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This compositionist brought to you by the CUNY GC and Columbia's UWP. Now at the University of Pittsburgh!

Come to a WAW Workshop at CCCC: Rethinking Technical, Professional, and STEM Writing Pedagogy through Writing about Writing

This year at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, one of the Wednesday afternoon workshops will focus on supporting instructors of professional, technical and STEM writing in redeveloping an existing course through the lens of writing about writing (WAW). Instructors from all institutional types are welcome, but instructors from 2-year colleges, including technical colleges and trade schools, are especially encouraged to attend.

Instructors need not have any prior experience with the writing-about-writing approach to teaching writing. The workshop will provide support for identifying the aspects of a WAW approach that are relevant to the participant’s institutional context and course curriculum and create a generative environment for reimagining assignments, assignment sequences, lesson plans or the whole curriculum.

We wanted to circulate this information as early as possible in the hopes that a cohort of instructors from your institution might be able to attend together.

Below you will find a sketch of the workshop schedule. Please feel free to contact Sarah Read (sread :at: with any further questions about the workshop. We hope to see you in Portland this March!

Title of Session: Rethinking Technical, Professional and STEM Writing Pedagogy through
Writing About Writing

Short Description: Workshop participants will reimagine and innovate courses in STEM and
Professional Writing through the lens of Writing About Writing

Workshop at a Glance:

1:30 Introduction and Overview
1:45 Identifying Core Tenets of WAW
2:30 Acknowledging Local Situations for WAW: The Strong-Weak Continuum
3:15 Break
3:30 Profiling Courses: What Can WAW Look Like in STEM and PW Courses? Breakout Sessions.
4:00 Reimagining Courses: Working Groups
5:00 Showcasing Innovations

Call for proposals: WAW Sponsored Panel for CCCC 2017

2017 cccc logo

Cultivating Capacity, Creating Change

2017 Conference on College Composition and Communication
March 15-18, 2017
Portland, Oregon

The Writing About Writing (WAW) Standing Group and the WAW Steering Committee invite proposals for the 2017 WAW Sponsored Panel. The sponsored panel is guaranteed to be accepted to the CCCC program when the Standing Group submits it, and we are reaching out to the WAW community to identify potential presenters.

What is an Open Review?

This year, we will use an open review process to select participants for the WAW Featured Session. The chair of the WAW Sponsored Panel Committee will collect the proposals, remove all identifying information, and upload the content of the proposals to an institutional survey system.

From Tuesday, May 3 through Friday, May 6, members of the WAW community (reached via the WAWN-listserv and the WAW Network) will read the anonymous submissions and select their top proposals for the Sponsored Panel. Selected participants, and panelists not selected, will be notified of inclusion in the Sponsored Panel by Saturday, May 7, 2016, so that they will still have time to submit their proposal to CCCC on their own by the May 9 deadline.

Why use an Open Review?

We believe the open-access will bring more members into the WAW community; this open process will also help us cultivate next year’s vision for the Standing Group.

What kind of proposal fits the WAW Sponsored Panel’s goals?

We are interested in interactive panels as well as individual proposals. We are interested in proposals that help us extend the practice and impact of WAW pedagogy or research, particularly proposals authored and co-authored by new and emerging scholars in WAW. We are also hoping to include panels reporting on ongoing research into WAW programs and courses.

How will selected proposals be submitted to CCCC?

Sponsored Panels will be submitted by the WAW Sponsored Panel Committee through the regular CCCC proposal system, which is why we are asking for the same information as the online program proposal system.

To be considered for the WAW Sponsored Panel, proposals must be received before 11:59 pm on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Please send your proposal in the body of an email to Moriah McCracken at

To be considered for the Sponsored Panel, please follow 4Cs guidelines when writing your proposal. In ~2,000 characters, briefly describe the focus and purpose of your WAW presentation. Remember to include the following information in your email:

  • Name:
  • Institution:
  • Institution Type (high school, 2-yr, 4-yr, HSI, HBCU, etc):
  • Home Address, including City, State, Zip:
  • Phone & Email:

Please also indicate

  • “NEW” if you will be a first-time speaker/ presenter;
  • “ROLE” if you are willing to chair a session other than the one proposed;
  • “DREAM” if you are a first-time presenter eligible for a Scholars for the Dream Travel Award;
  • “GS” if you are a full-time graduate student;
  • “UGS” if you are an undergrad student.

Note “LCD” or “INTERNET” if that technology will be essential to your presentation.

If you have questions and/or concerns, feel free to email I. Moriah McCracken at

rhetorical analysis prompt

This is a two-page handout I used in an upper-level course called “Theory and Practice of Expository Writing” at Hunter College. As you’ll see in the various (and rapid) deadlines, this version is from a compressed summer session, which met for four days a week for five weeks.

handout – prompt for academic essay, with scaffolding – summer 2012

This assignment entered in the second unit of the course, in lesson 11 of 20, and I was happy with the idea that students could use the readings from unit 1 and the first part of unit 2 to provide enough context that they would feel confident about their claims. That said, a good number of students opted instead to read further and to take on something new.

I’m happy to discuss anything about this assignment — including, possibly, critique — in the comments or by email.

WAW Newsletter 2.1 (Spring 2012)

The first full issue of the newsletter. Includes two peer-reviewed articles:

  • “Introducing WAW: Grounding Negotiation in Assessment,” by Derek Risse, Jeff Pruchnik, Joseph Paszek, David MacKinder, Adrienne Jankens, Jared Grogan, and Gwen Gorzelsky
  • “Establishing Programmatic Support: A Writing About Writing Approach Proposal,” by Laurie Pinkert

Issue Masthead

  • Editor: I. Moriah McCracken
  • Associate Editor: Vanessa Borman
  • Advisory Board: Elizabeth Wardle, Doug Downs, Barbara Bird, David Slomp
  • Editorial Board: Betsy Sargent
  • Reviewers: Jasara Hines, Trent M. Kays, Sheila Kennedy, Steven Lessner, Benjamin Miller, Christy Wenger

WAW Newsletter 1.1 (Spring 2011)

The inaugural introduction to the newsletter and its call for submissions. Includes descriptions of the four sections of the newsletter: Open Essays, Trends & Insights, Reviews & Considerations, and Students’ Corner. Also included are the mission statement of WAW SIG and the 2011-2012 Steering Committee members and their roles.

Issue Masthead

  • Editor: I. Moriah McCracken
  • Associate Editor: Vanessa Borman
  • Advisory Board: Elizabeth Wardle, Doug Downs, Barbara Bird, David Slomp
  • Editorial Board: Betsy Sargent

And here’s a third

Writing about Writing (WAW), is a method or theory of teaching composition which puts emphasis on reading and writing about writing in the writing course, and reimagines first-year composition as an “introduction to writing studies.” This is not to say WAW only teaches a first-year writing course as if it were an introduction to a writing major, but rather it advocates merging the how of writing with its practice. An introduction course to a writing major has both a different audience and purpose than a first-year composition course framed in WAW. The development of WAW is largely credited to Elizabeth Wardle, University of Central Florida, and Douglas Downs, Montana State University, after the publication of their 2007 article “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions.”

A relatively new area of first-year composition, WAW continues to emerge and change as it gains recognition by academics and composition scholars.

— Wikipedia contributors, “Writing about Writing,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 29, 2014).