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BYU Course Outcomes

Course Objectives

When you have completed this course, you should be able to explain the following:

  1. Basic steps of the writing process
    • as you experience them as an adult writer
    • as children may experience them
    • as they are applied to a variety of writing genres, purposes, and audiences
    • as they can be adapted for individuals (adults or children) with special needs or diverse learning styles
  2. Importance of the kinds of writing that teachers do to
    • explore the meaning of personal experiences and accomplishments, including formal and informal applications
    • share what has worked well in your classroom
    • encourage parental involvement in their children's education
    • obtain grants and other forms of funding and support
    • explore and share professional research
  3. Relationships among writing and other curricular areas
    • reading
    • mathematics
    • science
    • social studies
  4. Strategies and activities for teaching
    • writer's workshop
    • informal and personal writing activities—journals, letters, poems
    • process writing activities—narrative writing, persuasive writing, expository writing, and report writing
  5. Basic procedures involved in education research
    • locating information sources
    • evaluating information sources
    • comparing, contrasting, and synthesizing information sources
    • documenting sources clearly and ethically

As you work through this course, you should develop the skills to do the following:

  1. Reflect on your teaching/learning experiences, draw significant inferences and conclusions, and from these experiences focus and develop a first-person article/essay that accurately shares both details and insights.
  2. Create a job application letter and resume for a job that is realistic for your professional needs and plans.
  3. Create a lesson plan for a writing lesson or activity. Write it so that it could be published on an Internet site.
  4. Create a plan for a unit in which you use children’s literature in teaching writing, along with other curricular areas if desired. Write a newsletter describing your unit to your students’ parents and suggesting ways that they can participate in their child’s literacy experience.
  5. Create a proposal for research, following a prescribed proposal format.
  6. Locate appropriate research sources on your chosen topic, evaluate and prioritize them, read them critically, make notes, and organize materials into a clear and logical presentation format.
  7. Write a 10 to 15 page paper reporting your research, using the formats and conventions accepted in the education profession.

Course Prerequisites

You will need to have completed a freshman level writing class or its equivalent (AP, junior college transfer credit, etc.) It is also assumed that you will have the following basic composition skills:

Further assumptions include your interest in and motivation for learning the content and skills involved in this course:

Course Materials

One textbook will be required for the course: Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product, 3rd or 4th edition, by Gail Tompkins (published in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, by Prentice Hall). This is a text for teaching writing to children. Some teachers in the public schools have said that this book is their Bible when it comes to teaching writing. It is full of examples—case studies of specific children and examples of writing lessons and activities. It is fun to read. However, it is research-based. Tompkins has gone to the strongest and most respected authors and researchers in the field of teaching writing, and she gives you the theory right along with the practice. With this text you get the advantages of both authoritative lectures and enjoyable classroom experience.

The text for the writing you will do as teachers is contained in the lesson discussions and appendixes. There has been a conscious attempt to give both theory and practice for this aspect of the course as well. The appendixes contain both student and professional examples, as appropriate to the kind of writing being discussed.

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An independent study course, such as this one, has the advantage of flexible spacing. You can get up, walk around, and wake up any time you need to. And the lessons can be arranged so that strands are grouped around common themes, and relationships among the strands can be emphasized by proximity.

There are eleven lessons in this course, so think of each of them as a mini-unit; taking in one aspect of the children writing/teachers writing complement. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Most lessons will include as much reading/discussion as an on-campus course would cover in about a week. Most also have an instructor-graded assignment that takes the average on-campus student approximately a week to a week and a half. The research paper, of course, is ongoing. You'll begin exploring your topic early in lesson 5 and finally complete and submit your paper at the end of lesson 11. The Self Check questions interspersed throughout the chapters give you a chance to pause, apply what you have read to your own ideas and experiences, and have a brief conversation with yourself. You will not submit answers to these questions, but devising your own answers will enhance your comprehension and application of chapter materials. Also the answers to these Self Check questions will aid you in preparing for the final exam.

Lesson 1: Twin Crafts

Introduces the writing process as adults experience it (with hints to facilitate it) and as children experience it (with hints for helping them do so).

Assignment: Reflective paragraphs looking at the writing process as you experience it and as you would teach it.

Lesson 2: Personal Voice

Looks at writing as an act of interpersonal communication. Overviews the kinds of writing teachers do that reflect personal voice and style, and concentrates on preparing a first-person piece. Walks you through a process and some options. Looks at ways of helping children find their personal writing voices, including journals and a number of varied activities.

Assignment: First person reflective article

Lesson 3: Putting First Things First

Focuses on the content/mechanics situation, including ways to keep content and mechanics in perspective—with content as most important, but mechanics as necessary packaging. Also presents some ideas for remembering common problems and for teaching some aspects of mechanics to children.

