The Teachers’ Guide to Writing Commons

View how other professors are using Writing Commons in their courses: English for Academic Purposes, Composition, Technical Writing, Business Writing, Fiction Writing, Literature.

Dear Colleagues,

We are a community of writers, teachers, and researchers. (See Review Editors, Advisory Board, Staff). We are passionate about helping writers realize their potential.

We invite you to adopt Writing Commons for your students and classrooms.

Writing Commons provides a thorough introduction to theory, research, and pedagogy in Writing Studies. In addition to the standard topics of traditional writing textbooks in Writing Studies–i.e., Genre, Information Literacy, Invention and Revision, Organization, Research, Rhetoric, and Style and EditingWriting Commons provides a thorough introduction to Collaboration practices as a 21st Century workforce competency.

Mindset and Writing Studies are rarely addressed.

Most of Writing Commons is course agnostic–i.e., suitable for any course that requires writing, from the fiction workshop to the dissertation drafting course. Writers from kindergarten to doctoral work engage in Collaboration, Genre, Information Literacy, Invention and Revision, Mindset, Organization, Research, Rhetoric, and Style and Editing.

We adopt a Writing-about-Writing epistemological approach. By this we mean we cite the research and theory in Writing Studies and allied fields, and we attempt to historize composition pedagogy (see Historical Perspectives on Writing Studies). Additionally, for readers who seek a deeper immersion into the study of writing, we introduce Composition Theory, Communication Theory, Information Theory and Practice, and Learning Theory,

Writing Commons reflects the Wisdom of the Commons. We do not provide a monolithic view of the study of writing. Via our peer review process and global reach, we seek to avoid a U.S.-centric view of the discipline. We aim to be a place for debate and study that is informed by caring and commitment to aspiring writers.

Articles at Writing Commons have been peer reviewed by a peer-review system involving Review Editors, Advisory Board, and/or Staff. We invite you to help us in our effort to help students and colleagues, internationally (see Contribute).

Navigational Help

To help your students find what they need at Writing Commons, we encourage you to point them to How to Navigate Writing Commons.

Early in a semester, you might consider sending them on a scavenger hunt at Table of Contents and Detailed Summary of Contents.

Recommended Readings

We recommend assigning the following articles early in the semester. These articles are course agnostic: they provide foundational information about 21st Century literacies and writing processes.

  1. Composition Theory
    1. Composing Processes: a 21st Century Model
    1. Composing Processes: The Simplified Model
    2. Composing Processes: Theory & Research:
  2. Communication Theory
    1. How Can You Become an Effective Communicator?
    2. What Are the Benefits of Strong Communication Skills?
    3. What is Communication?
    4. Why Does Writing (or Public Speaking) Matter?
  3. Learning Theory
    1. Declarative/Conceptual Knowledge
    2. Procedural (Tacit) Knowledge
    1. 21st Century Literacies: Cognitive, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal Competencies
      1. Research on Intrapersonal Competencies
      2. Research on Interpersonal Competencies
  4. Rhetorical Genre Studies
  1. Composition Theory
    1. Composing Processes: a 21st Century Model
    2. Composing Processes: The Simplified Model
    3. Composing Processes: Foundational Theory & Research:
    4. Information Literacy and the Writing Process
  2. Learning Theory
    1. Declarative/Conceptual Knowledge
    2. How Can You Become an Effective Communicator?
    3. Procedural/Tacit Knowledge
    4. Why Does Writing (or Public Speaking) Matter?
  3. Literacy Theory
    1. 21st Century Literacies: Cognitive, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal Competencies

Overview of Contents from the Teacher’s Perspective

Collaboration

At Collaboration, we cite workplace competency literature with the goal of helping students better understand that intrapersonal competencies are prized workplace competencies. For an excellent review of literature on collaborative problem solving, we recommend

After you return papers to students or assign peer reviews, you might consider assigning Critique. The goal of Critique is to help students respond more professional to feedback.

