Some helpful observations:
- I think the students enjoy a variety [of writing genres] when given the opportunity. I also would not do well with any one genre.
- I want them to get used to all types of writing so that they can use their own creativity.
- Students initially are frustrated on the creative assignments, but in the end they usually prefer them. Structure is easier to follow, but less fun.
- Student consideration does not play a role in my writing assignments; although, they prefer to write about topics they have chosen.
One of the most thorough responses; I am including the majority of the responses:
- WAC is a powerful approach that recognizes that writing is thinking. When you have to explain something in writing you become aware of where your thinking is fuzzy and you are challenged to clarify your understanding. As teachers we know that we learn a topic best when we have to teach it to someone else. In addition to my training in WAC, I also respect Rick Warren of Saddle Back church who often says that thoughts untangle when they are transferred from the brain to the paper. Given the choice, I would drop research papers in favor of multiple short paragraph summaries. Education theory clearly states that writing summaries is an excellent method for generating critical thinking and improving communication skills.
- Students are much less resistant to writing relatively short (1-2 page) summaries than they are to a research paper and frankly, I’m convinced they reap far more benefit from short essays and summaries than they do from research papers.
- Students have built up an instinctive resistance to the expository essay. Using non-traditional writing genres (creating fictional letters home from soldiers, etc.) sidesteps their automatic resistance. A willing participant is always better than one who feels they are being “forced” to do something. It also generates deeper thinking. To write a letter from a soldier in WWII, you have to reference the time, demonstrate understanding of motives, put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing history as reality, etc.