Designs for Learning Writing


Education W485-8

Course Outline


A.       How One Writes:

           1.     Principle:            You learn to write by writing.

                  Requirement:      Participants are expected to write every day.

                  Conditions:         Topics will be both assigned and free choice.

                                                   The expressive mode will be emphasized.

                                                   Genres will vary, form being dictated by content.

                   Summary               -       In class writing activities

                   Methodology:      -       Home assignments

                                                      -       Prose models


           2.     Principle:            Writers need real audiences and genuine purposes.

                   Requirement:      Participants are expected to share and evaluate one another's work.

                   Conditions:         The instructor will use student writing for demonstration with large groups.

                                                    Students will work in diads and small groups in class.

                                                    Students will be expected to grade and defend their evaluation of their own work and the work of their peers.

                   Summary               -       Class demonstration lessons

                   Methodology:      -       Diads/conferencing

                                                      -       Group processing

                                                      -       Private study


           3.     Principle:        Writing is a varied, individual process, a series of stages that move from conception to revision.

                   Requirement:  Participants are expected to work two pieces through all stages of the writing process.

                   Conditions:      Specific evaluative feedback will be provided participants on each piece of writing assigned.

                                            Students will select two pieces to rework until they have reached the final revision stage.

                                            The instructor will evaluate and grade these two pieces in determining the final grade.

                   Summary              -      Teacher evaluation

                   Methodology       -       Student evaluation

                                                      -       Peer evaluation


B.       How One Teaches Writing

           4.     Principle:           Research should inform practice.

                   Requirement:      Students will become familiar with the growing body of knowledge in writing process.

                   Conditions:         The instructor will present lectures, show films and organize seminars on the research and theory.

                                                    Participants will read required works and discuss them in seminars.

                                                    Participants will demonstrate knowledge in their written and oral presentations by:

i)      applying knowledge to assigned writing and indicating this application when they self-evaluate and peer-evaluate the   writing assignments,

ii)    demonstrating improvement in presentation of formal lesson designed for their particular grade level.

                   Summary               -       lecture

                   Methodology:      -       film

                                                      -      seminars

                                                      -      written reports

                                                      -      class discussion

                                                      -      student demonstration


           5.     Principle:               There are specific skills that improve writing.

                   Requirements:       Participants are expected to learn how to teach these four skills:

                                                             i)  focussing

                                                             ii) awareness of audience

                                                             iii) searching for specifics

                                                             iv) creating a design

                   Conditions             The instructor will teach these skills in class.

                                                   Participants will use these skills in their own writing.


                                                   Participants will evaluate one another's work, helping each other to develop these skills.

                                                   Participants will demonstrate these skills in their model lessons.

                   Summary                   -       lecture

                   Methodology           -       reading

                                                          -       peer evaluation

                                                          -       writing assignments

                                                          -       demonstration lessons by students


           6.     Principle:               Writing involves the personal risk of self-disclosure and self-discovery.

                   Requirements:       Participants are expected to learn strategies in:

                                                             i) creating a safe learning environment,

                                                             ii) enhancing self-concept,

                                                             iii) encouraging autonomy.

                   Conditions:            The instructor will model the attitudes taught in the class.

                                                   Participants will demonstrate knowledge and understanding through seminars, demonstration lessons, action taken in class with classmates.

                   Summary               -       seminars

                   Methodology:      -       demonstration lessons by students

                                                      -       teacher modelling

                                                      -       tapes

                                                      -       peer evaluation

                                                      -       lecture

                                                      -       in-class activities


           7.     Principle:               Constructive evaluation demands that as well as responding to form and usage, the teacher responds to the author as a person, and to the message as thoughtful communication.

                   Requirements:       Participants are expected to learn:

                                                             i)   to develop criteria for evaluation,

                                                             ii)  use knowledge of writing process to give specific feedback,

                                                             iii)  be aware of the difference between hurtful, ineffective and helpful evaluation.


                   Conditions:            The instructor will model effective evaluation practices.

                                                  Students will study practice samples of writing to learn required skills.

                                                  Students will demonstrate knowledge by evaluating one another's work during peer conferencing sessions.

                                                   Students will evaluate and defend the evaluation of their own work.

                                                   Students will complete two pieces of writing through the revision stage.

                   Summary               -       Modelling by instructor

                   Methodology:      -       Working on samples

                                                      -       Peer evaluation/conferencing

                                                      -       Self-evaluation

                                                      -       2 pieces of revised writing



1. Teacher as Writer – 55% of your grade

a). Two pieces of personal, creative writing - revised and brought to completion stage. 25%  (You will receive feedback on 4 pieces, can select 2 for final grading, due last day of course)

b).  One dramatic piece with a beginning, middle and end, based on knowledge gleaned from the following data: a favorite author's work, biography, autobiography, and the criticism and discussion of that author's work. This is not an essay, but a dramatization 30% (outline to be shared with instructor by 4rd week of class, presentation during week six)


A Digital Story on computer which demonstrates ability to apply all four stages of writing process: discovering a subject, sensing an audience, searching for specifics, creating a design.

2. Teacher as Teacher of Writing  - 25% of your grade

a).  Teach a short lesson to class.  Revise during the course.  Hand in a written description of that lesson - what you did, what you would change now, and why you would change it. 10% (second week of class, repeated fourth week of class)

b).  Prepare a portfolio of your cumulative knowledge of how to teach writing. 15%

Include in your presentation:

                 -what you consider to be the ten most important "truths" of how writing should be taught,

                 -the evidence to support those truths (research, theory, classroom experience as reported by teachers),

                 - three specific examples to illustrate any three of those truths,

                 - and two belief statements to sum up your beliefs growing out of those truths, or contributing to the selection of your truths. (due last day of class)

3. Teacher as Curriculum Developer  20%


a)Peer Editing:  Share work with colleagues and give feed-back based on lessons taught in class, based on four elements of writing process. 10% (once a week on Mondays)

b) Develop a Lesson out of one of your colleague’s compositions, as demonstrated by instructor in class.10% (due week 5)


All students are expected to attend every scheduled session, to complete the ungraded tasks worked on in class and to act in a professional, supportive manner to other classmates.  This means offering their best knowledge and energy in sharing ideas and in peer editing.


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