Shaping a Writing Class

2183799236_e16d497eccThe Fall 2016 semester ended last month. I was an assistant teacher in an advanced academic writing class. It was really incredible professional development, plus quite fun in its own right. And I’m scheduled to do it again this coming semester! So naturally I’ve been ruminating on teaching writing.

If a kind/diabolical genie granted me an advanced academic writing class for which I had to write a syllabus without regard for anything else, how would I shape it?

Content-wise, I think I would emphasize:

  • reading example essays and papers
  • logic, argument, and reasoning
  • grammar review
  • writing many, many shorter assignments
    • writing thesis statements (direct and indirect) for a huge variety of topics
    • writing body paragraphs or conclusions to complete example essays
    • intentionally using the four different sentence types (simple, compound, complex, compound complex) in shorter writing assignments
  • drafting and editing several full-blown essays


  • edit the same essay (for grammar, argument, and structure) on first day and last day
  • write the same essay on first day and second-to-last day
    • compare the two on the last day

In the day-to-day of class, I would ideally have the basic structure be quite consistent:

  • warm-up time (grammar, argument, editing)
  • homework review time
  • reading/citation time
  • writing time
  • conferencing time
  • similar homework expectations each week


  • due same week: grammar and editing work on same topic as was done in class, submitted on Canvas
  • due next week: writing, for peer review in class, then to be handed in

What am I forgetting?

Photo Credit: kellinahandbasket on Flickr

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