The Writers Essential Tackle Box: Getting a Hook on the Publishing Industry (Get It Write)
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WIC is in no way culturally insensitive or offensive. It takes a global perspective; when it uses examples, it often engages different cultural and geographic backgrounds. Overall, I love the clarity, frankness, and flexibility Guptill's text offers. WIC is equally useful to both writing instructors and instructors from other disciplines, especially considering its brevity. Given the chance, I'd certainly use it in future classes. It would also serve as a great supplementary text for instructors who are a required to use a curriculum-specific textbook. This text covers many areas that beginning writers face.
It covers the basics from understanding the assignment and what the professor wants, to creating the rough draft, to incorporating sources, and finally to grammar. The focus of the ' The focus of the '3 story thesis' in Chapter 3 is especially useful. Additionally, the idea of creating an outline using "key sentences" rather than topic points is something I will be implementing in my teaching. This text is complete "with concise discussions, clear multidisciplinary examples, and empathy for the challenges of student life. Specifically, I can see this text to be invaluable to the Graduate Teaching Assistant in any writing course.
Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence offers accurate information on many areas of writing. It is especially grounded in the areas of formulating ideas and generating a thesis. Guptill offers alternate perspectives on many of the fears and problems beginning writers face. She encourages her readers to become "conscientious writers. Most of the information presented, either in text or via an external link, are current and will not become obsolete in the near future.
There will be some that will, undoubtedly, need to be updated as new and more useful information is made available. However, this is true of every text. From a student perspective, this text provides excellent definition and context for all of the technical terms used. Guptill uses external links to make everything as clear to her readers as possible. It is very clear this text is written for students in a writing course.
She goes further by stating that what most students learn in their high school writing class may not be what the college professor is looking for. Guptill states that "the assumption behind high-school instruction is that the teacher is the engine of learning. Perhaps the most obvious consistency in the framing of this text is how Guptill focuses on writing at a college level, for a collegiate audience.
She begins by addressing what a college professor wants and how to produce a paper that may satisfy "thorough understanding of context, audience, and purpose, mastery of the subject, detailed attention to writing conventions, skillful use of high-quality, credible, relevant sources, and graceful language. The references at the end of each chapter, with links to each was especially helpful, especially to a beginning writer.
Each chapter deals with a topic students face as they sort through writing in an academic environment.
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I think a student reading this text would appreciate, as I did, the student comments interspersed throughout each chapter. Each chapter clearly addresses something a college student would either have questions about or would need to know. In an 16 week semester, it is conceivable that each chapter could be addressed in 2 weeks.
Given that the exercises at the end of each chapter are not asking students to write a paper, it allows each instructor to structure the chapters and the lessons within to coincide with assigned essays. Also, I would have liked page numbers. I read the text online. I am especially impressed with the expanded content by way of the internal links to relevant sources. There was only one link that did not work.
The use of bold face type, boxed information, bullets etc. Referring to previously read chapters is a good practice, however, Guptill provides links to previous chapters, which can be somewhat distracting if a student gets into the habit of looking at all links provided. This text is culturally inclusive. There were no obvious signs of insensitivities. Guptill could have addressed obvious differences in writing perspectives as it pertains to various backgrounds, but I did not feel it was necessary. I like the way the text speaks to the college student.
I can see myself utilizing many of Guptill's ideas and approaches to teaching the beginning writer. Although the author focuses on the argument driven essay, the advice, examples, and exercises can be applied to nearly all writing for the beginner. I agree with the author when she states, "Experienced writers don't figure out what they want to say then write it. They write in order to figure out what they want to say.
Guptill's text is indeed a "warm invitation" to join the academic community in which research writing is a key method of communication. What is really wonderful is her approach to writing as that of joining an already existing discourse community, What is really wonderful is her approach to writing as that of joining an already existing discourse community, a community that she sets about helping students decode. The text has an effective table of contents, perceptive suggestions from real students throughout, but no glossary nor index. I believe that Guptill's student-centered approach helps to reduce the bias that instructors without a sociology background may not even be aware exists.
By that I mean, she listens and shares students' insights about learning to write and attempts to understand the mind set behind certain kinds of common errors. This approach reminds me of the fascinating work by Dr. Flowers through the Bay Area Writing Project, in which she explored "think aloud" protocols with students who were in the act of composing academic writing.
The content in meaningful and up-to-date and the section on incorporating sources is one of the best I've read because it really looks at how students need to lead into and out of cited material in ways that enhance and support their own arguments. I love the way the lesson on "key" sentences flows right into the section on outlining to show us that they are connected. She encourages students to write their key sentences into their outlines. This strategy provides helpful scaffolding as students climb toward writing the entire paper. I also like the student input here: "A good paper has cohesion.
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I love outlines, so I really like the idea of writing my first sentence of each paragraph as my plan. This way, you know what to write about and you know that your paper will flow easily. As a reader, this is an important characteristic to me. If the paragraphs are just jumping around in all different directions, I quickly lose interest in trying to follow along.
The reader should not have to struggle to follow your paper. Flow can make the difference between an okay paper and a scholarly product. Yes the text is internally consistent in terminology and framework.
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The student insights, boxed off to separated them, accompany each section as well. I really learned a lot reading all the student feedback and appreciate its inclusion throughout. Yes, the text is easily and readily divisible. One could use part of the text, such as the sections on key sentences and outlines, without incorporating the rest of the text.
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The topics move logically, at least for me, from global to local. By that I mean that Guptill explores higher -order cognitive challenges and assumptions about writing first and looks at sentence and paragraph level concerns later.
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I experienced no interface issues at all. The table of contents is hyper-linked for ease of navigation. I experienced no cultural insensitivity. Rather I was impressed by the exploration of academia as a culture, particularly in Chapter 2. Amy Guptill is able to see writing from the students' perspective, which is a gift. For example, students struggle with the idea of writing about a topic that their audience, primarily their instructor, knows better than they do.
Guptill describes this experience well: "When you write for a teacher you are usually swimming against the stream of natural communication. But in writing an essay for a teacher your task is usually to explain what you are still engaged in trying to understand to someone who understands it better. Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence addresses all the areas and concepts behind orienting students who are new to writing expectations in college.
It is comprehensive in covering everything from moving beyond the five-paragraph essay It is comprehensive in covering everything from moving beyond the five-paragraph essay while not negating its usefulness, to deciphering professors' assignments and expectations of critical thinking, to perfecting the foundational paragraph. The table of contents clearly shows the chapter titles that address the range of sub-topics that need to be considered to produce excellent writing in college. Although it is meant to be a short textbook, the addition of a simple glossary would be helpful, as would a Chapter 10 to conclude the book and bring the book full circle back to the Introduction, sending writers off with excitement to explore their new understanding of excellence in college writing.
The content is accurate, contains no errors, and is unbiased. The accuracy of the book is enhanced by the author's apparent experience as a subject area professor who understands what new college students needs to navigate research-based writing assignments as well as how to work with professors who may or may not incorporate writing strategies into their content courses.
The book will always be relevant. It contains no content that will become dated. The plentiful and effective links to additional resources can be easily updated as needed. The strategies it presents will never become obsolete so long as critical thinking and evidence-based writing is expected in college.