What’s the Writing Revolution?
We need a new way to teach, think, and talk about writing.
The kind of writing instruction you and I had in school gave us many of the skills we need for writing success. But there’s a problem: Traditional writing instruction aims to teach children to think like students – labeling parts of speech, circling adverbial clauses, underlining subjects and predicates, and performing similar tasks. What it doesn’t do is teach students to think the way writers do.
(Did you ever notice that those workbook exercises didn’t ask us to write anything?)
The first step in the Writing Revolution is learning to think like a writer – something not often taught in schools.
Good writers think about many issues, including clarity, coherence, diction, and ways to showcase their ideas. What they don’t think about is diagramming sentences and filling up pages in a workbook.
This website is organized around a simple but important fact: You’re already a language expert. You’ve been using language your whole life, so why not build on what you already know? For example, I can’t think of a single reason to say “independent clause” when I’m talking about a “sentence,” or to say “article” when I mean “the words a, an, or the.” (Can you?) On the other hand, when you work with the terminology and skills you already know, you can progress rapidly as a writer.
How Do You Get Started?
Look on the right side of this website to find writing resources that deal with issues important to you. Clicking on the words in blue will take you directly to links with information you’re looking for:
- Students links to videos and PowerPoints for writing assignments such as essays, modes of development, and research papers.
- Teachers covers grading papers and plagiarism issues
- Writers covers writer’s block, business writing, writing for publication, and similar issues.
Usage and Grammar covers punctuation (such as commas and apostrophes) and thorny topics like subject-verb agreement and pronouns.
- Usage offer short, jargon-free instruction about a variety of topics.
- The center of the page features an instant quiz and a lively discussion about various writing topics. These change often, so keep coming back!
I’m a published writer with both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English. I’ve published eleven books (listed below) and numerous articles. I’ve been teaching writing since 1970. Most of that instruction was done in college classrooms, but I’ve also taught elementary school classes, and I’ve done writing workshops for a host of businesses and government agencies. For three years I taught basic education in a prison school, and I’m now a sponsor of a writing club there.
By choice I’ve done most of my teaching with students who lack confidence in their ability to meet college and professional writing standards. Over the years countless students have entered my classroom full of apprehension – and left, at the end of the term, amazed and delighted by what they’ve learned.
I invite you to join them – and me – in an exhilarating exploration of language and its possibilities.
What Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You (Maple Leaf Press)
George Bernard Shaw
Language and Metadrama in Major Barabara and Pygmalion: Shavian Sisters (Palgrave Macmillan)
Pygmalion’s Wordplay (University Press of Florida)
Shaw and Feminisms: On Stage and Off (University Press of Florida, co-edited with D. A. Hadfield)
Succeeding in College (Pearson)
Introduction to College Writing (Pearson)
Sentence Power (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
Police Talk (Pearson, with Major Mariani)
The Criminal Justice Guide to Report Writing for Officers (Maple Leaf Press)
Report Writing for Code Enforcement Inspectors (Maple Leaf Press)
Gretel’s Story (Maple Leaf Press)
Five Minutes a Day (Maple Leaf Press)
Shaw: The Annual of Shaw Studies
Teaching English in the Two-Year College
The Journal of Correctional Education
The Correctional Compass
The Anglo-Welsh Review
Lakeland Ledger, Diocese, Pilgrimage, The Episcopalian, Lady’s Circle