Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice


This text is a comprehensive survey of theories, research, and methods associated with teaching composition successfully. It begins with a discussion of the historical factors that have shaped today's composition instruction, by tracing the development of rhetoric from ancient Greece through contemporary strands defined by modernism, romanticism, and postmodernism. This is followed by chapters on models for teacher writing; the classroom as a writing workshop; the role that reading plays in effective writing; style; English as a second language and nonstandard English; the psychology of writing; writing assignments and assessing writing as the most important factors in evaluation--including a step-by-step guide to implementing holistic and portfolio assessment. Relevant for composition teachers at all levels, this text is particularly useful for preservice and in-service English and language arts teachers at the middle and secondary levels.

Other features include:

• thorough discussions of English as a second language and nonstandard English--topics that are increasingly vital to effective teaching;

• insightful treatment of Black English Vernacular (Ebonics);

• consideration of the psychology of writing in light of the current emphasis on critical thinking skills in our schools;

• examination of the validity of the critical thinking focus of instruction used in many classrooms; and

• useful pedagogical aids--including chapter overviews; prompts for journal entries to give students opportunities to reflect on the material and how it relates to their own experiences; sample assignments; sample student papers; study questions and activities at the end of each chapter that provide opportunities to apply the key ideas.

New in the Second Edition
This popular text has been fully revised and updated throughout; the chapters on reading and writing, psychology and language, and ESL and nonmainstream students are almost completely new, reflecting major changes in these areas since the first edition was published. The revised edition is more open-ended, allowing readers to strike out more on their own after seeing what the various experts have to say. Unlike other texts in this area, this book includes lengthy discussions of English as a second language and nonstandard English--topics that are increasingly vital to effective teaching.


When I began teaching high school many, many years ago, it never occurred to me that one day I might be helping prepare future teachers. I was too busy to think that far ahead. I juggled six different classes and monitored the restrooms during lunch hours while trying to understand why my students could not write and why they did not love literature as much as I did. In spite of my English degree and credential, I really had not been prepared to teach writing. It just was not part of the education curriculum in those days. So when I entered my own classroom for the first time, I was overwhelmed by how much I did not know. I began reading everything I could about the subject, but it never seemed to be enough, and I hope that the students I had during those years did not suffer too much from my ignorance.

A decade later, Ph. D. in hand, I began training people who wanted to teach, and like many others before me, I was certain that I had answers to most of the questions I had asked when I began my own career at a high school in California. The first edition of this book emerged out of those early years as a professor at UCLA when I discovered that there were no available books that tried to bring together all the disparate theories and research that influence writing instruction. This first edition provided many answers but posed few questions. Positioned firmly in the cognitive approach that dominated composition studies during those years, the first edition explored writing as a psychosocial action and advocated a pragmatic approach to instruction before the ideas of social constructivism had fully jelled in the profession.

Another decade has passed and I'm still training people who want to teach, but I discovered that I only knew a fraction of what I thought I knew, and most of that is not germane to the issue of how we help young people become better writers. The world is a different place. Education has changed. Students have changed. The challenges we face in turning children into literate human beings are greater now. Therefore, it is appropriate that this second edition of Preparing to Teach Writing offers fewer answers but asks more questions.

Like the first edition, it offers a fairly comprehensive examination of the research and theories that influence what teaching writing is about and it strives to separate the wheat from the chaff. Readers who want a quick overview of the history of rhetoric from classical times to the present will appreciate chapter 1, which is far more detailed than anything the first edition offered. I thoroughly revised and updated all . . .

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