Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Writing Books for Writing Teachers

Few days ago Stacey posted a question about the best books for new writing teachers. I have been thinking about the books that I have and use when teaching writing. Which ones would I recommend for new teachers (and for others as well)?
Here are my takes:

  • Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and other Problems  by Swan and Smith (2001) - This is my go to reference when teaching ELL students writing. I can look a language group see what are their typical challenges when it comes to learning English. Are there particular language functions or mechanics that I should focus on? Are some grammatical aspects so similar that I don't really need much time to spend on those but can focus on others?
  • Understanding ESL Writers by Leki (1992) - This book combines the cultural practical aspects of writing. As an ELL teacher, it is essential that I know where my students come from, what are their previous educational experiences, and their level of English proficiency when in my class. In addition, I must also understand how students from other countries might view personal writing. How about error correcting? Do I need to correct everything (or should I)? Leki answers these and many other questions in her book. If you are a mainstream teacher who occasionally has a few ELL students in your class, I would highly recommend this book.
  • Reading and Writing in More Than One Language by Franklin (1999) - Great resource for mainstream teachers who have ELL students in their classes. This book addresses both reading and writing challenges that teachers face when ELL students enter their classrooms. Full of practical tips.
  • iWrite by Wilber (2010); The Digital Writing Workshop by Hicks (2009); When Writing with Technology Matters by Bedard & Fuhrken (2013) - All these books address technology issues in the classroom. I believe that it is an essential component of today's writing teacher. As a blogger, I definitely want to incorporate blogging into my classroom practices as well.
  • Real Revision by Messner (2011) -  I have learned so much about revision from Kate Messner! She show with concrete examples both in the book and also on her blog. Here is one example from her blog, and here is another. Kate's examples can be applied to both fiction and non-fiction writing. And at least for me, revision is my biggest challenge with my students!
  • Write Beside Them by Kittle (2008) - From Penny Kittle I learned to write when my students are writing. How can I teach writing if my students never see me write? I think this book is essential for secondary teachers who want to make a difference in their students writing lives. We must teach writing by example just like we do reading.
  • Write Like This and Teaching Adolescent Writers by Gallagher (2011 & 2006) - both book are a MUST for secondary teachers! Full of examples, suggestions, student work samples and ways to push students to become more fluent writers (just like the common core challenges us to do). These books are on my table/shelf all the time. I am referencing them when writing my lesson plans, designing my handouts and assignments. My students see me use these. And again, modeling, using mentor texts, working with real life situations; this is what my students need.
  • Mechanically Inclined  by Anderson (2005) - As a writing teacher, I don't think that I could compose a list and not include at least one book that addresses the mechanics of writing in more detail. I have found Jeff Anderson's book to have a low stress level for the teacher and an easy to approach grammar attitude for the students. Definite keeper for ELL teachers!
  • PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards by TESOL (2006) - As an ELL teacher, I cannot be without this book! It is part of what I do. I believe that this book is an essential resource for anyone who has even one ELL student in his/her class. In order to make sure that ELL students are progressing on their journey to attain proficiency in English, teachers must educate themselves on ways to implement a program that assures improvement and eventually proficiency in all four domain of English language. 
Which books would you add? Have you read a new book that you believe would be an essential addition?

20 comments:

  1. I can't imagine how difficult it is to teach ELL students how to write. It's hard enough with students who have been speaking English all their life. It looks like you've got a great group of books to guide you on this rewarding journey.

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    1. It might be hard Elsie,but I love working with ELL students!

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  2. Thanks for the book list. I teach young ELL students (grade two this year) and some of these resources will be (and have been) great. I absolutely love writing with my students.

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    1. Any recommendations that I could use when working with the younger ELL students?

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  3. Oh my, how thorough you have been in introducing these books. This is certainly a helpful list for ELL teachers.

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  4. Your list is a real glimmpse into the life of an ELL teacher - as Elsie said, such a daunting task. Mechanically Inclined is one of my grammar favorites - it completely changed the way I thought about teaching grammar.

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    1. I am planning to re-read it this summer and make more concrete plans for next school year.

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  5. I like all your picks & some I'll check out! I would add some of Ralph Fletcher's. thanks!

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    1. Definitely Ralph Fletcher! I wonder where his book is in my house?

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  6. What a wonderful list. Some books I have and agree with you and some I just wrote down to check at Amazon for.
    Thanks to you :) I agree- love Ralph.
    Bonnie

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  7. Such a gift to get a list like that. I want to read Write Beside Them.

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  8. You're making my Goodreads list grow, Jaana! I just added Learner English -- sounds fascinating! Would you recommend the other ESL ones for ESL teachers too, or just for mainstream teachers who have ELLs? As for the others, LOVE your selections -- most of those are either read or already sitting in my house, waiting to be read! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Jennifer, if you have been teaching ELLs for awhile, you already have experience what to do about their writing. Once in a while I like read a section to remind myself what I should be looking at. This summer I will also be reading more about the WIDA standards as Michigan adopted them this past spring.

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  9. Wow - what a great focused list. Our ELLs are some of our most challenging students - specially is this era where we cannot give them "time" to begin thinking in a new language. I just ordered the Swan book and will think of you every time I open it!

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    1. I hear you Anita! Maybe one year "time" will magically appear:) I can hope!

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  10. Thanks for some new titles to add to my list that will help me guide my ELLs! I will have to take a new look at my resources and make a list, too! I work with 3rd-6th grade as an ESL teacher. Recently, the books that have made a big impression on me and that I have been using in writing lessons the grade level classrooms are Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature, K-6; Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing Through Children's Literature, K-8;and Poetry Mentor Texts, all by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capelli.

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    1. Thanks so much for your recommendations! I will be looking at some of those for my younger students.

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