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Steve Zemelman is founding Director of the Illinois Writing Project and works on student civic engagement and social action in Chicago schools, advising restorative justice and student social action teams. He is presently a visiting scholar at Northeastern Illinois University, where the Illinois Writing Project is based. He helped start innovative small schools in Chicago including Best Practice High School, which for ten years demonstrated the power of integrated, student-centered curriculum. His expertise covers literacy, whole-school instructional development, teacher leadership, restorative justice and students’ civic action. His most recent previous book is From Inquiry to Action: Civic Engagement with Project-Based Learning in All Content Areas. With various partners he’s authored 13 Steps to Teacher Empowerment; Content Area Writing; Subjects Matter: Every Teacher’s Guide to Content Area Reading; Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America’s Classrooms; and Rethinking High School. Earlier works, also with partner authors, include History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum, A Community of Writers: Teaching Writing in the Junior and Senior High School, and A Writing Project: For Teachers of Composition from Kindergarten to College.
Formerly he developed and directed National-Louis University’s Center for City Schools, which worked with a wide range of Chicago schools to provide professional development on writing and related topics. He also served a term as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Chicago Consortium on School Research at the University of Chicago. He has spoken and led panels and workshops on writing instruction and civic engagement for schools across the country and at numerous conferences of the National Council of Teachers of English. He was Prof. of Humanities at Roosevelt University, 1976 – 1994, Asst. Prof. of English at Rutgers University, 1970-1976, and Instructor & Asst. Prof. of English, Amherst College, 1967-1970. He has two sons, one a musician, the other a dancer and artist – and one brilliant eight-year-old grandson.