Understanding Writing: Ways of Observing, Learning, and Teaching / Edition 2

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Writing teachers must be observers. At the heart of writing-process instruction is the art of informed observation.The Skilled teacher needs to determine what students can do, what changes they've made, what patterns of assistance they receive from other students, what themes dominate their writing. And teachers need to observe themselves-to reflect on what they see and do.

Understanding Writing is a book about observing. It contains no recipes for success. What it does contain are thirty chapters, most written by classroom teachers, that provide insights into student growth. The book is rich in examples of student work, from Kevin's self-portrait (complete with a point on his head) to Laura's eloquent poem, written after the shuttle explosion.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780435084417
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 10/2/1987
  • Edition description: 2nd ed
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 312
  • Age range: 9 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancie Atwell is one of the most highly respected educators in the U.S. Her classic In the Middle has inspired generations of teachers, and her new DVDs Writing in the Middle and Reading in the Middle give us a seat in her writing and reading workshops so that we can see firsthand how she helps students become independent, sophisticated readers and writers. She is also the author of classroom materials through Firsthand. Lessons that Change Writers is a year's worth of instruction straight from Nancie's file cabinets, while Naming the World helps teachers jumpstart their literacy teaching each day the way Nancie does - with poetry, the mother genre. Nancie teaches seventh- and eighth-grade writing, reading, and history at the Center for Teaching and Learning, a K - 8 demonstration school she founded in Edgecomb, Maine, in 1990. Nancie was the first classroom teacher to receive the NCTE David H. Russell Award and the MLA Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize for distinguished research in the teaching of English. Nancie was recently named 2010 Teacher of the Year by River of Words; a California-based non-profit educational organization and also received an honorary degree from the University of New Hampshire during its 2011 commencement ceremony. Read Nancie's Education Week article in which she makes the case for literature in the core standards. To see and hear Nancie's response to the NY Times article on the place of student choice in reading, click here. Read the Article »

Thomas Newkirk's most recent books with Heinemann are The Art of Slow Reading (2011), Holding Onto Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones (2009) and Teaching the Neglected "R" (2007, coedited with Richard Kent). His Misreading Masculinity (2004) was cited by Instructor Magazine as one of the most significant books for teachers in the past decade. A former teacher of at-risk high school students in Boston, Tom is Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, the former director of its freshman English program, and the director and founder of its New Hampshire Literacy Institutes. He has studied literacy learning at a variety of educational levels - from preschool to college. His other Heinemann and Boynton/Cook titles include the NCTE David H. Russell Award winning Performance of Self in Student Writing (Boynton/Cook, 1997), Taking Stock: The Writing Process Movement in the 90s (Boynton/Cook, 1994, coedited with Lad Tobin), and Nuts & Bolts: A Practical Guide to Teaching College Composition (Boynton/Cook, 1993). In addition, Tom is coeditor (with Penny Kittle) of Children Want to Write, which is a collection of Donald Graves' most significant writings paired with recovered videotapes that illuminate his research and his inspiring work with children and teachers, and coeditor (with Lisa Miller) of The Essential Don Murray, which gathers the most important insights about writing and teaching writing from "America's Greatest Writing Teacher." Thomas Newkirk has been named the 2010 recipient of the Gary Lindberg Award for his outstanding contributions as a faculty member of the University of New Hampshire. Read the Award Announcement »

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Table of Contents


A Child Composes, K. Matthews

Labeling to Beginning Narrative: Four Kindergarten Children Learn to Write, J. Hilliker

Oscar's Journal, S. Durst

Reading to Mr. Bear, E. Chiseri-Strater

The Rhythm of Writing Development, E. Karelitz

Beyond Storyland: Young Writers Can Tell It Other Ways, S. Bonin

Second-graders Can So Write,


Six Questions Teachers Ask about Invented Spelling, S. Sowers Collaborative Learning

The Writer's Chart to Discovery, J. Simmons

Letting Children Lead the Way, S. Cadieux

Squeezing from the Middle of the Tube, S. Bridge

Note Writing: A Neglected Genre, E. Karelitz

A Special Writer at Work, N. Atwell

Reflect, Expand, Select: Three Responses in the Writing Conference, S Sowers

Children Responding to Children: Writing Groups and Classroom Community, S. Brady and S. Jacobs Writing and Reading

Young Writers as Critical Readers, T. Newkirk

The Write Way to Read, P Flemming

A Writer Reads, A Reader Writes, M. Giacobbe

The Written Report: Old Wine in New Bottles, J. Wilde

The Fox in Possum's Clothing: The Teacher Disguised as Writer, in Hot Pursuit of Literacy, M. Fox Assessment

Reading and Talking: "Special" Readers Show They Know, S. Stires

Using Writing Folders to Document Student Progress, A Bingham

Send Your Writing Folders Home, J Rynkofs

Making the Grade: Evaluating Writing in Conference, N. Atwell

The Bundle, H. Halley Programs and Progress

Choosing a Language Arts Textbook, M. Giacobbe

How to Cover a Language Arts Text: Sit on It , C. Brennan Reflections

Time and the Taking of It, D. Sumner

Split Images: Teacher and Learner, M. Bunce

Safety, E. Parillo Resources Selected Bibliography on Writing and Its Teaching, R. Hubbard

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