WAC Clearinghouse Teaching Exchange

Articles and Webtexts about Teaching Writing

Course Syllabi

Formal Writing Assignments

Lesson Plans

Class Activities

Faculty Tip Sheets

Many teachers, departments, writing centers, and faculty lounges have a file drawer full of workable assignments. These are often used to help new colleagues, inspire those who want to try new approaches, and "save" those who don't have time or inclination to reinvent the wheel.

The WAC Clearinghouse Teaching Exchange provides a space for sharing such resources for teachers who use writing—formal or informal, discipline specific or transdisciplinary—as part of their classes. Please feel free to browse through these offerings, which are categorized by purpose. We hope you find something educational, provocative, informative, and useful. And we hope you'll recommend additional resources to include in the Exchange.

— Justin Jory
Teaching Exchange Editor

Category: Class Activities

"Walk-Through" Mini-Research Project
One of the main points in Bean's excellent book Engaging Ideas is that we need to model active learning behaviors for our students through emphasizing specific problems and questions that they can solve. Here is a means to model the skills needed to produce a strong research paper in any discipline -- skills which trained academics often take for granted.
Contributor: John Bean, Seattle University
Critical Thinking Guide from the Washington State University Critical Thinking Project
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&c ...
This link downloads a pdf of the guide for the WSU critical thinking project. Includes a rubric with adaptations by teachers of physics, history, and agriculture.
Contributor: Diane Kelly-Riley, Washington State University
Email: ctproject@wsu.edu
Home Page: http://wsuctproject.wsu.edu/ctr.htm
Edge.org’s World Question Center
Each year the science website Edge.org asks leaders in various fields to address a particular question. The question for 2003 asks the writer to assume the persona of an applicant to be scientific adviser to the President, asked as an “audition” to write a memo on the following question: "What are the pressing scientific issues for the nation and the world, and what is your advice on how I can begin to deal with them?"
Contributor: Randolph Cauthen, Bloomsburg University
Email: ccauthen@bloomu.edu
Phone: [570] 389-4428
Home Page: http://departments.bloomu.edu/english/cauthenmain1.htm
Exam Preparation Journals
John Bean's Engaging Ideas has a tremendous wealth of materials that integrate exploratory and formal writing activities. This particular activity allows students to prepare for an exam through informal writing throughout the semester.
Contributor: John Bean, Seattle University
Informal, In-Class Writing Activities
This page briefly summarizes a number of quick (3-15 minutes' writing time) techniques for using informal expository writing to help students develop critical mastery of the material in any discipline. It includes descriptions and examples of prompts for freewriting, one-minute papers, scenarios, logbooks, and microthemes, as well as general advice on writing-to-learn strategies. Several of the techniques are adapted from John Bean's excellent Engaging Ideas.
Contributor: Pamela Flash, The Center for Writing, University of Minnesota
Toward A Taxonomy of “Small” Genres and Writing Techniques for WAC
This collection of brief writing-to-learn activities emerged from a 1984 workshop series conducted by Richard E. Young and Joann Sipple at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh. It was initially made available online at the WAC Clearinghouse in HTML and PDF format. In 2011, it was converted to a book in the Practice and Pedagogy series. Richard Young encourages readers of the collection to contribute their own "small genre" activities to the document.
Contributor: Richard E. Young, Carnegie Mellon University
Email: ry0e@cmu.edu
Using Abstracts
Dr. Makedon, who teaches Computer Science, requires her students to turn in an abstract of their argument with each of their formal papers; by doing so, the students create a tool with which to examine the structure and logic of their own work.
Contributor: Fillia Makedon, Dartmouth University
Using Writing as Thinking: Question - Hypothesis - Question
This technique teaches critical thinking by asking students to recursively ask questions about texts, lectures, or discussion, hypothesize possible answers to these questions, and then ask new questions based on what they have already written.
Contributor: Carmen Werder , Western Washington University