Posts Tagged ‘Writing Process’

Horizontal divider

Becoming a Better Writer: Advice from Students

posted: 5.11.15 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

“You need to take this class because you’ll be a better writer at the end of the year. And at the end of the year, being a better writer will mean more to you than it does now.” – Stretch Writing Cohort 2014-15

 Advice for new first-year college writers often can focus more on neat and complete products rather than on the process itself. For instance, these 10 Ways to Ruin a College Paper seem appropriate for preparing a final product, but such tips do not account for the messiness that often accompanies a writer’s first efforts at composing. [read more]

Comments Off on Becoming a Better Writer: Advice from Students
Categories: Basic Writing, Susan Naomi Bernstein, Writing Process
Read All Susan Naomi Bernstein

Horizontal divider

Writing Review: A Kinesthetic Group Activity in Seven Steps

posted: 4.13.15 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

As the end of the term draws near for many of us, we may wish to provide a writing process review for students. We could rehash textbook pages or websites that offer basic information about writing processes, as well as written products and genres of academic writing. But spring has sprung for many of us, and summer looms and attention drifts. How can we offer students opportunities to remember what they have learned about writing—and putting their learning into practice?

A kinesthetic approach to review can help. In kinesthetic learning, students turn away from laptop and tablet screens and use whole-body movement to rehearse significant concepts. [read more]

Comments Off on Writing Review: A Kinesthetic Group Activity in Seven Steps
Categories: Activity Idea, Basic Writing, Learning Styles, Susan Naomi Bernstein, Writing Process
Read All Susan Naomi Bernstein

Horizontal divider

A Paperless Perspective

posted: 11.11.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

On the first day of this semester, the first day of my new paperless face-to-face classroom, the course management system crashed. When the system revived, the projector quit. In short,  in the first seventy-five minutes of opening day I experienced my greatest fears about going paperless. More than once I longed to throw my laptop out the window, and to return to a time before Facebook and smart phones, when we sat outside under trees with ripening apples, doing independent free writing and discussing our writing processes together, unaware of the genie about to emerge from the bottle. [read more]

Comments Off on A Paperless Perspective
Categories: Susan Naomi Bernstein
Read All Susan Naomi Bernstein

Horizontal divider

The Crazy Quilt Theory of Process

posted: 6.30.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

Many years ago, I gave a conference presentation entitled “Piecing Together an Academic Life.” At the time, I was making a quilted pillow of my clothes from graduate school, and of pieces donated by family and friends from different parts of their lives. My presentation focused on how we take the different pieces of our experiences to quilt together a new configuration, an object that values each piece separately—but also a piece in which the whole eventually becomes greater than the sum of the parts. [read more]

Comments Off on The Crazy Quilt Theory of Process
Categories: Susan Naomi Bernstein
Read All Susan Naomi Bernstein

Horizontal divider

Constantly Rewriting

posted: 2.21.14 by Traci Gardner

Last semester, I blocked out four writing projects for the courses I was teaching. Students did extensive writing in class. They shared rough drafts with peers for feedback, and eventually their work was turned in with a reflective statement on the decisions that they had made as they worked. [read more]

Comments Off on Constantly Rewriting
Categories: Traci Gardner
Read All Traci Gardner

Horizontal divider

Writing is a Public Act: Take Two

posted: 3.29.13 by archived

When I wrote my last blog post on my “Writing is A Public Act” policy, I didn’t anticipate that it would be a two-fer, but that’s how it has turned out. In that post, I ended up thinking about how having access to student writing via the LMS and Google Docs is useful to me as a writing teacher in the Paperless Writing Class. What I didn’t articulate is why I think this policy is worthwhile for the students and that’s what I’d like to take up here.

Let me say from the outset that the writing I’m talking about here is not of the personal sort–I’m not looking for students to do a freewrite on a significant relationship in their lives and then insisting that they allow me to share that freewrite with the class. That’s not what I have in mind. I’m talking about the kind of writing students do when they’re working through ideas or asking questions or reacting to something they’ve read or we’ve discussed. Let’s take an example.

