CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999
It's the beginning of first term. You and the writing students have months ahead to fill ... with what? The blackboard's clean, notebooks are fresh and empty, pens are ready. There are so many directions to choose from when writers work towards finding meaning ....Most classroom language arts teachers want to guide their students in their writing process, but it is all too easy to fall into "mapping": providing a series of steps, a "recipe" (pardon the mixed metaphor!) that students can follow. As a published writer of young adult fiction, and a teacher of junior and senior language arts, Sylvia Gunnery knows how to guide, and Just Write! is an excellent guide-book for teachers, whether new or experienced. The 11 chapters of the book take readers from the rationale for running a workshop-based classroom, to ways of getting student writers started, guiding students through revision, and finally, to celebrating the writing produced in the workshop with a "literary feast." Gunnery offers sound, classroom-tested ideas for working in two genres which often challenge writing teachers the most (poetry and drama) as well as ways to incorporate writing process techniques into literary essays (she calls them "thesis papers"). The author is also frank about the challenges faced by her and her students in many of their writing projects, and excerpts of students' responses provide authentic commentary. Just Write! is compact and affordable and deserves a place in personal and professional collections for language arts teachers.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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