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Meet the Author

Creating a Classroom of Writers

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                                                                               Meet the Author 
                                                                                                   Creating a Classroom of Writers

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The MEET THE AUTHOR Collection
riting is a craft, which means that it can be learned and its skill developed through informed practice.

The Meet the Author collection will provide you with a multifaceted resource for teaching this craft. This ever-growing  collection contains many inspirational examples of the writing process for use in your classroom.

The Meet the Author collection is an essential classroom resource for personalizing the writing process for young writers in second though fifth grade. This collection offers an exciting opportunity to promote the development of life-long writers in your classroom and is an effective tool for teaching the writing process.

Meet the Author books are:

  • wonderful models of good writing;
  • a way of inspiring young writers;
  • invitations for students to write their own stories; and
  • excellent resources for engaging students in the writing process.



Meet the Author
and Your

he writing process has four components*: forming intentions, composing and drafting, correcting and publishing, and outcomes. The Meet the Author collection helps young writers explore these stages by giving examples of the writing process in action, enabling them to experience the writing process on a personal level. Young writers will be both comforted and surprised to find that their favorite authors go through the same process as they do when they write. Authors such as Jane Yolen, Patricia Polacco, Eve Bunting, and Paul Goble not only answer questions about writing but invite each child into the process. Writing becomes an adventure instead of a chore!

*Dancing with the Pen: The Learner as a Writer. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Ltd. for Ministry of Education of New Zealand, 1992.

A Model of the Writing Process

Diagram from Dancing with the Pen: The Learner as a Writer: Wellington. New Zealand: Learning Media Ltd. for Ministry of Education of New Zealand, 1992, page 23.

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When teaching writing using this model it is important for the teacher to keep the following in mind:
  • Although the process has four basic components, it is not a "lock-step" process;
  • Writing should be for authentic purposes;
  • Writing involves many genre; and
  • All pieces brought to publication should be perfect in content and form.



Forming Intentions

The first component of the writing process is forming intentions. During this stage, the writer clarifies the purpose for writing and the audience, gathers information, and tests ideas. It involves thinking, talking, drawing, remembering, reflecting, and searching for and organizing information.

How often have you heard, "But I have nothing to
write about!"? Choosing a topic can be difficult for a young writer, but the authors of the Meet the Author  collection help make this task easier by showing children that they really do have something to write about. Karla Kuskin is often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" In her book Thoughts, Pictures, and Words, she helps children see where they can get their ideas:
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Pages 24-25 from Thoughts, Pictures, and Words. Text   1995 by Karla Kuskin. Illustration 1975 by Karla Kuskin from Near the Window Tree reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. Photograph 1995 by Nicholas Kuskin.

Fascinating first-person accounts from published authors will motivate your students to explore the experiences in their lives that could become a story, a poem, or an essay.  By choosing a topic in this way, your students experience a child-centered, meaning-centered approach instead of a teacher-driven one.

Children learn that many events in their lives are important enough to be the topic of a story and have an audience. For example, the loss of a beloved pet can be a traumatic experience for anyone at any age and relating it to others in written form can bring some comfort.  Patricia Polacco, in her autobiography Firetalking, recalls:

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Page 17 from Firetalking Text 1994 by Patricia Polacco. Photograph 1994 by Lawrence Migdale. Cover from Mrs. Katz and Tush 1992 by Patricia Polacco and reprinted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

Anything can be an inspiration for writing, as shown in Ruth Heller's Fine Lines:

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Page 9 from Fine Lines. Text 1996 by Ruth Heller Trust Fund. Illustration 1995 by Ruth Heller from Behind the Mask: A Book About Prepositions reprinted courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.



Composing and Drafting

This part of the writing process involves getting thoughts down on paper, rereading, reorganizing, and revising. Authors do this in different ways, as do children and teachers. Some write first in pencil or pen, and others prefer the typewriter or word processor.  Children become aware that the tools are not as important as the process.  Eve Bunting evokes a humorous example of this phase of the writing process in Once Upon a Time:

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Page 22 from Once Upon a Time. Text 1995 by Eve Bunting. Photograph 1995 by John Pezaris.

The heart of the writing process is the creation of meaning. The focus of the revision phase is on clarifying and extending meaning.

