Posts Tagged ‘writing about writing’

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A Larger WAW Presence at CCCC

posted: 3.27.13 by Elizabeth Wardle and Douglas Downs

We’ve all returned from CCCC with minds full of ideas and phones full of new contacts. This year’s was an excellent conference, with thought-provoking panels, and I came home ready to begin work on some new projects with various colleagues.

One of the biggest surprises to me at this year’s Cs was the number of panels directly or indirectly related to writing about writing. Some were led by people I knew, but many were not. Many included students, which seems quite in line with the underlying philosophy of the approach—to value what students know and can do. I didn’t have the chance to attend most of these panels, but I’m told that several were concerned with issues of reading in a writing about writing class. Yes, reading the material in Writing about Writing is difficult.  Doug and I like to remind people in the many workshops we give that teaching these articles to first-year students is not like teaching them to graduate students. We have to teach reading strategies, definitely, but we also have to focus on the larger picture: why are we having first-year students read these materials? Not to analyze every nuance of the underlying theories or methodologies, but to begin to think about writing, and their own writing, differently, and to begin to ask and answer their own questions about writing. [read more]

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It’s a Deep Subject

posted: 3.13.13 by Elizabeth Wardle and Douglas Downs

Your intrepid co-bloggers have, for about the past year, and especially the past couple months, been consumed with revising Writing about Writing for its second edition. This past week we finished its new material, and the 2e is much closer to our ideal book.

I thought I’d talk here about why that would be—what’s the difference between an ideal and what can actually be written? Why don’t the two simply correspond? Why don’t we “get it right the first time”? Or at least the second time? Several reasons:

1. We’re trying to hit a moving target. Every time we teach a WAW class, we learn more about how to do it well. Every new teacher using a WAW approach brings new considerations and ideas. We happen on approaches, readings, or ideas that make us happier. (For example, we’re learning now about threshold concepts, which the second edition is built to account for.)

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Writing Is an Object of Study: Underlying Threshold Concept for Writing about Writing Curricula

posted: 11.28.12 by Elizabeth Wardle and Douglas Downs

Liz

Back in July, I wrote a blog post in which I suggested that we consider the threshold concepts of our field appropriate for teaching in first-year composition. At that time, I suggested a few possible threshold concepts I was considering. Since then, our department has been having a threshold concepts reading group. After reading some of the Myer and Land book I referenced in my earlier post (Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge), we began considering possible threshold concepts. One of our instructors, Matt Bryan, suggested one of the thresholds both for him as a new writing about writing instructor and for his students:

Writing is an object of study.

This was so simple and obvious—yet mostly unspoken by us as a faculty—that we all sat for a minute, thinking of all of the ways that this particular threshold is hard to cross: for our literature colleagues, for the public at large, for students in our writing about writing courses, and for composition teachers from non-rhetoric/composition backgrounds asked to teach a writing about writing course.

This threshold concept is encountered by teachers in what I called in a recent post the “third stage” of learning to teach writing about writing: “realization that Rhetoric and Composition has a content.” In other words, recognition that teaching and learning in a writing class is not simply about learning scribal skills or genre conventions, but learning about writing broadly understood. It’s learning that writing is something that a person can study and know about, that it’s not just something you do, or a tool you use, or just a technology (although it is all of those things, too). [read more]

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