overwhelming. I like that you give helpful suggestions and that it is okay that the teacher writes suggestions in. It can be difficult and messy for the student to do it. You praise her excellent vocabulary when needed and offer suggestions as well. Great series!
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Jennifer Handley
The teacher in this video interacted with this student wonderfully! I really liked how she asked the student questions to prompt her thinking as to what errors she made and how they could be corrected. I also love how she praised the child when she used good vocabulary and incorporated similes into her writing.
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Diane Garcia
That was a wonderful way to engage the student in editing their paper before they published it.
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Lampros Loukas
Wonderful Teacher. Really inspiring, respectful and helpful. A Professional!
Recommended (0)

External Resource Materials


  • Classroom Close Up: E.L.A. Throughout the Day
    Making Students into Better Writers with Madeline Noonan

    Madeline: "I love that for

    Classroom Close Up: E.L.A. Throughout the Day
    Making Students into Better Writers with Madeline Noonan

    Madeline: "I love that for your hook, you..."

    Crystal: What I was doing during the writing period was checking my writing to get ready to publish it.

    Madeline: "Add one more word here, just to give it an extra umph."

    Crystal: She read it, and if like, if I did have a mistake or something, she wound up telling me and I have to figure out and see what I can write instead of the mistake.

    Madeline: "Let's see where we left off. OK, we left off right here. 'So the went to see the house. No one can stop their beaming faces, and their big smiles.' Oh! Do you know which word just made me go "Oh!"?

    Crystal: "Beaming."

    Madeline: "Yeah, totally. I can visualize it so well. Now, when no one can stop.. I'm pretty sure that this story right now is in the past tense. Is "can" in the past tense?"

    Crystal: "it's hard because um, sometimes there might be a lot of mistakes."

    Madeline: "Has it already happened? Is it happening now? Or, will it happen in the future?"

    Crystal: "It's happening now."

    Madeline: "Yeah..."

    Crystal: Then you have to re-write them again.

    Madeline: "And, put this in the past tense."

    Crystal: "Could."

    Madeline: "Yeah. No one could stop. So again, here..."

    Crystal: And, when we edit, and it's all good, and we get permission, we start publishing. That's the writing where we don't have any mistakes in it.

    Madeline: "Do you see something you want to fix there?"

    Crystal: "Yeah."

    Madeline: Crystal's a particulary strong writer

    "A wonderful, ripe, orange pumpkin"

    She was writing with phenomenal language and great figurative language. So, anytime I saw that, I really wanted to highlight and celebrate that.

    " 'She got so scared that her eyes went as wide as an owl.' The similies in this are so awesome. She went..."

    What I identified as her two focus areas were one, that she has a lot of simple sentences that could be combined to make complex sentences, and the sound of her writing becomes a lot richer.

    " 'When they went to the kitchen, they found a wonderful, ripe..' We're gonna...'orange pumpkin. When the tour was over...' Do you see something you want to change about that, just from the way it sounds? It sounds a little bit abrupt again, just like it did up here, and we combined those two simple sentences. Can we do that here as well?"

    Crystal: "Yeah. I think this should be a comma."

    Madeline: "Good. And, since that's a comma, what happens to this capital letter now?"

    Crystal: "Lower case."

    Madeline: "Beautiful."

    The second part was that she was continually beginning sentences with the word "so".

    "Do you notice what word we're seeing again anda again in how we start it?"

    Crystal: "So."

    Madeline: "Yeah. So, do we.... So (laughter) do we need the word "so" here?"

    Crystal: "No."

    Madeline: "It's redundant."

    We always frame that the student is an author.

    "As an author, what would you like to add in?"

    Crystal: "Although."

    Madeline: Really validate that they've created a piece, and it's special to them, and it's not easy to do.

    "It sounds like they were wondering about the pumpkin. So, I'm gonna let you add..."

    Crystal: "Curious."

    Madeline: "So, I'm gonna add a new sentence here. I'm gonna let you, as an author, when you go back to your seat, sort of decide what exactly the sentence is gonna sound like."

    They have practice with editing skills they can now use independently, and it also feels less critical and more constructive.

    Crystal's growth this year has been incredible.

    "Comma, so they did."

    At the beginning of the year, her writing was really basic; it used a lot of dead words. What you see now is she's writing multi-paragraph compositions; she's using figurative language. I'm incredibly proud. She's just a phenomenal worker.

    " 'The house was perfect as pumpkin pie.' I love the similie. 'It had marble counters, a hot tub, and all the amazing, eye-popping, mind-exploding things you can think of.' You're bowling me over. This story is fabulous, and ..."

    Crystal: In the beginning of the year, my writing was just like a list, and didn't have any fun, or creative things in it.

    Madeline: "I'm excited to read the next half when you're done self-editing."

    Crystal: And, now I, since I've learned more things, my writing been more creative and fun.

    Interviewer: And do you like it better now?

    Crystal: Yeah. I like it better, because it's not like, boring. I'll probably want to read it more than once.

School Details

Think College Now School
2825 International Boulevard
Oakland CA 94601
Population: 306

Data Provided By:



Madeline Noonan
English Language Arts Math Social Studies / 5 / Teacher


TCH Special

Webinar / Engagement / Distance Learning

Lesson Idea

Structure, Lesson Planning, Student Engagement

Lesson Idea

Modeling, Discourse, Discussion

Lesson Idea

Classroom Management, Routines


Educating for Democracy


Lesson Planning