Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Reader-response classrooms encourage a great deal of writing. Students often experiment with writing on a daily basis, honing their skills in multiple genres, from journal writing to personal essays to formal literature essays. The advice offered in small peer-response groups can help students revise, reformulate, and rewrite what they have composed.
Publication is a natural culmination for a curriculum that honors writing. Students in reader-response classrooms, encouraged as they are by daily practice, often have a strong sense of ownership of their work. They are often comfortable with an audience and have developed a facility for oral delivery through their regular work in peer-response groups. Many teachers see publication -- which can range from staging a reading to binding an actual book -- as a celebration of their students' diverse voices and hard work.
The goal of publication is to give students a wider audience, and there are many ways to "publish" beyond simply reprinting student work in book form. For example, a teacher might stage a simple in-class reading, or "read-around," in which each student reads a piece of his or her original writing. A reading could also be held in a more public place, as author Pat Mora and teacher Alfredo Lujan did when they took the class to a local coffee house. Students can take charge of advertising such a reading to the public, putting up fliers at a local elementary school, a bookstore, or the class library. Another option is to put up a "gallery walk" of work in which each student posts some of his or her writing on the walls of the classroom; members of the class can use sticky notes to write responses to the authors and post them (with their names) next to the pieces. Or a class might create a book that includes one self-chosen piece from each student; students can create a simple illustration or introduction to accompany their chosen piece, and the class can collaborate on a cover page, a table of contents, and a dedication page. The result can be as simple as a stapled "magazine" or as elaborate as a bound book that will go to each member of the class, the school library, the principal's office, and the local community center.
Treating students as "real" writers encourages them to take writing seriously and see it as a real-world tool rather than an isolated school activity. Publishing can also improve writing: When a student writes for a purpose, with a real audience beyond just the teacher, he or she is often motivated to make the piece as professional as possible.