Wooden pieces fit together in an intricate, tessellated outdoor structure. Big projects like these improve the quality of life for the local community.


Everyone in our class will spend the semester creating a substantive product that states, asserts, or enacts their writing pedagogy through one of three options for a major project. You’ll need to select the option that makes the most sense for your current situation and professional trajectory. Projects will be selected by the end of the first week of the semester. (See the course calendar for details.) Whichever option you choose, you’ll end the semester with a practical—in some cases publishable—product that will help you professionally.

Your Options

Unlike most decisions made in my classes, this one needs to be made early and cannot easily be changed. If you start with a challenge (like the Journal Article option) and decide later it’s too much, you can switch to a less-complex option. But that sort of switch still requires work as you shift to a more-restrictive scenario and a different intended audience. Moving from a less-intensive choice (like Course Design) to a more-complex one mid-semester is virtually impossible. That kind of move won’t work because you would miss the required initial research and won’t have time to recover. The first weeks of the semester will be dedicated to the kinds of brainstorming and inquiry needed to solidify your approach to the material. If you switch options mid-semester, you’ll have to re-tool your approach and recreate foundational material while trying to keep up with class. It’s not a good situation.

Select the project option that will best reward you this semester, in terms of challenge and product. You’ll get support the whole way through, no matter which option you pick. While your colleagues and instructor won’t tell you exactly what to write, we will definitely help you think through your ideas as you work.

But first, you need to choose your path. You can select from these three projects, listed from most to least constrained:

Textbook Chapter

A good fit for students who do not intend to teach writing at secondary or collegiate levels, this project provides an opportunity for self-publication and requires a strong ability to explain material clearly and methodically for novice audiences. This option involves developing the following materials:

  • explanatory content for a college-level textbook on a selected topic of discussion from this class
  • review and discussion questions designed to check understanding in readers and facilitate conversation in future courses
  • examples to illustrate concepts and provide examples of activities
  • writing prompts to encourage procedural knowledge development

The central challenge of this option is presenting a concept you’re learning about this semester with sufficient authority and appropriate ethos to effectively build understanding with future readers. This assignment should reflect confident, nuanced understanding of a specific topic from class, supported by additional outside research.

Course Design

A good fit for students who intend to teach writing at the secondary or collegiate levels, this project involves developing the following materials:

  • list of student learning outcomes
  • weekly calendar of topics with readings
  • set of assignment sheets aligned with outcomes
  • complete course syllabus reflecting national standards

The central challenge of this option is aligning the expectations of the course (including any institutional or district-level constraints) with appropriate assignments and assessment methods. This alignment should also reflect your pedagogical approach, which will be informed by our discussions in class.

Journal Article

A good fit for graduate students and those who intend to work in higher ed, this project involves creating a full-length journal article appropriate for publication in an online scholarly venue. This option involves developing the following materials:

  • annotated bibliography on a selected topic
  • extensive literature review surveying research on that topic
  • a thorough, articulate, and well-supported argument asserting your position on that topic
  • an abstract summarizing the conclusion and approach presented in your article

The central challenge of this option is presenting yourself with sufficient authority to join the active disciplinary discussion. While you cannot get a journal response by the end of the semester, you should consider submitting the article after our course concludes.

Projects at a Glance

Option Textbook Chapter Course Design Journal Article
You are……interested in K–8 teaching…interested in secondary or higher ed…going to grad school or teach college
You want to……build expertise in a topic and help others learn it…revise or design a whole course based on writing…assert a position on a topic and try to publish
You enjoy……simplifying and clarifying ideas with examples and metaphors…connecting and organizing concepts, planning activities, building assignments…strong academic argument