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

Three forms of activity easily integrate into witing-intensive courses. First are those activities which focus only on the CONTENT, such as lectures and discussions of texts. Second are activities related solely to WRITING as separate through the content concerns of this 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 regardless of this content. 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 which are chosen for the quality regarding the writing while the worth of the information. The following suggestions are meant to show how writing may be taught not only as a mechanical skill (through sentence and paragraph modeling), nor merely because the display of data (by concentrating solely on content), but as a generative intellectual activity in its own right. They’ve been based on three premises:

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

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

that students will give their writing more focus and direction by thinking about details as areas of an entire, whether that whole be a sentence, paragraph, or chapter.

Thus, focus on 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 about 2000 words of text; then a 50-word summary; then a sentence summary that is single. Compare results for inclusivity, accuracy, emphasis, and nuance.

B) Analyze a text chapter or section. How could it be constructed? What has got the author done to really make the right parts soon add up to a quarrel?

C) Analyze a particularly complex paragraph from a text. How is it put together? What gives it unity? What role does it play within the chapter that is entire area of text?

Organizational Pattern Work

A) Scramble a paragraph and get students: 1) to put it together; 2) to touch upon the processes that are mental into the restoration, the decisions about continuity they had which will make predicated on their feeling of the writer’s thinking.

B) Have students find various kinds sentences in a text, and explain exactly, within the terms and spirit of this text, what these sentences are designed to do: juxtapose, equate, polarize, rank, distinguish, make exceptions, concede, contrast. Often, needless to say, sentences will do two or more among these plain things at a time.

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

D) Have students outline as a method of analyzing structure and talk about the choices a writer makes and how these choices donate to achieving the writer’s purpose.

Formulation of Questions and Acceptability of Evidence

A) What can be treated as known? What is procedure that is acceptable ruling cases in or out?

B) Discuss how evidence is tested against an hypothesis, and exactly how hypotheses are modified. (How models were created and applied to data; how observations turn into claims, etc.)

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

Peer critiquing and discussion of student writing can be handled in a true number of various ways. The purpose of such activities is to have students read the other person’s writing and develop their own faculties that are critical with them to aid one another improve their writing. Peer critiquing and discussion help students know how their own writing compares with that of these peers and helps them uncover the characteristics that distinguish successful writing. It’s important to understand that an instructor criticizing a text for a course is certainly not peer critiquing; with this will likely not give the students practice in exercising their particular critical skills. Below are a few different types of various ways this could be handled, and we also encourage you to definitely modify these to suit your own purposes.

A) The Small Groups Model–The class is divided in to three sets 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. 1 hour per week is dedicated to group meetings by which some or most of the papers into the group are discussed. Before this group meeting, students must read all of the papers from their group and must write comments to be shared with one other writers. Thus, weekly writing, reading and critiquing are a part of the course, and students develop skills through repeated practice which they would be unable to develop if only asked to critique on three to four occasions. Because the teacher is present with each group, he or she can lead the discussion to help students improve these critical skills.

B) The Pairs Model–Students can be paired off to learn and touch upon one another’s writing such that each student will get written comments from one other student plus the teacher. The teacher can, of course, check out the critical comments plus the paper to assist students develop both writing and critical skills. This process requires no special copying and need take very little classroom time. The teacher may decide to allow some right time when it comes to pairs to talk about one another’s work, or this might be done outside the class. The disadvantage for this method is the fact that teacher cannot guide the discussions and students are restricted to comments from only one of these peers.

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

D) Critiques and teachers that are revision–Many peer critiquing with required revisions to show students simple tips to improve not only their mechanical skills, but in addition their thinking skills. Students might have comments that are critical their-teachers as well as from their peers to do business with. Some teachers like to have students revise a first draft with only comments from their peers and then revise a moment time on the basis of the teacher’s comments.

E) Student Critiques–Students must certanly be taught simple tips to critique one another’s work. Some direction while some teachers may leave the nature of the response up to the students, most try to give their students.

1) Standard Critique Form–This is a collection of questions or guidelines general enough to be applicable to any writing a student might do. In English classes, the questions focus on such staples of rhetoric as audience, voice and purpose; in philosophy, they could guide the student to look at the logic or structure of a quarrel.

2) Assignment Critique Form–This is a collection of questions designed especially for a writing task that is particular. Such a form has the advantageous asset of making students deal with the aspects that are special into the given task. If students make use of them repeatedly, however, they might become dependent on them, never asking their very own critical questions regarding the texts they critique.

3) Descriptive Outline–Instead of providing questions to direct students, some teachers professional writer for hire like to teach their students to publish a “descriptive outline.” The student reads the paper and stops to write after each paragraph or section, recording what he or she thought the section said and his or her responses or questions concerning it. The student writes his or her “summary comments” describing his or her reaction to the piece as a whole, raising questions about the writing, and perhaps making suggestions for further writing at the end.

Since writing by itself is of value, teachers will not need to grade all writing instance that is assignments–for, 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.