A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.


 unCommon News

 A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community.

 Issue 3, July, 2012

Hello friends, 

Summer is almost over and for our many friends in the academic community this means that it is almost time to be back in the office and the classroom on a much more permanent basis; for our friends outside of academics, we assure you that we have also been working hard during the all-too-brief summer. We hope you have enjoyed Writing Commons' face-lift and are finding the site not only aesthetically pleasing but pleasurable to use and navigate as well. 

We are also very pleased to announce that our blog feature is up and running smoothly, with new content being uploaded on a regular basis. Perhaps even more exciting, however, is the recent addition of our "Quizzes" feature which provides a fun and instructive way for users to interact with and learn from our Common Comments. 

In this issue we will explore:

  • Common Comments
  • Call for Papers
  • Recent Publications
  • Social Media

Common Comments

One of the most difficult aspects of teaching writing is the process of responding to writing; it is a task so difficult that it is often cited as the weakest element of any writing instruction. Responding to writing in a way that facilitates learning and better writing requires responses to be precise, meaningful, and intelligible. 

 For the most part, writing instructors aren't necessarily aware of the effectiveness of their own responses to, or commentary on, their students' writing. Let's face it, most writing instruction takes place behind closed doors—or behind one-way screens—making it almost impossible to gain a sense of the larger body of responses and commentary that could improve instructors' ability to respond to their students' writing in more productive, insightful ways.

At Writing Commons we have begun the process of tearing down those walls to assemble a more complete corpus of teacher responses and commentary about student writing. In conjunction with the University of South Florida, we have analyzed, sorted, and assembled the teacher responses and comments of over 36,000 student essays. Along with feedback from the teachers who developed these comments and our own research, we have refined our catalog of responses and comments into a powerful assessment tool: Common Comments.

Common Comments provides in-depth hyper-textual links on virtually all potential manifestations of instructor feedback to student writing on topics from "Rhetorical Situation" to "APA formatting." Each Common Comment provides an accessible explanation of the nature of the comment as well as useful tips for revision.

As you use Common Comments in your classroom, please provide us with your feedback. The more we, as a discipline, can crowdsource our best practices, the better we can facilitate our students' learning.


Call for Papers

As an organic, digital, recursive text, we are interested in receiving new and interesting articles and chapters to expand the breadth and depth of what we can offer our global community of writers.

While we welcome submissions covering all aspects of writing, we are currently seeking chapters that focus on our Style Handbook, as well as Professional and Technical Writing.

You can find the most up-to-date submission information and Calls For Papers at our Contribute page.


Recent Publications

We are pleased to announce the recent addition of a new and exciting chapter to our digital text:

Brianna Jerman's "When to Quote and When to Paraphrase"

Cassandra Branham and Danielle Farrar's "Negotiating Virtual Spaces: Public Writing"

Rhonda Dietrich's "The Guiding Idea and Argumentative Thesis: How are they different? How are they used?"

Kyle Stedman's "Making Sure Your Voice is Present", "What are New Literacies", and "Why Study Rhetoric? or, What Freestyle Rap Teaches Us about Writing"

Jose Aparicio's "Style: An Introduction"

Jen Pack's "Breaking Down an Image"

Michael Charlton's "Understanding How Conversations Change Over Time"

Dan Richard and Kyle Stedman's "Copyright and Writing" 


Social Media

 Keep up with Writing Commons using your favorite social networking sites.

Writing Commons has its own Facebook site, where we keep our status and postings relevant to the latest site information, as well as news about the greater Open Education Resource community.

Writing Commons is also available on Twitter using @writingcommons and #writingcommons. Writing Commons' tweets consist of answers to students' most common writing questions, such as "What's a paragraph supposed to have?" and "What's an argument, again?" Each tweet is hyper-linked to our Writing Commons blog, where Writing Commons' staff provides succinct, accessible answers and helpful examples. The Writing Commons blog functions as a space where writers of all levels of expertise can contribute alternative answers and subsequent questions. We envision this interactive space functioning as a "virtual-teacher" where students can contribute unique writing questions and receive answers by Writing Commons staff in real-time. 

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