Leadership is helpful to assign if students are assigned leadership roles, such as Project Planner, Chief Researcher, Editor, Designer.

To make Peer Review work in the classroom, we find it helpful to model reviews for the class and share excellent examples of students’ reviews. Because students sometimes lack a vocabulary for peer review, we  provide unprecedented examples of suggested critical commentary.

Genre 

We do hope you will assign the homepage for Genre to your students when they are first starting a project. We believe that page usefully and insightfully defines genre as

  • a classification scheme for texts.
  • a method of invention.
  • a method communities use (even if unconsciously) to sustain values, inculcate users, and communicate.
  • a rhetorical tool people use to apply typified actions to recurring situations.

That said, we acknowledge our treatment of genre is a bit spotty. We have the genres assigned in most composition courses covered, yet we are still a bit underdeveloped in business, scientific, and literary contexts. (We hope you’ll help us build those sections; see Contribute).

Information Literacy

In a world where bots are invoking tribalism, prejudice, and fear by posting fake news, information literacy is more important than ever. Beyond the bots, we have the information silos: people are setting their news feeds to filter perspectives they disagree with.

The two foundational documents for our treatment of Information Literacy are 

  • Association of College and Research Libraries. “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Text. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), February 9, 2015. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.
  • Association of College and Research Libraries. “Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” Text. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), October 10, 2019, http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/visualliteracy.

Invention & Revision

We understand it is more common to view Invention and Revision as very distinct intellectual processes. One of the tenets of expressivism, a composition pedagogy, is that people find fluency and power by separating these intellectual processes. Compositionists like Don Murray, Peter Elbow, and Sondra Perl inspired generations of writing teachers write without stopping, to ignore conventions and focus on the pursuit of meaning.

We do not discount the value of embracing invention. Shutting down the critical self, privileging the believing game over the doubting, is a brilliant pedagogical strategy.

Mindset 

As you well know, students need to be ready to grow. If they assume writing is a fixed trait, especially if they assume they don’t have that fixed trait, then they are likely not to improve no matter how hard you work with them. Thus, Mindset explains to students the importance of embracing a Growth Mindset. Along with a brief summary of research on the importance of a Growth Mindset,  It  focuses on the writer’s dispositions, attitudes, and behaviors that aid writing or hamstring writing development. Mindset explores the importance of a growth mindset, intellectual openness, emotional resilience, work ethic & perseverance.

Mindset explores the role of the your emotions, attitudes, personality, work ethic, and strategic planning on your writing development and writing processes.

As experienced teachers, we know many students dislike writing or even find writing to be aversive. Over the years, we have met many students and professionals who don’t feel creative or prepared to face communication challenges in the workplace. We are also aware that many students have limited exposure to writing longer than paragraph-long essays, writing in the disciplines, or writing for audiences other than the teacher as examiner.

Mindset is course agnostic: it could be used in courses from high school to graduate school to help writers find their fluency and potential.

Organization

Research

Rhetoric

Regardless of your writing assignments, students need to think rhetorically. We strongly urge you to assign this section for each major writing assignment you assign. It provides concise, no-nonsense advice about audience, purpose, stance, thesis, and research question is Rhetoric in mind as you draft and revise your work 

Style and Editing 

Prior to having students submit their work for your review and after students have conducted substantive peer reviews, you could assign Grammar, Mechanics, Proofreading or Punctuation and then have students conduct in-class copy editing of their own or peers writing.

You may find it useful to assign student groups to present presentations and workshops on Grammar, Mechanics, Proofreading or Punctuation.

Writing Studies


Copyright

Feel free to use our materials (including printing) so long as you are not doing so for commercial purposes (see copyright statement below).

Writing Commons uses a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Noderivatives 3.9 Unported License. This license permits you to print pages as you wish or upload them to your website–so long as you are not a commercial venture and so long as you cite us.