Writing to Explore
Stenhouse Publishers, 1998
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Download David Somoza and Peter Lourie's Flyer for Speaking to Teachers about Writing to Explore then venture on to Peter's Speaking page to inquire about this professional development opportunity.
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  Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper, 3-8
written by David Somoza and Peter Lourie

There are few things students dread more than the research paper. And there are few things teachers dread more than reading them. Too often these papers are simply regurgitated encyclopedia entries. After reviewing many dry research papers, fifth-grade teacher David Somoza began to experiment with an adventure writing model, based on the books written by Peter Lourie.

In Writing to Explore, David and Peter demonstrate how to teach adventure writing, which integrates nonfiction and fiction and motivates students to write with imagination, curiosity, and a hunger to learn everything about their topic.

The book starts with a solid foundation in the basics of good writing: setting descriptions, writing atmosphere, and character development. The authors then explore the specific elements of adventure writing from setting the stage to conducting research; from combining history and geography to effectively utilizing technology. The result is an adventure-based paper that is rooted in real places, supported by facts, and developed with detailed description of images from real locations.

Teachers will find handouts, sample activities, student writing examples, research sources, and tips to help them create a nonfiction writing program based around the adventure writing model.

Research papers don t have to be boring to read or to write. This book will show you how to get vibrant papers from your students papers that teach both reader and writer something new.


Notes from Allison's Book Bag about Writing to Explore


“I picked up a copy at NCTE and have already loaned it out to a teaching team who was excited about its premise. You can, for a short time, read the entire text online, but I warn you: you may stay up until 3:30am to finish it and immediately order your own copy. When’s the last time you did that with a professional book?Fair warning: for those of you out there who want to read books that prominently feature the librarian, you won’t find that here, although the ideas are just begging to be adopted by a teacher-librarian team. However, when I finished said book at 3:30am and wrote a frenzied email to the author asking this question, he kindly reported that he did work extensively with the librarian in his school to build foundational skills with students, but that time limitations precluded her from collaborating with him on this long-term project. My humble advice to you, if you are worried about that, is get over it and show how it can be done with a team.” (School Library Connection

“Their main project is built along the lines of a Heroic Quest story format, but the projects are rooted in a real place with real historic significance. The research phase of the adventure essay might seem familiar. It’s the gathering of important details and facts from a variety of reputable sources. But the presentation of that knowledge is done within the framework of a fictional adventure story, with emphasis on setting (so that the research can be used most effectively). I appreciated the honest reflections here as Somoza shares how he implemented their ideas. The book is a nice mix of the letters that Lourie and Somoza sent back and forth (sometimes while Lourie was on location, scouting out settings for his own books), handy guidelines and teaching moments, and also some exemplary student work. The adventure essay covers a lot of ground and might just hook those students (and teachers) to whom the phrase ‘research project’ conjures up groans and moans and dismay.” (Kevin Hodgson, Middle Web)

“David Somoza didn’t like the dull reports his students were submitting, and talked to his friend Peter Lourie (who is both a teacher and nonfiction writer) to find out what the writing process is like for real-life nonfiction authors. He discovered that Peter totally immersed himself in the place he was studying: he looked at photos, watched videos, interviewed locals, and completed a variety of other online explorations that could be extremely exciting for students to try. With Lourie’s help, Somoza introduced the genre of adventure writing to students: solid research enhanced by a bit of fiction in the form of creative license and “history and geography woven in to make the papers complete.” Somoza’s fifth graders chose a place and researched it for months, then wrote about it as if they’d actually been there, complete with documentation of where they stayed and what they ate at nearby restaurants. The amount of practical internet research skills Somoza was able to teach his students in a completely authentic way is astounding. These two authors remind us that other words for research are study, discover, explore and investigate, so why should research papers be dull? The reproducible forms at the end of the book will take your students from “What’s an adventure paper?” to the final stages of publication and sharing. With such high-quality templates, guidelines, and sample reports for students to use, I know the Language Arts teachers I coach will be excited to experiment with this genre.” (Cornerstone)

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