Teaching Academic Literacy: The Uses of Teacher-Research in Developing a Writing Program

Teaching Academic Literacy: The Uses of Teacher-Research in Developing a Writing Program

Teaching Academic Literacy: The Uses of Teacher-Research in Developing a Writing Program

Teaching Academic Literacy: The Uses of Teacher-Research in Developing a Writing Program

Synopsis

Teaching Academic Literacy provides a unique outlook on a first-year writing program's evolution by bringing together a group of related essays that analyze, from various angles, how theoretical concepts about writing actually operate in real students' writing. Based on the beginning writing program developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a course that asks students to consider what it means to be a literate member of a community, the essays in the collection explore how students become (and what impedes their progress in becoming) authorities in writing situations.

Key features of this volume include:

• demonstrations of how research into specific teaching problems (e.g., the problem of authority in beginning writers' work) can be conducted by examining student work through a variety of lenses such as task interpretation, collaboration, and conference, so that instructors can understand what factors influence students, and can then use what they have learned to reshape their teaching practices;

• adaptability of theory and research to develop a course that engages basic writers with challenging ideas;

• a model of how a large writing program can be administered, particularly in regards to the integration of research and curriculum development; and

• integration of literary and composition theories.

Excerpt

Barbara Walvoord University of Notre Dame

How do teachers of writing learn how to teach? What support and stimulus do they need? The oft-lamented gap between published theories about writing and actual classroom practice suggests that teachers do not learn by reading theory -- either because they do not care to read it or because, reading it, they cannot integrate theoretical principles with their own practice, cannot envision how to pour the rich wine of classroom experience into someone else's wineskin. And, too, one needs somehow to construct oneself as a teacher of writing, much as students need to construct themselves as writers. The wellsprings of authority are problematic in both cases. How is a TA, an adjunct, a new assistant professor, or a veteran teacher trained in criticism of literary work, to assume the authority of a writing teacher? For that matter, how is someone who had read all of Bakhtin, Bleich, Freire, and Flower to walk into a classroom and connect in some meaningful way with the real people there who are struggling to be writers?

This volume is a wonderful resource for that need -- the need to connect practice to theory, the need to connect one's own life to one's classroom, the need to connect both in a human but also in a scholarly way to the human beings for whom one is teacher. Teaching Academic Literacy has the power to change a teaching life. It receives its authority from the voices of real teachers, TAs, adjuncts, students of rhetoric -- and from the voices of their students. By their own example, the writers show how to observe writers and classrooms, how to collect and interpret systematic data about student . . .

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