Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Red Pencil is Avi’s Best Friend Too

As many of you who have taken my "Red Pencil" workshop know, I believe that teachers must communicate to their students that real writers revise. This was confirmed when I heard Avi, one of my favorite authors, say at the South Carolina Reading Association that he revises each of his books 60-70 times! That's a fact to dangle in front of all your students. Here are other gems I gleaned that day; I hope you will share them with your colleagues and in your classroom:

  • "Your primary means to teach writing is to teach reading."
  • "Kids are impatient. They don't want to do the hard work of revision. It may look OK on the computer, but in fact it's not."
  • "Unless the writing is clear, engaging & interesting, the reader won't turn the page."
  • "At some point a person begins to think like a writer…when they have the capacity to see what's missing and add to it."
  • "No surprises for the writer? No surprises for the reader."
  • "Teaching reading and writing is like teaching a second language. When kids begin to write, they write like they speak; the grammar of talking is different than the grammar of writing."

And my favorite:

  • "Want to get higher grades? Read a book every week. Guaranteed."

This picture is proof that I can't go to a reading conference without buying a book—especially when signed by the author!

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Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Ah, I wish I had met Avi! Some day...

C.R. Evers said...

Avi is one of my greatest writing influences! I would love to hear him speak someday! He has taken Historical fiction to a new level!

It's comforting to know that he makes so many revisions!


Janelle said...

Revising 60-70 times! Wow - that makes me feel better. I'm on my third revisions on two novel manuscripts right now, and sometimes I wonder if I'm revising too much. But, it works for Avi...

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing these pearls of wisdom.

Being a middle school teacher, it's so important to recognize and strengthen the link between writing and reading. A book I just read helped me do that. It's "Differentiating Reading Instruction" by Laura Robb.

Her book's ideas helped me meet my students at their various skill levels in both reading and writing, and move them forward bit by bit. All of the students' work and conversations Robb includes made the book come alive for me.

Hope it helps other teachers out there.


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