Archive for the ‘Writing Classes’ Category

End of course assessments

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

We’re getting near the end of the course, so I think it’s time to begin talking about assessment. I’m not going to set you exams, instead I’m going to ask you to write an essay – or tw essays if you are following both the writing and the Blair’s Britain courses.

 I’m going to give you a wide choice of questions – you can see them here:

End of semester essay questions

The questions are quite hard, but that’s so you can all show me how clever you are!

 I’ll talk more about the assessment tomorrow and you’ll have a chance to ask me any questions then. You can also ask questions by posting comments to this entry.

 See you tomorrow. 

Making claims in writing

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

In the last writing class we looked at claims and found that there are at least three different kinds of claims:

  • Factual claims
  • Value claims
  • Policy claims

These three different claims require different kinds of evidence and it is important that you recognise which kind of claim you are making in an essay so you can make sure that the evidence you supply is appropriate. If you are making a factual claim you will need to supply factual evidence and you will need to evaluate the reliability or trustworthiness of that evidence. If you are making a value claim, in order to make an argument, you will have to begin by supplying other criteria by which to judge the values you are arguing for. If you are making a policy claim, you will have to combine agruments about values (which outcomes are desirable?) with arguments about facts (what policies will in practice produce the desired outcomes?).

In tomorrow’s class we will discuss what makes a good claim. You can see material for last week’s class and for tomorrow’s at:



Online Writing Advice

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Have a look at the page below for some useful advice on writing…


Friday, April 20th, 2007

Writing Class 3 

In this class we began to look at the rules for using commas. As we saw from examples such as the one below, the incorrect use of commas can significantly change the meaning of what we write.

  • Panda: eats, shoots and leaves. (=eats food, shoots a gun and goes away)
  • Panda: eats shoots and leaves. (=eats the soft parts of plants: new shoots and green leaves)

I used the lesson on commas provided by Purdue University. You can see the whole class, together with exercises online: click here. I will be distributing paper copies next week.

The editing checklist and the writing process

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Writing Class 2 


In this class, I discussed the checklist introduced in the previous class. I also introduced a writing process that can help to separate the different aspects of writing.

You can download the presentation for this class here:

Writing Class 2: Powerpoint Presentation 

You can download the class handout, with a detailed description of the editing checklist and of the writing process here:

Writing Class 2: Class Handout 


Learning and practising writing

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Writing Class 1 

 In the first class we asked why it is important to develop proficiency in writing.

I argued that whereas speaking is fast practice, writing is slow practice. This is important because slow practice allows us to observe and correct our practice.

To perfect an action in martial arts, it is necessary to practice it slowly while observing the action itself, as well as posture, breathing and so on. By practising in this way, it is possible to turn theoretical knowledge into practical knowledge, or reflexes.

This is also our aim in practising writing. By putting all our theoretical knowledge into practice we hope to build good habits of language and thought. The way to do this is to consider systematically the separate aspects of what we are doing.

In writing, the important aspects to consider are:

  1. Content
  2. Structure/Organisation
  3. Style and coherence
  4. Grammar and Usage
  5. Form

Download the Powerpoint presentation for the class: Writing Class 1: Powerpoint presentation.