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The Art of Teaching Writing [Hardcover]

by Lucy McCormick Calkins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 4, 1994 0435088173 978-0435088170

Recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Education



Grades K-8


When Lucy Calkins wrote the first edition of The Art of Teaching Writing, the writing workshop was a fledgling idea, piloted by a few brave innovators. Now, as she brings us this new edition, the writing workshop is at the foundation of language arts education throughout the English-speaking world. This new edition, then, could easily have been a restatement, in grander, more confident tones, of the original classic. Instead, it is an almost entirely new book.

Clearly, during the time in which Calkins's original ideas have spread like wildfire, her focus has not been on articulating and defending those ideas, but on developing and rethinking them. Respecting and responding to the questions which have arisen as thousands of teachers establish writing workshops in their classrooms, and drawing upon the latest knowledge in the field and her own intimate understanding of classroom life, Calkins has re-thought every line and every facet of her original text.

In this new edition, Lucy has major new chapters on assessment, thematic studies, writing throughout the day, reading/writing relationships, publication, curriculum development, nonfiction writing and home/school connections. More than this, she has deepened her understanding of the writing process itself:

"When I wrote the first edition, I saw writing as a process of choosing a topic, turning the topic into the best possible draft, sharing the draft with friends, then revising it. But I've come to think that it's very important that writing is a process not only of recording, but also of developing a story or an idea. Now, in this new edition, I describe writing episodes that do not begin with a topic and a draft but instead with something noticed or something wondered about. When writing begins with something that has not yet found its significance, it is more apt to become a process of growing meaning."

Editorial Reviews


?An outstanding publication on the latest developments in writing instruction.?-Language Arts

About the Author

Lucy Calkins is the author of the popular firsthand classroom materials Units of Study for Teaching Writing series and the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5 series. Most recently, Lucy has published a common core workshop curriculum, Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing, Grades K - 5. In addition, Lucy is the author or coauthor of numerous foundational professional texts with Heinemann, including Pathways to the Common Core;The Art of Teaching Writing; and One to One. She is also the author of The Art of Teaching Reading. She is the Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University's Teachers College. For more than twenty-five years, the Project has been both a think tank - developing state of the art teaching methods - and a provider of professional development. In these capacities, the Project has supported hundreds of thousands of educators. As the leader of this world renowned organization, Lucy works closely with policy-makers, superintendents, district leaders and school principals to instigate and sustain school-wide and system-wide educational reforms. But above all, Lucy works closely with teachers and with their classrooms full of wise and wonderful children. Lucy is also the Richard Robinson Professor of Children's Literature at Teachers College, where she leads the Literacy Specialist program. Lucy and her husband John are the parents of two sons, Miles and Evan. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 540 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann (April 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435088173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435088170
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lucy Calkins is Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and the Robinson Professor in Literature at Teachers College where she co-directs the Literacy Specialist program. She is the author of over 30 seminal books on the teaching of reading and writing, including her trademark curriculum resources, Units of Study supporting K-2 and 3-5 writing and 3-5 reading. Other foundational texts include The Art of Teaching Reading, The Art of Teaching Writing, One-to-One: The Art of Conferring with Young Writers, A Principal's Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing (co-authored with Laurie Pessah), Raising Lifelong Learners: A Parent's Guide, and most recently, Pathways to the Common Core (co-authored with Mary Ehrenworth and Christopher Lehman)--currently one of Amazon's top-selling titles. Lucy is also the author of the upcoming Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grade by Grade: A Yearlong Workshop Curriculum, Grades K-8 (Heinemann: 2013).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for writing teachers October 1, 2001
By Patrick
Elementary and high school English teachers looking for a quick fix or complete list of how-to lessons and activities for hooking young writers will be disappointed by The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy McCormick Calkins. What readers will find, however, is a coherent and thorough argument that challenges teachers to develop their own vision of excellence. On the opening page she states in no uncertain terms her definition of good teaching: "To teach well, we do not need more techniques and strategies as much as we need a vision of what is essential" (3). Through five sections and 29 chapters, it is her vision of what is essential that emerges as the overarching theme. Calkins helps students to experience a "wide-awakeness and curiosity" (516) of the world by placing their lives at the centre of their writing. The writing workshop is lauded throughout as a model that makes such an experience possible. Insightful anecdotes and glimpses into elementary and high school classrooms show how all phases of the writing process, including prewriting, drafting, sharing, revising, editing, are managed. Practical discussions on standardized testing, curriculum planning, and assessment are also included. The Art of Teaching Writing is comparable to other landmark texts in the field of writing instruction, including Nancie Atwell's In the Middle (1998) and Linda Rief's Seeking Diversity (1992). However, few texts offer the breadth and passion evident in Calkins' book. Although the book's length (and weight) might be initially daunting, it is a must read for anyone wanting to improve their understanding and use of the writing process and writing workshop. For more than twenty years, Lucy McCormack Calkins has been one of the most respected voices in the field of writing instruction. The Art of Teaching Writing is a testament to why this is the case.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This book was used in the two summer sessions of the Colorado Writing Project that I have taken. It is geared more towards elementary teachers, yet I teach middle school & have learned so much from Calkins. It gives great scenarios of teachers not giving proper feedback to child writers & gives examples of what is better. As teachers, we know that even constructive criticism is not always taken well by children. Calkins knows it's hard to teach writing without the criticism, but she helps us learn to conference better with our kids. Being able to say the write thing(pun intended) at the right time is crucial. The book reteaches the stages of writing and gives hundreds of samples of student writing. It's a great book to go along with the book What A Writer Needs. Also, Calkins just came out with The Art of Teaching Reading...I just got a copy & can't wait to have the same great experience as I have had with The Art of Teaching Writing. Of course, these are books we are done reading...never done learning!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for All Writing Teachers April 4, 2000
By A Customer
This widely encompassing book includes chapters on poetry, fiction, and report writing. It includes extensive sections on reading-writing connections, writing development, and teacher-student conferences. This book is truly a a must have in your professional libray. You'll wonder how you taught writing all these years without it!
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too narrative for an informative text October 15, 2002
By A Customer
While as a writing consultant and presenter, I do recommend many of the strategies mentioned in this book, I also find that a majority of my audiences (inservice teachers) admit that reading Lucy Calkins is difficult. Finding her important ideas is like looking for treasure without a map! What about clarity and conciseness? Despite the focus on story-telling, the book is worth reading - particularly if you enjoy Mitchner novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book for teachers December 4, 2003
The Art of Teaching Writing, by Lucy McCormick Calkins is an enlightening read for new teachers everywhere. It provides challenges for teachers to develope personalized teaching skills, discusses many aspects of the feild that teachers find while working in education, as well as discusses modern ways of teaching writing skills instead of the "old style." Not an easy read at all, hard to keep interest throughout the book, and very intimidating in size
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking and helpful! April 25, 2007
Lucy McCormick Calkins', The Art of Teaching Writing is an essential read to teachers of writing in any grade, but especially for the primary and middle levels. This book is also helpful for new teachers as well as veterans. Teaching writing to the primary and middle school grades can be a challenge, but the instruction she gives and the creativity of her ideas create an exciting guide for any teacher. As someone who plans to teach at the middle school level, I found many of Calkins' suggestions to be very useful.

