“Reflecting on the importance an apprenticeship plays in the learning process reminds me of what the writer Ann Berthoff once said: ‘We aren’t born knowing how to write, but we are born knowing how to know how.'”

Kelly Gallagher, for the last twenty-one years, has written two other books about the importance of adolescent writing and the demands of literacy. He talks about the vast importance of writing in the classroom and his experiences of how to improve writing instruction. In particular, chapters 3 focuses on the teacher as a writing model and chapter 4 focuses on real world models of writing.

Gallagher begins by showing the importance of the teacher being able to write with the students. He believes that the reason many students don’t like to get started with writing is because teachers don’t actively write and if they do are experts at hiding the work it takes to write well (49). Students need to know that they are not alone in the writing process and they need to know that every writer goes through the same uneasiness of writing.

The importance of showing first drafts is great because it shows students that it doesn’t require a “one and done” type attitude. Many students think that the first draft is the only draft that needs to be done. Through showing students the process of editing and crafting a good piece of writing, the students will learn. He believes grading should be done differently for this process and first drafts shouldn’t be graded. Teachers should also be more of coaches at first until the final result. Teachers should also preach students to talk their paper out with others as well as have a model to help them out with the process. He also preaches how if students have a choice in what they write then they will write better. If this is done successfully, the rewards for writing should be large with its benefits for students in the future.

Gallagher also talks about the importance of editing with a strategy he likes to call, “Pimp My Write”. In this activity, students add to their writing to make it more rich. The process of substituting, taking things out, adding, and rearranging (STAR) is the method he uses to help edit and make a piece more rich. He emphasizes other points of revision which involve branching a sentence (putting in a word in the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence to enrich it), finding synonyms for common words, and limiting dead words (finding more exciting ways to replace very commonly used words and passive words). Changing content, creating a question flood, reorganization, and finding voice is a way for deeper revision.

In chapter 4 he argues the importance of reading. In an experiment he found that most of the “well written” papers in his class were avid readers. He believes reading along with intensive hands-on writing instruction creates better writing. Movie reviews, magazines, newspapers, and other common modes of writing should be used as other sources of mentor texts for students to use when writing.

Gallaghers suggestions for teaching writing obviously show that the man is passionate about his field. This book is sectioned off very nicely for an easy read with some controversy, as well as incites to the world of writing at the secondary level.

Sentence stalking: “If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years.”

In this sentence it shows the way “its” does not have an apostrophe. “It” is a word that does not show possession of “payments.” It is perfectly logical but in this way it does not show possession, it show’s a contraction of “it is.” Pronouns, names, and objects can show possession with an apostrophe.