Ron's response by jonfit

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									In Defense of First Draft Writing in Class – R. Tickfer

I have had a long career teaching Language Arts at many grade levels to both native users
of English as well as students from many other language cultures. In all cases, whether to
middle-schoolers at TED Ankara College, to multinational students at an international
school in the Netherlands, to Advanced Placement students at DODDS schools, and in a
strictly American secondary school, essays have always been produced in the class
setting, generally with feedback, either by students’ peers or by the teacher. Some were
undrafted essay assessments similar to our Eng 101 and ELS final exam essays.

I believe this to be the only method to guarantee that the student is producing their own
essays, and that it is the root of the teaching of composition. Our task is not simply to
require students to produce essays or research-based term papers, our task is TEACHING
students to do so. This is the value of the approach to teaching writing which utilizes the
drafting of papers from which feedback and counseling through tutorials teaches students
to improve their work and enhance their writing skills.

The pitfalls of allowing students to prepare essays outside of class are many but, most
importantly, is that very commonly the product presented for feedback is not the
student’s effort. Thus, the student pretends to write the essay, and the teacher pretends to
give feedback to the student in order to teach, advise, and help to improve the student’s
writing skills. It is a futile gesture - it does not constitute teaching, and it does not result
in learning. Other ramifications include lack of interest and attention to class pursuits
related to the writing tasks such as close reading of texts, completion of study questions,
group teamed tasks, and discussions. This has a very detrimental effect on class
dynamics, but most significantly, it means that there is very little opportunity to TEACH
students to improve their writing skills and to have valuable one-on-one interaction based
on course activity.

I have felt that our President is very supportive of the FAE program and in the English
language facility of Bilkent students, and I am sure that he has high expectations for us
regarding our teaching responsibilities. I view the two freshmen courses, Eng 101 and
102, as intended to support our colleagues in the university’s faculties by providing them
with students with sufficient English writing skills. They depend on us to instill good
habits developed through the drafted writing process. This is a heavy responsibility.

I think that is best accomplished by reaffirming that while we hope to help our students to
produce satisfactory compositions, our real goal is to TEACH them to do so by first
insuring that they write their first drafts of essays in class so that both the student and the
teacher will have a sound base for drafting the work through student-teacher dialogue –
having first provided adequate knowledge and review of various writing skills, as well as
the opportunity to explore the themes and texts on which the work is based through close
study, teamwork, discussion, and research activities. Furthermore, we need to convey
this idea to our students so that they have a better understanding of our intention to
provide an environment for growth and improvement.

I believe that doing so will insure the fine reputation of FAE and vindicate the in-class
drafted writing process. (March 19, 2011)

								
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