Reading Like Writers
To think how a teacher of writing would read, we must start by thinking how a writer would read. We also need to teach our students to read in this way, but only after we have helped them become ‘someone who writes.’
I believe the following strategy I first saw used by Katie Wood Ray provides an excellent framework for identifying writing craft in a text:
1. Notice something about the craft of the text
2. Talk about it and make a theory about why a writer might use this craft
3. Give the craft a name
4. Think of other texts you know. Have you seen this craft before?
5. Try and envision using this crafting in your own writing
Source: Katie Wood Ray
General Observations About Texts
- What’s the text about?
- How does this help us think about topic selection?
- What is the author’s approach to writing?
- Is there more than one form operating within the text?
- Who is narrating the piece?
- Does the text teach us about character development?
- What viewpoint is the text taking?
- How does it start?
- How does it end?
- How does the text move?
- Is dialogue used?
- Are there explanations?
- How does the title relate to the text?
Making the Language Work
- What punctuation choices has the writer made?
- What work are the parts of speech doing?
- What paragraph work do you see the writer doing?
- Is print used in interesting ways?
- What sounds good in the text?
- What is the writer doing with sentences?
Questions Related to Picture Books
- What illustrating approach is used?
- How do the illustrations relate to the text?
- Where are the words in relation to the illustrations?
Every one of these questions provide us with information we can know about writing -It is curriculum!
The things we notice about well constructed texts help us to understand what the text has to offer. We learn to trust, and with experience we begin to see possibilities everywhere. We read with renewed purpose.