Umbrella Readings

Mike Bun: How to Read Like a Writer

Ellen Carillo: “Navigating This Perfect Storm: Teaching Critical Reading in the Face of the Common Core State Standards, Fake News, and Google.”

On Using “Navigating This Perfect Storm” in the Classroom: The world Carillo describes here is not pretty, but you will recognize it because it is our own present, Google-infested moment — the one in which our students are unable to discern an advertisement from a news article on social media, and don’t particularly care to see why that’s a problem. Carillo feels that 21st-century students must not view reading as a way to “download” information; instead, they should actively participate in a more “expert” and less “novice” — a more college ready — approach to the act of reading itself. Among her many suggestions for making the act of reading (which she calls largely “invisible”) visible, Carillo suggests that instructors demonstrate annotation publicly, and encourage students to bring their own personal experiences to the act of reading. According to Carillo, we live in a post-truth society, where Common Core State Standards’ reliance on text-based evidence is not enough. The students must read with purpose if they are to move from “Google-knowing” to “understanding.”

Keywords: CCSS (Common Core State Standards), relevance, critical reading, critical thinking, digital reading, reflection, annotation, transfer, college readiness, mastery

Janet Emig: Writing as a Mode of Learning

Donald Murray: Internal Revision: A Process of Discovery

On using “Internal Revision” in the classroom: One of the most useful aspects of this reading is the emphasis that Murray places on revision as a discovery process. He says, “In teaching writing I often feel that the most significant step is made when a student enters into the writing process and experiences the discovery of meaning through writing” (77). And he differentiates revision into “internal” and “external” practices — internal being the thinking and discovery process, and external being the editing and execution of these thoughts. This can be a great vehicle for students to begin thinking of revision more deeply, and as a more involved process than just “editing” or “fixing mistakes.” 

Keywords: revision, discovery, metacognition, writing process, editing, rewriting

 Murray, Donald M.. “The Maker’s Eye: Revising Your Own Manuscripts.” Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers, edited by Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp. 194–98. [This is the link to the Murray article in the Writing about Writing Textbook, but not sure if this is really open source or CC licensed — it seems instead to be hosted by an international university –]

On using “The Maker’s Eye” in the classroom: An extremely useful reading for generating a productive conversation within the classroom about revision. The reading draws students in by making comparisons between the classroom — and the often perpetuated belief that writing is over when a draft is turned in for a grade, it is finished — and the studio of the professional writer — in which a draft signals the beginning of the writing process, not the end. Murray also offers some good takeaways about training one’s critical eye for self-review of drafts, and situates revision as a reading process, not just a facet of the writing process. The “maker’s eye” applied to drafts to discover what needs to happen next is really a form of critical analysis and/or reading. This can be a great jumping off point for a discussion about revision or a hands-on revision activity.

Mike Rose: Rigid Rules, Unflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language

Sondra Perl: The Composing Processes of Unskilled Writers

Nancy Sommers: Between the DraftsCollege Composition and Communication (CCC), vol. 43, no. 1, 1992, pp. 23-31. 

On using “Between the Drafts” in the Classroom: Nancy Sommers notes that “Something has to happen or else we are stuck doing mop and broom work, the janitorial work of polishing, cleaning, and fixing what is and always has been. What happens between drafts seems to be one of the great secrets of our profession” (28). Where Sommers is great is in identifying the problem with revision as a topic in rhetoric and composition, and she identifies the difficulty and problems with trying to distill it into a simple formula for students. But where this reading falls short for use in the classroom is that Sommers doesn’t offer solutions to any of these problems. Rather than as a student-facing reading, its value instead seems to be in its illumination of the history of revision pedagogy in the field of rhetoric and composition. 

Keywords: revision, drafting, writing process, writing pedagogy

Nancy Sommers: Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers

Sommer’s text is a fascinating one in getting us to think about how we understand writing itself.  Turning to Roland Barthes and Saussure among other philosophers, scholars, and writers whose theories she utilizes, Sommers traces core ideas about the essential differences between the spoken and written word. She also discusses studies she conducted involving both student writers and more professional, experienced writers. All of this she includes to remind us of what we as teachers might think about when we want to teach our students about the writing and revision processes. She underscores that we need to move away from a kind of linear model of revision and writing, and instead, move towards seeing writing as a process of discovery. She emphasizes that student writers, like experienced writers do, should be encouraged to see good writing as what “disturbs” or “creates dissonance”. It is by learning and discovering this, she argues, that the possibility of revision can even take place. The text is a great one for faculty—it reminds us of what is at stake when we even mention the act of writing and creating meaning—and for anyone not familiar with some of the theories on writing, it is especially fantastic.  Barthes really is incredible for thinking about reading, writing, and language, and Sommers does a wonderful job of showcasing this. The text can be used with students as well as it outlines many ways that we conceive of writing and revising, but if so, it would need to be slowly discussed as it is theory focused and takes us down several paths of “discovery” (to use Sommers’ own term).

Keywords: writing, revision, speech, written word, discovery, process, writing theories, language theories, defining writing, revision strategies, models of writing, meaning, theories of meaning, dissonance, good writing, writing pedagogy.

Rick Straub: Responding — Really Responding — to Other Students’ Textsing.” The Subject Is Writing, edited by Wendy Bishop, Boynton/Cook, pp. 136–46. 

On using “Responding” in the Classroom: A helpful reading for coaching students on peer review — and explaining that the real value of peer review is offering a reader’s reaction to another student writer, rather than making editing corrections. However, it may be of limited use in the classroom for students to read before they attempt peer review. A major strength of this reading are its examples of annotations on pages for students to look at, but the other side of the coin is that it dates the reading a bit. Now, many students use Google Docs and track changes editing in digital drafts of papers, so Straub’s recommendations for annotations cement him firmly in the print age.

Keywords: responding, peer review, drafting, revision, editing, reader responses, clarity, multiple drafts

Amanda Wimmersberg: Ending the Cycle of Frustration: How I Overcame the Hindrance of Writer’s Block