By Marcia S. Freeman and Susan Koehler

No doubt about it, reading positively affects writing; however, educators often struggle with how to integrate the former into writing instruction. Freeman and Koehler seek to meet that need with Models for Teaching Writing-craft Target Skills, a teacher’s guide for utilizing “the strong connection between reading and writing.” Using “literature models,” the authors present their method for teaching the craft of writing to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The approach of using literature models, more commonly referred to as mentor texts, relies on well-written fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as representations of specific techniques that children will learn.  Models for Teaching provides a thorough overview of why and how to use this approach to teach writing, but the core of this book is its presentation of specific writing craft techniques, which they call Target Skills®. These skills are categorized into three groups: organizational skills address writing introductions and conclusions and using the writing process; composing skills include but are not limited to descriptive writing and using literary devices while skills in conventions deal with punctuation, spelling and grammar. Each individual technique is provided its own page that not only describes the device and its function but also provides an example and the titles of five age appropriate and easily accessible texts that represent its use. As experienced teachers and curriculum developers, Freeman and Koehler anticipate the teacher’s apprehension about lesson presentation, so they provide a sample step-by-step instructional outline and script, making this text a teacher’s “go-to guide for writing-craft instruction.”

Although Models for Teaching is written with public school teachers in mind, it proves to be an invaluable addition to the homeschoolers reference library.  Logically organized and void of excessive academic verbiage, this instructional text is understandable and easy to adapt to the homeschool classroom. Because the authors have completed the tedious and time-consuming task of finding exemplary texts as well as provided lesson planning guidance, Models for Teaching Writing-craft Target Skills makes it painless for parents to incorporate this effective literature-based method into their children’s writing curriculum.

About the Author

Jenn lives in Massachusetts and is a homeschooling mom to her two children, Luke and Lia. In her spare time, she teaches writing at a community college, reads voraciously, hikes, runs, and generally spends as much time as possible outside with her husband and kids.

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