Edward Johnson

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Karen Pelz, John Hagaman, Charmaine Mosby


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Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Take a tour of the freshman composition world in this memoir about teaching. I chronicle two classes of English 100 at Western Kentucky University, from the first day’s “find the freshman” exercise to a five-part take-home final examination. In between is a look at what actually transpires in a college classroom, which techniques are effective (and which are not) in motivating the freshman writer to improve written and oral rhetorical skills, and a day-to-day exploration of writing as a craft.

I wrote the memoir to educate and entertain the reader, for the key to good writing is putting into words something someone will want to read, not necessarily something scholarly that is bland – that no one will read. Scholarly writing is not necessarily boring, and the memoir addresses the steps necessary to improve college freshmen’s ability to express themselves for both the “real” and “academic” world.

The underlying purpose is to give others a genuine and practical guide to teaching young writers. I espouse these writers’ points of view, as well as mine. Examples of the students’ work are presented, with examples of the grading system that rewards effort and treats creativity and grammar as equal – not separate – entities. In this memoir, I discuss how to deal with classroom time management, attendance problems, workshopping (both large and small group), assignments, the research paper, the book review, poetry, persuasion, brainstorming, freewriting, punctuation, conferencing, midterm examinations, quizzes, evaluation and a plethora of other elements indigenous to the classroom.

There are many books of theory concerning how to teach writing. The ironic aspect of these books is that they are written in a dull fashion. Using the format of memoir, I have written this to include a number of theories on how to teach, but I have written to entertain the reader as the reader learns these theories.

The memoir is not intended to be a bible for teaching writing. What works for one teacher does not necessarily work for another. Each reader will take something that he or she deems appropriate to the individual teaching style. Each reader will enjoy this often humorous peek into the college classroom. Each reader will be a better writing coach for having perused these pages.


Arts and Humanities | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | English Language and Literature | Higher Education | Higher Education and Teaching | Language and Literacy Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development