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Writing Relationships

By Lad Tobin

    . . . perhaps the most significant and powerful realization to date of teacher research . . . . Tobin exemplifies teacher research at its best.
    —College English

In the ideal composition class of the 1990s, everything seems to run smoothly: all learning is happily collaborative, all authority is successfully de-centered, and all students are part of a conflict-free community of writers. No student is ever bored or boring, angry or provocative, and no teacher ever responds in ways that are self-serving, subjective, or idiosyncratic. Since most books and articles on the teaching of writing describe...

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    . . . perhaps the most significant and powerful realization to date of teacher research . . . . Tobin exemplifies teacher research at its best.
    —College English

In the ideal composition class of the 1990s, everything seems to run smoothly: all learning is happily collaborative, all authority is successfully de-centered, and all students are part of a conflict-free community of writers. No student is ever bored or boring, angry or provocative, and no teacher ever responds in ways that are self-serving, subjective, or idiosyncratic. Since most books and articles on the teaching of writing describe the ideal as if it were the norm, many teachers feel embarrassed by what does or doesn't happen in their own classrooms- and envious of what they believe is happening down the hall.

Writing Relationships goes beyond the idealized talk about what should happen in "process" teaching to examine what actually occurs: competition and cooperation, peer pressure and identification, resistance and sexual tension. This book is about how interpersonal relationships -- between teacher and student, student and student, and teacher and teacher -- shape the ways that teachers read and grade their students' writing and the ways students respond, or don't respond, to their teacher's suggestions.

Through narratives and case studies, the author demonstrates that much of the tension, confusion, and anxiety associated with a process approach is inevitable and, in part, desirable. But this book is more than a series of failure stories: the author gives teachers specific and useful ideas and strategies for :

  • reading student essays
  • responding to student writing
  • leading a discussion of an essay
  • running a writing workshop
  • grading
  • setting up peer and co-authoring groups
  • conferencing
  • publishing in the field.

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