[read more]

Comments Off on Writing is a Public Act: Take Two
Categories: Michael Michaud
Read All archived

Horizontal divider

Learning by Writing

posted: 2.13.12 by archived

Some interesting work in composition research addresses the ways that writing represents an advanced form of thinking, conceptualization, and memorization. See, for instance, Janet Emig’s work on “Writing as a Mode of Learning.” Also, a few weeks ago, Wired magazine summarized a recent study showing that students actually study best by writing essays. The study originally appeared in the journal Science. As writing teachers, we often believe in the power of writing—and we try to communicate it to other teachers and to our students. I know I do. But I also know that sometimes I lose sight of an important fact.

Yes, it is so important to see writing “as a mode of learning,” or as a type of “higher-order thinking.” Otherwise, it is too easily seen as just a skill. But look a bit more closely at the recent Wired study. It shows that most students were best able to memorize information about a series of scientific articles that they read when they studied by writing a short essay about the articles. On average, writing worked much better than concept-mapping or other “elaborative studying” techniques. Writing an essay rather than creating a concept map, for most students, even prepared them to create better concept maps when they were later tested. You can’t get much better evidence for the power of writing than that. [read more]

Comments: (1)
Categories: Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
Read All archived

Horizontal divider

How I Got Here, From There

posted: 9.10.10 by archived

The personal narrative assignment is the first prompt most college writers are given in writing class. I wrote about this assignment in a BITS post from the start of the Fall semester last year. At that time, I suggested some ways to alter the personal narrative assignment to encourage even greater originality (some example assignments included autoethnographies, audio narratives, literacy narratives, multigenre and multivocal variations, and so on). You can also access some ideas that I suggested for in-class writing (timelines and artifacts, as well as playlists, sketches, and storyboards). In today’s post, I suggest further personal narrative activities, inspired in part by a comic strip I used to read when I was a kid and by an article I recently read on

You might remember the Family Circus comic strip, a single panel staple of the Sunday funnies, now over fifty years old. One interesting, recurrent visual trope was a map of the path that one of the Family Circus kids (often Billy) took through the neighborhood in a given day. For some reason, I always loved these maps. The article in Slate, written by Julia Turner, discusses (and reprints) hand-drawn maps. (Other examples of this unique art form can be found on With the advent of the GPS, GoogleMaps, and MapQuest, it seems like the hand-drawn map could become obsolete, but Turner’s article makes an interesting case for the virtues of these sketches. I like the idea that a map can be about more than just traveling from point A to point B. Billy’s maps, for example, were really inventories of his imagination. [read more]

Comments Off on How I Got Here, From There
Categories: Drafting, Jay Dolmage, Writing Process
Read All archived

Horizontal divider

How Baby Pictures Can Help Writers

posted: 9.16.09 by Traci Gardner

I’m not very good at perspective. I never think my latest draft is good enough. Every time I skim through, I doubt I’ve made any progress.

It’s hard to see any substantial changes when we’re deep in the writing process. That’s where baby pictures can make all the difference. No, not pictures of actual babies. Baby pictures of the texts we’re working on.

Here’s an example. Take a look at How 20 popular Web sites looked when they launched. The article includes baby pictures of the most popular sites on the Internet. You’re bound to notice some significant changes when you think about the sites as they exist today. Google looks similar to the site of today, but Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo look nothing like today’s version. A comparison of past and present versions quickly demonstrates how much they’ve evolved.

You can easily arrange a similar comparison for the writers you teach. Early in their composing process, ask students to capture a photographic version of their work:

  • Save a first draft by printing out an extra copy or making a photocopy.
  • Have students take a snapshot of the first part of their texts with a webcam.
  • Take a screenshot of the work on the computer.
  • Snap an image with a cell phone or other available camera.

Next, save these baby pictures for later in the process. You can collect paper versions or have students submit files online. If you want, students might even share these first photographic images with one another and reflect a bit on their process so far.

Later in their composing process, explore websites from the Telegraph article and then ask students to make similar comparisons between the baby pictures of their work and their current versions. They’re bound to realize that they’ve made much more progress than they think—and gain some great perspective on themselves as writers.

Comments Off on How Baby Pictures Can Help Writers
Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising, Writing Process
Read All Traci Gardner

Horizontal divider

Micro-Lecture for You?

posted: 4.22.09 by archived

Ever dream of giving just a 60-second lecture? The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting piece about micro-lectures. There is part of me that has to wonder when, if ever, are people going to take the time to enjoy the learning, reading, and writing process?

Comments Off on Micro-Lecture for You?
Categories: Adjunct Advice, Gregory Zobel
Read All archived