PROFESSIONAL READING

Keys to Inspiration: A Teacher's Guide to a Student-Centered Writing Program

230p. bibliog. Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2018. Tr $65. ISBN 9781475838725.
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Ford, a former sixth grade writing teacher, has developed a writing program filled with ideas and lessons that have succeeded in his classroom. Inspiration is key, according to the author. Don't start with mechanics, he advises, but instead emphasize emotions that move students to create content. The first section teaches technique, focusing on shorter assignments that tease out details and specific vocabulary. The second section covers major projects including persuasive essays and research reports, while the third part is devoted to mechanics. The three appendixes feature spelling lists and other content that can be used independently or with related lessons. The author pulls from the work of educators Barry Lane (who wrote the foreword) and Thea Holtan and offers additional online resources. Ford doesn't address teaching standards or technology, and he makes no connections between reading and writing. In fact he deems reading "passive" and cautions teachers not to let it encroach on writing time. He says that the program is for all grades, but it seems most appropriate for middle and high school. While there are no new ideas here and the book is fairly general, librarians will appreciate Ford's passion for lessons that encourage students to develop their own voice.
VERDICT Purchase as needed to supplement existing writing programs.

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