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"Teaching. Writing. Learning.": Conversations on Teaching Writing: August 28

Teaching. Writing. Learning.

Our Guest Speakers

Jonathan Gilligan  

Jonathan Gilligan

Earth & Environmental Science

Emily King  

Emily King


Richard Lloyd  

Richard Lloyd


Starting the Conversation: A Panel on Inspiring Your Students to Write

From the CFT Blog:

“Teaching. Writing. Learning.,” the new series of conversations on teaching writing across the campus, began last Wednesday.  Emily King (English), Richard Lloyd(Sociology), and Jonathan Gilligan (Earth & Environmental Sciences) were the invited guests for kick-off event entitled “Starting the Conversation: A Panel on Inspiring Your Students to Write.”

Emily emphasized the need to define “excellent writing” in your class, as this definition will vary across levels and disciplines.  She shared a wealth of concrete suggestions, addressing

  • how to prepare students for writing in your class (“Practice the analysis in class that you will demand from them in their essays,” create and share with students a grading rubric for writing in your class),
  • how to help students during the drafting process (workshops, staggering deadlines, drawing on the Writing Studio and the FYWS Instructor Toolkit), and
  • how to help students make sense of your evaluation of their writing (“Stress again and again that WRITING IS A PROCESS,” showing your own manuscripts in progress, presenting the common writing problems in a set of papers before you return them).

Richard focused on the relationship between “substantive discussions and substantive writing”:  “the quality of class discussions is reflected in predictable ways in the writing I get from students.”  He wants his sociology students to think, discuss, and write “synthetically,” putting texts and ideas in conversation with each other.  Such synthesis is a higher order of thinking and writing, he said, than simple interpretation, or compare and contrast.

Jonathan wants his science students to think of themselves as writers.  He confessed to teaching less content and more writing in his first-year writing seminars.  He regularly assigns readings from the classic writing guidThe Craft of Research to help students integrate how they think about research and writing.  “Why do researchers write? To communicate information. To make replication of research possible. To talk with journal editors and readers. Even to affect public policy.”

 Sep. 5 CFT Blog Post

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