Work in Progress – Reading and Writing

July 28, 2009

Alright, let me start by saying that this may only make sense to me. As I was reading through Writing Paragraphs and Essays by Wingersky, Boerner, and Holguin-Balogh I was starting to get a sense of how to try to present reading and writing simultaneously. So much of what I’ve read and experienced seem to really fragment the two into separate workshops, even more divorced when considering literature/content, that this was a relief to realize.

I’m sure there are fabulous works out there explaining how to accomplish this for real, but I haven’t found them yet. So here are my discombobulated notes. 🙂

Keep in mind, the plan is to use these WHILE doing the literature, discussions, background knowledge, etc activities that I would always do. I’m planning on sticking with my planned pieces and essential questions, and not reading irrelevant examples to get there. (In other words, if we’re looking for examples of persuasive writing, perhaps we’ll look to the authors we’re already planning to read in our Age of Reason unit.)

*Prior Knowledge:

*Reading – show students that we build/access background knowledge before reading so that we can make connections and better understand the text. (Predicting/hypothesizing may fit here.)

*Writing – Similarly, we brainstorm/free write what we know before writing in order to plan our papers. Skills are the same.


*Reading – it’s important to ask WHY the author wrote it or included something specific.

*Writing – we must ask ourselves why we are writing the paper or why we’ve chosen to include pieces.


*Reading – we have to ask ourselves if we are still focused and understanding – making meaning.

*Writing – we must ask ourselves if we are still on topic and focused or falling into tangential drivel.


*Reading – we ask “Is _____ what they mean? Do I agree with that? What do I know that follows that idea or disagrees with it?” Can go much farther with creative questions that are hopefully much deeper and do some synthesizing or point of view thinking.

*Writing –  we should question if we are saying what we mean in addition to considering what our audience might think as readers. [This also kind of encompasses revising meaning.]

*Point of View:

*Reading – WHO is telling this? WHY are they saying that? What motivations might the author/narrator have? What background information do we have on the speaker?

*Writing – Who will narrate my story? What motivations do I have to write this essay?

*Voice (include vocabulary instruction):

*Reading – Underline individual words that tell a lot (ex. walk tells nothing; saunter sounds cocky, tiptoe sounds sneaky, etc) Power of word choices.

*Writing – Consider how to pack more meaning and personality into sentences with fewer words. Try to incorporate vocabulary words for more powerful and succinct writing.

Purpose (include thesis statement):

*Reading – WHAT message is the author trying to portray? Can you identify the thesis statement?

*Writing – What message are you trying to deliver? What is the point of your essay or paragraph?I know this is not particularly innovative. I suspect it’s what teachers do intuitively all the time, teaching both at once. It’s just that I hadn’t really taken the time to break it down and see how they are connected. Sure, this is sloppy and there’s lots of overlap; but it’s a start for me. 🙂

I would love to know how you do this in your classroom or if there are big chunks I’m missing or mixing up. Thanks!


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