Assignment: Exercise with common punctuation errors

Lesson 4: Practical Applications

Looks at writing from the point of view of getting things done. Includes a detailed discussion of writing a job application letter and resume. Discusses ways letter writing can be used as authentic writing experience for children—again, varied activities are suggested.

Assignment: Job application letter and resume

Lesson 5: Considering Everyone

Looks at writing for varied audiences. Reviews considerations for writing instructions to be read by wide variety of audiences (such as a lesson plan to be published on the Internet). Provides instructions for UtahLINK lesson plan components. Section on children focuses on adapting writing instruction for varied audiences (since that is required on the UtahLINK lesson plan). Suggests ideas for adapting writing for students with learning disabilities. Discusses concept of Multiple Intelligences and ideas for writing activities that utilize Multiple Intelligences (including music and poetry).

Assignment: Lesson plan using the components required by UtahLINK

Lesson 6: We Are Not Alone

Focuses on reading and writing as interactive experiences and as shared experiences. Emphasizes importance of parent involvement in child’s literacy development, along with presenting instructions and ideas for writing a newsletter to parents. Section on children focuses on using reading and writing together in a literacy unit.

Assignment: Original literacy unit described in a parent newsletter

Lesson 7: Finding What We Need to Know

Focuses on finding information. Reviews use of library resources in searching for and focusing on an appropriate research topic. Includes links to Tom Wright's library resources page for education. Section on children focuses on designing research projects that initiate children gently into using research sources to learn what they need to know. Suggests specific ideas for some age-appropriate research projects for children.

Assignment: Topic focus worksheet for research paper

Lesson 8: Proposing and Persuading

Focuses on proposals and other forms of persuasive writing. Starts with helping children do critical reading and persuasive writing (again including specific activities). Shifts to proposal writing for teachers, with ideas for teachers writing grants, ways to locate information on available grants, processes for and qualities of good proposals, ending with specifics on research proposals—especially the one you will be writing.

Assignment: Research proposal

Lesson 9: Beyond Copying and Pasting

Focuses on research and writing as critical and creative processes. Introduces Bloom’s taxonomy. Starts with children going beyond Internet copying/pasting—teachers structuring projects and asking questions that require critical and creative thought. Then shifts to the critical and creative thought that adults apply to research processes: reading as an interactive, critical process; writing as a process of analyzing/synthesizing. Introduces schema theory and constructivist theory.

Assignment: Brief progress report on research paper

Lesson 10: Structures

Focuses on organizing and structuring. Suggests ways to help children learn to organize and structure (moving from graphic organizers to outlines), along with some metaphors for doing this. Reviews how adults can use the outline as a tool for developing the structure and then for checking the structure.

Assignment: Outline for research paper

Lesson 11: Crafting and Obeying

Focuses on crafting the final paper and obeying the conventions necessary for a “professional” submission. (No section on children this time.) Reviews constructing the headings and transitional paragraphs that will make the paper coherent; writing the introduction; constructing coherent research paragraphs (special challenges and some specific techniques); documenting sources (why, when, and how—APA format); and final “nitty-gritties” like abstract and content endnotes. Introduces a strategy for layered editing. For the research paper, it’s important that I see the exact APA formatting.

Assignment: 10 to 15 page research paper

Formatting the Written Assignments (Lessons 1-10)

You will submit your completed papers electronically. To make sure that I can open and read your work, please save them as RTF (rich text format) files. Here is how to do it:

  1. Type your papers in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. When you save the file, click the Save as type: drop-down list.
  3. Select RTF (*.rtf).
  4. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment lesson number for the filename. For example, “ENGL313_SharonBlack_Lesson1.rtf.”
  5. Click Save.
  6. Submit the lesson’s .RTF file through the corresponding Instructor-graded Assignment for grading.

PDF format is also acceptable. For the letter & resume and newsletter assignments, PDF format is preferred.

To submit your assignments,

  1. Go to the specific Instructor-graded Assignment Submission 
  2. Click the Upload button missing image.
  3. Type a title for your assignment (for example, ENGL313_JaneSmith_Lessons1and2Assignment).
  4. Click Select a file to upload, or drag the file onto the Submit File window.
  5. When the submission is complete, preview your file, then click Accept submission-save.

To access feedback on your assignment submissions, 

    1. Go to the specific Instructor-graded Assignment Submission
    2. Click on the assignment you submitted
    3. Look through the course for comment bubbles missing image left by the professor and click on them to see the notes left for you.
    4. To see the originality or grademark feedback for your submission click on the missing image  icon in the upper left-hand corner of the page.  
Lesson 11 Oral Presentation Assignment 

To complete your advanced writing course, you will give a three-minute presentation on your major research project. This kind of presentation was pioneered by the University of Queensland as the “three-minute thesis” (3MT). (Watch examples and winning presentations here.) A 3MT requires students to speak about their research clearly, compellingly, and concisely to a non-specialized audience. It’s a cool opportunity to express a central message and its implications.

