National Writing Project

Choice and Agency in the Writing Workshop: Developing Engaged Writers, Grades 4-6

Fred L. Hamel

List Price $29.95
NWP's Price $23.96

Step into a classroom and "listen in" on the writing initiatives and motivations of students who are given significant choice and agency in the development of their writing. Discover why upper elementary children need ways to become literate as kids, not merely as prototypes of adults or teenagers. Filled with rich portraits of in-class writing interactions and challenges, this book highlights various themes that help teachers become better observers and more responsive to the complexity of writing in children's lives. Key themes include drawing and popular media in children's learning, the challenges of listening to students during conferences, the intersections of writing and relationships, the roles of sharing and publishing writing, and the importance of shaping a writing curriculum through dialogue.

Book Features:

  • Offers suggestions to help educators engage standards without overlooking students' learning needs.
  • Identifies approaches to enhance teachers' expertise to support all writers, including those who fall outside usual expectations.
  • Includes a writing process guide, examples of students' work, and questions for reflection.


"Fred Hamel not only offers us readers insight into the text-mediated dramas of children's lives, he allows us into the sort of pedagogical reflections that keep us all in the flow of becoming."
—From the Foreword by Anne Haas Dyson, University of Illinois

"This timely book is about the experimentation, flexibility, vulnerabilities, and risks of educators when they don't assume to always know what is best for writers. Through classroom examples, Hamel helps us to see the complex and entangled identities of teachers and students. This book asks us all to consider putting less emphasis on expected writing endpoints and think more about the social processes and relationships of literacies coming to be."
—Candace R. Kuby, University of Missouri and author of Go Be a Writer! Expanding the Curricular Boundaries of Literacy Learning with Children

About the Author:
Fred L. Hamel is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington.

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