Tools for Teaching Writing

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

For those who have teaching writing and composition, or for that matter anyone who requires analytic writing in their classes, you might want to check out The Topoi brought to you by USC Writing Program and Mark Marino (of Writer Response Theory).

One of the things I have wondered is how long it will take professors (mostly talking about higher ed. here, as K-12 has been far better at this in my estimation) to start leveraging the web for pedagogical purposes, and not just in terms of sharing narrative, ideas, thoughts, philosophies about teaching, but actually sharing teaching tools. It seems to me that we repeat a lot of content across colleges and universities, especially in the core courses. So, why not share some of these resources rather than having instructors re-invent the wheel everywhere. To be sure a lot of sharing does go on, especially intra-institutionally, or at the level of swapping syllabi, but still much more can be done.

In that regard, enter the Topoi. What Mark has collected here in one page are a series of writing tools to help with basic composition instruction. But the innovation here is to collect the tools as a series of “widgets.” This means as an instructor you can easily borrow from what Mark has collected to suit your particular needs. Think of this as Textbook 2.0 with a serious “rip-mix-burn” aesthetic/ethic. Because everything is in a self-contained widget it is easy to take the pieces you need and put them into your own writing/composition assignments or class resource page.

It’s a bit hard to explain, so just click on over to the USC page and have a look for yourself.