National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Genre - Personal Writing

Additional Resources

"It Sounds Like Me": Using Creative Nonfiction to Teach College Admissions Essays

April 2010
Jennifer Wells
Jennifer Wells, a teacher-consultant with the Central California Writing Project, describes a process in which she systematically introduces students to creative nonfiction as they craft college admissions essays that detail and reflect on telling experiences from their lives. More ›

21 Seconds to Teach Humanity

Teaching Tolerance Magazine, February 2009
Lisa Weinbaum
Weinbaum, a teacher-consultant with the Borderlands Writing Project and a past participant in the Rural Sites Network's Memorial Library Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education, recounts how she transforms her students' violent behavior by showing them a video of the Shirley Jackson story "The Lottery," then asking them to reflect and write on the inhumane behavior presented in the story. More ›

They Have to See It to Write It: Visualization and the Reading-Writing Connection

November 2007
Elizabeth Dinkins
Frustrated by her students’ reluctance to write, a seventh-grade teacher shows them how to “see” what they’re reading and draw what they want to write about—and they begin to think like writers. More ›

Seeing Academic Writing with a New “I”

January 2007
Rebecca Feldbusch
Students need to make personal connections when they write, maintains Feldbusch. Insisting that they leave themselves out of their writing gives students the message that their own perceptions are not of worth. More ›

Maryland Voices: Publishing Students' True Stories

The Voice, 2005
Rus VanWestervelt
Teacher-consultant Rus VanWestervelt describes how he founded a journal designed and edited by high school students and devoted entirely to publishing creative nonfiction written by teens throughout Maryland. More ›

Writing Outside the Bars: A Journey of Self-Discovery

The Quarterly, 2005
Maureen Geraghty, Jevon Jackson
Geraghty came to know Jackson, a convicted murderer at age sixteen, when she taught him in a juvenile detention center. Their writing exchange documents the power of writing in even the most desperate situations. More ›

Learning a Lesson from The Girls Who Write Notes

The Quarterly, 2004
Janis Cramer
When the top scorers on the writing assessment were the girls who wrote long notes to boyfriends, Cramer created a journaling program in which students wrote without being graded, chose their topics, and collaboratively revised. More ›

Music and the Personal Narrative: The Dual Track to Meaningful Writing

The Quarterly, 2004
Chris Goering
Goering describes his "Soundtrack of Your Life" assignment, in which students reflect on their lives using songs. The project motivates sharing and skill building for expository writing, as well as providing a springboard toward publication. More ›

Radical Revision: My Road from Fairy Tale to Catharsis

The Quarterly, 2004
Juanita Willingham
Radical revision is a strategy for taking one's writing apart and reassembling it. Willingham describes how a radical revision led her to the scary and ultimately healthy introspection that she had avoided for a lifetime. More ›

Writing in the Wilderness Without a Guide: How Not to Use Journals in the College Composition Classroom

The Quarterly, 2004
John Levine
The proprietary value of a journal is lost on students who don't know what journals are all about. In this article, John Levine shares his struggle to direct his students toward meaningful journal writing. 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 ›

Two or Three Things I Know For Sure About Teaching Writing

The Voice, May-June 2001
Ashley Martin
A rich variety of reading during a summer institute becomes a creative catalyst for Ashley Martin to reflect on what she knows about teaching. More ›

Kyle's Surprises: Anecdote as a Strategy to Strengthen Student Writing

The Quarterly, Summer 2000
Ed Darling
Through a series of writing conferences, Darling nudges his student Kyle to generate a series of anecdotes that transform a bare-bones composition into a rich, engaging piece of writing. More ›

Adolescent Writing Paragraph by Paragraph

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Bonnie Faiman
Faiman knows that when students choose personal topics, they sometimes explore subjects that are none of a teacher's business, but she insist the autobiographical paragraphs motivate students to write on subjects important to them. More ›

Book Review: The Performance of Self in Student Writing, by Thomas Newkirk

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Charles Moran
Moran presents Newkirk's argument that writing about oneself is actually a performance, presenting a "possible" self to an audiences. This writing then, is not private, but social. Newark supports this thesis with much student writing. More ›

Courage and Voice: The Story of a Young Author and Her Teacher

The Quarterly, Fall 1998
Jane H. Talbert
This narrative follows the writer though the experience of coaching a very sick fifteen-year-old, Jessica, as Jessica writes and publishes a book detailing the peaks and valleys of her illness. More ›

The Journal as Teacher

The Quarterly, January 1985
Linda Hunter
In their journals, Hunter's students write about their writing processes and comment on their reading. The process contributes to student growth and teaches Hunter about how students see themselves as readers and writers. More ›

Confessions of an Ex-College Freshman

The Quarterly, May 1980
James Moffett
Moffett uses his experience as a freshman writer to argue that "when writers write from the heart they not only have something to say . . . but better order their thoughts and actualize their latent talent." 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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