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Writing Grows Out of Many Purposes

Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing, written by a committee of the NCTE Executive Committee, pinpoints 10 key issues in the effective teaching of writing. Over the next few weeks, we will unpack each one. This week, we will look at:

“Writing grows out of many different purposes.”

Writing is not just one thing. It varies in form, structure, and production process according to its audience and purpose. It’s important that our students see the wide range of purposes for which people write, and the forms of writing that arise from those purposes like lab reports, history papers, essay exams, or literary interpretations. Learn more with these resources from NCTE.

Using the Writer’s Notebook in Grades 3-8: A Teacher’s Guide, written by Janet Elliott, provides practical ideas, assignments, and examples of student writing. This book offers a vision of what is possible for young writers—both in writing across the curriculum and in writing workshop.

In a follow up to the May 2009 issue of English Journal, an analysis of the changes in the teaching of writing is detailed. Visits to 260 English, math, social studies, and science classrooms in 20 middle schools and high schools in five states, plus interviews with 220 teachers and administrators, and with 138 students in these schools, and a national survey of 1520 randomly selected teachers are shared in “A Snapshot of Writing Instruction in Middle Schools and High Schools.”

In the final entry in the English Journal column “Innovative Writing Instruction” entitled “When It Happens ‘Across’: Writing as Transformative and Expansive” the author asks the questions: Who teaches and does not teach writing, and why? How can the teaching and doing of writing across the entire curriculum help our students and us better transact within the world? Read the column to learn more.

In Everyday Genres: Writing Assignments across the Disciplines, the author analyzes the common assignments given to writing students in the college classroom, and investigates how new writers and expert readers respond to a variety of types of coursework in different fields. Listen to an interview with author Mary Soliday!

The authors of the College Composition and Communication article “Writing in High School/Writing in College: Research Trends and Future Directions” offers a complex understanding of writing practices at the high school and college level. The researchers are gathered both direct and indirect evidence of how high school and college students and faculty experience writing instruction across the curriculum.

How do you use the NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing in your classroom?