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The Annotated Bibliography of Works by James Moffett

Active Voice: A Writing Program across the Curriculum. Boynton/Cook, 1981.

Moffett re-wrote 29 different assignments, from a pamphlet, that had been circulated among teachers for several years. Moffett’s assignments included new ides of writing across a range of personal to formal writing beginning with the personal narrative all the way through to a formal essay. He gives teachers examples of how to get students to learn to write both formally and informally which, he believes, will prepare students for the real world where they will be faced with incorporating both kinds of writing in their everyday lives.

Active Voices I-IV. Boynton/Cook, 1987.

This serves as a response piece to the above referenced book published some six years earlier. The book provides samples from students whose teacher’s used Moffett’s examples and prompts in the style of four separate anthologies which covers, elementary, middle, secondary, and college-level classes.

College Composition and Communication, “I, You, and It.” Vol. 16, No. 5 (Dec., 1965), pp. 243–248.

Moffett presents four stages of discourse in this article: inner verbalization, outer vocalization, correspondence, and formal writing. He argues that teaching students how to write through these stages is essential in order to assist students in finding and perfecting their voice. Writing is a socialized, everyday experience to that can allow students to identify their own unique style and voice. Moffett concludes this article saying, “we must give students an emotional mandate to play the symbolic scale, to find subjects and shape them, to invent ways to act upon others, and to discover their own voice (248).

College Composition and Communication, “Liberating Inner Speech. Vol. 36. No. 3 (Oct., 1985), pp. 304–308.

Moffett presents his idea that writing and revision should be internal and uses a class that he taught in a prison of an example of liberating one’s speech. These prisoners he taught were already stripped of so many rights that when they came to class to write, they were able to let go of any inhibitions and write from within themselves and what they really felt. Learning how to internalize one’s thoughts and feelings can help yield those thoughts into outward expression through their writing.

College Composition and Communication, “Women’s Ways of Writing, or, Images, Self-Images, and Graven Images: Responses.” Vol. 45, No. 2 (May, 1994), pp. 258–263.

In this article Moffett states that students need to be more in tune with themselves (“their deepest beings”) before they can truly write their best or “get better” at writing. He argues that women have been able to really know their inner beings and write through their thoughts and emotions since the Middle Ages and that men have not been able to do that due to maintaining their “place” as caretakers and workers. Women as a whole tend not to struggle as much with getting in touch with their emotions as men do as a result of their respective histories. Moffett urges universities to be more concerned with getting their students to become more at one with their inner selves in order for them to become more effective students in every facet of education.

College English, “James Moffett Responds.” Vol. 45, No. 4 (Apr., 1983), pp. 404–406.

In this response, Moffett suggest that “freeing the mind” through meditation may assist in the writing process. He argues one might write more cohesively and concisely after one’s mind has come out of “suspension” (404). Writing with a clear mind could allow one to write more clearly and express one’s thoughts and ideas better.

College English, “James Moffett Responds.” Vol. 45. No. 5 (Sep., 1983), pp. 508–509.

Moffett is responding to John Rouse’s latest critique of his writing pedagogy. He says if Rouse spent as much time developing his own teaching process or pedagogy of writing as he did being obsessed with Moffett’s theory, he could really make a profound contribution to the field of teaching and writing. Moffett goes on to say that he is honored that Rouse spends his times and writing efforts toward responding to Moffett’s pieces.

College English, “Writing, Inner Speech, and Meditation.” Vol. 44, No. 3 (Mar., 1982), pp. 231–246.

Inner speech for Moffett is ongoing thought flow and conversation inside one’s mind. Outer speech occurs when inner speech is verbalized and internalized by the audience that is listening or reading. He argues that we write through our inner speech using meditation as a means to clear the mind which will ultimately create a clearer outer speech for the audience. He believes teachers need to encourage students to express themselves saying that “youngsters need to develop inner speech as fully as possible and at the same time learn to suspend it” (240). He also thinks it is a good practice for inner and outer speech to use non-verbals as a means of communication, like music, or art, etc. He close his article saying that “meditation techniques show how to witness one’s own mind, direct one’s own mind, and silence one’s own mind” (246).

Coming on Center: English Education in Evolution. Boynton/Cook, 1981.

