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


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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: 23.3 x 18.6 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This book has proven to be an invaluable resource in my grade 7 classroom. I had an idea of what I wanted my reading and writing program to look like, but would have struggled ten more years to put it together into something like what Ms. Atwell has articulated in her book. I owe her greatly; she has saved me so much work, and given me a place to really dig into meaningful reading and writing instruction for my students, and make it my own.

Students are leaving my class excited about writing and reading. I leave my class excited to be coming back each day. Good show!
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By A Customer on Oct. 8 2003
Format: Paperback
A book that helped inspire me to become a teacher. Some other reviewers may not find it totally "practical" for them to adopt, but anyone with common sense would know that you take what works best for you from as many legitimate resources as possible and adapt.
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By A Customer on Oct. 8 2003
Format: Paperback
You can let students have choices about what to write and still have formal guidelines, unlike what the other reviewer/teacher wrote. Nancie Atwell's book is based on years of her own first-hand experiences in the classroom, and, as someone who assigns and reads well over 1000 formal essays per school year to over 200 students, I'll listen to Atwell's advice before some burned out teacher's rantings about the need to drill, drill, drill.
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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
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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Format: Paperback
Nancie Atwell does not teach in the public schools of America with 40 minutes of overcrowded class time where spelling, vocab., grammar, reading, test preparation, and writing must go on. Not being able to find a website for her school, I can only assume that there are few, if any, real behavioral problem or remedial children (it is her own private school that provides the model and anecdotes for this text). I think the idea of the workshop is great, but I fear that much of Atwell won't translate to a real public school classroom.
This is a textbook for two of my grad classes in secondary English education, and many of my classmates (both certified and preservice teachers)agree that this program isn't realistic. There are so many demands on teachers to teach grammar, vocab, spelling, etc. and such a short time to do it, that I can't see how one could effectively hold writing workshops or teach district requirements, let alone do both.
As a matter of fact, my writing class had a speaker who is an Atwellian just last week. She teaches no grammar lessons, vocab, or spelling to her 8th graders. They don't write formal essays (because they are choosing what they write). They spend some mini-lessons reviewing how the NY ELA exam works, and that seems to be all the prep that they get. She says that her students do no worse on the ELA than students from traditional classrooms, but they don't do any better, either. I am curious as to how they do in 9th grade when they haven't written a single formal essay about literary technique (other than on the ELA) and then are expected to write essays about literary elements and techniques almost exclusively.
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