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"Why Can't Suzie Write?: Designing a Writing Program for the At-Risk Student"

Dona Young is the author of Writing from the Core and Which comes First, the Comma or the Pause? She describes five steps to make a difference in designing a writing program for students entering college needing remediation to bring them up to college level reading and writing .

Step 1. Become an active Researcher
Use quantitative and qualitative measures in your design. Quantitative measure give us an accurate idea of what our students know and more importantly, what they don't know. Qualitative feedback allows us to have a constant and steady stream to help us connect with the students' learning needs and their perceptions about learning. These can be very informal but gives you an idea of what your students are thinking.

Step 2. use the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives to identify learning gaps.
Follow Bloom's Taxonomy to understand why some students work so hard and make so little progress. The hierarchical levels are Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. When students do not comprehend the basics, higher-level objectives are out of reach, beyond their understanding.

Step 3. Embrace the feelings and experiences behind the belief, "I can't write."
Students that can't write know they have challenges. A "popcorn" discussion can be implemented to just get ideas on why students think it's so difficult to write. They can share details of why they think it's difficult but more important that they are not the only ones having difficulty. Use the things they share to structure their learning and instruction.

Step 4. Focus on the process.
Most students do not understand that writing is a process. They always try to get it right the first time and get bombarded with getting the grade, meeting the expectations, being good, and getting it down perfectly. Teaching the difference between editing and composing will build their writing skills.

Step 5. Teach students to fish. Give them editing workshops.
Working with a set of principles essential for all writer will allow them to see errors and eliminate patterns of errors. If they take the time to correct their own work, they'll also take those principles learned as they begin the writing process and mull over their own work a little more.

For the archived presentation go to:


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