"This series is for people who learn best by simply getting started. We hope teachers will regard the series as a sort of demonstration-teaching, and find companionship and comfort in its classroom specificity. It begins with Monday morning, with the decisions, words and insights that some of the nation's most respected teachers of writing make when we step past philosophy (and the place where everything is possible because no decisions have been made yet) and put ourselves on the line. We describe the days and weeks of a yearlong writing curriculum. We write in minute-by-minute detail so you can envision the words we actually say and the actions we actually take when we work with young writers.
We hope that by sharing our words and our decisions in all their specificity, we help you feel at home enough with teaching writing that you gather your youngsters close, and begin. For a time, you will probably adopt and adapt words and ideas you find here; know that each of us learned that way as well.
Because we have taught within a research and teaching collaborative, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, we've each listened in on and adopted the teaching language of mentors and colleagues, and drawn strength from the details of each others' teaching. This book is for teachers who may not be lucky enough to have the same daily opportunities to peek in on the teaching of mentors. We hope our teaching ideas slide on like new jeans, to be worn and shaped by you over time in ways that make them comfortable, inviting, endlessly functional and uniquely yours.
The series is comprised of nine small books and a CD. The first book, The Nuts and Bolts of Teaching Writing will equip you to teach a productive, well-managed writing workshop, introduce you to the methods which underlie all writing instruction, and help you plan a yearlong curriculum in the teaching of writing. Then, each of the seven unit books will support 4-6 weeks of that yearlong curriculum, helping you plan goals, minilessons, and shares for that unit. The Conferring Handbook offers you support in your conferring in each unit, and the CD offers resources and reproducibles to support you throughout the year’s writing workshop.
Each unit is divided into approximately fifteen sessions. In each session, we provide a detailed description of one day's teaching, and share ways in which that one day could be extended into several days.
This series grows out of the work that the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project does as staff developers in classrooms across the nation. We've found that some of the most powerful staff development of all occurs when we teach alongside other teachers, coaching into the nitty-gritty details of teaching. I've tried to bring this sort of coaching into this book. Often in the midst of a minilesson transcript, readers will find the words of a coach who says, "Notice especially the way …" or "This was a crucial move because…" I hope that these comments help you glean larger principles from the fast-paced details of this teaching."