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Best Practices

What Are Best Practices for Working with Reading in the Basic Writing Classroom?

What Are Best Practices for Providing Feedback in the Basic Writing Classroom?

What Are Best Practices for Working with ESOL Students in the Basic Writing Classroom?

What Are Best Classroom Practices for Basic Writing Instruction?

What Are Best Practices for Structuring a Basic Writing Course?


“Basic writing” is a term commonly used to refer to classes that come before first-year writing. But ‘basic writing’ is far more complicated than this one-line summary affords. Within the sub-field, there are questions: about the role of basic writing in the academy (e.g., Bartholomae; Shor; Greenberg; Collins; Fox), about the purpose that classes called “basic writing” (and the students in them) serve for the academy (e.g., Soliday); about how classes should be designed and what should happen in them (Del Principe).

These questions serve as the focal points for an Eastern Michigan University graduate course called “Teaching Basic Writing at the College Level.” In winter 2006, we worked to consider connections between these questions and practice: what happens when a person is hired to teach something called “basic writing?” What role does it play in the institution? How is the class/program shaped? And – perhaps most importantly – what should instructors in ‘basic writing’ classes do in those classes, and why should they do those things?

To explore both sets of questions, the class’s premier assignment was to develop wiki pages that would be useful for basic writing instructors. The links from this page are a result of that work. We hope that they provide useful information and are a productive foundation upon which to extend the ongoing conversation about “basic writing.”

Heather Allan-Brooks
Allison Bennett
Tom Black
Tanisha Blackmon
Kristina Brown
Jennifer Castillo
A. Colleen Doyle

Meredith Graupner
Michael Gregorich
Anne Heintz
Hava Levitt
Elizabeth Moody
Liane Robertson
Leah Straschewski
Linda Adler-Kassner

Bartholomae, David. “The Tidy House.” Journal of Basic Writing 12.1 (1993): 4–21.

Collins, Terence. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid.’” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 95–100.

Del Principe, Ann. “Paradigm Clashes Among Basic Writing Teachers: Sources of Conflict and a Call for Change.” Journal of Basic Writing 23.1 (2004):64–81.
Fox, Tom. Defending Access: A Critique of Standards in Higher Education. Portsmouth: Heinemann/Boynton-Cook, 1999.
Greenberg, Karen. “A Response to Ira Shor’s ‘Our Apartheid.’” Journal of Basic Writing 16.2 (1997): 90–94.
Shor, Ira. “Our Apartheid: Writing Instruction and Inequality.” Journal of Basic Writing 16.1 (1997): 91–104.
Soliday, Mary. The Politics of Remediation: Institutional and Student Needs in Higher Education. Pittsburgh: U. of Pittsburgh Press, 2002.

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