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Johns Hopkins University

Teaching Texts and Forms

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera


The first job of any writer is to get words down on paper, and teaching writing as process helps students gain the fluency, comfort and confidence they need to succeed at any writing task. But complex, comprehensive writing tasks often bring with them specific expectations and conventions the writer must address to be successful. This course will examine some of those more comprehensive writing tasks: personal essays; argument, analysis and other forms of transactional writing; and creative writing. Learners will also identify strategies for supporting the reading/writing connection and practical assignments for engaging students in writing around texts.


  • Teaching Personal Writing
    • Imagine a scenario where a student is asked, for example, to name the capital city, state bird, state motto and primary economic industry of their state, and although they get the first three correct, on the fourth that student is told, “No, I’m sorry, that’s wrong.” Now imagine a scenario where a student is asked to describe a time in their life when they realized for the first time something important about themselves or the way the world worked. Whatever they say, the one response they won’t be hearing is, “I’m sorry, that’s wrong.” Personal writing allows students to do research into the area they know best: themselves and their lives. In this module, learners will define what constitutes personal writing as well as the benefits of encouraging students to engage in personal writing. They will identify and apply strategies for teaching personal writing, and create a personal writing prompt they can use in their classrooms.
  • The Reading/Writing Connection
    • Often, writing is taught as writing, and reading is taught as reading. But there can be great value in connecting the two. In this module, learners will identify strategies for supporting the reading/writing connection and practical assignments for engaging students in writing around texts. Learners will identify different techniques of reading, including reading like a writer and deep reading, and will reflect on how they might apply their learning with the students they currently teach or will teach in the future.
  • Teaching Argument, Analysis and Transactional Writing
    • Too often these days, it seems that “argument” gets confused with “arguing,” with the goal being to prove , “I’m right and you’re wrong.” But true argument is a way of “entering the conversation” on a question or issue and considering multiple perspectives with the goal of arriving at the best option. In this module, learners will identify and define the different forms of argument and persuasion along with strategies for teaching argument writing. They will also identify and practice techniques of critical analysis, and consider other forms of transactional writing, including informational and instructional writing.
  • Teaching Creative Writing
    • “Tell me a story!” “Sing me a song!” Most children have a love for hearing – and telling – stories, and for the explosion of an emotion or a moment one often finds in poems and the lyrics of songs. In this module, learners will identify some of the components of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, and examine strategies for teaching students to write these forms. They’ll identify the benefits of encouraging students to explore creative writing, and will practice approaches that will help even the most reluctant creative writer find confidence and success.

Taught by

Mark Farrington


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