A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Write Beside Them

Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing

Penny Kittle, Conway Schools, New Hampshire

ISBN 978-0-325-01097-7 / 0-325-01097-8 / 2008 / 272pp / BOOK WITH DVD
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: 9th - 12th
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Please join us in congratulating Penny Kittle for her 2009 NCTE Britton Award for Write Beside Them!  

This book is about teaching writing and the gritty particulars of teaching adolescents. But it is also the planning, the thinking, the writing, the journey: all I’ve been putting into my teaching for the last two decades. This is the book I wanted when I was first given ninth graders and a list of novels to teach. This is a book of vision and hope and joy, but it is also a book of genre units and minilessons and actual conferences with students.

 —Penny Kittle

What makes the single biggest difference to student writers? When the invisible machinery of your writing processes is made visible to them. Write Beside Them shows you how to do it. It’s the comprehensive book and DVD that English/language arts teachers need to ensure that teens improve their writing.

Across genres, Penny Kittle presents a flexible framework for instruction, the theory and experience to back it up, and detailed teaching information to help you implement it right away. Each section of Write Beside Them describes a specific element of Kittle’s workshop:

  • Daily writing practice: writer’s notebooks and quick writes
  • Instructional frameworks: minilessons, organization, conferring, and sharing drafts
  • Genre work: narrative, persuasion, and writing in multiple genres
  • Skills work: grammar, punctuation, and style
  • Assessment: evaluation, feedback, portfolios, and grading.

All along the way, Kittle demonstrates minilessons that respond to students’ immediate needs, and her Student Focus sections profile and spotlight how individual writers grew and changed over the course of her workshop. In addition, Write Beside Them provides a study guide, reproducibles, writing samples from Penny and her students, suggestions for nurturing your own writing life, and a helpful FAQ. Best of all, the accompanying DVD takes you right inside Penny’s classroom. Its video clips explicitly model how to make the process of writing accessible to all kids.

Penny Kittle’s active coaching and can-do attitude alone will energize your teaching and inspire you to write with your students. But her strategies, expert advice, and compelling in-class video footage will help you turn inspiration into great teaching. Read Write Beside Them and discover that the most important influence for all young writers is their teacher.

Write Beside Them debuts as the field's most comprehensive, contemporary, and practical book on high school writing. Kittle not only tells how a skillful writing teacher operates, she shows you on the accompanying DVD, with clips of kids at work in every stage of a writing workshop. And all this glorious teaching happens with real, sometimes struggling kids who remind us of our own classrooms and students. Write Beside Them is the whole package.

—Harvey Daniels

Author of Content-Area Writing and Subjects Matter


Click here to view a sample video from the DVD.


I. Foundations

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

2. This I Believe

3. How Writing Units Work Together

Student Focus: Josh

II. Collecting Thinking

4. The Writer’s Notebook

5. Quick Writes

III. The Opportunities in a Writer’s Workshop

6. The Opportunities in a Writer’s Workshop

7. Workshop Time

8. Closing Each Class Period

Student Focus: Kelsey

IV. Thinking Through Genre

8. The Art of Story

9. The Art of Persuasion

10. Seeking Balance: Writing About Literature and Writing About Life

11. Finding Form for Ideas: Blending Genres

Student focus: Aaron

V. Mechanics

12. Grammar, Punctuation, and What Keeps Me up at Night

Student Focus: Kristen

VI. Assessment

13. Leading Students to Reflection and Independence

14. In the End, What Writing Is For



Study Guide

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Writing

Professional Development

Student Samples of Writing You Can Use in Class as Model Texts

“Of Time and Rivers” by Josh Bossie

“House on the Hill” by Elizabeth Howland

“To the Editor” by Logan Dwight

“Unworthy Charity” by Elizabeth Howland

“Three Day Trip” by Kayla Locke

“Last Will and Testament” by anonymous

“The Perfect—not-so-perfect—Woman” by Hattie Perkins

“14 Black Birch Lane” by Shaina Procopio

“Chemical Equations” by Sarah Morrison

“What Boys Are Like” by anonymous

“Little Pink Shoes” by Marissa Maitland

Williams College Reference

Letter by Kathleen Maynard

“The Garden, Sisterhood, and Growing Up” by Jackie Savard

“The North Country” by Sean Donovan

“Collection of a Pianist” by Sarah Chant

Penny Kittle Writing Used in Class During the Work on This Book

“What Remains” (student focus: Josh chapter)

“Combing Through” (sentence combining and in writers’ group)

“What Forty Cents Can Buy You in November” (argument)

“Warrant Article #7” (argument)

“High School” (quick writes lesson on DVD)

“Spinning Wheels” (used in narrative unit)

“Yamhill Street” (used in place narrative unit)

“Cynthia” Multigenre project

Reproducible Forms I Use in My Workshop

Qualities of Writing by Genre

Writing Argument Qualities

Writing Commentary (Op-Ed) Qualities

Writing Narrative Qualities


In Depth

STUDY GUIDE: Discussion Possibilities for Write Beside Them



Student samples of writing you can use in class as model texts

Penny Kittle writing used in class during the work on this book


Label support materials
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PD Resources From Penny Kittle



  • Invite Penny Kittle to speak at your school, district, or conference through Heinemann Speakers.


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