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Mirror Images

Teaching Writing in Black and White

    [This book] demonstrates that teacher change and reflection can positively affect student achievement.
    —Language Arts
In the midwestern suburb of Webster Groves, Missouri, a team of middle and high school teachers—all female, all but one White—refused to accept the chronic underachievement of African-American student writers. Mirror Images is their story. Through six years of action research, they realized that instead of trying to "fix" the kids, they needed to "fix" some other things: their teaching methods, the ambiance of their classrooms, and their own cultural awareness.

The teachers'...

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    [This book] demonstrates that teacher change and reflection can positively affect student achievement.
    —Language Arts
In the midwestern suburb of Webster Groves, Missouri, a team of middle and high school teachers—all female, all but one White—refused to accept the chronic underachievement of African-American student writers. Mirror Images is their story. Through six years of action research, they realized that instead of trying to "fix" the kids, they needed to "fix" some other things: their teaching methods, the ambiance of their classrooms, and their own cultural awareness.

The teachers' journey is one of self-reflection, painful at times, as they question, hypothesize, act, analyze results, and ultimately change. Hand-in-hand with their changes, readers follow the story of Antwuan, James, and Damon: students who were seemingly disengaged from their classrooms, curriculum, and teacher. They change, too, becoming involved, active, guiding forces in their English classes.

Mirror Images offers no recipes, no quick-fix solutions. Instead, it presents rich classroom experiences and a process that will help readers see their own hard-to-reach students with new eyes. Along with principles for good writing instruction, the authors explain key strategies for success with dozens of their own lessons and projects. Classroom teachers, as well as instructional and staff development leaders, who want to get beyond the standard advice on cultural sensitivity and students "at risk" must read this book. Readers will be challenged as well as inspired by this view into real classrooms, through mirrors of race, class, gender—and self.

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