Throughout the book, Calkins shows the need for meaning in writing and living our lives as writers, and demonstrating this to our students. Her ideas for the Writer's Notebook will allow the students a creative way of noticing the world around them as only a writer can. By giving the students an outlet to get out everything they want to say, they will begin to live the lives of writers.

Calkins stresses that students need to feel like authors to truly take ownership and be excited about their writing; she emphasizes the need for specific writing environments made to inspire and evoke emotion in the writer. These environments consist of cardboard desk separators decorated to each writer's own unique taste. Personal items and quotations may be used to cure any student of the dreaded writer's block.

Allowing the students to become the teachers is just another inventive way Calkins explains in order to allow them to flourish and grow as writers. She puts great importance on seeing and respecting every idea a students have. She realizes that teachers are students as well, and any idea, whether it comes from the teacher or the pupil, can be immensely inspiring.

These are just a few of her techniques, though she offers many more throughout the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THIS BOOK
Published 2 months ago by Kathleen Scannell
4.0 out of 5 stars Required
This book was required for one of my education classes. It was a great tool that helps you understand the importance of children writing on a daily basis.
Published 5 months ago by Countrygirl31106
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT!
This book halfway around the world to me,and it recency meet my expectations, so great!And basically no damage!I hope it useful to me.
Published 6 months ago by chenmi
5.0 out of 5 stars Reader Friendly
Calkins does a wonderful job explaining various facets of teaching writing and provides great examples. An easy read for a book so full of information.
Published 8 months ago by Sharlene Kenyon
3.0 out of 5 stars cheaper to buy here than rent
i purchased for school. if you are taking a class, this book is cheaper to buy here than it was to rent from school.
Published 9 months ago by bhorne
5.0 out of 5 stars FIVE STARS!!! Great Book!
I love this book, this is easily one of my favorite books from this credential year! Easy to read and full of good examples!
Published 15 months ago by Ms.Torres
4.0 out of 5 stars Art of Teaching Writing
This book so far is really really good. Provides teachers with an alternative way of thinking and teaching writing. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Alicia
1.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Teaching Writing
Your site did not say the copyright date and what I got was the old edition. I would have paid extra for the new edition if I had known.
Published on October 24, 2008 by Minta H. Napier
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant reading for a great foundation in the art of teaching writing
Lucy Calkins writes in an easy to understand manner that provides a great foundation for teachers who teach writing. Read more
Published on October 8, 2008 by Kristina Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I was very pleased with this purchase and would recommend many people purchasing. It came quick and was in excellent condition.
Published on September 24, 2008 by Brooke E. Davis
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