M. Colleen Cruz

Writer, Educator, Consultant


The Unstoppable Writing Teacher
Teaching writing is hard. Very hard. This book does not shy away from that reality. Instead, it aims to tackle the difficulties writing teachers face every day. There are oodles of resources, strategies and ideas to help you face even the most difficult issues.

Writing Realistic Fiction: Symbolism, Syntax, and Truth
A practical resource for 7th grade teachers looking to teach fiction in the 7th grade classroom. Part of the Units of Study in Writing Series.

The Art of Information Writing (Units of Study in Writing Series)
A unit of study on teaching 3rd graders the nuts and bolts of information writing through expert books.

The Arc of Story (Units of Study in Writing Series)
A unit on teaching 4th graders how to launch a year of writing workshop through short realistic fiction. Co-written with Lucy Calkins.

A Quick Guide to Reaching Struggling Writers
A short, sweet and very reader and teacher friendly book about how to really help the students we most worry about. It addresses the most common writing issues students grapple with and gives practical step-by-step strategies to use right away. 2008

Writing Realistic Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions
This book, co-written with Lucy Calkins, offers minilessons, conferences and practical help for teachers who want to teach their students how to write realistic fiction. It is bundled as part of a series of books called "Units of Study" for Heinemann. 2005

Independent Writing
Written as a "year-in-the-life" chronicle of my 4th grade classroom, Independent Writing describes my foibles, successes and methods used as I worked to move my students towards developing independent writing lives. Foreword by Katie Wood Ray. 2004

Border Crossing
Someone once said that a writer's first novel is an exploration of family. Border Crossing is just that - my fictional exploration of a family that looks a lot like mine.

The book centers on Cesi, a girl with a mixed heritage: her father is Mexican-American, her mother is Irish-Cherokee. While her mother has always been forthcoming about her side of the family, Cesi's father seems to avoid discussing his history. After a series of fruitless family member interviews, and other research methods, Cesi decides the only way to learn what she wants to know is to go to Mexico - by herself. 2003

Stepping into the Wardrobe: A Fantasy Genre Study
This article, co-written with Kate Pollock, was published January 2004 in Language Arts. In it, we discuss how a unit on fantasy reading went in out respective classrooms. We cover everything a teacher might need to know in order to successfully implement this fun to teach unit.

Selected Works

A book that addresses some of the most common and challenging struggles a teacher of writing might face - and offers solutions
Professional Literature
A practical resource for 3rd grade teachers looking to teach writing workshop
A practical resource for 4th grade teachers looking to teach writing workshop.
A practical book and quick read from Heinemann's Help Desk Imprint
Co-written with Lucy Calkins, this book is a part of the Units of Study First Hand Series from Heinemann.
Designed for teachers, this book discusses the ins and outs of teaching students to cultivate independent writing lives.
Young Adult Novel
A finalist for the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, this book follows the story of Cesi as she embarks on a journey to Mexico in order to learn more about her family, and herself.