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

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

Three forms of activity easily integrate into witing-intensive courses. First are the ones activities which focus only regarding the CONTENT, such as for instance lectures and discussions of texts. Second are activities related solely to WRITING as separate through the content concerns of the course. Grammar drills or sentence exercises that are combining into this category, but so would lecturing on writing in general or examining types of good writing regardless of 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 quality regarding the writing plus the value of this content. The following suggestions are designed to show how writing could be taught not merely as a mechanical skill (through sentence and paragraph modeling), nor merely since the display of information (by concentrating solely on content), but as a generative intellectual activity with its own right. They’ve been predicated on three premises:

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

that astute readers attend to the structure of this text and discover that analyzing the author’s choices at specific junctures gives them a surer, more detailed grasp of content;

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, focus on a discipline’s language, methodology, formal conventions, and ways of creating context–as these are illustrated in texts, lectures, and student papers–is an effective method 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 single sentence summary. Compare results for inclusivity, accuracy, emphasis, and nuance.

B) Analyze a text chapter or section. How could it be constructed? What has the author done to help make the right parts total up to an argument?

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 entire chapter or part of text?

Organizational Pattern Work

A) Scramble a paragraph and get students: 1) to place it together; 2) to comment on the mental processes involved into the restoration, the decisions about continuity they had to make based on their sense of the author’s thinking.

B) Have students find several types of sentences in a text, and explain exactly, within the terms and spirit associated with text, what these sentences are intended to do: juxtapose, equate, polarize, rank, distinguish, make exceptions, concede, contrast. Often, needless to say, sentences will do a couple of of those plain things at the same 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 way of analyzing structure and discuss the choices a writer makes and how these choices play a role in achieving the writer’s purpose.

Formulation of Questions and Acceptability of Evidence

A) What can be treated as known? What exactly is acceptable process of ruling cases in or out?

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

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

Peer critiquing and discussion of student writing could be handled in a number of various ways. The purpose of such activities would be to have students read the other person’s writing and develop their very own faculties that are critical using them to assist the other person improve their writing. Peer critiquing and discussion help students know how their very own writing compares with this of their peers and helps them discover the characteristics that distinguish writing that is successful. It is vital to understand that a teacher criticizing a text for a course is not peer critiquing; for this will not give the students practice in exercising their very own skills that are critical. Here are a few different types of various ways this could be handled, and we also encourage one to modify these to fit your own purposes.

A) The Small Groups Model–The class is split into three groups of five students each. Each week the student submits six copies of his / her paper, one for the instructor and something for every member of her group. 60 minutes per is devoted to group meetings in which some or all of the papers in the group are discussed week. Before this group meeting, students must read all of 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 program, and students develop skills through repeated practice which they will be struggling to develop if only asked to critique on three to four occasions. Since the teacher is present with each group, they can lead the discussion to assist 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 as well as the teacher. The teacher can, of course, check out the critical comments plus the paper to assist students develop both writing and skills that are critical. This technique requires no special copying and need take very little classroom time. The teacher might wish to allow some right time for the pairs to talk about each other’s work, or this might be done outside the class. The disadvantage of the method is that the teacher cannot guide the discussions and students are limited to comments from only 1 of these 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 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 instruct students how exactly to improve not just their mechanical skills, but also their thinking skills. Students may have comments that are critical their-teachers as well as from their peers to do business with. Some teachers choose to have students revise a draft that is first only comments from their peers and then revise an additional time on the basis of the teacher’s comments.

E) Student Critiques–Students must be taught how exactly to critique each other’s work. Although some teachers may leave the type associated with response up to the students, most attempt to give their students some direction.

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

2) Assignment Critique Form–This is a collection of questions designed designed for a writing task that is particular. Such a form gets the benefit of making students focus on the special aspects peculiar into the given task. If students make use of them repeatedly, however, they might become dependent on it, never asking their very own critical questions of the texts they critique.

3) Descriptive Outline–Instead of providing questions to direct students, some teachers choose to teach their students to publish a “descriptive outline.” The student reads the paper and stops to write after each section or paragraph, recording what she or he 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 do not need to grade all writing instance that is assignments–for, exploratory writing, and early drafts of more formal pieces. Teachers can 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.