The Skidmore College Expository Writing Network. Strategies for a Writing-Intensive Instruction

The Skidmore College Expository Writing Network. Strategies for a Writing-Intensive Instruction

Three forms of activity easily integrate into witing-intensive courses. First are the ones activities which focus only on the CONTENT, such as for example lectures and discussions of texts. Second are activities related solely to WRITING as separate through the content concerns regarding the course. Grammar drills or sentence combining exercises fall into this category, but so would lecturing on writing in general or examining different types of good writing without reference to the information. Third are activities which teach BOTH WRITING AND CONTENT. Peer critiquing, journal writing, and group brainstorming teach both writing and content as does examining model essays that are chosen for both the essay writing quality of this writing and the value of the information. The following suggestions are intended to show how writing can be taught not only as a skill that is mechanicalthrough sentence and paragraph modeling), nor merely since the display of data (by concentrating solely on content), but as a generative intellectual activity with its own right. They are predicated on three premises:

that students can learn a deal that is great themselves as writers by becoming more careful readers;

that astute readers deal with the structure regarding the text in order to find that analyzing the author’s choices at specific junctures provides them with a surer, more grasp that is detailed of;

That students can give their writing more direction and focus by thinking about details as components of a whole, whether that whole be a sentence, paragraph, or chapter.

Thus, awareness of a discipline’s language, methodology, formal conventions, and means of creating context–as these are illustrated in texts, lectures, and student papers–is an effective way of teaching writing.

Summary and Analysis Exercises

A) Have students write a 500-word summary of approximately 2000 words of text; then a 50-word summary; then a single sentence summary. Compare results for inclusivity, accuracy, emphasis, and nuance.

B) Analyze a text section or chapter. How is it constructed? What has got the author done to really make the Parts add up to a disagreement?

C) Analyze a paragraph that is particularly complex a text. How is it come up with? What gives it unity? What role does it play within the chapter that is entire section of text?

Organizational Pattern Work

A) Scramble a paragraph and get students: 1) to put it together; 2) to touch upon the mental processes involved when you look at the restoration, the decisions about continuity they had to make centered on their sense of the author’s thinking.

B) Have students find several kinds of sentences in a text, and explain exactly, in the terms and spirit associated with the text, what these sentences are designed to do: juxtapose, equate, polarize, rank, distinguish, make exceptions, concede, contrast. Often, needless to say, sentences will do a couple of of the things at the same time.

C) Have students examine an author’s punctuation and explain, again in terms of the argument, why, say, a semicolon was used.

D) Have students outline as a way of analyzing structure and discuss the choices a writer makes and just how these choices play a role in reaching the writer’s purpose.

Formulation of Questions and Acceptability of Evidence

A) exactly what do be treated as known? What is acceptable means of ruling cases in or out?

B) Discuss how evidence is tested against an hypothesis, and just how hypotheses are modified. (How models are manufactured and placed on data; how observations turn into claims, etc.)

C) Examine cause and effect; condition and result; argumentative strategies, such as for example comparison-contrast, and agency (especially making use of verbs), as basic building blocks in definition and explanation.

Peer critiquing and discussion of student writing can be handled in a number of different ways. The objective of such activities would be to have students read the other person’s writing and develop their very own faculties that are critical with them to simply help the other person enhance their writing. Peer critiquing and discussion help students know the way their very own writing compares with this of their peers and helps them uncover the characteristics that distinguish writing that is successful. It is important to remember that a teacher criticizing a text for a class just isn’t peer critiquing; because of this will likely not give the students practice in exercising their own critical skills. Here are a few types of various ways this could be handled, therefore we encourage you to definitely modify these to match your own purposes.

A) The Small Groups Model–The class is divided into three categories of five students each. Each the student submits six copies of his or her paper, one for the instructor and one for each member of her group week. One hour per week is specialized in group meetings by which some or all the papers when you look at the group are discussed. Before this combined group meeting, students must read all the papers from their group and must write comments to be shared with the other writers. Thus, weekly writing, reading and critiquing are part of the course, and students develop skills through repeated practice which they would be not able to develop if only asked to critique on 3 or 4 occasions. Because the teacher is present with each group, they are able to lead the discussion to help students improve these skills that are critical.

B) The Pairs Model–Students can be paired off to read through and comment on each other’s writing such that each learning student will get written comments from 1 other student as well as the teacher. The teacher can, needless to say, check out the critical comments along with the paper to help students develop both writing and critical skills. This method requires no special copying and need take very classroom time that is little. The teacher may wish to allow some time when it comes to pairs to discuss one another’s work, or this may be done outside the class. The disadvantage of this method is the fact that the trained teacher cannot guide the discussions and students are limited by comments from just one of the peers.

C) Small Groups within Class–Many teachers break their classes into small groups (from 3 to 7 students) and permit class time when it comes to combined groups to critique. The teacher can circulate among groups or sit in on an session that is entire one group.

D) Critiques and Revision–Many teachers combine peer critiquing with required revisions to teach students just how to improve not just their mechanical skills, but in addition their thinking skills. Students could have critical comments from their-teachers as well as from their peers to work well with. Some teachers would like to have students revise a draft that is first only comments from their peers and then revise an extra time on the basis of the teacher’s comments.

E) Student Critiques–Students must certanly be taught simple tips to critique the other person’s work. While many teachers may leave the type of the response up to the students, most try to give their students some direction.

1) Standard Critique Form–This is a couple of questions or guidelines general adequate to be applicable to any writing a learning student might do. In English classes, the questions focus on such staples of rhetoric as audience, voice and purpose; in philosophy, they may guide the student to examine the logic or structure of an argument.

2) Assignment Critique Form–This is a couple of questions designed designed for a writing task that is particular. Such an application has the advantageous asset of making students attend to the special aspects peculiar to the given task. If students utilize them repeatedly, however, they may become dependent in it, never asking their particular critical questions of this texts they critique.

3) Descriptive Outline–Instead of providing questions to direct students, some teachers would like to teach their students to write a “descriptive outline.” The student reads the paper and stops to write after every paragraph or section, recording what he or she thought the section said and his or her responses or questions concerning it. At the end, the student writes his or her “summary comments” describing his / her response to the piece in general, raising questions regarding the writing, and maybe making suggestions for further writing.

Since writing by itself is of value, teachers do not need to grade all writing assignments–for instance journals, exploratory writing, and early drafts of more formal pieces. Teachers will make many comments on such writing to help students further their thinking but may watch for an even more finished, formal product before assigning grades.


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