Rethinking College Writing Instruction

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An assignment on “ambition” with concrete nouns and people

Write 600 words on ambition, taking any angle at all. Working titles or narrow topics could include any of the following: My sense of ambition How I learned what ambition really is How I learned ambition Ambition makes no sense An ambitious person I would like to imitate I am […]

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Preface to “Ten Things Successful College Writers Do Differently”

When printed letters were mysterious, I wished I could read. Was it the same for you? There’s a dark moment, before you learn any skill, when you’re all desire. It’s when you wish you could ride a two wheeler like other kids on your street, but you can’t do it […]

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The guide now has an isbn #

I have acquired ISBN numbers, and one in particular for this edition of John Maguire’s College Writing Guide. That means the college bookstore can easily order the book and have it on the shelves for your students, if you choose to use it as a textbook.

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On the 70% active verb ratio

(This is an excerpt from the verb chapter of my new book, which is addressed to students: Ten Things Successful College Writers Do Differently.)   Build most of your sentences on active verbs You’ve no doubt heard of the active verb from prior teachers, but just hearing about it is […]

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Should college comp be a straight-line extension of high-school writing? No.

The readability course goes at the problem of teaching kids to write from a different angle. Most instructors naturally enough make college comp a straight-line extension of high-school writing. The assumption often stated in the classroom goes like this:  “You’ve had some instruction in writing before, and now we are […]

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Grammar basics in Writing 101, but indirectly

Grammar basics in Writing 101, but indirectly

When you discover that half the students in your Writing 1-101 class are truly devoid of grammar and don’t understand even the noun+verb basics of a sentence, what then? Some teachers stop and give grammar lessons for a while, trying to catch the bottom half of the class up. Others […]

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Readability, step by step

Skill acquisition proceeds stepwise. Each new skill is introduced. Students  practice it until mastered, then practice it in combination with the  preceding week’s   skills. New skills  are introduced one at a time, from easy to harder to hardest. Each new habit is practiced until mastered. Students can do all […]

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Can students be taught to be interesting writers?

Many people think not, but I know that they can. First I’ll answer the usual objections, then give the evidence. Being interesting is a talent. Not true. It can be trained for. Being interesting has to do with the subject. Some subjects are boring and some are interesting, so if […]

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“Writing from the Body” — a book outline, 15 chapters

1. Introduction. If you are a writer of any sort–college student, business person, doctor, lawyer–I want to make you care about something you may never have cared about before—things. When I lived in Miami, I used to drive out to Key Biscayne on a causeway, park and walk out to […]

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Lost in an essay vs. lost in a parking garage.

This winter has been very snowy, which has required me to park my Honda in the garage near by my office. It’s a four story garage—or five if you count the roof. It’s a dull gray cement color, with minimal signage. All the floors look the same, so you know […]

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John G. Maguire
307 Market Street, #306
Lowell MA 01852
maguirejohn@comcast.net
978-761-4515