Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6

Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6

by Paula Bourque


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How closely do your students read their writing? What are the implications for those who do and those who don’t?
During her work in classrooms, literacy coach Paula Bourque noticed that students who read their own writing closely are engaged in their work, write fluently, are able to produce lengthy drafts, and incorporate teaching points from mini-lessons into the day’s writing.
In this comprehensive book, Paula shows you that no matter what structures or lessons you use in your writing classroom, the strategies in Close Writing will help you make these better by creating student writers who are more aware of what effective writing looks like, who care about what they write, and who take ownership and responsibility for their growth as writers.
Paula argues that a key element in close writing is learning to look and looking to learn by closely reading our own writing. Instead of focusing on the mechanics of their writing, she encourages students to read their words for understanding, clarity, and the effect they will have on an audience. She urges them to recognize their habits and their approaches to writing and to build upon them.
Close Writing is based on research and methods that are reliable and valid best practices, but it will not prescribe lessons or structures. It gives you a peek inside classrooms where teachers just like you are working with budding authors just like yours. Paula also provides considerations for ELL writers, as well as a section of interviews with authors. She shares an extensive reference/resource guide, and a companion website with students’ work samples, reproducibles and templates, and videos of classroom writing lessons round out this must-have resource. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625310538
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Publication date: 01/28/2016
Pages: 290
Sales rank: 954,779
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 7 - 11 Years

About the Author

Paula Bourque has been working with readers and writers in kindergarten through eighth grade for twenty-eight years. She grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University. She trekked halfway across the country to start her career as classroom teacher in Maine, and her love of literacy led her to a Master’s degree in that area from the University of Southern Maine. Still intrigued by how students learn to read, she became a Recovery teacher and honed her skills at keenly observing and scaffolding her most puzzling students. Her fervor for reading and writing led her to become a Title I literacy specialist, supporting her schools’ at-risk students and their families. She became a certified literacy coach and earned a Certificate of Advanced study in literacy leadership from the University of Maine, and has worked as a K-8 literacy/instructional coach for the past eight years. 

An avid kidlit reader, she has been intrigued by the process of authors in the published world as well as those in the classroom--including the teachers. While she helped students to closely read the work of other authors, she became curious about her young writers’ strategy (or lack) of closely reading their own writing. This led her to examine the relationships they were developing with their writing. A literacy coach in four schools, she used her observations of hundreds of writers in action each week to help her explore how writers could be more mindful and purposeful in their work, and nurture that relationship.

She is a firm believer that the best writing teachers are teachers who write. “Through this process, I realized how my own writing not only reflected what I was seeing and thinking, it was shaping what and how I was thinking. While working on this project, I discovered I was truly writing to learn and learning to write.” Now she and several colleagues in her district meet to write and share their ideas with a Teachers Write group (inspired by Kate Messner’s virtual writing camp of the same name) and are enjoying the same sense of writing community that they are creating in their classrooms.

Beyond her work in Augusta, Paula has presented at numerous conferences, created writing webinars for Maine’s Department of Education, taught graduate courses in literacy, and worked as a consultant in several school districts. She blogs about her passion for reading, writing, and teaching ( and enjoys continuing her own lifelong learning with her PLN, where she is known on Twitter as @LitCoachLady. She lives in Maine with her husband and two tireless teens, and is rarely seen without a camera in her hand.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction x

Part 1 Guiding Principles

Chapter 1 Learning to Look 3

Chapter 2 Close Reading: The Key to Close Writing 13

Part 2 Close Writing Lessons

Chapter 3 Close Listening: Developing Our Writer's Ear 32

Chapter 4 Close Looking: Learning from Mentor Texts 50

Chapter 5 Close Modeling: Learning from Mentor Authors 79

Chapter 6 Increasing Volume and Stamina 106

Chapter 7 Rereading and Reflecting 133

Chapter 8 Revising: Revisiting and Revisioning 161

Chapter 9 Eyes and Ears of an Editor 180

Chapter 10 Assessment and Feedback for Close Writing 207

Chapter 11 Publishing and Performing: The Process and the Product 233

Part 3 Close Writing With Authors

Getting Close to Writers to Be Close Writers 258

Epilogue 274

References 276

Index 280

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