Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Resource Book Review: Teaching Adolescent Writers

Teaching Adolescent WritersTeaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What strikes me about Kelly Gallagher's book is how thorough it is--by that I do not mean to suggest cumbersome and extraneous. I mean here is somebody who not only clearly articulates and well-support belief, but explains how he covers it in his classes and offers ideas as to how you might cover it in your class.

Everything I read in this book is absolutely adaptable to any class at any grade level.

He begins with a spot-on metaphor of what is happening in our world. The explosion of technology is putting a premium on an individual's capability to communicate: read and write. Technology hasn't made the fundamental value or skill easier, if anything it has shined a very bright light on it.

I'm writing now. You are reading now. Via technology.

This exchange between us did not occur LAST YEAR...others were blogging and reviewing books, yes, but it just trickled down to me. Now, go back ten years ago.

Go back to when I started teaching seventeen years ago. This did not occur.

As Gallagher extrapolates, "All teachers share the responsibility of not only teaching their content, but also promoting the literacy level of students."

We have to move beyond assigning writing and move more towards a whole-school value of teaching writing.

Gallagher roots his beliefs in the core value that we are all stakeholders in this process. And he demystifies the notion that science, or math, or art, or any teacher other than an English teacher can/should/is capable of teaching a writer in their subject area.

He offers dozens upon dozens of exercises capable of being used, right out of the book, for any course, any curriculum.

This is worth a first and second look; it is worth placing in your classroom as it will certainly get a lot of use once you crack it open. Who knows, maybe you'll even inspire a colleague to grow from it as well.

The bottom line is, kids have to write more than what we are generating nationwide. The national and state scores bear it out. The future, the rate and manner in which technology is hurtling forward...that too bears it out.

It is going to take some dialogue, but it has to start somewhere.  Gallagher's book is as solid a start as any I've read.

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