View Full Version : If you only had ONE year to teach writing, what would you use?

08-22-2013, 12:45 PM
Kaity is a senior this year and while she is a very good writer, she feels she doesn't know and understand the proper way to write papers. Her ideas and words, the way she articulates what she's trying to say is very good. But what's the best out there for teaching HOW to write different things?

Vicki P in VA
08-22-2013, 04:51 PM
Is she mostly worried about how she will handle college writing? I teach college writing courses, and one of my favorite resources to share with students is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) website. [http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/] It has a ton of information on citations, research, and essay writing, and she could probably glean a lot just from poking around on the website. :) I also recommend picking up a good writing reference book (she'll need one for college as well). The one we currently use is A Writer's Reference (http://www.amazon.com/A-Writers-Reference-Diana-Hacker/dp/0312601433/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377204498&sr=8-1&keywords=hacker+a+writer%27s+reference), which has a lot of great information, sample papers, and tips for different writing situations. Beyond this, just practice, practice, practice! Most introductory courses in college will work with her on solid academic writing, so it's ok if she's not perfect. She just needs to be good at coming up with research questions and topics, and know how to develop them to some degree in writing. Facility with doing good research and using sources responsibility is a bonus, because a lot of college students really struggle with this!

Hope that helps!

08-22-2013, 05:35 PM
Thank you for these suggestions Vicki. I look forward to looking over them.

Basically she just doesn't feel confident in how to write papers. WHAT to write is not an issue, but HOW to properly write them is what she wants more instruction in.

Hollie in SC
08-22-2013, 06:23 PM
Christy, take a look at some IEW products (or ask on their yahoo group) and talk with her about what they cover. She may be able to guide you to where she wants help.

Laura F
08-22-2013, 10:05 PM
A separate suggestion is to become familiar with how to cite and list sources that she's using in her papers. If she plans to attend college, this is a must. High school students often use MLA format (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/) (because English teachers use it), but different college majors use different styles (APA (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/664/01/), etc.). What's important is that she learn how to use one of these formats in her research papers; she can easily learn the different styles later on.

ETA: To clarify, you don't mean creative writing. Correct? Are you focusing on research papers? Or literary analysis? Technical writing? Can you give us a better idea of her question?

08-22-2013, 10:25 PM
Kaity is a senior this year and while she is a very good writer, she feels she doesn't know and understand the proper way to write papers. Her ideas and words, the way she articulates what she's trying to say is very good. But what's the best out there for teaching HOW to write different things?

Well, if she's a very good writer, and she communicates well, then I would say she's 90% there. As a teacher and as a writer, I've learned that the writers who need templates (or formulas) for writing are writers who are uncomfortable with writing or who need precise instructions -- they don't have the intuitive sense that good writers have, which allows them to depart from templates and write good papers on their own. When I taught, I taught in a district that taught the 5 finger paragraph, the 11-sentence paragraph, the rigid 5-paragraph essay -- and it was eventually agonizing for the "natural" writers who wanted to depart from this. It was agonizing for me, too, as a teacher, to have to keep teaching this over and over when only a certain percentage of my students actually needed it. (This was high school level in advanced courses.)

But there are resources out there that will teach the overall approach to certain types of papers: expository, comparison/contrast, descriptive, persuasive, etc. She does need to have a good grasp on how to write them, so looking those up online or in a writing resource would be a good start. Hands-On Essays teaches these, although it's a very basic and simplistic program, especially for a high school senior. Still, she could take the basic principles and go from there. (But honestly, if she's a good writer, she probably knows most of this already.) She also needs to know how to write a research paper and (if she takes literature courses in college) a literary analysis paper. Analytical Grammar has two very inexpensive courses on these last two papers. The research one covers both the paper format and the Bibliography/Works Cited pages that are so important. The Literary Analysis one does a good job of explaining the types of things to talk about in a literary analysis paper and also how to embed quotes.

Is that the kind of information you're looking for?

Nedra in California
08-22-2013, 11:51 PM
This: http://www.amazon.com/Jensens-Format-Writing-Jensen-Frode/dp/1886061297/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377229880&sr=1-1&keywords=jensen+format+writing

Kendra AU
08-23-2013, 01:22 AM
Writing With Skill.

It's a simple one year programme that will take her through the mechanics from note taking to footnotes. Quick simple lessons. However, it's only for non-fiction writing. Her age & the grade it was created for might be a little mismatched, all though there is a higher level that's just come out. I'm super picky when it comes to writing programmes & I'm really sold on WWS & how it teaches writing & note taking, etc.

08-23-2013, 06:59 AM
I'd use either the Purdue OWL program (free online) or one or more of the Coursera composition classes.

08-23-2013, 07:00 PM
What about Brave Writer?


Julie in AZ
08-25-2013, 10:43 AM
I agree with Kendra about Writing with Skill. It's excellent for format and technique. Your dd will learn different types of papers like scientific description, historical narrative, etc.

Becky in CA
08-26-2013, 08:25 PM
Wordsmith Craftsman also works on those skills.

Shannon P
08-27-2013, 09:13 PM
+1 for the OWL website. It is the only website recommended by one of the college professors we've encountered.

Whatever program you use, I think being comfortable with MLA format is a priority goal.