For 28.11.17

For next week, write one page (or more) on your topic and where you …

  • Write from wherever you happen to be and wherever you might like to go next
  • One page might well be enough as the issue is exploring one or more new ways of writing and not proving to the teacher that you can write lots

A theory of instruction

Today we explore different ways of writing and how each of us needs to find our own way. This is because writing is a very personal thing: while we might want to head towards academic writing, we can only learn one or two little things in the hour we have for writing, and we learn best when we add to what we know: making big leaps can lead us out of our all-important “comfort zone”. Writing instruction theory and practice recommends a research-based workshop system with tutorials, working in teams, and writing small things more frequently than one big thing at the end.

  • One of the many theories is the “zone of proximal development,” whereby your tutor, me, offers you just a couple of little things in the way of a “catalyst,” some little challenge or boost that you can work on rather easily and successfully
  • Writing in pairs or teams — see my Team Work — is not only fun, but gives you a lot of the valuable support, stimulation, and feedback you need as well; plus, team work skills are things you develop through practice, too, and they are completely valuable for the workplace: many people believe that they are as important if not more than disciplinary knowledge, because to learn from others, work with others, and lead teams is where disciplinary knowledge is put into practice

We will find interesting and important things in whatever you do

Writing in personal terms. As you saw, writing a personal account of your working with a partner is a great way to get started and building support: one thing you might do is tell a story that includes …

  • How you got to your topic, what you found interesting
  • How you got to your “scene of writing,” how it fits into your day and what rituals you entertain
  • Describe your moods, become more aware of your feelings
  • Describe your motivations, what compels you to write
  • How you overcome your fears of making mistakes
  • How you discussed your writing with a partner or team, and what you learned from each other
  • How differently you write, how writing under pressure is different from writing at your leisure
  • How you experience “flow,” when things “click”, like playing music or sports: how is it that sometimes when writing you discover things you hadn’t seen before: what is special about this process?

Writing “bad English”As we discussed, writing wonderfully well-edited sentences costs a lot of time and energy, and worse, writing perfect sentences might lead you to commit to ideas that you have not fully thought out.

  • Much better to write lots of notes, explore, figure out what is going on
  • Write sentences when it feels right, but don’t write sentences to please this teacher: taking notes, outlining, making photos or drawings for images, etc., might be the petter part of writing, because then you are working on the issues and later, when you want to worry about performance, you can fit them all together: note-taking is often the foundation to writing, because then you have worked through things and might actually have something to write about

Not power pointing” Edward Tufte says Powerpoint is Evil, and he might have a point, because it sets you up to make lists with bullet points when often there are many better ways to organize information

  • Active Verbs are usually much more powerful than simple lists, and one thing you might do is use what you find on the “Bloom's Taxonomy, Action Verbs copy” file: choose one that fits or might fight and play with it, write phrases based on these verbs: make your list, but then use that material to “compare and contrast” and you’ll surely end up with something much more complex: the verbs will pull out your thinking (and use different ones as the meaning might suggest)
  • Reporting Verbs are a great way to distinguish what others say from what you might feel about it, so instead of listing “what is,” list what someone says, wrap it up in a report structure, and try out different reporting verbs until you find one that fits: along the way, you will be comparing and contrasting and so analyzing and evaluating, and the result will be a metaphor based on more thought: these are great tools, like active verbs, for teasing, pulling out, and working over things
  • Reporting on what others say might be just as good as reading texts, because then you have an experience to write about, not just ideas, and people who might offer feedback and advice; plus people tend to talk back to you and so you might be lead to see things differently than before