Teaching Argument Writing: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning (Hillocks, Jr.)

First a disclaimer. Hillocks was my Master’s advisor. Therefore, I’m inclined to be biased. Still, one can indulge in too much of a good thing. Eventually, I branched out and my understanding of his work grew fuzzy. Thanks to the excellent recommendation of three very talented teachers, I picked up this book and have been reminded and re-inspired by the brilliant simplicity of Hillocks’ work. Though it’s December already, I now know how I want to start the year. Hillocks’ methods are intentional, high-interest, and well-researched. At the recent NCTE conference in Boston, his work was alluded at several sessions and deservedly so. It’s foundational.

Though there were a few times when I wish the transcripts of student conversation were shorter, they were affirming, reminding me that Hillocks’ ideas have been tested by real students. I have always admired how grounded Hillocks’ work is. He has the theory and research to back it up, but his primary interest has always been to help the teacher plan what will happen in the classroom.

So this one will stay by my desk at school, and I’ll go through it again and again, each time with more annotations and more post-its.

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