1st Edition

Writing, Redefined Broadening Our Ideas of What It Means to Compose

By Shawna Coppola Copyright 2019

    What does it mean to write or to be a writer? In Shawna Coppola's book Writing, Redefined: Broadening Our Ideas of What It Means to Compose, she challenges the reader to expand beyond standard alphabetic writing and consider alternative forms of composition when assigning writing to students. This book empowers teachers to change what counts as writing in schools and classrooms, opening the door to students who may not consider themselves to be writers, but should and can. Inside you'll find alternative, engaging writing assignments that are visual, aural, or multimodal that will involve all students, specifically those:

    • Who prefer to compose using a wider array of forms and modes
    • For whom standard English is not the norm
    • Who have been identified as dyslexic
    • Whose cultural traditions lean heavily towards more aural forms of composition
    • Who are considered struggling writers
    By finding ways to accommodate all styles of writers, students are free to unleash their creativity and share their story with others. While there is no question composition in written form is important and worth of study, broadening our definition of writing expands an enormous range of possibilities for composing for all students.

    Introduction; Chapter 1: Why “Redefine” Writing?; Chapter 2: Writing Is . . . Visual Composition; Chapter 3: Writing Is . . . Aural Composition; Chapter 4: Writing Is . . . Multimodal Composition; Chapter 5: Writing Is . . . Remixing; Chapter 6: How We Can—and Must—Redefine Writing


    Shawna Coppola has taught in public schools for almost two decades. She currently works as a national literacy consultant and speaker and is a volunteer teacher of 11-17 year-olds at a self-directed learning community in Dover, NH. When she is not teaching, she can be found dabbling with watercolors, writing comics, or exploring the beauty of her natural surroundings alongside her family.

    “Writing, Redefined is the bold promise from Shawna Coppola for what writing instruction can become in our classrooms. With a voice part savvy expert and part Rock and Roll, Shawna disrupts the writing canon with beauty, humor, joy, and justice. She reminds us that since the cave paintings, humans have been making their marks on the world in shapes, sounds, movements, and colors, and not just flat letters on a page. Every child can join the writing club by making the magical, multimodal compositions Shawna shares.” – Katherine Bomer “Shawna Coppola brings an artistic, cinematic eye to the examination of our historical practices and beliefs rooted in the teaching of writing. Her unique artist-as-writer perspective opens the door for a more inclusive, nuanced conversation around writing composition and authorial intent. Writing, Redefinedis a timely, smart, and joyful call to join alongside our students as they compose all the texts of their lives in this shared world.”  – Maggie Beatie Roberts “As I read Shawna Coppola’s utterly convincing, Writing Redefined, I recalled that the word ‘text’ has the root meaning of ‘weave’, as in ‘textile.’ Writers weave genres, images, sounds, formats, and increasingly modes of publication—it’s always some kind of mix.  Students should have the same options. In this book, Shawna dangles before us delicious possibilities that will help all students find a way into The Literacy Club and bring instruction into the 21st Century.”  –Thomas Newkirk, Professor emeritus at the University of New Hampshire and author of Misreading Masculinity: Boys, Literacy, and Popular Culture (Heinemann) “It's time to expand our thinking when it comes to students as readers and writers. They are consumers and creators! Shawna helps us see why we need to make this shift and how to broaden the opportunities students have to show us what they know and can do.” —Jennifer Vincent