Writing Every Day: Reading, Writing, and Conferencing Using Student-Led Language Experiences


151 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55138-169-9
DDC 395.4





Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is an ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster.


Kellie Buis is a faculty associate in the Professional Development
Program, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University. In Writing Every
Day, she introduces the format of the Daily Letter, based on the
“morning message” of the 1960s and ’70s classroom. The pedagogical
concept of using a daily reading of material written by a member of the
class covers, in Buis’s outline, most of the language arts curriculum
goals, as well as creating a strong atmosphere of learning. As she puts
it, “the students will become adept at participating in the rigorous
daily routine to lead talks about being an author, talks about their
text and the vocabulary and graphics that support it.” It is a truly
all-encompassing approach.

The format of the Daily Letter includes the front of the document,
which is naturally created by the author, and the all-important back of
the page, where the readers have tasks that enable them to interact with
the work. Buis includes detailed instructions and strategies for all
steps in using a Daily Letter, and a step-by-step plan to incorporate it
into the life of a classroom. And Buis has great plans for that life as
well: Chapter 3 outlines the creation of a story-sharing community, with
the overall goal of establishing an atmosphere of shared responsibility,
membership, and leadership in the classroom democracy. Writing Every Day
is full of grand ideals and the down-to-earth plans for carrying them

An integral partner to Writing Every Day, Buis’s other work, Making
Words Stick, is a detailed theory of vocabulary instruction that
incorporates the full range of communication and instructional modes to
ensure that all students are included regardless of their cognitive
learning style. Buis discloses a three-stage plan of first introducing
students to the vocabulary with semantic mapping, then having the
students interact with the language through prompted conversation based
on wall charts and posters created in the initial vocabulary
exploration. The third stage has the children working at wordplay,
reading, writing, and representing centres—a model for enhancing
independent, and differentiated learning for individuals at stations. As
Buis explains, “This … plan of vocabulary instruction gives students
at least eight to ten systematic passes to anchor the vocabulary
learning of between six to eight key words each few days.”

What both of these guides have to offer are explicitly laid-out systems
for using authentic language in the classroom setting in a way that
engages students naturally. Buis has provided the tools: every element
of the system has a number of charts and checklists for guiding the
teacher through both the outlined routines and the various strategies,
as well as worksheets for student use. The highly structured concept
underlying both books will, in the end, free the teacher to show “how
much love we can put into the teaching and learning.”


Buis, Kellie., “Writing Every Day: Reading, Writing, and Conferencing Using Student-Led Language Experiences,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15195.