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Synopsis

Author Thomas McCann invites readers to rethink their approach to teaching writing by capitalizing on students’ instinctive desire to talk. Drawing on extensive classroom research, he shows teachers how to craft class discussions that build students’ skills of analysis, problem-solving, and argumentation as a means of improving student writing. McCann demonstrates how authentic discussions immerse learners in practices that become important when they write. Chapters feature portraits of teachers at work, including transcripts that reveal patterns of talk across a set of lessons. Interviews with the teachers and samples of student writing afford readers a deeper understanding of process. Students also report on how classroom discussions supported their effort to produce persuasive, argument-driven essays.

Book Features:

  • A focus on “the thinking behind the practice,” as opposed to a collection of lesson ideas.
  • Connections to important elements from the Common Core State Standards, especially arguments writing.
  • Examples of students at work with examples of the writing that emerges from their discussions.
  • Portraits of skilled teachers as they promote inquiry and sequence and facilitate discussions.
  • Appendices with problem-based scenarios, interview questions for students and teachers, samples of debatable cases in the news, and more.

“In this important book, Tom McCann has given us not only the admonition to change, but the details about what effective change must be and what it looks like, evidence that it works effectively, and details about how to bring it to pass.”
—From the Foreword by George Hillocks, Jr., Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of Chicago.

“For a professional book to have an impact on the field, it needs to address a perceived need. Writing arguments for Common Core performance assessments is a HUGE need right now that this book helps address.”
Carol Jago, associate director, California Reading and Literature Project, UCLA.

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