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Levine encourages students to get these writers talking to one another. I want you to imagine that you are the moderator of a panel discussion on revision (`re-vision').
However they feel about their final essays, most students enjoy the dialogue prewriting exercise.
When asked to reflect on the entire process of putting together the third assignment, Sohrab responds: "[The] dialogue initially helped get some ideas out, but those ideas proved to be just the tip of the iceberg." Peter writes, "The prewriting assignment was like an improvised brainstorming for me.
Before going on, I should explain how and why I came to use this approach in my writing classroom.
My background is in dramatic writing and, as a playwright, I felt less than qualified when I first began teaching English composition.
We're five weeks into the semester, and things are heating up. The distinguished members of your panel include Adrienne Rich, Paul Auster, and John Edgar Wideman.
I just handed out the assignment sheet for the third essay. Construct an imagined dialogue among the four `voices' (the three essayists plus you) on the topic of writing as `re-vision.'" I explain that I want them to format the dialogue as though it were a script.
But when I graduated from San Francisco State University five years ago with a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, no one came banging on my door looking for college playwriting instructors.
Fortunately, while at San Francisco State, in addition to my creative writing degree, I had completed a twelve-unit certificate program in teaching college composition.
Getting students to construct dialogue is one thing.
But how does this dialogue exercise transfer when the students write their essays?