Our CCCC 15 WAW SIG (gotta love acronyms) teaching group shared some really interesting ways to teach Writing about Writing.
We had a diverse group, from people teaching at a fully integrated WAW school to STEM WAW to WAW going rogue. Thanks to all of our participants. I walked away from the SIG with many, many great ideas!
Part of our discussion seemed to circle back on ways to get students “over the hump” of a difficult and rigorous writing curriculum. Here are some ideas we discussed:
- Teach the literacy narrative first to ease them in.
- Use children’s literacy TV shows to get them thinking about literacy (Reading Rainbow, Dora the Explorer)
- Use the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (http://daln.osu.edu) as a resource.
- Teach some reading strategies such as reading the first time very quickly for main ideas, reading headings and subheadings, skimming methods and data sections while concentrating on introductions and conclusions.
- Understanding that this difficult materials is about treating students as adult/college level learners. We don’t “water down” anything for them.
- Reminding them that they’ll be proud of their own hard work at the end of the semester.
We also discussed a variety of ways to think about WAW courses:
STEM WAW can focus on STEM genres, using a science accommodation assignment, reading Jeanne Fahnestock’s 1986 article, “Accommodating Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts.”
Approach WAW thematically by deconstructing preconceived notions of writing that students bring with them.
- What about a whole course on revision?
- What if a first-year course focused on deconstructing the five paragraph essay? Think of White’s “Five Paragraph Theme Theme.”
- How might we deconstruct the use of “I” in academic writing?
- This could also be a course around one of our Threshold Concepts
- Why not construct a course around major people in writing studies? Read and write about Donald Murray’s ideas and how they’ve changed over time. What other figures might work for this approach?
Please consider using this space to comment about other ideas or assignments that work for you!
Downs’ article provides great suggestions for helping students navigate scholarly articles.
Downs, Doug. “Teaching First-year Writers to Use Texts: Scholarly Readings in Writing-about-writing in First-year Comp.” Reader: Essays in Reader-Oriented Theory, Criticism, and Pedagogy (2010): 19-50.
In “Meaning-making Concepts: Basic Writers’ Access to Verbal Culture,” published in the Basic Writing E-Journal, Barbara Bird describes her basic writing course at Taylor U. The appendices include a master list of readings and a syllabus.
This assignment, developed by Betsy Sargent for WRS 101: Exploring Writing (U of Alberta), tasks students with the following:
You are going to interview an individual in that field or line of work about the writing they do every day and how they go about doing it. Interviews with individuals who have more work and writing experience than you do—or experience of a different kind—can generate rich material to help you, your colleagues, and your instructor get a better sense of the wide variety of writing that gets done in the world.
This syllabus, for WRS 101: Exploring Writing (Fall 2011), is from Jon Gordon of the University of Alberta.
Below, from newest to oldest, are some textbooks that instructors might be interested in. Please write with other suggestions!
- Language Diversity and Academic Writing: A Bedford Spotlight Reader (2018), by Samantha Looker-Koenigs (see also Looker-Koenig’s article about her writing-about-language pedagogy in the Dec. 2016 issue of Teaching English in the Two-Year College)
- Writing about Writing: A College Reader (2017, 3rd ed.), by Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs, published by Macmillan (website links to instructor’s manual, videos with the authors, and a link to Wardle and Downs’ Bedford Bits blog)
- Everything’s a Text: Readings for Composition (2011), by Dan Melzer and Deborah Coxwell-Teague
- Literacies in Context (2007), by Shannon Carter, published by Fountainhead Press (available as a PDF via her academia.edu account)
- Considering Literacy (2006), by Linda Adler-Kassner, published by Longman. (website links to instructor’s manual)
- Conversations about Writing: Eavesdropping, Inkshedding, and Joining In (2005), by M. Elizabeth Sargent and Cornelia C. Paraskevas, published by Nelson Education
- On Writing: A Process Reader (2003, 1st ed.), by Wendy Bishop (appears to be out of print; could not find entry on McGrawHill’s website. Two later editions have been published))
Texts by a Single Author(s)
- Academic Writing: An Introduction (2014, 3rd ed.), by Janet Giltrow, Richard Gooding, Daniel Burgoyne, & Marlene Sawatsky, published by Broadview Press (companion website has additional exercises for each chapter and sample student essays; request exam copy for access to it)
- Exploring College Writing: Reading, Writing, and Researching Across the Curriculum (2011), by Dan Melzer, published by Equinox
- The Elements of Literacy (2009), by Julie Lindquist and David Seitz, published by Longman.
- In 2011, Betsy Sargent created this list of possible primary and supplemental textbooks for a University of Alberta FYC course, WRS 101: Exploring Writing
The University of Central Florida has been publishing Stylus: A Journal of First-Year Writing since 2010. The issues are open access, and if you browse you’ll find examples of outstanding undergraduate research in literacy, composition, and rhetoric, including literacy narratives and studies of discourse communities.
Check out this literacy memoir by Jehrade McIntosh, a student in Ligia Mihut’s English composition class at Barry University. Jehrade’s piece was published in the “Beyond a Single Language/Single Modality” Blog Carnival hosted by the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative.
Here’s a syllabus I used in the summer of 2012 for an upper-level course in “theory and practice of expository writing” at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York:
miller – 2012 summer – english 301 – composite syllabus (no contract)
On the WAW network Ning in 2011, instructors had a conversation about how to help students read scholarly articles. With the contributors’ permission, we have copied and pasted the initial post and–in the comments–the replies.
I’m in the process of meeting w/ and preparing a group of 9 of our part-time faculty here to pilot WAW in spring 2012. (It will be piloted in our second semester comp course.)
The one question I’m getting consistently, that I am currently unable to answer is about supporting students with the readings. I know Barb Bird has done a good deal of work on this and I’m sure others of you have as well. I’d benefit from seeing handouts, hearing about your approach, and advice on supporting instructors in their approaches!
(To read the replies, scroll below or click on “Comments,” above.)