on June 10, 2004
Staring down my first year of teaching was daunting enough, let along figuring out how to teach my kids to become good writers. Lessons that Change Writers is an invaluable companion to any English teacher who wants to make real writers out of his students. The book is filled with super-practical lessons that cover every aspect of writing I could have hoped for along with wonderful examples written by Nancie's students. The vast majority of my students finished the year feeling confident about their writing skills; the progress they made was astounding. Students realized that writing was a time consuming process, and I learned that teaching writing in a meaningful way is also a TIME CONSUMING process. To teach in the way Nancie does, it requires a goodly amount of class time and an enormous amount of out-of-class time. However, it was worth it, and this book made me feel like an incredibly competent writing teacher. The rest of my English department will be using this next year. Highly recommended.
on January 19, 2003
Nanci's book "In the Middle" has been both an inspiration to middle-level educators and a frustratingly out-of-reach goal. How she manages everything still remains a mystery after reading those 500-plus pages. This new book adds dimention to her previous work by showing us her plans for a year and offering scrips of how she introduces her mini-lessons. Because this book is so detailed, it makes those un-attainable practices within reach.
This is not a "scripted curriculum," but a detailed illustration of how she approaches the instruction of writing. You will need to be fairly familiar with "In The Middle" place these lessons in an appropriate context, as Mini-Lessons are only one piece of her practice.
I was able to transfer several of the lessons in this book directly to my Writing Workshop. Most helpful are the reproducible student samples that show 7th and 8th graders what their work might look like.
If you model your class on Atwell, Linda Reif, etc., this resource is well worth the steep price. I am eagerly awaiting a similar product that lays-open her Reading Workshop Mini-Lessons.
on July 19, 2004
This is the text and the binder of teacher worksheets. I think its a very comprehensive program that, while it does require a lot of teacher time at the output, really does produce results. I just bought the program and i was a bit concerned whether it was just the text or both the text and the binder (hence the title). Last year, i peeked in on another teacher's resources and i was able to better my writing lessons. I do think the program is best used as a whole rather than piecemeal-style. If you already have an established writing program it is probably not for you, but if you are looking for one good resource, your money would be well spent on this!
on May 10, 2003
I just discovered this book (we have a copy in our school) and used one chapter to teach short story writing to my 6th graders. Her lesson suggestions and reproduceables taught my students what was missing from their writing and how to improve it. The binder contains many quotes and handouts. They are well designed. For example, by filling out the one on their main character, my students had the germ of a real story and were ready to write. I had to adapt it a little, but the basic teaching ideas and structure was very helpful to me. It helped students make meaningful changes to their own writing.
on March 17, 2003
This book (along with the revised "In the Middle") really helped me to "see" what I needed to do to enhance my writing workshop. Reading her, "What I was thinking. . ." and then seeing the words that she uses to teach the lessons made it seem like I was sitting right in her classroom. Of course the only thing better would be doing just that! Well worth the $ spent and immediately usable. I too am waiting for a similar volume that will lay open her reading workshop.