Writing With Mirrors: Reflecting On Goals and Choices in FYC

Here’s a proposal I’ve prepared for a session at Writing Matters, a conference to be hosted at SUNY Cortland on March 18th 2018.

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Writing with Mirrors: Reflecting on Goals and Choices In FYC

Jacob Richter

      Student-writers benefit from sustained and deliberate reflection on not only the writing of professionals, but also on their own writing processes as they are enacted. At any level, writing proves itself a craft of consideration, planning, organization, strategy and skill. This presentation probes the value Statements of Goals and Purposes, written assignments that ask students to reflect on the writing they’ve performed in specific instances, might hold for writing classrooms at all levels.

      When students compose Statements of Goals and Choices, whether formally or informally, they are challenged to identify specific skills, processes, techniques, procedures, modes and mindsets that define their composition process. Writing is thinking, learning and exploring. Writing is discovery, and SOGCs open an avenue into which students confront the habits, decisions, judgements and challenges contained in the writing they’ve done. A student compelled to articulate the decision-making process entailed by a SOGC is a student discovering the writing process rather than simply memorizing it. In this way, students create rhetorical understanding rather than simply mimic it. Whether implemented as ten-minute in-class freewrites or as longer, formal assignments, SOGC have the potential to serve as catalysts for genuine, authentic understandings of many of the pillars of writing instruction: considerations of audience, purpose, genre, diction, syntax, style. Their scope is nearly limitless, but writing instructors must target these assignments to maximize their effectiveness.

      This presentation attempts to accomplish three tasks. First, it outlines potential benefits of asking classrooms to reflect on the goals and choices that constitute their writing projects. Next, it presents two practical, real-life scenarios in which Statements of Goals and Choices can be utilized in individual writing classrooms to extend, enhance and amplify the effectiveness of writing projects. Lastly, participants construct their own SOGCs relating to a recent writing project they’ve undertaken (something they’re written in the past week, however complex and demanding; even a writing situation occurring in a previous Writing Matters session). After time dedicated to writing, the session will close with discussion of the value, limits and possibilities for this type of assignment, as well as exploratory discussion on how specific ways participants might implement SOGCs in their classrooms.

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