Discipline: Professional Resources

Copyright: 2017

Grade(s): 2 - 6

Imprint: Heinemann

Author(s): Lee Heffernan

Back and Forth: Using an Editor’s Mindset to Improve Student Writing

"As I read Lee’s book, page by page, like my favorite novel, I found it hard to tear myself away. I wanted to know more, see more, and soak in each student sample."

—Rozlyn Linder, author of The Big Book of Details

Back and Forth is for every teacher who dreads the next story about the winning goal or another retelling of a student’s favorite book. It shows how to push writers to do great work by giving yourself a title change during writing time—from teacher to classroom editor.

From writing teacher to editor

Editors are the crucial, unseen collaborators of published authors. Lee Heffernan describes how by adopting that role she helps student-authors dig in and produce dramatically better writing. Relying on both student-centered pedagogy and the experiences of numerous professional writers and editors, Lee gives you a highly practical blueprint for modeling some of your classroom writing time after the operation of a small publishing house. This model helps kids see that you are more than their teacher and motivates them to create finely tuned finished products.

Three keys to success 

Lee shows how as classroom editor a commitment to three key principles can make all the difference:

  • Relationships: Establishing a partnership where your expectation for high-quality revision is explicit as is your honoring of a writer’s purpose and intentions
  • Texts: Making bold suggestions for improvement while respecting the writer’s ownership of the work
  • Readership: Always keeping audience in mind, and conveying to the writer how the reader’s expectations influence revision suggestions.

Your students’ won’t only improve their writing but also produce books that your school community will value.

Increased motivation for revision 

Do you wish that students would take your revision suggestions more seriously? Or that everyone in your classroom would internalize your high expectations for revision? Then take Lee Heffernan’s classroom-proven suggestions. Try Back and Forth, and you might never again have to hear “I like it the way it is.”