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I’ve written nine books, including three co-authored with Katie Hull.

She and I are now editing three books in a series being written by teachers in the classroom who are using our ELL Teacher’s Toolbox as a model.

I’ve shared a lot of resources for teachers (or anyone) wanting to write books (see So, You Want To Write A Book? Here’s The Best Advice…).

I thought readers might find it useful to see some of the guidance we’re offering the co-authors of this upcoming series, as well as telling us what you think we might be missing:

* not ending sentences with prepositions

* be aware of sentence and paragraph length (shorter is better)

* be aware of over-use of passive voice (not too many “have hads”)

* less “certainty” ( use students may as opposed to students will). In other words, remember to avoid blanket statements and add “conditional words” (also known as modals)  such as tends to, might, can, could, etc.

* no “really”s

* be careful about using the same word more than once in the same sentence and the same words in consecutive sentences.

* always double check to make sure the chronology of the activities you suggest are clear to someone who is reading it for the first time (the Curse of Knowledge affects us all).

* the thesaurus is your friend

* have spaces between paragraphs – don’t indent

* Do not begin sentences with prepositions

* When doing education research, you may find that studies are behind paywalls.  Here are ideas on how to access them.

* Many publishers have specific forms they want you to use to either obtain parent permission to publish student work or republish something that has appeared in print elsewhere.  We also feel strongly that even if a particular instructional strategy isn’t “copyrighted,” it is a matter of professional courtesy to request permission to use.  Here is an example of how to request it:

If you’re seeking permission to talk about a strategy that you’ve heard that someone has developed, and aren’t actually using their work, a simple email would be sufficient. We have always done that, and educators have  appreciated our request and always granted it. Here’s an example I gave to to the Social Studies book authors:

Elisabeth and I are writing a new book for Social Studies teachers that is part of a series edited by Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull. One of the strategies we’re using comes from your Geography curriculum related to demographics. We’ll be substantially revising the handouts from the lesson but, of the course, the basic activity comes from you (though there will be some revisions there, too). We wanted to make sure you’d be okay with our using it – of course, we’d give you full credit – both in the narrative itself and in the footnotes – and include the Pebble Creek url address. Are you okay with that?

*  When doing headings and sub-headings, be sure to differentiate between them somehow (for example, using italics, all caps, underline, etc.).

* don’t use capital letters for emphasis

*Don’t be pronoun happy, be specific to who or what you are referring to

*When referring to figures, do this in a very narrative style type of way. Again, avoid sounding like a manual.

* Make it practical and from a practicing teacher’s perspective (no consultant pie-in-the-sky stuff indicating everything goes according to plan)

* Integrate culturally responsive teaching throughout the book

* Integrate Social Emotional Learning skills throughout the book

* Write in present tense most of the time.

* Keep in mind that when you begin a sentence with “This” you need to define what “this” is

* Don’t end sentences with verbs.

*Don’t use the word “great.”

* When you say “this” in a follow-up sentence, you have to say what “this” is.  In other words, you can’t write:

There is an overwhelming amount of information for many topics in history. Sifting through this  can be difficult and guiding questions can help narrow the focus for both students and teachers.

Instead, say this:

There is an overwhelming amount of information for many topics in history. Sifting through this data can be difficult and guiding questions can help narrow the focus for both students and teachers.

* Individual lesson plans are fine.  However, they should be used to demonstrate a lesson model that can be applied to multiple other topics.

* Say “two” instead of “a couple.”

* Remember that when talking about a person, you follow with “who,” not, “that.”  For example:

You don’t write “…the needs of students that have often been marginalized.”  Instead, you write, “…the needs of students, who have often been marginalized.

Addendum: Grammar Check has created a very useful infographic titled 7 Secrets Of Advanced English Writing.


Okay, what do you think should be added?