Teaching first-year writing is often a challenge for new instructors, especially when their academic discipline is not writing. Sweetland has a new website to help with all aspects of course planning. The site (“Guide to Teaching First-Year Requirement Courses”) offers a variety of modules, each of which addresses a different aspect of teaching first-year writing, from helping students develop an argument to creating good writing prompts to evaluating writing. Each module contains summaries, links to resources and essays, sample strategies, and exercises to help instructors understand and effectively teach aspects of academic writing.
In addition to modules focused on the writing process, the site also contains pertinent topics for teaching first-year writing at U-M. One of the first modules on the site, “Teaching Inclusively,” discusses how to ensure that a writing class includes all students; as the module reminds us, “practices for teaching inclusively align with practices for teaching well.” This module discusses not only how to choose course content that values diversity, but also how to consider and reflect on problematic assumptions that instructors, or their students, may bring to the classroom. The website also has a module on academic integrity and plagiarism, which references Sweetland’s “Beyond Plagiarism” website, and a module on how to use Directed Self-Placement (DSP) writing in a classroom.
Along with the modules, the website offers both relevant writing-related resources and links to university resources that may prove helpful for first-year students (such as links related to “Health and Wellness” and a variety of academic support services). Integrated into the modules are occasional tips for using Canvas in a writing classroom.
Our goal is to make this a useful resource for U-M instructors when planning their FYWR courses and for revisiting pressing topics over the semester, such as grading or peer review. We are hopeful the site helps all new instructors feel supported and ready to teach first-year writing.