Jessica McCaughey is an Assistant Professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she teaches and writes about the intersections of academic, creative, and professional writing. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her online at jessicamccaughey.com.
When it comes to communicating with students, all writing instructors face two hurdles:
- Students have different learning styles, so not all students understand or retain the written word in the same way, and
- Sometimes it’s just easier to speak than it is to write.
The latter is a challenge that becomes especially clear when I find myself crafting embarrassingly long emails that could have been presented orally and visually quite easily. I have—although I’m really not proud of it—taken four paragraphs to clarify a homework assignment. I have written multi-page emails detailing the wonder that is the inter-library loan system. Most writers—and writing instructors—I know love the quote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” by French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. (You may have heard a similar quote falsely attributed to Mark Twain.) Concision takes time in writing, especially writing that is intended to teach in some way. And so it was with genuine pleasure that I discovered and began implementing the use of Jing, a program that supplements and improves the way I teach writing in so many ways. Continue reading
By Caitlin Holmes
Since Dr. José Bowen visited Mason in September 2014, I have been working to implement more of his suggestions for teaching practice into my class. I wrote previously about utilizing one such suggestion: a combination of reading, writing in response, and discussion to understand the rhetorical nature of APA style. More recently, I have experimented with another approach to improving student writing in a low-stakes environment that requires students to show the higher-order thinking skills that Dr. Bowen emphasized: read-around groups. During his workshop at Mason, Bowen reminded us that students respond well to uncertainty, failure, and experimentation, and read-around groups (or RAGs, as they are also known) certainly allow for those conditions to emerge in a productive way.
Today we are highlighting a helpful module from Eli Review on how to understand, use, and teach informative feedback strategies and in-depth revision. Timely and explicit feedback from both teachers and peers leads not only to improved drafts, but to improved writing skills overall. Giving students the instruction they need to learn reflective skills for analyzing both their own writing and their peers’ is critical to fostering the confidence of emerging writers.
“Teaching and learning don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen within specific schools, classrooms, and cultural contexts. This is true for feedback as well.
Effective feedback requires a context in which learners have both the ability and opportunity to hear, understand, and act on that feedback. We might think about feedback rich classrooms as “safe and smart” learning contexts, or classroom communities in which students feel comfortable enough to risk engaging and learning with each other.”
Feedback and Revision: The Key Components of Powerful Writing Pedagogy
By Steven J. Corbett
Almost everyone who teaches writing has an opinion about peer review and response. We’ve heard teachers bemoan how students just don’t take it seriously. We’ve struggled with trying to make it fit in an already over-loaded curriculum. Yet student peer review and response can become a writing teacher’s most promising pedagogy . . . if we approach it with the right attitude and a few helpful strategies and resources.