Before showing the image above, ask students to fastwrite for three minutes on the questions “Why write?” and “What motivates you to write?”Have them put their responses on Post-it notes (one response per sticky note) and stick them on a wall or other surface. As a group, they should then organize the Post-its into categories. What patterns do they see? How well do they mesh with the ideas in Chapter 1? How are they different?This activity can be a segue into the next slide, “Beliefs About Writing.”
Exercise 1.1: This I Believe (and This I Don’t)Have students do this at home or during class.Your students have had years of writing instruction that they will draw on in your class, instruction upon which your class will build and improve. But some of what they’ve learned may not be helpful to them in this new context of writing in the university. And some of what they’ve learned may be in conflict with what they need to learn. Before you discuss any writing principles, then, you need to bring to the surface the prior knowledge your students have about writing and then figure out ways to respond to those beliefs throughout the course.If you’ve had your students complete some of the pre-reading activities listed in the Instructor’s Manual that involve their experiences and beliefs about learning and writing, you can introduce these activities by referring to what they’ve already written. The most important point to emphasize as you discuss this activity is: “Unlearning involves rejecting common sense if it conflicts with what actually works.” Whether you assign this exercise for homework or ask students to do it in class, you might consider dividing students into groups to discuss what they’ve written. Ask them to look for patterns in 1) what they believe in most strongly as well as what they disagree with; and 2) their reasons why (common experiences, common beliefs and reasons). This exercise is an opportunity to talk to students about the beliefs and assumptions about writing that inform your class. Some of their beliefs may conflict with the assumptions of the textbook, such as: #1 Writing proficiency begins with learning the basics and then building on them, working from words to sentences to paragraphs to compositions; and#3 People are born writers like people are born good at math. Either you can do it or you can’t (page 5).So how do you address these conflicts during the discussion? One way is to ask the question that Ballenger suggests: “What do I have to gain as a writer if I try believing this is true?” Another is to ask students to keep this activity in their journal and refer to it with each essay they write so they can reflect on whether the beliefs they held at the beginning are reflected in the work they are actually doing.
Use this slide to visually represent the differences students may have experienced between writing to inform/report and writing to discover, which will be the emphasis in this course.Connect the ideas students share about their writing beliefs to the habits of mind on the next slide: Use sticky notes again and have students place their beliefs on the appropriate part of the “Habits of Mind” slide. Discuss which ideas/Post-its don’t fit into one of the four habits of mind. Why? What other categories do they fit into?
All of the writing exercises and assignments in The Curious Writerintegrate these habits of mind.If students have completed Exercise 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, and/or 1.6, they will have engaged these habits of mind, so you can ask them to discuss what they’ve learned as a result of going through that process.Emphasize that this concept is one of the central principles of the book and course.Transition to the next slide: what kinds of questions are at the heart of inquiry?
This slide can provide an overview of the course and illustrate the connections between types of inquiry questions and types of genres that are connected to them.
For this section, refer to Exercise 1.7, which students will have either done before class or during class time. In what ways were they using their creative minds? Their critical minds?
Another way of thinking about this method for generating ideas is the metaphor of dialectical thinking represented above. This slide simply re-presents the ideas in the previous one more fully and transitions into the next slide, Ballenger’s image of the mountain and the sea.
Again referring to Exercise 1.7, put students into small groups and have them read each other’s responses, labeling the movements from the sea to the mountain, from creative thinking to critical thinking. Emphasize that you will be returning to this metaphor for all the drafts students will write in the course.Point out that the language of “mountain” and “sea” serve to make them more conscious about their writing and thinking process, which is connected to Learning Objective 1, making them more conscious of their writing beliefs and processes so they can make conscious choices about writing.
This image is another way of representing parts of the rhetorical triangle, the elements of the rhetorical situation. Writers need to address each element while drafting. The next slide elaborates on each element a bit more. As a transition, ask students to reflect on how they approach a writing assignment from their employer/teacher/community organization: what kinds of things do they need to know in order to understand the writing situation? Jot these on the board as they correspond to the elements of the rhetorical situation. Then emphasize that students already know how to think about the rhetorical situation in other parts of their lives, and they will be honing those skills further in this course by making the strategies more explicit and conscious.The next slide is an example of how a student or employee or volunteer might analyze his/her rhetorical situation.
An example of how a student or employee or volunteer might analyze his/her rhetorical situation.Finish this chapter by asking students to discuss their responses to Exercise 1.7, “Scenes of Writing,” in pairs. This exercise wraps up the chapter well by using all the principles discussed and returning students to the opening questions about beliefs about writing.