Getting Started. Think of some of your students’ favorite authors and write them down on your index card. As you write, ask yourself these questions. What makes your students drawn to these authors? What makes your students want to keep reading their books?
Think of some of your students’ favorite authors and write them down on your index card. As you write, ask yourself these questions.
Save this list and we will revisit it later.
Spartanburg Writing Project
How can I use author studies to teach an author’s craft?
Source: Katie Wood Ray About the Authors
*write about things they know a lot about *write about the same topics again and again, in different ways, in different books
*notice, listen, observe, and think like writers all the time.
Source (1): Katie Wood Ray About the Authors 2004
Source (2): Laura Kotch and Leslie Zackman The Author Studies Handbook
Source: Katie Wood Ray Wondrous Words
What are my students’ interest?
What are my students’ reading & writing needs?
What are my students’ backgrounds?
Source: Laura Kotch and Leslie ZackmanThe Author Studies Handbook
Source: Lester L. LaminackCracking Open the Author’s Craft
Finding an author’s craft requires students to use their writers’ eyes and not their readers’ eyes. When we do this, we must read differently.
Reader eyes focus on the words and message of the book.
Writer eyes focus on “how” the book was written. We notice: word choice and placement, the sound of the language, and the attention to details.
Once students begin to notice the craft of some of their favorite authors, you will see it appearing in their own writing.
Source: Marybeth Alley & Barbara OrehovecRevisiting The Writing Workshop
An Author Study
“Writing has given me a sense of self-worth that I didn’t have my whole childhood. It has carried me through some troubled times and has made me feel that I am worthy of having a place on this earth.”
Let’s share what we discovered about Cynthia Rylant’s craft as a writer.
*artful repetition - lends itself to a theme
*five senses / sensory imagery
*use of specific detail
*predictable text structure
*strong characters – “The Old Lady Who Named Things”
*sentence structure – perfect balance between long and flowy figurative language with short and powerful.
Can you think of any other authors who have a craft like Cynthia Rylant?
When I was young on Tool Road, I would sit on the dented tailgate of my Papa’s old blue Chevrolet truck and shuck Silver Queen corn with my Grandma. I would pull the bright green husk down to expose the ripe pale creamy white ear. Later we would slice it off the cob to freeze for our winter bounty.
An author study allows us to look closely at one particular author and discover their craft as a writer. It helps students make a connection between reading and writing.
Through author studies we help our students appreciate the techniques writers use and the decisions that authors make.
Our goal is for our students to use the author’s craft in their own writing. We know our author study has been successful when we hear a student say, “I want this part of my writing to sound like Cynthia Rylant.”
Rather than garnering ideas for what to write about from reading, students are learning to take their own important topics and then look to text to learn how to write well about those topics.
-Katie Wood Ray