Teaching with Student Texts: Essays toward an Informed Practice

Teaching with Student Texts: Essays toward an Informed Practice

Teaching with Student Texts: Essays toward an Informed Practice

Teaching with Student Texts: Essays toward an Informed Practice

Excerpt

“It changes everything.” That’s how a new teacher described what happened when he started to work in class with the texts his students were writing. We began this project out of the desire to share that epiphany— to show how experienced teachers work with student texts in the writing classroom and why that practice can be so transformative. We imagined a collection of essays that, as we put it in our call for proposals, would describe “how teachers can use texts written by the students they are working with to illustrate the moves, strategies, principles, and forms of critical reading and academic writing.”

In putting this book together, we strove to make that how visible. We asked our contributors not merely to theorize or explain but to illustrate in some detail how they actually go about teaching with student texts. A few of our early readers found this focus a bit of a throwback. Didn’t teachers of writing decide years ago that our main work was with student texts, they asked? So what’s new here? Well, to be sure, our field does center around pedagogy. This is shown in the very texts we work with and circulate among ourselves. We have textbooks, handbooks, rhetorics, anthologies—almost every sort of advice on writing that one could imagine. We have examples of actual student writing, and of teacher comments on them. We have handouts for teaching: questions for discussion, assignments for writing, and guidelines for response. Historians have uncovered curricula, syllabi, and some precious few student texts from the past, along with the theories of writing and language that drove them. As a field, then, we have thought hard about what we do in the classroom and why, and we have been generous in sharing the materials of our work with one another.

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