The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 42


The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

A Review by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Co-Editor of the Missouri Reader

When Jennifer Serravallo’s The Reading Strategies Book was published in 2015, I immediately labeled it a “must-have” resource book for all teachers interested in teaching Reading Workshop. I’ve used her reading strategies book a great deal since its publication, but often found myself wishing that she would write a companion book for Writing Workshop. Now she has done just that. Her new book The Writing Strategies Book has all the makings of another New York Time's best seller. Let’s explore some of the content and features her new book brings to practicing teachers.

Like its predecessor, this book is not a sit down and read through it kind of a book. Instead, it is a well thought out, well organized collection of ideas for writing strategies. The content is eminently practical. It is based on ideas generated from Serravallo’s extensive experience in workshop teaching, including interchanges she has had with various workshop teachers seeking her help through the years and her study of leaders in the field of workshop teaching . Like her first book, each strategy has its own page, with all the key information needed by teachers organized into an easy to follow format.

Included on each page is a column labeled Who is This For, and the headings Strategy, Teaching Tip, Prompts. She also includes authentic classroom examples that can be used to create anchor charts or other support materials. Where appropriate she gives a recommended mentor text. All this on one page!

Since this is not a sit down and read through kind of a book, I think many readers will find it useful to look at Serravallo’s on-line overview of how to make use of the book

Figure One

The video pictured in figure one is found near the center of the linked page. In it Serravallo recommends the following:

● Look at the book introduction, review the “little crash course” in the writing process contained in the introduction.

● Think about your student need/class needs

● Think about which of the 10 goals listed in the book might best fit those needs.

● Go to the chapter for that goal

● Use the tables of strategies for the goal to think about which strategy might be of the most use to your student/class

● Review each table’s columns on grade level, genre/text types and processes to help inform your decision about which strategy to teach

● Once you’ve found the strategy you think will most help your student/class, go to the page for that strategy to get a starter set of teaching ideas and resources.

In addition, sample lesson pages for each of her ten goals can be viewed using the sneak preview section which is found directly below the video (figure one).

Serravallo’s two books have resulted in the creation of a Facebook page, The Reading and Writing Strategies Book Community. It can be reached from any facebbok account. This site is a perfect example of a place where teachers help teachers every day. During my latest visit, I saw a request from a staff developer getting ready for a session on anecdotal notes asking for examples of real notes taken by teachers. There was also a request by a classroom teacher for ideas about conference questions. Within a few minutes of the conference questions posting, another teacher posted a jpg of a resource she had been using for

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"You can think of my suggested goals as the what and these 300 strategies as the how."

Jennifer Serravello