By using a student text as a teaching tool in your classroom, you can help isolate and illustrate writing skills that students may not recognize in [potentially intimidating] writing intended for a professional or scholarly audience.
Here are two methods of selecting student texts and the accompanying skills you wish to teach.
Start with the student text:
• Identify the moves or skills that seem strongest. Don’t worry about seeking perfect executions. Instead value those performances that you can clearly parse for students.
• Close read relevant passages. Where those strengths are most present, begin unpacking the writer’s choices.
• The model writing doesn’t have to be perfect throughout. In fact, even the stand-alone passage doesn’t have to execute the move perfectly. Value those performances that are legible to other students, that you can parse clearly, and that demonstrate excellence, not necessarily perfection.
Or consider starting with the skills:
• Develop a list of potential moves you value. Articulating these on your own terms first makes it easier to develop the resource in student-friendly language.
• Select the skills or moves most central to your discipline or writing performance. We’ve privileged close reading and source use, for example, since it’s a foundational move for much of what we see in the Writing Center, for example. But you may need something like “Summarizing a Source’s Argument,” “Reporting Empirical Evidence,” or “Writing an Abstract.”
• Bear in mind that skills or moves take place on different scales. Smaller-scaled skills, like signposting or transitions, are easier to annotate and faster to use in the classroom, but the payoff may be smaller.