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Writing Strategies

Reading and listening are receptive language skills. Our bodies work to receive and process messages in our environment. Writing and speaking are expressive language skills, requiring us to express or convey a message. You may be wondering, where does signing fit in? It is both receptive and expressive! These are all different modalities of language that we value in our daily lives; however, we all know that reading and writing are the main currencies in academia.

Despite this bias for the printed word, it is important to remember that you can and should draw on all of your linguistic modalities to support your writing process. You should definitely use multimodal approaches in your teaching  to meet the range of human diversity among your students. How can you be creative with visual, audio, tactile, and kinesthetic activities to reinforce content knowledge or skill development for yourself and for your students?

Writing succinctly and cogently can be an elusive skill in the doctoral process. On Monday, you write what sounds like poetry, and on Thursday, it sounds like gibberish. Your writing skills can vary from class to class because your grasp of the material and confidence may vary. Developing effective pre-writing strategies to organize your thoughts is essential to producing long, complex documents like a dissertation chapter.

Graphic organizers can be immensely useful with organizing your thoughts. The HRW Graphic Organizer Booklet has tons of different visual organizers for particular writing assignments. If you are new to using these organizers, or if you are interested in using resources like these with your students, see a range of online Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers that are writable PDF files. Visit this fantastic google site for a tutorial on the Holt graphic organizers and links to other online reading and writing resources.

Getting familiar with predictable structures of academic writing can be useful, too. How to Write a Scientific Paper (IMRAD) by Bruce V. Lewenstein discusses the basic five elements of a scientific paper. We read variations of this format when delving into scholarly literature in the social sciences and even when we write our dissertations. Academic Writing Across the Disciplines by Barrie Olson is an article that identifies the most common types of college level writing and provides a useful chart of assignment types by discipline.

Narration, argumentation, and information are the three most common types of written compositions. Most of the writing that we do is argumentative and informative, but academic writing often blends genres, with narration being integrated throughout most documents. For a reminder of what these genres typically entail, and as a way to anchor longer pieces, you might consider reviewing different rubrics. The Common Core Writing Rubrics_Gr11-12 for grades 11-12 provide a baseline and self-assessment for writing various types of essays. Of course, there are other rubrics that you can find or that your professors may provide. The most important thing is that you have a plan of action for each written assignment well in advance of the due date.

The last document in the “Writing Strategies” folder in the group site, a chart of emotion words, supports vocabulary development. Acquiring new vocabulary words happens through repeated exposure and usage. If one of your writing goals is to use more specialized or discipline-specific vocabulary, the first step would be to formulate your idea and then see where you can substitute words. Develop the habit of using an online dictionary and thesaurus to vary your word choice.

Do you think that you could benefit from one-on-one support? The office of career planning and professional development offers tons of helpful services, including writing consultations.