Saturday, February 11, 2012

Minding the Gaps: Public Genres and Academic Writing

Kittle, P. & Ramay, R. (2010). Minding the Gaps: Public Genres and Academic Writing. What is "College-Level" Writing? Volume 2: Assignments, Reading, and Student Writing Samples (pp. 98-118). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

“... researchers choose topics because the study engages them, they already have prior knowledge and are passionate about their subjects, and they have colleagues who care about the issues under discussion. These are the aspects of academic writing that we would like to reclaim: personal and professional engagement with topics, and connections to real audiences who share concerns and assumptions with the writer" (p.100).

"It can be difficult to reconcile the ideas of authentic writing for an audience in a workplace and the kind of analytical compositions required in many college courses" (p. 101)

“Mallory not only wanted to do well, though - she expected to do well, but even with her strong motivation, she didn’t know how to express her thinking effectively on the page. What she needed was something to help her bridge the gap between what she knew and cared about and the ability to write about her ideas in an engaging way for a real audience" (p.108)

Kittle and Romay continue to reinforce the idea that a mature writer strives to make an authentic connection with the audience. A mature writer will be able to identify the appropriate anecdotes and research for his/her audience.  They support the idea that students should be able to write  “about issues of importance to them” (115) and to be exposed to multiple mentor texts of the genre they are expected to produce. Teachers should scaffold this process so that students practice “replicating particular aspects of the genre before being expected to produce complete drafts” (115). Revision is required of the mature writer, and students should be given the opportunity to connect with a specific audience through publication. They offer up the “My Turn” essay as an effective way to scaffold the student’s process of writing for an authentic audience.

Once again, I see how important connection with one’s audience is. I think that I can do a better job of finding mentor texts for the students to analyze for rhetorical strategy, as well as to use as models. Could I use Kelly Gallagher’s AOW (Article of the Week) to do this? Maybe I could do this during the first semester as a whole group (as I did with the snapshot narratives) more frequently, and then encourage them to find their own through their inquiry project? This was my intention with the mentor texts for this semester’s project, but I don’t feel like I made the idea and purpose of mentor texts clear to them.

I immediately took to Kittle’s piece because I learned so much about mentor texts from his sister’s Write Beside Them. One anecdote from  her book that has stuck with me is when she spoke of how she had asked a former student how well she was doing in college, and the student replied that she was doing well because she knew “what good writing is”. This is how I would like to teach my students to think about writing. I overheard a conversation between my students today about how they never really paid attention to the writing if the story was good, but immediately noticed when the writing is bad. I should teach them how to look at what makes good writing good, and then ask them to try it out more.

1 comment:

Natalie Mitchell said...

Very interesting article about academic writing i really much appreciated this thanks for shearing with us.

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