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Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric

Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/index.html

Reviewed Feb 8, 2010

Reviewer: Sandra Davenport

Recommendation: I would recommend this web site to beginning writing teachers because of the wealth of information on how to teach this complex subject to college students, even though nothing specifically mentions ESL students.

Description

The Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric offers online self help to students and faculty of the college. Its undergraduate instructional arm is called the Writing and Rhetoric Program, and specifically supports first-year writing classes although it also includes upper division writing classes. Although the Institute's site was developed for Dartmouth students and faculty and is to a certain extent geared toward specific Dartmouth first year writing classes it is open to the public and contains a wealth of information on teaching writing.

Note: While the Dartmouth Institute also offers extensive online writing help for students as well as for writing tutors who assist teachers, my research and concern for this paper was limited to writing teacher support.

Evaluation

Teaching writing at the college level is much more than developing good classroom lessons. Because writing is a skill, unlike speaking, that we have to be taught, effective teaching at the college level requires a great deal of knowledge about the writing process, kinds and purposes of writing, and how to convey ideas of argument, etc. to the students. The Online Writing Materials page for Faculty (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/faculty/index.html) does a good job of explaining teaching writing through a series of well-written, thoughtful essays, many of which include examples, extensive classroom lessons, tips for new teachers and writings by teachers in the program explaining their own approaches and techniques.

The first section, "Teaching Writing the First Year" is the only section that is tied to the Dartmouth classes. Nevertheless, it has a lot of good material for the beginning writing teacher. The final section, Teaching Forum, has the following subsections: Teaching Ideas, Ongoing Conversations (short essays by Dartmouth Teachers), Sample Assignments, Handouts, Bibliography, Useful Links, and General Tips and Tactics. The handouts were to help students evaluate other students' writing.

The web site is maintained by the Executive Director of the Writing and Rhetoric Program, and nothing can be posted on the web site except through her. The material looked accurate and relevant, but authors or other sources are not cited. Each page just says Copyright 2010 Trustees of Dartmouth College and gives the date the page was last updated. All the pages I checked were last updated 8/11/08.

Subject Headings: college writing, ESL students, ESL teachers
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