National Writing Project

I Can Write What's on My Mind: Theresa Finds Her Voice

by Sherry Seale Swain (1994)

NWP's Price: $10.50

Readers will not find a more concise and reader-friendly account of the principles of reading-writing workshop than I Can Write What's on My Mind. Though the book is a must-read for teachers of primary students, all teachers and parents interested in this subject will learn from it.

Swain, the state director of the NWP-affiliated Mississippi Writing Thinking Institute, organizes the book in a teacher journal format that allows readers to follow one student through her progress and travails as a beginning writer. We also learn Swain's reflections and watch her as she wrestles with the teaching and learning questions with which all teachers working to open their classrooms struggle.

One quality of this book that may be unique is the manner in which Swain involves Theresa's parents in the case study of their daughter. In this way, the book may serve as a model for those interested in trying out a similar study.

Though Swain's work has strong theoretical underpinnings, her presentation of the roots of her thinking is woven into the narrative. Readers will also be impressed by the graphics that illustrate, through Theresa's writing, much about the development of beginning writers.

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