When I Whisper, Nobody Listens: Helping Young People Write About Difficult Issues / Edition 1

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How can you make your classrooms safe for students who wish to share writing about personal topics? What are your responsibilities to students and their parents, to social service agencies and legal authorities, and to yourself? How do you know when writing about violence or suicide indicates a potential danger? And how do you respond when you suspect that it does?

Few books offer guidance on how you can help students write about sensitive topics or provide pragmatic suggestions for developing the skill and sensitivity necessary to venture into such difficult terrain. In the aftermath of Columbine and similar incidents, this important book does just that, addressing students' need to articulate their thoughts and feelings about violence, anger, drug use, peer pressure, and other complex issues. Just as important, it describes how to create a climate for developing conflict-resolution skills and for proposing nonviolent alternatives to solve problems.

Drawing on her extensive experience with at-risk youth, Helen Frost discusses up front safety issues and legal and ethical concerns in creating a safe haven for writing. She then offers guidelines for introducing and responding to student writing and for helping students revise and publish their work. Specific writing activities appear in worksheet form, organized by genre, enabling you to implement a program of your own. Student writing examples indicate the payoff: the power, precision, and grace that can result when students transform even the touchiest subjects into works of art.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This title would make an excellent addition to the bookshelves of any English teacher.”–-VOYA
English classrooms always have been breeding grounds for the development and nurturing of student voices. Under the guidance and watchful eye of the teacher, young people may express their feelings on an endless number of issues, memories, and ideas. In the wake of recent tragedies—including the Columbine massacre and the attack on the World Trade Center—the professional educator's ability to grow and harvest their students' stories, despite the emotional toll it might take on them, has become an imperative task. Frost writes a straightforward, practical guide in the tradition of Nancie Atwell's classic In the Middle (Boynton/Cook, 1987) and Randy Bomer's Time for Meaning (Heinemann, 1995). She divides the book into three parts. Creating A Safe Writing Environment provides an outline of how to create a trusting community in the classroom and set parameters for content. Guidelines for Writing Activities offers an overview of the writing process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, and publishing. She then supplies Writing Activities, which are divided and explained by genre. An extensive appendix provides further resources for the teaching of writing, worksheets to help frame student writing, and student writing samples, great for teacher modeling. The entire purpose of writing is to share—helping students to bridge the gap between feeling and sharing is one of an English teacher's greatest responsibilities. This title would make an excellent addition to the bookshelves of any English teacher or social worker. Illus. Photos. Further Reading. Appendix. 2001, Heinemann, 136p,
— Beth Gilbert
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325003528
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 9/4/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.34 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Frost has been writing and working with young people since she was a teenager. She has taught writing at all levels, preschool through university, including four years as an elementary teacher in Alaska and six years in a violence-prevention program for at-risk youth. She currently writes poetry and children's books, and teaches writing in schools, group homes, and juvenile-detention centers.
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Table of Contents

Creating a Safe Writing Environment

Know Yourself

Make It Safe

Legal and Ethical Concerns

Guidelines for Writing Activities

Presenting Writing Activities to Students

Helping Students Develop Their Writing

Shaping, Polishing, and Publishing

Specific Writing Activities






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