Reviewed by Linda Biondi
“I’ve dreamed of this book for a long time.” – Marilyn Pryle
I echo Pryle’s sentiments. I dreamed of this book for a long time, too. This book is exactly what we need to teach writing.
Teaching writing is not an easy task. In an informal survey of my colleagues (some of whom teach writing as a core subject) many feel that they are not writers themselves. I understand where they are coming from. Before I began to write WITH my students, I used to think the same thing. How can I teach them to be writers if I am not a confident writer myself?
Currently, most teachers are taught the Writers Workshop method, which is a step in the right direction, but teaching writing well comes with time and practice. This book will provide you with the opportunities to practice and teach writing in a logical, fun, and research-based way.
And if you are a content teacher. . .
Content area teachers are also being asked to support literacy in their classrooms. The Common Core Standards expect writing fluency in all subject areas.
If you are a teacher of science or history or math, the thought of “teaching literacy” to students in addition to covering the content area curriculum might be daunting. However, with a little help, such as the assistance that this great author provides in 50 Writing Activities for Meeting Higher Standards, the task will be less daunting and more manageable.
Adaptable to skill level and lesson type
I love the book for many reasons. First, because it’s adaptable to different stages of student writing ability and grade levels. You can use the activities as class work, homework, group work, or whole class activity – and differentiate to your students’ needs.
Not only are the activities adaptable, but with the purchase of the book, you receive online access to ALL of the activities and accompanying worksheets. Did I say ALL? Not only is the book a treasure to read and accompanying activities just what you need in the classroom, but when you select the title of the lesson you want to use, it is linked directly to the page online! Presto! Magic!
I can’t think of what to write! What me, a writer? What do you mean writing habits? Part one of the book consists of ways to generate ideas, habits, or fluency. The book begins with “Powerful Writing Practices” that will help your students generate ideas and realize that their lives are rich in memories, wonderings, questions, and stories.
Part two focuses on 42 writing assignments, grouped by the genres of narrative, expository, and persuasive writing…all teacher tested! Each activity addresses the Standard and can be written on the board as your “I CAN” statement.
Each chapter is rich with resources such as rubrics that address the skills for each activity as well as other skills that are necessary for skilled writing such as structure, process, ideas, language and grammar/spelling.
Making modeling work
Modeling the writing process is critical for student literacy. Not only does it provide a positive model for our students, but it also gives us a chance to show what a piece of writing looks like from draft to publishing. It demonstrates to our students that we value writing and find it useful. We become a member of their writing community.
By applying Pryle’s ideas and methods, you will be able to write your own exemplary pieces of writing… but her generosity continues as she also provides student samples for each genre with questions that will help students focus on the genre’s most important features.
Pryle’s authorship is far reaching. She has written numerous other books, including 50 Common Core Reading Response Activities, Writing Workshop in Middle School, Easy & Effective Writing Lessons for English Language Learners, Teaching Students to Write Effective Essays, and Purposeful Conferences – Powerful Writing!
She is an experienced teacher and writer and that is evident throughout the book. I love the activities that she provides because they not only reinforce the genres but meet the needs, skills, and strengths of our students.
There are also activities that reach many types of learners such as the interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, artistic or musical learner. The activities are relevant, age appropriate, and meet the needs of the twenty-first century learners.
They also encourage critical thinking, collaborating, informational and technological literacy, flexibility and leadership. For example, the “School Survival Guide” is an activity guaranteed to be a hit with the students. Perhaps a “Parental Persuasion“ piece might generate some interesting and fun-to-read topics.
An author you want to get to know
Pryle is certified in secondary English and reading instruction and has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels, and in several ELL programs.
If you would like a glimpse into the book, check out the online video tour, “My new book has arrived.” It will give you a quick insight into the book and the companion books that she has authored. Get to know her a little more by checking out her blog. You will be delighted and inspired.
50 Writing Activities for Meeting Higher Standards is practical and inspiring and a book you will refer back on many occasions. Her book is like eating an ice cream sundae. Each spoonful is sweet, delightful and makes you want more. Enjoy!
Linda Biondi recently retired from her position as fourth grade teacher at Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, NJ. She has been the recipient of several educational grants, a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, and a participant on the NJ Department of Education Teacher Advisory Panel and with ECET2 Celebrate Teaching. She hopes to continue her work in schools as a teacher mentor and trainer.