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Read Write Teach

Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop

By Linda Rief
Foreword by Maja Wilson

In this overview of best literacy practices, Linda offers the what, how, and why of a year’s worth of reading and writing for middle and high scool students with a framework that is as flexible as it is comprehensive.

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Full Description

Veteran teacher and author Linda Rief has inspired thousands of practitioners across the nation to lead adolescent students on a journey to becoming lifelong readers and writers.  In ReadWriteTeach, Linda offers the what, how, and why of a year’s worth of reading and writing for middle and high school students with a framework that is as flexible as it is comprehensive.

“…This book isn’t a compilation of tear-out reproducibles designed to help us replicate Linda’s practices,” writes Maja Wilson in the foreword.  “Instead, it’s the most powerful gift that a master teacher can give us: the story of her thinking and feeling as she teaches.” Linda’s insights and beliefs are woven throughout a comprehensive overview of best literacy practices, which include:

  • essentials in the reading-writing workshop
  • grounding our choices in our beliefs
  • getting to know ourselves and our students as readers and writers.

Students’ voices, through examples of their writing, drawing, and thinking, resonate throughout the book and characterize the thoughtful readers, writers, and citizens of the world that they become under Linda’s guidance.

Online companion resources include all of the handouts that Linda uses in her own classroom.

Download a free sample chapter!

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)

In Depth

What You Will Find in This Book

  • The beliefs that ground my teaching and the students’ learning.
  • How I frame the year for an abundance of writing and reading.
  • The goals I have for the students, guided by the goals they have for themselves.
  • The reading and writing opportunities that lead the students to deeper understandings of themselves, others, and the world around them.
  • The handouts—the expectations and the guidelines—I give to students throughout the year.
  • The voices of adolescents—examples of their writing, drawing, and thinking— as thoughtful readers, writers, and citizens of the world.

Goals for Students

I want students to:

  • write and read with their head and their heart
  • know that their abilities to write, read, and speak well offer them the greatest range of choices in their present and future lives
  • enjoy reading, writing, speaking, and listening
  • challenge and respect themselves and others as writers, readers, and speakers
  • realize that their stories, beliefs, knowledge, questions, and opinions matter to themselves and to others
  • know that their reading and writing are meant to help them make discoveries about themselves and connections with others by affirming, questioning, and extending their thinking
  • develop into the strongest writers, readers, and speakers they can be, by showing growth from September to June.

Language Arts Goals

In all of our classrooms, we have to frame our curricular choices—what we do and how we do it—on the goals or outcomes we want for our students. Therefore, language arts goals are designed with curricular choices that are meant to enable, guide, inspire, motivate, and teach students to:

  • become competent, enthusiastic, lifelong readers, writers, and speakers, who are able to understand, create, interpret, appreciate, evaluate, and critique language and literature
  • develop into literate, articulate, thinking, feeling young men and women, who contribute creatively and productively to society by communicating effectively with others, by understanding the world in which they live, and by finding their places in a complex and diverse world
  • become informed, clear-thinking citizens by participating actively as readers, writers, speakers, listeners, and viewers
  • use language effectively to create knowledge, make meaning, challenge thinking, and build community in their lives
  • reflect on, and evaluate, their own use of language
  • recognize and evaluate the ways in which others use language to affect them.

Core Beliefs About Teaching and the Language Arts

What we do, and how we do it, has to be grounded in the why—our core beliefs about teaching and the language arts:

  • Being literate and using your literacy puts you in control of your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, opinions—and life.
  • Learning occurs best in a safe, stimulating, challenging environment that encourages curiosity, imagination, exploration, and risk-taking.
  • Teachers form trusting relationships with students that build a community of learners when they know their students’ strengths, interests, and needs and when they model and demonstrate their own writing and reading.
  • Language learning is a developmental process with students progressing at varying rates and therefore necessitates a variety of materials and teaching techniques.
  • Writing is a complex process through which the writer moves recursively, shifting back and forth among steps of finding ideas, rehearsing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
  • Conventions of language are best learned in the context of the student’s writing and reading.
  • We learn to read by reading and writing; we learn to write by writing and reading.
  • Reading and writing draw upon the user’s experiences and prior knowledge and require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Students develop fluency and grow as readers, writers, and thinkers through regular, frequent, and ample time; through opportunities to choose writing topics and books; through constructive response and suggestions from teachers and peers; and from involvement with a variety of good models.
  • The acts of writing, reading, and speaking are thinking processes that involve varying degrees of recall, comprehension, application, analysis, inference, synthesis, and evaluation.
  • Process is as important as product.
  • Using visual tools—drawing as both thinking and performance—allows and deepens students’ abilities as writers and readers.

What Students Need

To become fluent writers (and readers), students need:

  • real writing—for real reasons, for real audiences
  • reading that engages, interests, challenges.

Students can do their best work when given:

  • time
  • choice
  • response (toward revision, while drafting)
  • Point out what they did well.
  • Ask questions they need to consider.
  • Offer suggestions.
  • models of fine reading and writing (both fiction and nonfiction, from professionals, their peers, and their teacher)
  • strategies for entering into, strengthening, and extending that writing and reading
  • a writer’s-reader’s notebook—a place to collect their thinking
  • encouragement to use visual tools to show their thinking as writers and their understandings as readers.



"Linda Rief is my teaching hero. For thirty years she has brought her formidable intelligence to the challenges of middle school--meeting young adolescents where they are, immersing them in compelling versions of literacy, inviting them to make choices as writers and readers, and teaching them how to make good ones. Read, Write, Teach is nothing less than a manifesto, Linda's passionate yet practical account of the transformative goals she sets for her students and the powerful methods she creates to nurture them as "world-ready" writers and readers. Her curriculum goes beyond state and national standards. It inspires students to think, attend, engage, produce, and excel as readers and writers." Nancie Atwell, author of In the Middle

"In this long awaited book, we can see what it truly means to have high standards—not ones simply imposed from above, but ones that come from true engagement. Linda Rief shows us how to tap  the passions, angst, and interests of adolescents, and how this driving force can lead students to do amazing work in a variety of genres, guided by the best mentor texts. She offers her students the best gift of all—to be taken seriously."
Tom Newkirk, author of The Art of Slow Reading

"Reading Linda Rief’s Read, Write, Teach has energized and challenged me. Linda hopes that students will write with the power to nudge the world, and as she says, for the world to nudge them a little as they read deeply and then respond with their ideas and values and experiences. Meaningful choice can only operate with a system of structures, models, standards, norms, and a culture and values that students actively engage in. Linda exposes all of this scaffolding for readers, allowing us to imitate her practice to deeply engage students. It is my hope that Read, Write, Teach will nudge us all." Penny Kittle, author of Book Love

"In 1992 Linda Rief’s Seeking Diversity was a blockbuster for those driven to teach adolescents to read and write. Now this master teacher has written Read Write Teach (No periods, no commas, no hyphens. Just one integrated act). In these pages, you’ll experience a philosophy of literacy instruction that deepens and widens your own. You’ll find handouts and prompts, strategies and activities that Linda has created to engage students in continuous literacy growth. You’ll follow her logic and her heart as she explains how she evaluates students’ writing—from expressive thinking in their reader’s-writer’s notebooks to sophisticated persuasive essays. With Read Write Teach, Linda Rief has once again busted the block." Tom Romano, author of Fearless Writing

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