When she’s not writing her next best selling book, Jennifer Serravallo travels to school districts around the country working as a literacy consultant. Serravallo partners with her clients to develop strategies for reading and writing and they do this by using a responsive pedagogy.

Serravallo says it’s about really understanding what kids need and then responding to them with appropriate strategies. It’s a matter of changing from a textbook approach where everyone is reading the same text at the same time to a responsive model where kids are engaged in their own writing projects, and getting instruction that’s tailored to their goals.

So when Serravallo authored her most recent books “The Reading Strategies Book” and “The Writing Strategies Book”  she used the same approach when designing the layout of the book.

“I know that busy teachers need to find things quickly,” said Serravallo.

“I envisioned this to be sort of like Zappos shoe shopping,” said Serravallo. “If you’re like I want a size 9 boot with brown leather, show me what you’ve got. This is kind of the same idea.”

Serravallo’s book “The Writing Strategies Book” is packed with content, but using it to respond to the writing needs of a student is straightforward.  You just pick one of 10 goals that your student(s) may need to work on, and then you drill down into the strategies that are paired with that goal.

One convenient feature that lies within each chapter/goal is a table which serves as an “in chapter index.” The table has columns for grade level ranges, genres and the next step of the writing process.

Jennifer Serravallo The Writing Strategies Book
Credit: Heinemann Publishing

“I envisioned this to be sort of like Zappos shoe shopping,” said Serravallo. “If you’re like I want a size nine boot with brown leather, show me what you’ve got. This is kind of the same idea. You look at this table and say, I want a first-grade level strategy for a child who is revising that works with fiction writing.  So you filter through and find the one or the ones that might work for you?”

To learn more about strategies to help your students meet their writing goals, listen to Episode 39 of Class Dismissed.

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