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What does teaching writing as a process really mean?
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Paper presented at the English in Southeast Asia Conference (2008), National Institute of Education, Singapore, 4 - 6 December 2008
For most teachers, teaching writing as a process consists of having students write a draft and requiring them to re-write it after peer editing. This write-rewrite process may benefit students who are already familiar with the rhetorical structure and linguistic characteristics of the expected text. But for students who are not, more systematic teaching of specific composing skills seems to be needed. This paper argues for a process approach that integrates the explicit teaching of specific cognitive processes involved in writing with a deliberate consciousness-raising of the social-cultural dimension of writing. Such a social-cognitive approach would first demonstrate, and then provide practice in, the decision-making operations in writing with reference to the social goals of writer and target reader. The underlying theoretical framework draws on cognitive models of writing as well as genre theory, particularly the notion of texts as situated in a discourse community’s social practices. Some classroom research will be reviewed for evidence of the potential benefit of integrating the teaching of cognitive writing processes with the teaching of genre practices as socially situated discourse behaviours. The paper’s penultimate section offers three principles for guiding the planning of lessons to teach the thinking and social interaction processes in writing.
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