Writing for English teachers who are overworked and overwhelmed, Bruce Penniman offers personal reflections, classroom anecdotes, teaching materials, and student work while presenting strategies for managing the demands of the secondary English classroom.

Kathleen Godfrey of the National Writing Project calls the book "a treasure trove of ideas for teachers committed to creating unscripted curriculum that acknowledges them as thoughtful, creative professionals." Read the full review on NWP's site!

Find additional resources and discuss this book at Bruce Penniman's blog.


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After nearly four decades in the classroom, Bruce M. Penniman knows what works (and what doesn’t!) when it comes to teaching English.

Penniman draws on his own experiences—his successes, of course, but also the mistakes he’s made and the misgivings he’s had—to offer guidance and support for managing the myriad demands of teaching secondary English.

From addressing the numerous subdisciplines within English to making individual accommodations, from dealing with being the primary locus of literacy instruction in the school to everyday organizational strategies, Penniman helps teachers find a way to impose order on what often seems like an overwhelming array of responsibilities.

Focusing on all aspects of building a successful English classroom, Penniman offers unique and proven strategies on topics such as:

  • Planning for the long term
  • Designing writing programs and literature curricula
  • Creating effective assessment systems
  • Implementing instructional strategies for writing, literature, media/technology, and “basic skills”
  • Examining the curriculum through the lens of multiculturalism
  • Attending to the needs of all students—especially those who require accommodations
  • Giving back to the profession: pursuing a professional life outside the classroom

253 pp. 2009. Grades 9–12.

No. 03869