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In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning (2nd Edition) Paperback – Feb 11 1998


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In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning (2nd Edition) + Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers + Lessons That Change Writers
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 2 edition (Feb. 11 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0867093749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0867093742
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #137,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jaime A Mendelis on Jan. 8 2003
Format: Paperback
Atwell's research and dedication to the true teaching of literacy in classrooms of all levels has changed my philosophy of teaching forever. Those who judge her approach without attempting to understand it, are only missing out on an innovative and fresh approach to how English should be taught.
In my own classroom of tenth graders, I have gone from yawns and glazed eyes to students who leave my classroom at the end of the school year saying "I could write for pages and pages about how you've helped me become a better writer." I still address grammar, literature, "5 paragraph" essay writing, and the dreaded (and overrated)state tests. Instead of being students who force themselves to read and write for a grade, they are readers and writers who are proud of the accomplishments they produce in literacy.
I recommend this book to anyone who is serious about changing the way literacy is taught in our schools, and creating not only engaged students, but people who love to read and write.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Dunkin on April 3 2002
Format: Paperback
Atwell introduces her teaching experiences with chapters about how teach writing and reading to the fragile adolescent age groups. In the following chapters she describes, in detail, her procedure of the "writing and reading workshop" for teaching in her classroom. She goes into great detail about how she prepares herself before the students ever come to class, what she does in the first week of school and how she introduces the workshop technique to her students, her use of minilessons, how she responds to students' writing and how she values and evaluates the students' writing. This book is very thorough in its descriptions of how to teach the workshop style of reading and writing. Atwell walks the reader through every step to make this technique successful. She gives many examples of dialogue she, as a teacher, has had with students showing the reader how she handled particular situations that had come up. It leaves no question unanswered. I believe this book is very helpful to teachers who wish to teach this method. Atwell captures her audience by using real stories and references to experts in this field who have studied this technique for years. Although this is a very involved technique and some beginners may feel overwhelmed by the detail, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I bought two copies of this book from Amazon, for myself and my class aide, on the strength of the other teachers' recommendations here. The book is as good as the most enthusiastic reviewers say it is, but it is seriously flawed, and to some degree self-contradictory, because it talks too much. As good as are the author's approaches, she doesn't really need 484 pages, plus numerous appendices, to get the message across. In fact, she buries the message in verbosity.
Note that other reviewers found the book easy to read. But if you are already convinced that you want to refresh your approach to teaching reading and writing, you may grow impatient with the overabundance of anecdotes, homilies and elaboration.
Teachers know there is no itemized recipe for teaching, but a book on teaching writing could at least demonstrate the virtue of being concise. Mrs. Atwell should read her own quotes and not "cloud the issues with jargon in place of simple, direct prose...." (p. 16). (This is one of numerous quotes of Donald Graves, who returns the favor by endorsing her book in an exemplary brief foreword).
As one who likes quoting great writings in every chapter, the author could have used and applied the Hellenistic Demos: "I will be moderate in all I attempt and do Nothing to Excess."
Summary: it's just too much of a good thing. I'm going to spring for the workbook (Lessons that Change Writers) and generate even more royalties for the author, in the hopes it is more to the point.
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Format: Paperback
Aimee Duncan Miami University Oxford, Ohio
In the Middle. Nancy Atwell. 1998. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc.
Remember middle school? Remember your first crush when
You see him walk past you in the hall your eyes lock. Yours want to stay locked forever-
Or your first dance when
You knew it was right, and you knew much more when it was not- something clicked -
Those days were so real. The crush so significant and the dance so memorable. And then remember when your crush didn't like you back? And the guy you clicked with on the dance floor turned around and danced with your best friend? Remember going home and writing about it in your journal; all those heart-breaking poems and hate letters. Just think about if your teacher allowed you to turn a piece in like that? Minus all of the bad words, that would have been powerful writing -- authentic and full of emotion -- I wish I would have been able to express myself like that in high school. Nancie Atwell in In the Middle knows that surviving adolescence is not easy. She gives teachers advice on how to go about the "real" issues that their students are going through. She gives her students freedom, the freedom to express all of the "thorns." In chapter three the book came alive for me. She talked about how important it was to have a class of reality. Teachers need to know what is going on in the lives of the adolescents. The pain they feel is real, the "thorns" of adolescents cause hurt and teachers cannot overlook that. Atwell claims that it is important for teachers to spend their lives focusing on this "fascinating" and "unpredictable" stage. "It's a stage of change - emotionally, physically, psychologically, and intellectually.
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