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English Writing and Grammar

Introduction

The English Writing and Grammar course will focus on developing the skills students need to communicate effectively for a variety of purposes, audiences, and media.  The course is designed as a workshop:  Students will write every day to build up their fluency and stamina.  They will write over both extended time frames and shorter time frames.  Students will keep a journal to free write, to track progress and set goals, and to explore ways to convey their own voice.

Students will get frequent and concrete feedback during the writing process, rather than after the writing is complete, to both emphasize that revision leads to critical thinking and learning, and to encourage risk-taking in their writing.  Much of the writing that students do in class will not be graded.

We will read short texts, studying literature and language as an integral part of the writing and revision process, focusing on the style and sentence structures of published authors. Reading will be primarily for the purposes of giving students models for their own writing.

 

Whenever possible, students will write for authentic purposes and audiences.  Students will be encouraged to take risks as they read and write.

Writing Tasks

Students will write for varying purposes.  The majority of the course will be conducted as a workshop.  The workshop will concentrate on intensive writing and revision, with some required reading. As members of a general workshop, students will submit work to their instructor and peers for critiques.   Revisions are usually required.  As a workshop participant, students willalso submit detailed critiques of their fellow students’ writing.

Over the course of the year, in addition to free writing and writing many smaller compositions, students will complete three major pieces of writing covering each of the main purposes of writing. The three main purposes are as follows:

To persuade/Argument

  • An evaluation or review of a product, service, or experience
  • A persuasive piece written to an authentic audience
  • An argument that uses information from multiple sources

To inform / Explanatory writing

  • An analytic response to a piece of literature from the reading unit
  • An informative essay about a complex process

To entertain / Narrative

  • A description of a setting
  • A personal narrative about a significant event
  • A fictional narrative that develops of theme
  • Poetry

Language Conventions (Grammar)

 Much of the language conventions will be taught in the context of writing, not as separated skills.  The goal is for students to think clearly about ways to improve their own writing.  Exercises in grammar will offer ways students can compose more sophisticated and effective sentences in their work.  Integrated instruction will ensure that students apply these skills in their writing.

Any separate grammar exercises will focus on revision at the sentence and paragraph level. Through close reading and brief exercises, students will learn various techniques to assemble sentences and establish syntactic relationships within paragraphs. Students will imitate other writers, as well as revise, exchange, and discuss paragraphs or stanzas from their own work.