________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 21. . . .February 4, 2011.


The Writing Triangle: Planning, Revision, and Assessment: A Fresh Look at Your Tired Writing Process.

Graham Foster.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2010.
96 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55138-259-3.

Subject Headings:
English language-Writing-Study and teaching (Elementary).
English language-Writing-Study and teaching (Middle school).
English language-Composition and exercises-Study and teaching (Elementary).
English language-Composition and exercises-Study and teaching (Middle school).


Review by Carrie Subtelny.



Writing is a cornerstone for communication. The ability to choose words and language to shape thoughts and ideas; feelings and opinions; wonderings and reflections is a skill and requires great practice and explicit, scaffolded support.

     Writing, like reading, is not a task that is predetermined by a location in the brain. Rather, our brain manifests this discourse of communication by combining structures and knowledge across - cortices. Knowing that there is no “writing centre” in the brain, teachers rely on tools and resources to support their own understandings and teaching decisions to help students connect the dots of ideas, words, meanings, language and form.

     As I am in the middle of crafting this piece, I notice that I am participating in this mysterious, yet identifiable process of writing which is outlined by Graham Foster in his text, The Writing Triangle: Planning, Revision and Assessment. The text looks at a variety of writing forms and explains each one in great detail. Chapter 1 sets the stage by defining and describing the writing triangle.

     The analogy of the triangle is used in order to more easily remember the 3 stages of writing – planning, revision and assessment.

     Each chapter is dedicated to one of the forms stated above. Foster takes a few pages for each to explore the form and to provide the necessary scripting and steps for teachers to refer to when teaching. Foster also suggests that students use a Personal Writing Goals chart: “A writing goals chart includes dated notations about what you need to improve and what you have already improved in your writing” (p. 6). The example provided is clear and concise, and I can see how it would be a useful tool for both students and teaches to monitor writing growth/changes over time.

     Rather than provide details on grammar and conventions, Foster presents a succinct chart of guiding prompts and questions. He created the list based on the most common errors writers make, including, for example, - affect vs. effect and dinning vs. dining, plus other examples referencing verb tense (see pages 10, 11).

     Ultimately, any classroom writing program needs to consider one’s passion and invitation to write. Students demand and desire many models to discern from and ‘heaps’ of time to practice. Students must see their teachers as writers and hear the processes they go through as they create, edit and publish. Foster provides a good structure to follow; one that will complement the many other writing resources teachers reference.


Carrie Subtelny is a consultant, reading clinician, instructor, tutor, writer in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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