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The KISS Approach to Teaching Writing
   A Girl Writing; 
The Pet 
Goldfinch
by
Henriette Browne
(1829-1901)

Introduction

     This is a  very early draft of what will, I hope,  become a very detailed, sequential set of suggestions and assignments for teaching writing. I have started it now because I just made "A Study of Focal Sentences in Professional Writing" for my current college Freshmen.
 


Early Writing

      In the early grades (and for remedial writers in the upper grades), a basic assignment is simply to write their own version of the story (or play). Weak writers are often weak because they do not have anything to say. They write a sentence and then stop to think of what they can say next. It's no wonder that they hate writing. Experienced writers writers have the opposite problem--the pen is always behind the head. If they do stop to think, they do so either to consider what to leave out, or to consider just how to say what is in their head. Rewriting a short  story that they have read a few times puts inexperienced writers into the same position as the experienced. They get to feel what it is like to try to make the pen keep up with the head.
      I also love assignments based on writing about literature for two other reasons. First, both the student and the teacher have the same "world" of the story. Teachers can see (and explain to students) what details are in the story that the writer could have included. This is impossible to do with assignments such as "What I did on vacation." Second, students can be taught critical concepts to use in analyzing a story--theme, characterization, point-of-view, plot, symbols, setting, irony, tone, and conflicts. The first assignment in my "Literature and Composition" course is to use three of those concepts to support the student's view of the them of the story. My point here is that the teachers can give students concepts for organizing a paper, with a focus on thesis, focal sentences, and topic sentences.

Writing as a Product

Audience

Thesis

Organization

A Study of Focal Sentences in Professional Writing [This is an MS Word document.]
Details

Style

Writing as a Process

Brainstorming

Outlining

Drafting

Revising

Editing