The Writing Teacher's Handbook


79 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 1-55138-142-7
DDC 372.62'3





Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

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


The Writing Teacher’s Handbook is a slim, general guide to teaching
writing in the elementary classroom setting. A few pages are spent
establishing the need for the correct environment and equipment, then
discussing the purposes of writing and audience. The third chapter,
entitled “Organizing the Time for Writing,” addresses some of the
steps necessary for incorporating writing lessons into the class. The
“Teaching Grammar” chapter has a few activities to help with
teaching recognition of the parts of speech and sentence structure.

The following chapter, “The Writing Process,” has some useful
writing prompts and classroom tips. This is by far the longest chapter,
with information on brainstorming, research, outlining, revision, and
final drafts. The section on revision includes a discussion of
peer-group feedback, establishing the concept of the paragraph in the
minds of students and encouraging the use of more creative word choices.
The chapter entitled “Different Kinds of Writing” is a useful mix of
practical ideas on how to add creative elements to the class. The final
three chapters, on finding audiences, publishing, and evaluating a
student’s work, are also full of useful tips. A short appendix
includes some reproducible charts for classroom use.

The companion volume, The Reading Teacher’s Handbook, begins with a
brief exploration of the reading process, including key points on how to
establish context for the children and an environment of encouragement.
A chapter entitled “Organizing the Reading Environment” compares the
advantages of placing students in groups or allowing them to work
individually. The third chapter, “Preparing for Reading,” lists
pre-reading questions and gives tips on brainstorming ideas and using
the index. “Reading the Selection” is a compendium of ideas for
using a text.

Phenix includes a long list of ways to introduce a text by having the
students listen to it, then moves on to guided reading. She recommends
the students read aloud and gives ideas on choral reading, Readers’
Theatre, and rehearsed oral reading. Chapter 5 is an extensive
discussion of methods of developing comprehension. Learning spelling
patterns and new words in context are the main language skills covered
in the next chapter. The book ends with an important discussion of
“Encouraging Reluctant Readers” that includes tips on promoting
self-esteem in young students. The appendix includes reproducible charts
and worksheets for classroom use.

Both volumes in this set of teaching aids are loaded with ideas that
may re-energize many elementary-school classrooms.


Phenix, Jo., “The Writing Teacher's Handbook,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,