Using a Handbook in WRIT Courses

While none of us may be particularly excited by the prospect of reading a handbook, such texts are particularly helpful for first year students. And, as handbooks go, Lunsford's Everyday Writer is a good one. It deals with writing issues from rhetorical and multidisciplinary perspectives (that means that APA style, for example, actually gets more than two brief pages of discussion). Several faculty members report that when students learn how to use the handbook as a resource, they are actually more likely to retain and use it when developing and revising writing projects.

How can faculty help students learn to use the information within the handbook?

At a Teachers Talking Writing session during Fall of 2009, a handout with numerous exercises and references was provided to participants. Practical Exercises that incorporate the Everyday Writer are included for your use.

Here are just a few examples of writing exercises but much more detail is included within the link listed above.

  • Taking Inventory of Our Writing (An exercise that asks students to focus on the first three assignments completed, write a summary of what they learned from both peer and instructor feedback, group what they learned into categories from the handbook, and comment on writing strengths and areas for improvement.)
  • Use of a Concept Map or Clustering assignment to explore possible topics for an essay or other writing assignment.
  • An exercise to help students learn to use APA format within writing assignments.
  • A writing exercise related to the Nobel conference that helps students more effectively use the handbook.
  • A scavenger hunt titled: Learning to Love the Everyday Writer.
  • and many more detailed exercises that can be used within virtually any class or discipline!

Thanks to the many Gustavus faculty members who shared exercises they use to help students improve writing.