National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Genre - Essay

Additional Resources

Demystifying the College Admission Essay Genre

December 2012
Jessica Singer Early and Meredith DeCosta's Real World Writing for Secondary Students presents a writing workshop for ethnically and linguistically diverse high school students, where students receive instruction on specific genre features of the college admission essay. In this chapter, the authors offer an overview of the college admission essay genre, key components of the college admission essay workshop, student writing samples, and professional resources for teaching the college admission essay. More ›

Book Review: Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop as Writers

February 2010
David Pulling
David Pulling, a teacher-consultant with the National Writing Project of Acadiana (LA), explains how Rehearsing New Roles changed his view of freshman composition from seeing it as the foundation for becoming a college writer to understanding it as a "point along the way." More ›

Culture of Collaboration: The Writing Project's Role Across the Segments

January 2010
Deborah Lapp
Teacher-consultant Deborah Lapp describes the benefits of an across-the-curriculum writing project–facilitated workshop as high school teachers and facilitators collaboratively examine ways to transition writers from high school to college. More ›

Writing in the 21st Century: Crash! The Currency Crisis in American Culture

April 2009
NCTE President-Elect Carol Jago makes an argument for the continuing centrality of the study of literature as a way of "making a life" in an environment where contemplative thinking is in danger of being overwhelmed by practical communication. More ›

Long-Term English Learners Writing Their Stories

English Journal, July 2008
Lynn Jacobs
Jacobs describes her work with long-term English learners, explaining how a six-sided "writing cube" strategy draws on description, association, comparison, analysis, application, and argument to prompt these students to connected, reflective essays. More ›

Are You Ready for College Writing?

The Voice, 2005
Mary Ann Smith
This spring seven NWP sites conducted pilot workshops for high school juniors focused on the writing they will encounter in college. And it's not the 5-paragraph essay. More ›

The Five-Paragraph Theme Redux

The Quarterly, 2004
Elizabeth Rorschach
Rorschach argues that the preset format of the five-paragraph essay lulls students into nonthinking conformity. She contends that teachers obsessed by form become fellow conspirators in the triumph of form over content. More ›

TR 29. Negotiating Academic Discourse

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 2003
Linda Flower
This report discusses the difficulties experienced by many college freshmen as they seek to negotiate the transition from a writing process based on comprehension and response to a more fully rhetorical, constructive process. More ›

The Field Trip Within

The Quarterly, Summer 2002
Peter Trenouth
Trenouth describes how he helps his student-writers take in more of what they see, resulting in detailed writing that embraces new interpretations and conclusions. More ›

The Five-Paragraph Theme

The Quarterly, Summer 2002
Glenda Moss
After teaching the five-paragraph essay early in her career, Glenda Moss now describes how it locks students into thinking it is the only way to write. More ›

“Let's Talk”: Building a Bridge Between Home and School

The Quarterly, Summer 2001
Catherine Humphrey
High school teacher Catherine Humphrey describes what happened when she began asking students to discuss classroom ideas at home, and offers some tips for promoting quality verbal interaction. More ›

It's a Frame Up: Helping Students Devise Beginnings and Endings

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Romana Hillebrand
Hillebrand describes how a carefully crafted frame can give a piece of writing a deeper sense of meaning and a way into and out of the assignment that escapes the over-used traditional patterns. More ›

Listening to College Writers

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Anne-Marie Harvey
Harvey moves toward "giving students enormous latitude . . . asking them what they most need to say in relation to the course work," allowing forms that could be written, visual, oral, or musical. More ›

"The Most" Successful Literature Review Activity

The Voice, September-October 2000
Amy R. Wainwright
Amy R. Wainwright from the Jaxwrite Writing Project in Florida describes a classroom game that helped her students improve their ability to cite texts and quotes and convincingly explain their relevance. More ›

OP 09. Bridges: From Personal Writing to the Formal Essay

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1989
James Moffett
Moffett discusses the transition from writing personal experience themes to writing formal essays. He presents a schema that groups different writing types and shows their connections. More ›

TR 32. Foundations for Creativity in the Writing Process: Rhetorical Representations of Ill-defined Problems

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, June 1989
Linda J. Carey, Linda Flower
This paper examines the composing process of expert writers working in expository genres. Taking a problem-solving perspective, the authors address the concept of creativity in writing as it is embedded in ordinary cognitive processes. More ›

TR 22. Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
Margaret Kantz
This report describes the ways that readers saw the structures in a set of freshman essays and discusses the problems the judges had in agreeing on how some students had interpreted the writing assignment. More ›

TR 25. Elaboration: Using What You Know

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
Victoria Stein
This report provides a look at the process of elaboration that allows students to use prior knowledge, not only for comprehension and critical thinking, but also for structuring and planning their papers. More ›

TR 27. Translating Context into Action

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
John Ackerman
This report describes the initial reading strategies nearly every freshman in Ackerman's study used. From this point, students then had to construct a solution path that may or may not have used this initial approach. More ›

Moffett, Freshman Comp, and the Teaching of Writing

The Quarterly, November 1980
Richard Murphy
Murphy rebuts the "implication" of Moffett's essay "Confessions of an Ex-College Freshman" that good essays can be written without skills in vocabulary, organization, and logic and that to teach these skills is "regressive." More ›

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