Your final deliverables to your IS instructor are a three-minute video of yourself (standing, with the camera shot at least waist-high) and one (and only one) presentation slide. You may record your presentation on a phone, laptop, desktop computer, or digital camera. You will complete this assignment inside GoReact (instructions available in the Oral Presentation Assignment in Lesson 11).

The purpose of your presentation is to convince your audience that (1) your research project is important, (2) your reasoning (argument, evidence, etc.) is sound, and (3) you have credible expertise in the subject. Your audience is your instructor, but you should also imagine future students or academics interested in your research topic.

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As you can easily tell from the list of assignments, throughout the course you will have opportunities to demonstrate your skills as a teacher/writer. Yet much of your reading and a portion of each lesson discussion have been devoted to your knowledge of teaching writing. The final exam will be an opportunity for you to draw together what you have learned about this important aspect of the course.

You will be asked to prepare an essay in which you apply what you have learned about teaching writing by designing a writing program.

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Instructor Tips

Some students are terrified of taking an advanced writing course, but find when they get into it that (1) writing isn’t as difficult as they had thought, and (2) they have a lot more ability in writing than they had thought. Once they get past the barrier of their insecurity, they do just fine.

Some students enjoy writing and have had some degree of success with it in the past. They look forward to improving their skills, and they approach the new class with a mixture of confidence and determination. If they put in the work necessary to improve their skills, they improve their skills.

Some students find that writing fluency is not one of their natural talents, but if they apply themselves and follow instructions, they learn that the teacher is likely to step down off her ogre-block and give them some instruction and support. These students do not find the class easy, but they find that writing is a skill that can be learned.

Some students approach the class as a set of hurdles that must be passed over and through. They do the minimum necessary to get a passing grade, and they often do it right down against the deadline. What they get out of the class is a passing grade—that’s all.

Your success in English 313, as in any writing class, depends on what you are willing to put into the course. The following hints are garnered from years of experience as a teacher, a writer, an editor, and a reviewer:

  1. Be realistic in planning your time. Don’t expect to do a major project in an hour or a research paper in two or three days. Stress can accelerate short-term production, but it damages long-term skill development.
  2. Pace yourself so that your mind has an opportunity to go through the writing process on each assignment. Give yourself time to plan, draft, and revise. “Grandma’s law,” which advises you to sleep—or at least relax—on a problem, has been proven valid. Your subconscious mind will do interesting and creative things if you give it a chance.
  3. When you have questions, ask. Questioning can be harder in a distance learning situation, but it’s not impossible. Email is a great invention. If you ask questions courteously and with a genuine desire to know, you will be answered accordingly.
  4. Personalize information. Apply what you are reading to the assignments as you do them. Project ways that you will use what you are learning in the course to enrich your future teaching and writing.
  5. Constantly relate what you are learning to your prior experience. Look for similarities and differences in what you have learned in other education courses and in what you have experienced both in writing and in teaching.

Some courses are stimulating, exciting, inspirational, and life-changing. Some are torturous drudgery. Most—including ENGL 313—are somewhere in between. Welcome aboard!


Grading Criteria

The assignments will be weighted as follows:

Assignment Lesson Value
Reflective paragraphs / First-person article 1 & 2 9%
Punctuation review 3 3%
Job application letter/resume 4 8%
Lesson plan 5 8%
Newsletter 6 9%
Research topic focus 7 3%
Research proposal 8 10%
Research progress report 9 2%
Research paper outline 10 5%
Completed research paper 11 25%
Oral Presentation 11 10%
Final Exam 8%
Total 100%

Grading Scale

Grading Scale
A 100-93
A− 92-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B− 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-73
C− 72-70
D+ 69-67
D 66-63
D− 62-60
E (fail) 60 or below

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Online Library Services

This English course has a valuable online library services portal. The online portal to the BYU Harold B. Lee Library accesses specific coursework resources such as research guides, online access to full-text articles, research tips and tools, a writer’s toolbox, a link to the online catalog, Book and Articles Delivery Service, subject librarian contact information,

Ask a Librarian LIVE real-time chat service, and a feedback form.

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


11 written assignments, 2 (lesson 3 and Lesson 10) may be resubmitted once for a fee;

1 oral presentation may not resubmitted.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 instructor-graded exam that is proctored, may retake once for a fee, must pass this exam with a 60% to earn credit for the course.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514