This system works best in a computer classroom where students work while in class. Once students arrive at a topic (or you give them one), they can write nearly 100% of the time they are in class by answering the prompts in each section. The aim of this book is for each student to create a draft by answering the prompts for each section. In a computer room, they are drafting while you are present and can answer questions.
Pace and Skill Calibrated
Because most sections contain a checklist, prompts, a template, a sample, and tutorials for each prompt, this way of drafting can be self-paced and skill calibrated. For example, stronger writers will only need the checklist to make sure they have all the elements of an introduction, for example. The checklist is reflected in the prompts. Most average students are able to answer the prompts to create a draft. Some may need a little help by looking at the sample writings constructed from the prompts. Weaker writers tend to need the templates and examples, and they have the tutorials to fall back on if they need additional help. All of this causes each student to progress at different rates and need help at different points with different skills. Essentially, students work at their own pace.
With students writing at different rates and skill levels and essentially on individualized tracks, a teacher’s role becomes that of an editor, coach, and helper. A typical class consists of students at their computers, writing their drafts by answering the prompts in each section. When they need help with a prompt, the teacher is available to respond. When each one finishes a section, like an abstract or introduction, he or she can submit it. These sections are small and easy to edit; you can check that all the prompts are addressed, conventions are correct, and style and format are proper. This makes editing easy, fast, and individual. Submissions are spread out because students finish sections at different times.
The role of teacher becomes facilitator rather than gatekeeper; it is teacher and student together trying to answer the prompts – in class – instead of the teacher assessing work done outside of class with little structural direction.
The easiest way to teach the four types of writing in this book (persuasion, technical, analysis, and personal) is to complete one type of writing during a semester. Some may finish early and some may need some outside class time to work, but both of those are OK. Persuasion and technical writing are the most straightforward. Literary analysis is a little more involved because it deals with language in figurative as well as literal terms (the first two are mainly literal). Personal writing, done correctly, is the most difficult for most students, at least in my experience.
A student-friendly process is to require all sections of a type of writing be handed in when the student finishes each section. While the instructor is editing that section, the student begins on the next section. It is helpful to answer the prompts in each section, in real time and in a projected word processor program, in front of the class. I tend to avoid deadlines and grades until the end of the semester.