Reading Practices in the Writing Classroom

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As WPAs, we’ve seen the pedagogical tensions that often result when first-year students’ and writing instructors’ various assumptions about reading collide in the first-year writing classroom. Why don’t my students read as I want them to?, the instructor wonders. Why doesn’t my teacher just tell me what he wants?, students think. Writing instructors like the one quoted above know that teaching writing is closely intertwined with teaching reading, yet many are stymied by how to engage productively with reading in the classroom. For some, the pull of literary analysis is especially strong. For others, the curricular demands of a course like first-year writing leave little space for actual reading instruction, since so much attention must be paid to a host of writing needs. But carefully considering what we ask students to read, how we ask them to read it, and why, is an essential aspect of writing program administration. As we thought through how various models of what reading is came into contact within the context of our own writing program, we realized that we needed to devote the same attention to identifying components and conventions of reading and reading processes as we did with writing.

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