Writing Problems & Processes

“First-Year Composition Prepares Students for Academic Writing” by Tyler Branson touches on what individuals believe a first-year writing course should entail and what it is in fact capable of. The first sentence that struck me was “… teaching grammar and mechanics does not improve student writing.” Although I am a sucker for mechanics, that does not constitute a well-written paper. I’ve had papers where the grammar was immaculate, but the student did not answer the question throwing the entire paper off. This ties into Branson’s mention of the five-paragraph essay template. By not solely focusing on grammar, students can think deeper and go beyond the five-paragraph essay template. It’s embarrassing to say I lived by this template until my undergraduate year. My Shakespeare Survey professor taught me that similar to the article “it doesn’t resemble anything about how writing looks in the real world or what different audiences expect in different reading contexts.” The majority of my pages were crossed out because my writing was formulaic and contained fluff. I was surprised that my professor didn’t ask the question, “well what are they teaching in there?” I must admit while student teaching, I’ve asked this question, to myself, which “does everyone a disservice” as there is more to a first-year writing course than grammar and mechanics. 

“Reading Is Not Essential to Writing Instruction” by Julie Barger grasped my attention as it discussed dreaded state assessments. I gravitated towards the ending of the section where the writer explains that “students need to be taught how to write rather than merely be tasked with writing” and “if we simply assign reading instead of teaching students how to read, we’ll get poor reading.” Oftentimes educators believe that students learned the material at home or have learned it in previous classes. Without providing the proper reading and writing strategies and asking the correct test questions, we leave students in the dark and behind. I even get frustrated when I am reading a text and do not immediately comprehend it. Teaching students that “reading, like writing, is a recursive process, meaning that the act of reading is not linear or straightforwardly sequential” will assist one in being more patient with themselves and open to revisiting the reading and/or their writing. 

I must admit that I am one that hates failure. There is no perfect person, but I try my best to be perfect, which sometimes leads me to disappointment after loss. “Failure Is Not an Option” was a needed read. Allison Carr’s statement “writing is a process, which is a coded way of avoiding the harsher truth: Writing—and learning to write—involves a great deal of failure” resonated with me as I get frustrated with myself when my writing does not flow. I must remember that writing is a process and there will be times when I have writer’s block and I will need to scribble out a page or two. When I struggle with my writing and then come back to it, I am able to develop new and improved ideas.

Moreover, while reading “Envisioning possibilities: visualizing as enquiry in literacy skills” by Smith, Hall, and Sousanis I found myself lost after the first read. Truthfully, I thought I was beginning to go crazy when I realized the article referenced music. I must admit that I scrolled to the top of the page to ensure I read the correct article. “Envisioning possibilities: visualizing as enquiry in literacy skills” is something I will have to read a second or third time. Still, I am looking forward to Monday’s class to see how Hugo dissected this piece, and hopefully, I can comprehend it a bit more!