Moffett believes that regardless of how diverse students and their backgrounds may be, if they are allowed to write freely and express themselves as best they can, their voice will develop and their writing will improve. He advocates student-centered curriculum and presents five components that shape writing which teachers must, at the very least acknowledge: (1) draftees and students; (2) professionals and teachers; (3) superintendents, school boards, etc.; (4) learning materials, texts, research; and (5) the tax-paying public. He recognizes that teachers want a change and in order to facilitate it they must look to themselves and find out what they would have wanted to be taught as a young learner.

Detecting Growth in Language. Heineman, 1992.

This text shows teachers how to document and judge growth for themselves instead of implementing forms of standardized testing. Moffett recognized that teachers would need a powerful and solid alternative to using the standardized test approach if they decided to risk an unconventional teaching method for writing.

English Journal, The. “Coming on Center.” Vol. 59, No. 4 (Apr., 1970), pp.528–533.
Note: This is merely an excerpt from his above discussed text in full.
English Journal, The, and Betty Jane Wagner, “Student-Centered Reading Activities.” Vol. 80, No. 6 (Oct., 1991), pp.70–73.

Moffett and Wagner argue that students should have the power to choose what they read and let their choices for reading shape their interests. They suggest that teachers create a “classroom library” with a wide variety of subjects. They strongly agree that “by focusing readers on preselected frames of reference, both historical and thematic approaches made terribly with reader response” (71). The two suggest the following options to facilitate student-centered reading: partner reading, performing texts, listening to and watching texts, transforming texts, reading response journals, and discussion groups. Moffett and Wagner believe that “such democratic and collaborative ways of learning to interpret will carry all students to their maximum development in literacy and literature” (73).

English Journal, The, “Who Counts?” Vol. 61, No. 4 (Apr., 1972), pp. 571–574.

This is a collection of topic sentences that Moffett arranged in order to show what factors affect writing and the various goals of writing among people. Ultimately, Moffett again insists that families, friends, teachers, fellow students, are all responsible for shaping student writing.

Harmonic Learning: Keynoting School Reform. Boynton/Cook, 1992.

Moffett introduces the idea that “learning fields” rather than “subject fields” can facilitate higher learning and better writing. Such learning fields that can have this affect upon students’ writing are: families, schools, friends, culture, religion, nature, etc. If teachers can learn to use these learning fields and incorporate them into their teachings perhaps the students will be able to express themselves through their writing more coherently.

Interaction. Houghton/Mifflin, 1973.

This is an extensive collection of pedagogical materials and activities like flash cards, recordings, games, etc. that attempted to facilitate learning in the classrooms in a different, more interactive way. These activities allowed students to experience learning rather than, listen to learning.

Storm in the Mountains: A Case Study of Censorship, Conflict, and Consciousness. Boynton/Cook, 1988.

The publication of Moffett’s Interactions, and the attempted implementation of these writing activities and texts in Kanawha, West Virginia in 1974 was met with some protest due to his “free-thinking” and less structured expressivist ideas. Ten years after these protests Moffett decided to interview some of these same protestors and understand why such free-thinking could rattle so many people. Moffett prepares teachers to be ready to face the consequences of their teaching if it dares to facilitate new ideas ands ways of thinking and teaching. He recognizes that changing the teaching and writing field will take a war of many, rather than a battle of a few.

Student-Centered Language Arts: K-12. Boynton/Cook; 1968, 1992.

This was originally published in 1968 and was a handbook for teachers that contained a collection of ideas and activities to use in the classrooms to better facilitate learning for kids of all ages ranges from K-12 specifically. This book and its material had a profound impact among the k-12 teaching community as Moffett introduced alternative teaching methods into the classroom.

Teaching the Universe of Discourse. Boynton/Cook; 1968, 1983.

This book encourages teachers to theorize about discourse and attempt to implement their theories into the classrooms. If teachers and students can view discourse as an ongoing conversation within themselves and between each other, then students might be able to become better communicators and in turn better writers.

Universal Schoolhouse, The: Spiritual Awakening through Education. Jossey-Bass, 1994.

Moffett argues in this text that learning is a social and spiritual concept that we must all learn together. Regardless of how many standardized tests one school or government can throw at its students, the student can only truly learn how to write if they are able to write for themselves and from within themselves. Moffett argues that we “parlay school reform into a totally individualized community learning network for all ages” (331).

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