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Overview of Steps to Writing Well Part One—The Basics of the Short Essay provides fundamental instruction for college-level writing expectations, addressing all aspects of the writing process from prewriting through final draft, with discussion and practice sessions that employ strategies for drafting and revision. In addition, introductions to creative and critical thinking with advice about procrastination, an enemy of critical thinking , effective sentence construction, word logic, and connections between reading and writing link students to essential details in the writing process while giving them the language to talk about writing.
Equipped with these tools, students can begin to effectively negotiate the more detailed instruction and advice that Part Two—Purposes, Modes, and Strategies illustrates, while putting to use new skills and knowledge gained from Part One.
Part Two emphasizes strategies for developing ideas and text, organizing text, analyzing text, and assessing and revising text. The major focus in this section involves developing text based upon audience needs and purposes for writing. Once students begin to recognize the structural elements of each type, they can begin to employ the elements logically at all stages of the writing process—prewriting discovery of topics, theses, audiences, purposes, and content , drafting, and revision.
Chapter 13 ends this section with a discussion of combining elements, analysis of an essay using multiple strategies, and as in all other chapters, practice and suggestions for writing. Likewise, instructors hoping to cover each of the major concerns in this section can easily develop units using the topics here as themes—text-response, research, literature, work—incorporating chapters from other sections as appropriate.
Add Chapters 16 and 33 both of which focus on poems and short stories and a unit on literature is born. Chapter Argumentation, Chapter Writing Essays Using Multiple Strategies, and Chapters 29 will build a strong scaffold for both analyzing and creating arguments.
Part Four—A Concise Handbook offers support for those students needing to sharpen their grammar and punctuation skills. In addition, should instructors choose to create units based on suggestions here about Part Three—Special Assignments, the additional readings will provide a variety of examples for further in-depth analysis and discussion. Wyrick has chosen challenging texts that offer not only clear examples of writing strategies and processes, but interesting, timely, and perhaps timeless topics for discussion.
Keeping journals Chapter 1 and participating in collaborative activities Chapter 5 are two ways instructors might encourage students to examine their own writing process and analyze the writing of others, enabling them to bring new insights to their own work. The journal provides them with a chance to write informally, perhaps experimenting with their writing and taking more risks than they would in a traditional, formal essay assignment.
This is not to say, however, that journals are not to be taken seriously by student writers: if journals are to be a success, with assignments that are rewarding for the instructor as well as the students, there should be accountability. Assignments for the journal will be varied and will take place both in and out of class.
A couple of notes: be sure to title and date each assignment, doing them in the order they are assigned. In addition to written assignments, class notes should also be recorded in the journal. In short, your journal should be a complete record of your preliminary writings for each essay. A suggestion: consider reserving the last few pages of your journal to record assignments for each class meeting. Grading Journals will be collected at the conclusion of each unit, often the last class before an essay is due, and will be returned the following class period.
Each assignment will be noted as complete or incomplete, with credit given for each thoroughly completed assignment. At the end of the term, your journal grade will be determined as a percentage number completed out of the number possible and converted to a letter grade. When giving take-home journal assignments, detailed instructions help guarantee completed, thorough journal entries.
Here is a sample assignment: Journal Assignment Three For most of this course, we have been discussing the importance of writing clear, straightforward essays that communicate directly to the reader.
These were characterized by unity, coherence, a clear, narrow focus, effective paragraph development, and creative introductions and conclusions. For this journal assignment, choose a cover story from any Time or Newsweek magazine. Then do the following: Copy it on a copy machine and staple it to this assignment sheet. Make sure the entire article is included. Use a pen or pencil to mark up the essay unmarked essays are not acceptable.
Make note of things like transitional devices, thesis statements, interesting concrete language, paragraph development, etc. In other words, try to notice as many of the concepts we talked about in class as possible. In the margin or somewhere near each mark, identify what it is you are marking. On a separate sheet of paper, write four or five sentences evaluating the essay, making some comment about the audience for which the essay is intended, the transitional devices used, and in general how you would evaluate the overall quality of the writing, based, again, on the things we have been discussing in class.
Classroom discussion can take place through a variety of online forums or bulletin boards, or even e-mail if circumstances permit. Prewriting, which asks students to explore ideas and to find connections, often suffers from the urge to edit. Some will be discomfited by this activity as it prevents the flow of thought from being maintained in the normal fashion—writing, pausing to read what one has written, editing, etc.
Instead, the writer is forced to simply put down whatever comes to mind, even if that means not finishing thoughts.
Freewriting in this fashion can generate a good deal of brainstorming that may or may not appear as completed text, but that is the intent—to generate material that one can later formulate into comprehensible text for a reader.
Most word processing software includes some type of template for outlines. These templates can be utilized easily in both brainstorming and organization workshops suggested in Chapter 1— Prewriting. Meanwhile, presentation programs, such as PowerPoint, provide written guidelines for text development. Moreover, PowerPoint itself allows for creative presentation of student text and is especially useful to introduce students to electronic and multimedia forums for oral reports.
Moreover, incorporating presentations into class content enables students to recognize more readily the benefits of audience analysis as well as the connection between text and context. If Internet access is available, the most obvious benefit for first-year students will be easy access to research materials.
Steps to Writing Well
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