Sunday, July 3, 2011

Resource Book Review: Study Driven

Study Driven: A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing WorkshopStudy Driven: A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop by Katie Wood Ray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a gem.

I borrowed this book from the PAWLP library, was impelled to take notes as I read--thirteen full pages--and still have resolved to buy the book for myself for my classroom and a place near my desk.

As a reference and resource for pieces of writing or places to find pieces of writing for support in your classroom it is the best I've come across.

As a reference and resource for lesson planning ideas it is the best I've come across. Katie Wood Ray offers THIRTY thorough lesson plans or what she calls study possibilities. This is after 186 pages chock full of great ideas, support, and inspiration. Some of the study possibilities she offers span the range of memoir, historical fiction, and practical how-to fiction, to photo essay, how writers use punctuation as a crafting tool, and Editorials, Commentary and all Things Op-ed.

This is a seriously thorough and well-balanced book.

At the core of her belief is immersion. We can only hope to improve students we teach by immersing them in the texts and in their writing--teaching them to read like writes. Immersion affords us the possibility to read the type of writing we are going to do, talk about it, practice it, and share it.

One of the seminal questions we can help all students by asking is "what have you read that is like what you are trying to write?"

Her preference for the outline of a typical class period would entail: whole class gathering for teacher-led conversation, demonstration, or inquiry; independent writing and writing-related work (conferencing); talking and sharing about the process of writing.

Katie Wood Ray concludes this thoughtful book by covering the issue of time. We are all pressed for time in our schools and districts. I won't go into here, but she makes a very eloquent case for considering trying to make at least some part of these ideas work in your classroom.

We don't teach under the same rules, issues, or needs. But can reach the same texts and have the same conversations (which our colleagues) to, perhaps, begin to shift the pendulum back. As far as time goes, until something changes, we have what we have.

Read this book--even if nothing changes in your school or district or curriculum I am confident this will help you make at least some positive change in your teaching.

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