“All there is to writing is having ideas. To learn to write is to learn to have ideas.”

–Robert Frost, “Education by Poetry” (1930)

“Writing a long essay is probably the most complex constructive act that most human beings are ever expected to perform.”

–Carl Bereiter & Marlene Scardamalia, “Does Learning to Write Have to Be So Difficult?” (1983)

Welcome to this guide to teaching First-Year Writing Requirement (FYWR) courses.

Perhaps the statements above represent extremes, yet they prompt questions that inform our teaching. What is there to writing–how do we break down what to teach? Can students be taught to have ideas? And how do we lead students to write in ways that enable them to produce complexity rather than becoming overwhelmed?

This guide is designed to communicate both practical strategies, and the ideas behind them, as you prepare to teach your FYWR course. Grounded in theory and research on writing pedagogy, this resource represents the work of many talented and experienced writing instructors from around the university. Materials are drawn from Sweetland’s FYWR Course Preparation Packet; the Sweetland Writing 993: Teaching Writing in the Disciplines website; the CRLT pages on inclusive teaching, and the Sweetland Center for Writing website Teaching Resources and student Writing Guides.

You’ll continue to have access to this guide as you teach. The list of modules to the right are arranged as a logical progression, but they may also be referred to out of sequence. To help you make the most of your time, the modules have been concentrated to focus on the key aspects of teaching writing. As you move through them, you may want to take notes and jot down questions.

If you’d like to read further on any aspect of teaching writing presented here, you can find source material in Resources. Websites you or your students might find helpful are included in Links.

We hope you find this guide helpful as you begin to teach and wish you a fulfilling semester.