From his first years of teaching, Dorsey Hammond was intrigued by how his students attempted to understand what they were reading. Since those early years, he has combined research study with the regular practice of working in classrooms with teachers and students, K - 12. His Heinemann title The Comprehension Experience reflects the decades Dorsey has devoted to understanding the comprehension process, especially how teachers' language and actions most effectively build on students' natural capacity to construct meaning.
Denise Nessel is coauthor of the Heinemann title The Comprehension Experience. Her motivation for writing it came from the beliefs she has long held about what makes reading instruction most effective: a firm understanding of the comprehension process and an ability to apply that understanding in ways that give both students and teachers a real sense of accomplishment. In collaborating with educators across the country to improve K - 12 instructional practices, Denise aims to bring more zest and depth to literacy instruction and content-area teaching, She finds that students everywhere respond eagerly to the right kinds of learning experiences. Skillfully crafting such experiences is her special interest. Denise began her career as a secondary English teacher. When she discovered that a number of her students read very poorly and even the high achievers did not always comprehend what they read, she knew she had much to learn. At Bowling Green State University, she focused on reading at the secondary level and put what she learned to good use as a teacher and reading specialist. Later, at the University of Delaware, she focused on K - 12 reading and refined her understanding of the reading process while teaching in that university's reading clinic and mentoring in nearby classrooms. During her years at Delaware, Denise was inspired by Russell Stauffer, whose clinical and classroom teaching was memorable and whose mentorship of his consulting team was invaluable. Denise next worked as a university professor and as a K - 12 curriculum supervisor. In 1980, she relocated to California and became a full time consultant and mentor, helping teachers at all grade levels in the US and abroad learn to teach with greater knowledge, skill, and sensitivity. During this time, she also codirected a storytelling/literacy project. Since 1989, she has helped to shape and deliver the professional development services offered by the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA), a non-profit dedicated to helping all students achieve at the highest levels. Denise has also served as a consultant to education publishers, worked as a designer of educational software, and written several books on instruction. Denise's diverse experiences have given her a broad perspective on learning and learners. She's as comfortable with a first grade reading group as she is in a high school classroom or a teacher workshop. In each situation, she aims to engage learners intellectually while making their learning relevant, meaningful, and enjoyable. When envisioning her ideal school, Denise thinks of a place where students and teachers are actively involved every day in reading, thinking, writing, discussing, and using what they learn to make their lives more interesting and satisfying. Although she is thrilled with the many excellent materials and technological tools available today, she considers the quality of teaching the most important element of any instructional program. At the core of her ideal school are knowledgeable teachers who enjoy interacting with their students, who love learning, and who are skillful practitioners.