Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Teaching Writing, minus the peer/teacher editing

I wrote last month about how my approach to teaching advanced level writing has veered away from the traditional endless cycles of peer and teacher editing and instead has focused on things like:

-self editing
-genre analysis
-awareness of common problems: verb choices, punctuation, etc.
-crafting quality thesis statements, hooks, topic sentences, etc.

A month ago, I thought things were going well and at this point, I've even more confident in it.  I've been informally asking students about how things are going in the class, whether it's really difficult, or not too bad.  The students have been telling me things like:

-at first it was so difficult, but now it's okay
-no one has ever taught me how to actually write an essay
-I've learned a lot
-the class in interesting
-I want more group projects (only from the weak students! What strong writer could possibly want this in a writing class?)
-I can analyze essays really easily now

Success?  Perhaps.  The majority of students (like 99%) can, at this point tell you about the basic structure of an essay in their sleep.  And the majority (maybe 95%) can produce a basic 5 paragraph essay with all the major elements.  If I had spent endless days focusing on sentence level grammar, vocab usage and peer editing, I don't think this would have been possible. 

The book I'm using for this Class is Great Essays 4 by Keith Folse:

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