Practices in Teaching Writing



Writing pedagogy has a long and varied history. There are as many approaches to teaching writing as there are writing teachers. Our semester-long professional development workshop will focus on the theory and practice of teaching writing. We will engage with a wide variety of texts and perspectives on teaching and learning in composition studies, including feminist, multicultural, and multimodal approaches to composition pedagogy. In addition to discussing readings, we will devote significant time to discussing classroom practices and current classroom experiences. Participants will also be required to compose and investigate research questions related to their teaching. Course topics include composing assignments, teaching reading, engaging in the writing process, giving feedback, using self-reflection, teaching for knowledge transfer, engaging with grammatical and stylistic concerns, and other topics of interest to participants in the course.


By the end of this course, students should be able to

  • Understand and articulate multiple approaches to teaching writing

  • Use reflective practices to engage students in deep learning

  • Construct clear, engaging writing assignments and prompts

  • Design course content that meets programmatic goals and as well as instructors’ specific goals

  • Experiment with multiple strategies for teaching research-based and persuasive writing

  • Learn and to teach strategies to enable students to read like a writer and to write with the reader in mind

  • Practice sound reading and writing pedagogies

  • Develop their own teaching persona, values, and priorities within the parameters of the writing program’s course objectives


I’d also recommend one additional text: Cheryl Glenn and Melissa Goldthwaite’s The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing (7th Edition) (ISBN: 1457622637)

I will also ask participants to share relevant readings with the class each week, so be on the lookout for research articles, news stories, videos, etc. that might be relevant to our work.


Teaching writing in the 21st century requires a working knowledge of any number of technologies. In view of this, we'll be having a number of technology workshops over the course of the semester. Workshop topics will include Canvas, Twitter, Wordpress, and other digital spaces and tools. At the start of the semester, we will collaboratively create the final list of workshop topics.


Teaching Journal & Self-Evaluation (30%)
Each week, I’ll ask you to write a brief reflection on your teaching experiences that week. What is going well? What is going poorly? What surprised you? What are you planning for next week? What are some potential problems you might face next week? In the final two weeks of the semester, I’ll ask you to revisit these entries and reflect on your semester-long teaching experience and compose a self-evaluation that (1) describes what your goals for your students were, (2) articulates specific practices you engaged in to accomplish these goals, (3) describes the most successful practices, (4) makes a plan for addressing at least one less successful practice, and (5) articulates at least one new practice you want to try next semester.

Peer Revisits & Reflections (30%)
Throughout the semester, you should choose at least two of your peers’ classes to visit and compose a reflection that (1) describes the topic/content, (2) describes teaching practices or strategies, and (3) articulates at least one practice, strategy, tool, or reading you’d like to borrow for you own course.

Teaching Materials (40%)
As this course aims to be a practical discussion of teaching first-year writing, please compose your syllabus and associated documents for your 100B course next semester. Namely, please craft the following elements:

  • A full syllabus, including required university policies, class policies on attendance, technology, and any other issues of particular importance to you, and a grade breakdown.

  • A full set of major projects including a project description, desired learning outcomes (at least 3 per project), a discussion of the drafting process, and either a rubric or list questions that will guide your approach to feedback and evaluation.

  • A reading schedule that covers at least the first 5 weeks of the semester.

  • Lesson plans that cover at least the first 3 weeks of the semester


Week 1 – Writing Studies & Teaching Writing

  • Naming, 15-34

  • Bad Ideas, 7-12

Week 2 – First-Year Writing

Weeks 3 & 4 – Assessment & Grading

  • Naming, 29-30, 67-68, 157-170

  • Bad Ideas, 255-267, 273-275

  • Selection from Chp. 3 of Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies (pp. 125-137)

  • Peter Elbow, “Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment”

Week 5 – Writing and Identity

  • Naming, 48-58

  • Bad Ideas, 53-75

Week 6 – Reading and Writing

  • Bad Ideas, 38-52

  • Dunn, “Motivation and Connection” (

Week 7 – Process

  • Naming, 59-70

  • Bad Ideas, 104-116, 163-180

Week 8 – Grammar, Style, Form

  • Bad Ideas, 117-120, 139-162

  • Hartwell, “Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar” (

  • Walker, “Everything Changes, or Why MLA Isn’t (Always) Right” (

Week 9 – Englishes and Identity

  • Naming, 48-58

  • Bad Ideas, 82-98

  • Lynn Z. Bloom’s “Teaching My Class”

Week 10 – Research and Writing

  • Bad Ideas, 226-246

  • McClure, “Googlepedia: Turning Information Behaviors into Research Skills” (

  • Haller, “Walk, Talk, Cook, Eat: A Guide to Using Sources” (

Week 11 – Genre

  • Naming, 35-47

  • Bad Ideas, 209-225

Week 12 – Transfer

  • Bad Ideas, 34-37

  • Fraizer, “Towards a Model of Building Writing Transfer Awareness across the Curriculum” (

Week 13 – Reflection

  • Naming, 71-83

  • Yancey, “Portfolios as Genre, Rhetoric as Reflection”

Week 14 – Conferencing

  • Selections from Muriel Harris, Teaching One-to-One

  • Holly Ryan, “Changing Attitudes: Writing Center Workshops in the Classroom”


Image by Victoria Pickering and available on Flickr.