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Assignment design can be rough. It's one of those talents teachers of writing develop over time with coffee, a sense of humor, and reflection. Too few of us get the mentoring we need to build successful writing assignments--the kind that are scaffolded enough to provide authentic learning moments and to produce writing aligned with course goals, but also the kind that engage and inspire writers.


I admire the tenacity of Bri Lafond, who teaches at Riverside City College and CSU San Bernardino. In her 2017 CCCC presentation "Thinking Outside the 'Box Logic': Curating Context in the FYC Classroom," she described multiple attempts at a single assignment and semester after semester of reflecting and tweaking. Courageous work. She asks her students to pick a year in history, locate primary sources (a song, a news story, a work of art), juxtapose the sources, and produce a multimodal composition in which they analyze patterns and make an argument. She admits it hasn't gone well. She's changed up the requirements now four times to account for students' lack of knowledge of 20th century history, struggles with information literacy, and lack of experience with analytical writing.


What I loved about Lafond's presentation is that she didn't end with a "Ta-da!" moment. She didn't present a perfect assignment for the taking. She presented a process-- a messy, head-scratching, sometimes-head-banging process. She presented a case study in reflection. And she presented, I think, an argument for more attention to assignment design and development in teacher training and mentoring programs.

The third batch of Exercise Central quizzes is now available in Composition digital products. This batch of 26 new quizzes once again expands on our existing coverage with 258 new questions on important topics in grammar, mechanics, and working with sources.


The new Exercise Central quizzes are available now in the following products:

  • Writer’s Help 2.0, Hacker Version
  • Writer’s Help 2.0, Lunsford Version
  • LaunchPad Solo for Hacker Handbooks
  • LaunchPad Solo for Lunsford Handbooks
  • LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers
  • LaunchPad for Axelrod/Cooper, The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, 11th edition
  • LaunchPad for Lunsford/Ruszkiewicz/Walters, Everything’s an Argument, 7th edition


All the quiz questions are in the new Question Picker, where you can find and assign pre-built quizzes by filtering for Exercise Central Quiz, Topic, or Subtopic. You can even mix-and-match questions and build your own custom quizzes to meet your students' needs.


If you're new to Exercise Central -- or if this is your first time using Exercise Central in LaunchPad or Writer's Help -- CLICK HERE to read Adam Whitehurst's detailed walkthrough on how to use and assign Exercise Central quizzes in your course.


If you're already using Exercise Central in any of the products listed above, you do NOT need to do anything in order to access and assign the new quiz questions. They have been automatically added to your course and are now fully assignable and customizable.


Here is the full list of quizzes now available in Exercise Central.


Exercise Central Batch 1

 Exercise Central Batch 2

Avoiding Comma Splices 1 (Easy)

 Avoiding Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers 1 (Easy)

Avoiding Comma Splices 2 (Easy)

 Avoiding Wordy Language 1 (Easy)

Avoiding Comma Splices 3 (Moderate)

 Choosing Effective Topic Sentences 1 (Moderate)

Avoiding Run-On Sentences 1 (Easy)

 Choosing Effective Topic Sentences 2 (Moderate)

Avoiding Sentence Fragments 1 (Moderate)

 Choosing Topics for Writing Assignments 1 (Moderate)

Avoiding Sexist Language 1 (Easy)

 Formatting Titles 1 (Easy)

Choosing the Right Words 1 (Easy)

 Identifying Conjunctions 1 (Easy)

Choosing the Right Words 2 (Easy)

 Identifying Linking Verbs 1 (Easy)

Citing Sources Using APA Style 1 (Moderate)

 Identifying Linking Verbs 2 (Easy)

Citing Sources Using MLA Style 1 (Moderate)

 Identifying Patterns of Organization 1 (Moderate)

Citing Sources Using MLA Style 2 (Moderate)

 Identifying Prepositions 3 (Moderate)

Coordinating Ideas with Semicolons 1 (Easy)

 Identifying Primary Support and Supporting Details 1 (Moderate)

Correcting Errors in Parallelism 1 (Easy)

