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Best-Kept Teaching Secret, The

  • Title:The Best-Kept Teaching Secret: How Written Conversations Engage Kids, Activate Learning, Grow Fluent Writers, Grades K-12
  • Author:Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, Elaine Daniels
  • Publication Date:October 2013
  • Grade Level:K-12
  • ISBN:9781452268637
  • Publisher:Corwin Press

Your fast-track to student engagement.

Everywhere Smokey Daniels speaks, there’s one teaching strategy that teachers embrace above all others. That single method for transforming students from passive spectators into active learners . . . for evoking curiosity, inspiring critical thinking, and building powerful writers along the way. Now, that best-kept teaching secret is revealed: Written Conversations. Smokey and coauthor Elaine Daniels describe how to leverage these “silent writing-to-learn discussions” structure by structure.

How Written Conversations Work:

  1. It all starts with mini-memos, short student letters that teachers use to introduce, extend, and assess class work.
  2. Then come dialogue journals, where pairs dive deeply into academic subjects.
  3. Next, groups of three or four students join in extended written discussions called write-arounds.
  4. Finally, kids take their thinking online, where they enjoy digital discussions with partners from their own classroom—and with kids from around the world.

. . . with detailed descriptions, lessons, and annotated student samples—making this the most practical teaching book in recent memory.

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Author Bio

Harvey “Smokey” Daniels has been a city and suburban classroom teacher and a college professor, and now works as a national consultant and author on literacy education. In language arts, Smokey is known for his pioneering work on student book clubs. Harvey works with elementary and secondary teachers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, offering demonstration lessons, workshops, and consulting, with a special focus on creating, sustaining, and renewing student-centered inquiries and discussions of all kinds. Smokey shows colleagues how to simultaneously build students' reading strategies, balance their reading diets, and strengthen the social skills they need to become genuine lifelong readers.

Elaine Daniels has been a reading and writing teacher and teacher literacy educator throughout her career. A former high school English teacher, she graduated to teaching in college and graduate programs, first at National-Louis University in the Master of Arts in Teaching program, then at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she taught literacy education courses. Elaine now teaches in the Developmental Reading and Writing Programs at Santa Fe Community College, where her students teach her new ideas, old ways of being, and places on the map she’s never heard of.

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