As a member of this Online Book Club, you are expected to post to the book blog at least once per week between now and July 11 -- that's six weeks. You should finish your book before then, and you will meet during the Institute in your groups to extend the discussion and plan how to present the book to the others in the Institute.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Another post about chapter 1

Several pages into the book, I had to stop reading and make a burger. Medium-rare on a homemade ciabatta bun with fresh lettuce and tomato, topped with a fried egg, if you are wondering. 

I wasn't particularly hungry when I sat down. Didn't plan to have a burger for dinner, even. Yet a single word in the text prompted my need for the treat - a name, in fact. 

Maybe you saw it, too. 

In the first section, the authors cite someone by the name of Applebee. The quote regarded the premise of writing's resurgence of importance following an age testing avalanches. I only know that because I read it three times; the first time through, as soon as I hit Applebee, my brain narrowed its focus to a single idea: burger. The two ideas remain inseparable. Thanks, Pavlov. 

Maybe some of you had similar reactions to different elements of the first chapter (or the Forward). NCLB, Common Core, college and career readiness, Kelly Gallagher, narrative writing, etc. There's much conversation to be had here, but as a first year teacher, I lack the background to attach an emotional reaction to the intellectual stimulation. I didn't "care." 

Likewise, students often lack the experience required to acknowledge the importance of writing. Despite our best efforts to help students view themselves as "writers" or appeal to their more rational sides by waxing on about the importance of writing regardless of profession or discipline, few see the practice as more than another task. That was me, certainly.

But once I recognized writing's importance, the skills drilled into me provided a scaffold off which I could shape my own writing habits. This book looks like it will offer some discussion and tools for accomplishing the same feat with my students while, perhaps, helping them to see - through variety - the opportunities writing can offer. "Communication gives purpose to correctness," Carol Jago writes in the Forward, punctuating her point that Writers see the mechanics of writing as a means to an end, no ends in themselves. 

This attitude change is what I hope to learn about in this book. My hope is to engage instructional practices that help students see opportunity in writing, especially when - upon reflection - I realize that the "how" far outweighs the "why" in my writing instruction. The broad setup of chapter 2 as a lesson in writing about food indicates that the authors give weight to student inquiry and interest, suggesting an attitude focus. The orientation around speaking and collaboration give body to the idea of writing as communication, too. 

All in all, the forward and first chapter have me excited to read more. The practices, hopefully, will help me instruct my students about writing in a way that doesn't leave them thinking exclusively about burgers.

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