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Jo Phenix

Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Press, 1990. 124pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-921217-54-4.CIP

Reviewed by Joanne K. A. Peters.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Upon receiving Teaching Writing, my first reaction was, "Oh no, not another book about the process of writing!" Phenix's book does focus on how the theory of process writing is imple­mented as practice, but what makes her book different from many others is that she provides highly practical strategies on the organizational aspects of imple­menting and running a process-based writing program.

Virtually any book on process writing will discuss the value of pre-writing activities, of the recursiveness of the entire process, and of the importance of publishing or presenting the final product to as "real" an audience as is possible within the context of a school. Teaching Writing recognizes the "glitches" in the process - both for teacher and for student - and provides common sense suggestions for dealing with them. Even seasoned veterans will find that the sections on "troubleshoot­ing" contain useful hints that focus both on why a problem might arise and on how it might be handled.

Setting up a writing centre, conferencing, teaching audience aware­ness, expanding a student writer's repertoire, and evaluating writing portfolios are all covered in sufficient depth to give a teacher direction while leaving open one's options to adapt them to specific classroom situations. Although much of the material is applicable to middle school and even high school, the sections on transcrip­tion and evaluation would need signifi­cant adaptation in order for them to be workable in a secondary school context. However, this is a rather minor short­coming for a very handy little text.

Both inexperienced teachers and those who have taught for some time will find Teaching Writing worth looking at. Its lack of an index is compensated for by an excellent table of contents, and the book's clear and readable layout makes information easy to find. Teach­ing Writing is a most worthwhile acquisition for the professional collec­tion of elementary and middle schools, and should not be overlooked by high schools, especially those that run a large number of courses for basic writers.

Joanne K. A. Peters, Sisler High School, Winnipeg, Man.
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