We have a special guest blogger this week…Jenna Goldsmith, our mighty OSU-Cascades Writing Instructor and all-around good person, tells us about the important things…with many resources we can all use to make our students (and maybe even ourselves) better writers!
As a writing instructor, much of my work takes place beyond the four walls of the classroom. With only 10 weeks to help my students understand their new identity as college writers, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about efficiency: How can I provide my students with resources they can use on their own time?; What will students actually read and use when it comes time for them to write?; How can I equip students with writing tools that transfer beyond the writing classroom?; How can I empower faculty colleagues to seek out knowledge of writing pedagogies in their discipline?
When Kara asked me to do a guest blog, I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to share some writing specific resources for you and your students. As members of the larger OSU community, Cascades students have access to a variety of free resources, but few are aware of just how much is at their fingertips. In addition to our own fabulous OSU Cascades Learning Lab writing tutors, students can tap into what all the Online Writing Suite has to offer: “You can seek feedback electronically, from home, by scheduling to receive your feedback via an email (asynchronous) consultation or via a Zoom (synchronous) video consultation.” This is a free service available to all students. Students must submit in advance, so the skilled peer writing consultants have time to review the work and provide feedback, but the turnaround is rather quick. Speedy feedback from skilled peer consultants is a fantastic way to motivate students to avoid waiting until the last minute to write an essay.
I also encourage you to incorporate Write 365 into your course. Write 365 is a private writing space run by the OSU Writing Program where students can track their writing production. If you have students who took WR 121 with me at Cascades, they will already be familiar with the platform, as participation is required for all WR 121 students in the OSU system. Write 365 fosters healthy writing habits like consistency, and my students rave about how the journaling aspect of the platform helps with mental health.
What gets me most excited to report on, however, is a new spin on the old favorite WR 130 (known as “the grammar class”). WR 130 is a 1-credit online course that focuses on the fundamentals of grammar, syntax, and sentence building. It starts in Week 3 (students can still register) and is designed to be self-paced, so that students can fold it in with their other classes more easily. Plus, it uses adaptive courseware, which tailors lessons specifically to the student depending on what is most relevant. It’s a really nice complement to any course, and I’m confident it will help strengthen the different kinds of writing students are working on this term. The course is focused on building a practical understanding of grammar and syntax, with guided, to-the-point exercises. The course is really focused on practice, not grades — it’s pass/fail, and all the quizzes are repeatable. (And at 1-credit students can learn a lot about the essentials without having to commit to another entire course.) The first step is filling out this form, which I encourage you to share with students: https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1GNC5OWmpoPPTVj
And I haven’t forgotten about you, writing-in-your-discipline instructors. There are several journals dedicated to writing across the curriculum that are chock full of the most up-to-date research on writing instruction in the disciplines. My two favorites are The WAC Journal and Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments. Both are available online and open source. Prompt is especially fun, as it is an entire (peer reviewed!) journal on writing prompts that you can steal and incorporate into your own class. Check out some of these titles: “Understanding Mathematical Induction by Writing Analogies”; “Breaking Away from the Traditional Lab Report: A Technical Email as a Writing Assignment in an Engineering Laboratory Course”; “Writing for Nonprofits in a Professional-Oriented Institution: Using Rhetorical Genre Studies to Teach Flexibility.” Huzzah!
10 weeks is not much time to develop students as writers; we are not superheroes. We must think creatively about how we can maximize our time with students within and outside of the classroom. This means providing our students with every resource available to them, and seeking out current research on the teaching of writing in our discipline for ourselves.