Writing I is the first class in my institution’s two-course general education writing sequence. It is probably the class that I have taught the most during my 10+ years at my current institution.
I have taught this class in its traditional face-to-face format on campus as well as evening classes at satellite campuses. It was my experience with those evening classes which tend to be filled by nontraditional students that inspired me to pitch, design and pilot the online version of this class which I have taught consistently since it was adopted.
My approach to this class has evolved over the years although it has always included writing workshop, peer feedback, and either portfolio or final project as a culmination. I last taught this course in Spring 2010 and that class reflects my new (at the time) interest in the writing-about-writing pedagogy movement inspired by Doug Downs and Elizabeth Wardle (read more about it on my blog) which argues that the topic of writing classes should be writing. The focus of my Writing I class was on the writing required by college in general and the students’ majors in specific with students reflecting, researching, and writing about issues related to that topic. It was my first attempt at this approach and so I ran into some challenges during the semester, but I believe the overall experience was a positive one for my students.
I have taught a version of this class (with a focus on the students intended professions) for Writing II in recent semesters which has helped me refine this approach and the next time I teach this class I am sure I will be able to avoid the problems I did that first semester. I will use the same framework, but assign different readings and of course the students will focus on their major and the different expectations of college writing.