teaching developmental writing

Resources for Writing Teachers and Students

I  picked up a project I started a few years ago. After teaching writing for four years both at the University of Georgia and at Eastern Kentucky University, I became interested in the ways we teach writing, particularly to students with little or no experience practicing writing in a classroom setting. Composition studies often refer to these inexperienced students as developmental writers.

Back in 2012, as I begun to ramp up my side work in the field of web design, I happened to discover that the domain developmentalwriting.com was available. I bought it, thinking one day I would attempt to create an online learning environment where students could practice the same skills I was teaching in my physical writing classrooms.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve now completely transitioned out of teaching and moved full-time into my new career as a web & graphic designer. And the Developmental Writing domain has sat dormant.

I actually attempted to sell the domain on flippa.com a few times, hoping to pass it along to the right person who would take it and build out the course sequence I once envisioned for it. I had some offers here and there–$100 from one potential buyer. I know the domain is more valuable than that, so I held on to it.

Well, I’ve finally decided to do something with the website. Because I’m no longer teaching and frankly no longer as interested in developing an online tutoring business, I’ve changed direction slightly from my original plan.

Eight Developmental Writing Lessons

Having graded thousands of freshman composition papers over the course of eight semesters, it’s safe to say I started recognizing certain issues that recurred over and over again in the writing of my students.

I broke those common issues down into eight different categories and the plan is to create a lesson on the Developmental Writing website that covers each of those eight categories of common writing issues.

The eight categories are:

  1. Thesis Statements
  2. Topic Sentences
  3. Transitions
  4. Taking Notes
  5. Summarizing & Paraphrasing
  6. Introductions & Conclusions
  7. Picking Good Quotes
  8. Signal Phrases and Smooth Connections

So far I’ve written the first two lessons on thesis statements and topic sentences. It’s been fun thinking back over my time as a writing teaching and even pulling out some of my old lesson plans and student papers. I may not be in the classroom anymore, but I still write regularly for the web and the craft of writing is always on my mind and part of my life.

The website also has a Resources page, where I list handbooks and online learning tools for both students and teachers of Developmental Writing like the Purdue OWL, for example. I’ve used most of these resources myself and endorse them. This resources page is how the website will be sustained, as Amazon.com pays me a small commission for everything purchased after clicking one of the links on the page.

I guess I haven’t been able to escape my passion for teaching even though my days in an actual classroom are now over. Hoping the lessons I write based on my own classroom experiences will be helpful to students and teachers of Developmental Writing.

I welcome feedback and ideas on the new website. Check it out at developmentalwriting.com. Up next: lesson three on transitions. Hey, if you’ve taught even one semester of writing, then you know students can never get too much practice working with transitions!