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Back and Forth (Print eBook Bundle)

Using an Editor’s Mindset to Improve Student Writing

Back and Forth is for every teacher who dreads the next story about the winning goal or another retelling of a student’s favorite book. It shows how to push writers to do great work by giving yourself a title change during writing time—from teacher to classroom editor.

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"As I read Lee’s book, page by page, like my favorite novel, I found it hard to tear myself away. I wanted to know more, see more, and soak in each student sample."

—Rozlyn Linder, author of The Big Book of Details


Back and Forth is for every teacher who dreads the next story about the winning goal or another retelling of a student’s favorite book. It shows how to push writers to do great work by giving yourself a title change during writing time—from teacher to classroom editor.

From writing teacher to editor 

Editors are the crucial, unseen collaborators of published authors. Lee Heffernan describes how by adopting that role she helps student-authors dig in and produce dramatically better writing. Relying on both student-centered pedagogy and the experiences of numerous professional writers and editors, Lee gives you a highly practical blueprint for modeling some of your classroom writing time after the operation of a small publishing house. This model helps kids see that you are more than their teacher and motivates them to create finely tuned finished products.

Three keys to success 

Lee shows how as classroom editor a commitment to three key principles can make all the difference:

  • Relationships: Establishing a partnership where your expectation for high-quality revision is explicit as is your honoring of a writer’s purpose and intentions
  • Texts: Making bold suggestions for improvement while respecting the writer’s ownership of the work
  • Readership: Always keeping audience in mind, and conveying to the writer how the reader’s expectations influence revision suggestions.

Your students’ won’t only improve their writing but also produce books that your school community will value.

Increased motivation for revision 

Do you wish that students would take your revision suggestions more seriously? Or that everyone in your classroom would internalize your high expectations for revision? Then take Lee Heffernan’s classroom-proven suggestions. Try Back and Forth, and you might never again have to hear “I like it the way it is.”

(click any section below to continue reading)

In Depth

Our Toolkit lessons and materials focus on that broad range of fascinating “true” material called informational or nonfiction text. In Toolkit we feature a wide range of nonfiction—including feature articles, picture books, infographics, and nonfiction trade books—to expand our kids’ appetites for investigating the real world through reading. We also include a bit of realistic fiction, historical fiction, and informational poetry.

The Toolkit lessons lay the foundation for readers to use strategies as tools when reading nonfiction. Once kids develop familiarity with and get some practice using comprehension strategies to gain meaning, they will integrate them and use them more flexibly as they read. Our lessons in Content Literacy are practices that often integrate several strategies. Readers do not tend to use strategies in isolation. For instance, an inference usually follows quickly on the heels of a question. The Content Literacy lessons teach kids to debate an issue, analyze infographics, synthesize information across multiple media sources, determine and consider different perspectives on an issue, discern cause and effect relationships, and so forth. All of these processes require that readers have an arsenal of thinking strategies at their fingertips to use flexibly when the need arises. The Content Literacy lessons are powerful practices for reading and understanding nonfiction in every discipline.

— From 'Welcome', pgs. 2-3


Companion Resources

Figure 1.1 - Publisher Scavenger Hunt

Figure 2.8 - Four Reads Revision Template


“It is impossible to read this book and not get chills up your spine about the possibilities for writers.”

—Rozlyn Linder, author of The Big Book of Details