Writing teachers must be observers. At the heart of writing-process instruction is the art of informed observation.The Skilled teacher needs to determine what students can do, what changes they've made, what patterns of assistance they receive from other students, what themes dominate their writing. And teachers need to observe themselves-to reflect on what they see and do.
Understanding Writing is a book about observing. It contains no recipes for success. What it does contain are thirty chapters, most written by classroom teachers, that provide insights into student growth. The book is rich in examples of student work, from Kevin's self-portrait (complete with a point on his head) to Laura's eloquent poem, written after the shuttle explosion.