Writers of any age are often reluctant to revise.  The Meet the Author collection affords children the unique opportunity of having authors model the revision process.  Jean Fritz, in Surprising Myself, reassures children that it is difficult (even for her) to choose the "right words" from the beginning and she graphically shows them what revision looks like:

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Page 5 from Surprising Myself. Text 1992  by Jean Fritz. Photograph 1992 Andrea Fritz Pfleger.

In  A Wordful Child, George Ella Lyon lets students in on a secret about revision that might surprise them!

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Page 26 from A Wordful Child. Text 1996 by George Ella Lyon. Photograph of Richard Jackson courtesy of Sandra Jordan.



Correcting and Publishing

This stage involves correction, proofreading for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and a concern for neatness.  All pieces of writing that are developed to the point of sharing with an audience must be correct. This is especially true in the classroom, where a published work will be used as a model for others. Correctness shows respect for one's audience.

Students are encouraged to proofread and self-correct their own work as much as they can, relying on the teacher for the final corrections. Teachers edit students' writing, leaving one teaching point to do at an editing conference, one-on-one with the student.

The teacher is an editor for students in the same way professional writers have editors to help them get their work ready to meet an audience. In Playing with Words, James Howe relates how his wife acts as the first editor of his books:

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Page 23 from Playing with Words. Text 1994 by James Howe. Photograph 1994 by Michael Craine.

Writers in your classroom must take into consideration factors such as design, style, and the medium when they are considering publishing. It is important not only for the classroom to be equipped with a wide selection of materials for this purpose, but for students to be exposed to a variety of published models.

Young writers should be given the opportunity to publish in a variety of forms, including posters, articles, displays, and books. In The Writing Bug, Lee Bennett Hopkins shows how a poem that he wrote wound up as a bookmark:

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Page 30 from The Writing Bug. Text 1993 by Lee Bennett Hopkins. "Good Books, Good Times" Text by Lee Bennett Hopkins and reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Artwork 1985 by and appears courtesy of Marc Brown.





The writing process does not end with publication. The outcome stage is just as important as the other components of the process. It is during this stage that young writers share their work, get responses, and come to see the purpose and value of publication. They also learn to accept and give praise and constructive criticism.

In responding to others' writing, and profiting from others' responses, learners will*:
  • readily share their published work with many others, both in and outside the classroom;
  • be eager to read the published works of others;
  • expect a response to their published writing;
  • see the purpose and value of publication and response;
  • react positively to others' responses, making appropriate adjustments to their own writing; and
  • offer constructive criticism with courtesy and understanding.

It is important for the teacher to provide a supportive environment and to make time for sharing published work. There should be many opportunities for work to be displayed or read and students should have easy access to the writing of others.

Sharing one's work can be a creative process and can take place in a variety of ways: a presentation, making the written material available in the school library, or writing letters. Margaret Mahy, author of My Mysterious World, puts on an outrageous wig and shares her stories with classroom children.

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Page 20 from My Mysterious World. Text 1995 by Margaret Mahy.  Photographs 1995 by David Alexander.

*Dancing with the Pen: The Learner as a Writer. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Ltd. for Ministry of Education of New Zealand, 1992, page 80.


The Meet the Author collection is an important classroom resource
for teachers who value the writing process  as well as the product.
The real-life experiences of the prominent children's authors in the
collection will provide both example and inspiration for your
second- through fifth-grade students. Create a classroom of writers
by using the ever-growing Meet the Author collection and providing
a supportive, child-centered environment in your classroom.

Help your students do something important...

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                                                                                                   Pages 6-7 from Best Wishes. Text 1992 by Cynthia Rylant.
                                                              Photographs 1992 by Carlo Ontal.

... help them become writers!
        Meet the Author

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Ministry of Education, Wellington, New Zealand
Professional Book List

Dancing with the Pen is for primary and middle grade teachers. It aims to develop their understandings of the writing process, helping them create a teaching environment in which learners feel confident to develop their writing  and providing  them with some ways to foster writing development. Writing is viewed as a tool for communication, recording, and understanding.  Dancing with the Pen has been built on the experience of New Zealand teachers, and has been greatly influenced by the work of Sylvia Ashton Warner, Elwyn Richardson, Don Holdaway, and Marie Clay.

Teacher Notes 1997 by Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in
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system without the permission in writing from the publisher.

Focus on Writing Conferences
Meet the Author Book List
Meet the Author Book Introduction