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A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades

Authors and Bios

Georgia Heard’s numerous professional books, children’s books and poetry are well known as both as children’s literature and “not to be missed” professional writing for teachers. Her book Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in the Elementary and Middle School (1998) was recently cited as one of the 12 Books Every Teacher Should Read. As a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City and a consultant in schools for over 25 years, she has extensive experience with both teachers and students. Her professional books are full of practical techniques for creating strong writers in your classroom, as well as up to date CCSS correlations. Her lessons contain ideas that work, and one knows that she has received the feedback from both students and teachers. Some of her student publications include Falling Down the Page: List Poems (2009) and This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort (2006). Any Georgia Heard book you read will change you as a writing teacher and open doors for your students.

Jennifer McDonough is a 10-year veteran first grade teacher and literacy coach working in Florida. She participates in literacy training for teachers and generously offered her class to co-author this book with Georgia Heard. Her practical comments sprinkled through the text offer the valuable perspective of the classroom teacher.

Summary of Book

In A Place for Wonder, Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough explore how to create "a landscape of wonder," a primary classroom where curiosity, creativity, and exploration are encouraged. For it is these characteristics, the authors write, that develop intelligent, inquiring, lifelong learners, plus meet the inquiry and nonfiction goals of the Common Core State Standards.

Research shows that many primary-grade state standards encourage teaching for understanding, critical thinking, creativity, and question asking and promote the development of children who have the attributes of inventiveness, curiosity, engagement, imagination, and creativity. With these goals in mind, Georgia and Jennifer provide teachers with numerous, practical ways—setting up "wonder centers," gathering data though senses, teaching nonfiction craft—they can create a classroom environment where students' questions and observations are part of daily work. Their ideas can be implemented in their entirety or be made one change at a time in writer’s workshop.

Together they present a step-by-step guide to planning a nonfiction reading and writing unit of study—creating a nonfiction book, which includes creating a table of contents, writing focused chapters, using "wow" words, and developing point of view.1

1A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades (Online). Available HTTP: (2012, July 17)

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