The academic year is fast approaching. I’m looking forward to meeting my students and returning to the classroom. One of my goals during the first weeks of the semester is to introduce students to the handbook we’ll be using, A Writer’s Reference. I tell students on the first day of class, Everything you need to become a successful writer in any college course is in A Writer’s Reference; become friends with it. I want students to learn, right from the outset, that questions are a natural part of learning how to write; and I want to show them how their handbook is designed to answer their writing questions.
This year I’ll be introducing the handbook to students with these first-week activities—scavenger hunts, editing exercises, and open-book quizzes—to help students become successful college writers. The activities are designed to promote collaboration, too, so that students can work together as fellow writers while learning to navigate their handbook.
I think students will have fun with the scavenger hunts because they provide real writing problems—“you are writing a research paper and are uncertain how to punctuate quotations”; “you’ve received feedback that your paragraphs need clearer topic sentences”—and ask students to work with classmates to find the answers in their handbook. Once students learn to navigate the handbook, they see how quickly and efficiently they can find solutions to their writing problems.
We know that the more comfortable students become using their handbook, the more confident and successful they will become as college writers. If you’re using A Writer’s Reference, you’ll find these first-week activities a great way to help your students become confident college writers.