Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice

Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice

Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice

Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice


Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice is an extraordinary language arts methods text that enables elementary and middle school teachers to create classroom environments where all students can become lifelong readers and writers. Focusing on developmentally appropriate methods and materials, this remarkably readable book empowers a new generation of teachers to integrate reading, writing, listening, and speaking in K-8 classrooms. Heller's highly accessible writing style makes this book suitable as a primary text for undergraduate and graduate courses in language arts, reading, writing, and literacy.

Special features of this second edition include:

• a vision of how to transform cutting-edge theory and research into classroom practice that utilizes integrated language arts instruction;

• a unique developmental perspective with separate chapters on teaching methods and materials for kindergarten, primary (1-3), intermediate (4-6), and middle grades (7-8);

• instructional guidelines that offer generous, detailed suggestions for applying theory to practice, plus "For You to Try" and "For Your Journal" exercises that encourage critical thinking and reflection; and

• a wealth of classroom vignettes, examples of students' oral and written language, illustrations, and figures that accentuate interesting and informative theory, research, and practice.

In addition, Reading-Writing Connections offers expanded content on the impact of sociocultural theory and the whole language movement on the teaching of reading and writing across the curriculum; greater emphasis on cultural diversity, including new multicultural children's literature booklists that complement the general children's literature bibliographies; and current information on alternative assessment, emerging technologies, the multiage classroom, reader response to literature, and thematic teaching.


In the foreword to the first edition of Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory to Practice, I took note ofSeymour B. Sarason foreword to another book, The Politics of Reading, by Jo Michelle Beld Fraatz. One pervasive theme that runs through Fraatz's book is the "pursuit of routines" by teachers, school administrators, and special personnel. Routines are seen as a source of comfort and control, as means of coping with too many students and with multitudinous responsibilities. "In the culture of the school, as in any complicated social organization," Sarason says, "the need for routine too easily becomes an end in itself and individual needs and differences go by the boards. . . . There is a culture of the school that, when not understood, works against outcomes consistent with stated goals."

I'd found Fraatz's observations and Sarason's elaboration disturbing because they reminded me that the high price for "comfortable" routines is paid not out of apathy or ignorance but out of frustration. I thought, and I continue to think, that the frustration stems largely from an abiding belief that school curricula, particularly in reading and writing, are materials-driven. With all that material to cover -- never mind where it came from or why -- the promise of comfort and control offered by routines is irresistible. The frustration is compounded because even when there is a will, there are no perceived ways to proceed otherwise.

Not that there's ever been a dearth of advice. The "experts" continue, some with strident and some with seductive voices, to offer advice. And teachers continue to be neither impressed nor empowered by advice that has little basis in classroom realities or scant theoretical and empirical support.

Then there was Reading-Writing Connections, sound advice rooted in theory and enriched by the commonsense perspectives that derive from active, introspective experiences in real classrooms. Mary Heller described methods and practices that were both grounded in theory and enlivened by examples of classroom applications by actual teachers -- palatable alternatives to the pursuit of routines.

And now there's Reading-Writing Connections, Second Edition. What I like best about this revised and expanded edition isProfessor Heller straightforward treatment of implications associated with the "whole language" philosophy in education. Rather than get embroiled in the either-or arguments that seem increasingly . . .

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