As teachers, how do we get reluctant students to embrace writing projects? Many of them struggle to produce good content for writing projects in all subject areas. That’s why YOU NEED THIS BOOK by Authors David Harrison and Mary Jo Fresch: 7 Keys to Research For Successful Writing. Here’s David to tell you more about it:
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today, Darlene. I’m delighted to tell you about 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING! published October, 2017.
What motivated you to write the book (a break away from your usual poetry)?
Kids ask authors, “How long does it take to write a book?” A variation is, “How many books can you write in a day?” When I explain that I must first learn about my subject before I can write about it, many look surprised. When I tell them I often spend as much time getting ready to write as I do writing, they look amazed. Kids in school aren’t accustomed to spending much time investigating what they are going to write about.
My writing partner for 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING is Mary Jo Fresch, Professor Emerita and Academy Professor of The Ohio State University. Prior to becoming an educator of pre-service and in-service teachers of Kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers, Mary Jo was a classroom teacher.
Together we have seen far too many writing-before-ready results. They are usually dismal at best and at worst convince students that writing is too hard and mysterious and not for them. The goal of our collaboration is to provide classroom teachers with a practical resource to help them demonstrate that writers don’t just pick up and a pen or sit down at the keyboard and start writing.
- What was the collaboration like?
This is our sixth book together. Prior to 7 KEYS, we wrote a series of five titles called LEARNING THROUGH POETRY, each dealing with different aspect of sounds: consonants, vowels, blends, digraphs, and rimes. We come from different backgrounds but share much in common, including work ethic and goals, so we make a compatible team. Before and during a new project we discuss ideas by email and conference via SKYPE. Once we establish a direction and general outline we agree on our respective responsibilities and jump in.
In this case we decided to use my 50-year experience to demonstrate how writers prepare to write and Mary Jo’s deep knowledge of classroom and scholarly research to provide meaningful follow up activities. We adopted a word not used much — presearch – to show how writers get ready to get ready before they write that first word. That gave us shape and direction. The result falls into seven categories, or keys, which are important elements that lead to good writing.
- Things you learned doing your own research for the book.
The first thing we learned was that nearly all books we could find that are meant to help young writers focus on the process of writing and how to improve it. We decided early on that teachers might not need yet another book about the act of writing. What they do need is a book about the act of getting ready to write, the kind of thoughtful, organized preparation that leads to good writing. Except for a page here, a chapter there, we didn’t see a lot of help out there.
The challenge was to find ways to make “doing your homework” seem necessary, fun, and un-daunting. My solution was to show by example what I do, and Mary Jo created imaginative and practical activities that children can relate to. This also gave me a chance to introduce two segments, one directed to teachers and one to kids. The ones to teachers are a cross between mini-PD sessions and personal asides meant to provide insight into the KEY in that chapter. Those meant for students are like a quick author’s visit that can be read as often as wished. They, too, set the stage for Mary Jo’s creative activities.
- Anything else you’d like to add?
Please let your readers know how one of them can win a free copy of 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING. We say the grade range is 3 and up but a university president recently told me he thinks more than a few freshmen could benefit from it. We hope readers will enjoy our book and feel free to leave their comments on Amazon.com. Mary Jo and I will present a 2-hour workshop on the subject in July at ILA in Austin. Maybe we’ll see some new friends there.
David is the prolific children’s poet and author of 100 titles. His books have received more than 50 honors, including Best Children’s Nonfiction Book of 2016 by Society of Midland Authors. He has been translated into twelve languages, anthologized in nearly 200 books, and appeared in dozens of magazines and interviews in print and online. Among other professional books are Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight with Bernice Cullinan and Rhymes for the Times, Literacy Strategies through Social Studies with Tim Rasinski. Professional articles have appeared in Dragon Lode, Reading and Writing Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, New England Reading Association Journal, and others. David is trained in research, holds two degrees in science and two honorary doctorates in letters. He has performed 300 times across the country and abroad in conferences, schools, and workshops. He is Drury University’s Poet Laureate.
Mary Jo is Professor Emerita and an Academy Professor of The Ohio State University. After years as a classroom teacher, She became an educator of pre-service and in-service teachers of Kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers. She speaks nationally and internationally about literacy-related topics and researches the developmental aspect of literacy learning. Her articles have appeared in peer reviewed journals, such as the Language Arts; Journal of Literacy Research; Reading and Writing Quarterly; Reading Psychology; The Reading Teacher; Journal of Just and Caring Education; and Journal of Children’s Literature. She has authored/co-authored 19 books for teachers, including The Power of Picture Books (NCTE), Strategies for Effective Balanced Literacy (Shell Education); Engaging Minds in the English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy (ASCD) and Learning Through Poetry (Shell Education).
To have your name entered in the random drawing for a signed copy of 7 Keys to Research For Successful Writing, leave a comment below stating you will happily write a review of the book on Amazon/Goodreads. Darlene will add your name to the list and ONE winner will be chosen and announced her on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.