Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

By James D. Williams | Go to book overview

9
Writing Assignments

MAKING GOOD WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
When students turn in essays that have little to say and that are boring to read, teachers often blame the students for not trying. Actually, the problem may be in the assignment. There is no such thing as “the perfect assignment, ” but some are definitely better than others and lead to more thoughtful responses from students. Too often, problems in students' writing can be traced back to poorly constructed assignments. Fortunately, assignments can be improved significantly through following a few simple steps.
Planning and Outcome Objectives
Good assignments take time and planning. They have measurable outcome objectives that are linked to broader goals and objectives defined by the course and by the series of courses in which writing instruction occurs. Educators generally differentiate goals and objects on the basis of specificity. Goals tend to be expressed in terms of mastery, whereas outcome objectives tend to be expressed in terms of performance or demonstrable skill. (Years ago, outcome objectives were expressed largely in terms of behaviors, reflecting the influence of behavioral psychology.) In a language arts class, for example, we might find statements similar to the following:
Goals: Students will study and understand various forms of expository writing, including reports of events and information, interpretation, argumentation, and evaluation.

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Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - The Foundations of Rhetoric 1
  • 2 - Contemporary Rhetoric 42
  • 3 - Best Practices 98
  • 4 - The Classroom as Workshop 131
  • 5 - Reading and Writing 151
  • 6 - Grammar and Writing 171
  • 7 - English as a Second Language and Nonstandard English 215
  • 8 - The Psychology of Writing 257
  • 9 - Writing Assignments 279
  • 10 - Assessing and Evaluating Writing 297
  • Appendix A - Writing Myths 345
  • Appendix B - Sample Essays 354
  • References 362
  • Author Index 385
  • Subject Index 391
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