 Identifying Subjects and Objects of Prepositions 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Parallelism 2 (Easy)

 Identifying Topic Sentences 1 (Moderate)

Correcting Errors in Parallelism 3 (Moderate)

 Identifying Types of Conjunctions 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Parallelism 4 (Moderate)

 Identifying Types of Nouns 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference 1 (Easy)

 Identifying Types of Nouns 2 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference 2 (Easy)

 Identifying Types of Verbs 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference 3 (Moderate)

 Identifying Types of Verbs 2 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement 1 (Easy)

 Making Verbs Agree with Indefinite Pronouns 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement 2 (Easy)

 MLW Correcting Common Errors 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement 3 (Moderate)

 MLW Using Count and Noncount Nouns 1 (Easy)

Correcting Errors with Plural Nouns 1 (Easy)

 MLW Using Prepositions 1 (Easy)

Correcting Run-On Sentences 1 (Easy)

 Punctuating Direct Quotations 1 (Easy)

Correcting Run-On Sentences 2 (Easy)

 Supporting Thesis Statements 1 (Easy)

Correcting Run-On Sentences 3 (Moderate)

 Understanding Audience 1 (Easy)

Correcting Sentence Fragments 1 (Easy)

 Understanding Main Ideas 1 (Easy)

Correcting Sentence Fragments 2 (Easy)

 Understanding Pronoun Case 1 (Easy)

Correcting Sentence Fragments 3 (Moderate)

 Understanding Purpose 1 (Easy)

Correcting Sentence Fragments 4 (Moderate)

 Understanding Purpose 2 (Easy)

Correcting Shifts in Verb Tense 1 (Easy)

 Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement with Compound Subjects  1 (Easy)

Correcting Shifts in Verb Tense 2 (Easy)

 Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement with Compound Subjects  2 (Easy)

Correcting Shifts in Verb Tense 3 (Moderate)

 Using Colons and Semicolons 1 (Easy)

Correcting Shifts in Verb Tense 4 (Moderate)

 Using Colons and Semicolons 2 (Moderate)

Identifying Adjectives and Adverbs 1 (Easy)

 Using Comparatives and Superlatives 1 (Easy)

Identifying Adjectives and Adverbs 2 (Easy)

 Using Comparatives and Superlatives 2 (Easy)

Identifying Comma Splices 1 (Easy)

 Using Prefixes and Suffixes 1 (Easy)

Identifying Comma Splices 2 (Easy)

 Using Prefixes and Suffixes 2 (Easy)

Identifying Comma Splices 3 (Easy)

 Using Prepositions 1 (Easy)

Identifying Comma Splices 4 (Moderate)

 Using Prepositions 2 (Easy)

Identifying Comma Splices 5 (Moderate)

Exercise Central Batch 3 - NEW

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 1 (Easy)

Changing from Passive to Active Voice 1 (Moderate)

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 2 (Easy)

Checking Agreement When the Verb Comes Before the Subject 1 (Moderate)

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 3 (Moderate)

Choosing Effective Research Strategies 1 (Moderate)

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 4 (Moderate)

Evaluating Sources Using APA Style 1 (Moderate)

Identifying Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement 1 (Easy)

Evaluating Sources Using MLA Style 1 (Moderate)

Identifying Errors in Subject-Verb Agreement 2 (Easy)

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 5 (Moderate)

Identifying Prepositions 1 (Easy)

Identifying Errors in Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 6 (Moderate)

Identifying Prepositions 2 (Moderate)

MLW Using Articles 1 (Easy)

Identifying Pronouns 1 (Easy)

MLW Using Articles 2 (Easy)

Identifying Pronouns 2 (Moderate)

Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement in There Is, Was, Were Sentences 1 (Easy)

Identifying Run-On Sentences 1 (Moderate)

Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement in There Is, Was, Were Sentences 2 (Easy)

Identifying Sentence Fragments 1 (Easy)

Using Apostrophes to Show Possession 1 (Easy)

Identifying Subjects 1 (Easy)

Using Apostrophes to Show Possession 2 (Easy)

