June 25, 2013

Dear LouAnn,

I want to thank you for supporting my participation in the Chippewa River Writing Project this summer. I can’t begin to explain how much I have learned. Remember when we took the Writing Workshop class together? It had such a huge effect on our teaching; this institute has been equally transformative for me.

I would love to meet and talk about ways that I can share my new learning with the ELA group. One easy way would be to give a book talk on one of the texts we used in the class, What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher. I know you are familiar with Fletcher’s Craft Lessons books. Are you familiar with this book? If not, let me tell you why I think it would make a great book study text for our ELA groups, or at the very least, a book to add to our professional collection.

First, teachers will love reading this well-written book; it is both entertaining and inspiring. The wealth of information about writing is made clearer with the use of concrete examples beautifully written by both students and Fletcher himself.

More importantly, reading the book has the potential to have a positive affect on the teaching of writing in our classrooms. Fletcher contends that writing teachers need to draw from three areas of expertise: “We must know our students. We must know how to teach. But it’s important that we know something about writing itself.” (p. 1) Our teachers know their students and for the most part are running strong writer’s workshops to teach what they know about writing. But lately, I have noticed an emphasis on product rather than process when discussing the teaching of writing with my colleagues. Perhaps this is an unintended consequence of our focus on six plus one traits of writing. Reading this book will broaden teacher’s view of what it means to be a writer and a writing teacher. It will help shift the focus from the writing to the writer and to thewriting process. As a result of that shift, our teaching will be more effective and more joyful.

I would be happy to lend you my copy of What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher or you can use the link to order your own copy. I’m sure you will love it as much as I do! If you see the same potential in it for inspiring and improving the teaching of writing, I’ll gladly do a brief book talk about it at our first ELA PD. I’ll give you a call mid-August so that we can discuss the plan.

Thanks again for supporting my attendance at the CRWP institute this summer. I can’t wait to start applying my new learning with my students and sharing it with my colleagues.



M: Semi-formal letter
M: e-mail
A: Language Arts Curriculum Director for Midland Public Schools who is also a former teaching colleague and a friend. She provided the funds and approved the release day so that I could attend the CRWP May orientation day.
P: To request time at our ELA meeting in the fall to do a book talk on What a Writer Needs and to suggest that LouAnn purchase copies of the book for staff if they want to do a book study on it and/or for our library of professional books available for checkout
S: Last fall I did a book talk on The Comprehension Experience by Hammond and Nessel. One of our ELA subgroups chose it as a book-study book and LouAnn bought several copies of the book for or check out professional collection. Many people were positively influenced by the book. So, I think my request in this letter is likely to be viewed favorably.

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