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Teaching in Theory

As a teacher of writing, I want to encourage my students to embrace, explore, and understand that writing is more than just essays and grammar. I want my students to be successful in their personal, academic, and career writing. The vision for my classroom is that it will be instructor led and student centered where students are responsible for their learning, which on the premise of no student left behind. I believe that all students can be taught writing and the writing process. I think that this can be accomplished by embracing the theories of Mina P. Shaughnessy, Nancy Sommers, Lisa Delpit, and Laura Micchiche. Delpit and Shaughnessys theories are linked together in that basic writers, minority, and poor students can learn about writing and the writing process as well as improve their writing. However from a teachers point of view, their theories can be applied to all students. Students are where they are in their writing because of their experiences, community, and environments, although its not easy to pinpoint where the problems really begin. Shaughnessy addresses this by saying, BW students write the way they do, not because they are slow or non-verbal, indifferent to or incapable of academic excellence, but because they are beginners and must, like all beginners, learn by making mistakes. (Shaughnessy) In the same way, Delpits theory focused on the minority and the poor. Delpit says, individuals can learn the superficial features of dominant discourses, as well as more subtle aspects. (Delpit) Shaughnessys also states that a teacher should focus on the students needs and create good programs. good teachers create good programs, that the best programs are developed in situ, in response to the needs of the individual student populations and as reflections of the particular histories and resources of individual colleges. (Shaughnessy) This can be done by creating lessons or using strategies such as freewriting, outlining, or note-taking ones thoughts which can be a precursor to teaching what writing is and for the writing process.

In comparison, Delpits piece, The Politics of Teaching Literature Discourse, asserts that students should have the proper support of the teacher and be committed to the students in teaching them the importance of grammar, writing, and language. Based on Delpits call to action, teachers can accomplish this in three ways. First, acknowledge that students are a part of a particular community, but do not use it to limit their potential. The students community is vital to their perception of self and sense of community connectedness. (Delpit) Second, recognize that there is conflict between what students have been taught in their homes, community, environment, and what they have been taught in school. Third, allow discussion of the injustices students feel when it comes to writing, language, and grammar. Since Delpit and Shaugnessys theories set the tone for the teachers attitude and mindset as well as the environment of the classroom, the art of writing as well as the process can then be the focus. Crowleys, Sommers, and Miccicches theories would be applied in teaching the art of writing and the process. Crowleys article, The Evolution of Invention in Current-Traditional Rhetoric, states that writing begins with thoughts and ideas for invention as well as the process of invention. Language is the representation of those thoughts and ideas. Writing is the visual of those thoughts and ideas or in other words, writing is about thoughts and ideas. After this thought or idea has manifested, then planning and prewriting must take place to lead to the discovery of where the idea is taking the writer in invention. Students can be taught this stage of writing by allowing students to freewrite, create outlines, or make a list of their thoughts. After planning and prewriting takes place the real writing begins. During the planning and prewriting stage, the topic and purpose is discovered. This leads to the first draft of the written invention. During the first draft, revision takes place and the cycle continues over and over again until the writer is satisfied with invention which means the writing process becomes non-linear when the writing stage begins but the process starts over and over again with revision.

Sommers article, The Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers, includes aspects of writing in regards to revision. Her article addresses audience and discovery in writing. In the revision process, a sense of writing as discovery which includes dissonance governs writing and meaning (Sommers). Students should understand that revision goes beyond grammar, punctuation, word changes, and spelling. Revision is about asking does this invention accomplish its purpose and does it fit the audience? Revision is re-visioning the invention to accomplish its purpose and meet the needs of the audience. In turn, this technique may lead to drastic changes of the invention and maybe a new discovery. Students should be taught that during invention, discovery happens and meaning is made but the audience of the invention should always be considered. See Figure 1 for a visual of the writing process where the writing process is recursive but includes the writer, audience, and the product.

Figure 1. The writing process which includes the writer, the product, and the audience.

Prewriting

Audience

Writer

Revise

Write

Purpose

Students should be taught that the tone, wording, and grammar are affected by the audience of that writing. Using the strategies mentioned in Micchiche article, Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar, students should be taught that writing is about how we think and speak. Grammar cannot be separated from the writing process. Grammar gives meaning to texts and contexts. It is used to communicate to the audience as the writer expresses him or herself. Using grammar in this way creates a platform for all students to embrace who they are and express themselves, which ties back into Delpits and Shaughnessys theories, as well as communicate to an audience outside of themselves. A strategy to use for this is the use of commonplace books. Students record various texts in the book and analyze the grammar of the text to find the meaning in it. After the grammar, a discussion can take about the

audience(s) of this grammar. This can help students understand how grammar is used to meet the needs of various audiences as well. As shown above Delpits, Shaughnessys, Crowleys, Sommerss, and Micciche theories would be the platform for my teaching style. I think they provide best theory of student success in writing and understanding the art of writing and the writing process. Writing assignments will be constructed based on their theories in order to accomplish this goal. Works Cited Crowley, Sharon. The Evolution of Invention in Current-Traditional Rhetoric. Rhetoric Review 3.2(1985): 146-62. Print. Rpt. in Norton Book in Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. New York: Norton, 2009. 333-346. Print. Delpit, Lisa. The Politics of Teaching Literature Discourse from Freedoms Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom. Ed. Theresa and James W. Fraser Perry. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Rpt. in Norton Book in Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. New York: Norton, 2009. 1311-1320. Print. Micchiche, Laura. Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar. College Composition and Communication 55.4 (2004): 716-737. Print. Shaughnessy, Mina P. Errors and Expectations: A Guide for the Teacher of Basic Writing. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1977. Print. Rpt. in Norton Book in Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. New York. Norton, 2009. 387-396. Print. Sommers, Nancy. Revision Strategies of Student Writing and Experienced Student Writers. College Composition and Communication 31.4 (1980): 378-88 Print. Rpt. in Norton Book in Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. New York. Norton, 2009. 323-332. Print.