Identifying Subjects 2 (Moderate)

Using Apostrophes to Show Possession 3 (Moderate)

Identifying Verb Tense 1 (Easy)

Using Apostrophes to Show Possession 4 (Moderate)

Identifying Verb Tense 2 (Easy)

Using Appropriate Language 1 (Easy)

Identifying Verb Tense 3 (Moderate)

Using Articles 1 (Easy)

Integrating Sources 1 (Moderate)

Using Articles 2 (Easy)

Integrating Sources 2 (Moderate)

Using Comparatives and Superlatives 3 (Moderate)

MLW Correcting Errors in Verb Phrases with Auxiliary Verbs 1 (Easy)

Using Comparatives and Superlatives 4 (Moderate)

MLW Correcting Errors in Verb Phrases with Auxiliary Verbs 2 (Easy)

Using Definite and Indefinite Articles 1 (Easy)

MLW Identifying Missing, Incorrect, or Extra Words 1 (Easy)

Using Definite and Indefinite Articles 2 (Easy)

MLW Using Irregular Verb Forms 1 (Easy)

Using Prepositions after Adjectives and Verbs 1 (Easy)

MLW Using Irregular Verb Forms 2 (Easy)

Using Prepositions after Adjectives and Verbs 2 (Easy)

Spelling the Right Words Correctly 1 (Easy)

Using Subordination to Join Two Sentences 1 (Moderate)

Spelling the Right Words Correctly 2 (Easy)

Using Subordination to Join Two Sentences 2 (Moderate)

Spelling the Right Words Correctly 3 (Moderate)


Using Active or Passive Voice 1 (Easy)


Using Active or Passive Voice 2 (Moderate)


Using Apostrophes 1 (Easy)


Using Apostrophes 2 (Easy)


Using Apostrophes 3 (Moderate)


Using Apostrophes 4 (Moderate)


Using Capitalization 1 (Easy)


Using Capitalization 2 (Easy)


Using Capitalization 3 (Moderate)


Using Commas 1 (Easy)


Using Commas 2 (Easy)


Using Commas 3 (Moderate)


Using Coordinating Conjunctions 1 (Easy)


Using Formal Language 1 (Easy)


Using Formal Language 2 (Easy)


Using Hyphens 1 (Easy)


Using Hyphens 2 (Moderate)


Using Italics in Titles 1 (Easy)


Using Subordinating Conjunctions 1 (Easy)


Using the Correct Forms of Be, Have, Do 1 (Easy)


Using the Correct Forms of Be, Have, Do 2 (Moderate)


Using Verb Forms 1 (Easy)


Using Verb Forms 2 (Moderate)


Using Verb Forms 3 (Moderate)


Using Verb Tenses 1 (Easy)


Using Verb Tenses 2 (Easy)


Using Verb Tenses 3 (Moderate)


Our Bedford/St.Martin's composition team has been eagerly awaiting the release of data from the first-ever National Census of Writing.  This ambitious effort surveyed writing centers and writing programs at two and four-year colleges and universities across the country in order to provide open-access information about the way writing is taught.  While the Inside Higher Ed article discusses some of the findings, there's a lot of interesting and surprising data to be gleaned from reading the results (surprising to me, at least).  Here are a couple of data points that stood out to me:

  • 9% of four-year institutions who responded report an independent department is the home of their  first-year writing program, while a further 13% report that the writing program is independent.  Although most two-year institutions report that the writing program is still housed in the English department (96%), the numbers are striking and confirm the growth of independent writing programs that I've been hearing about.
  • I found it shocking (and depressing) that 306 respondents from four -year institutions reported receiving no additional compensation or release time for "directing a site of writing."  435 reported that they do receive compensation or release time.  The numbers are even worse among reporting two-year institutions: 111 reported no additional compensation or release time, while 75 reported receiving such benefits.  Only 8 of those 75 individuals received both.


I've barely started sifting through the data, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with it.  I"m also looking forward to the follow-up studies this baseline data will surely inspire.  Kudos to the writing studies community and the lead researchers for taking on this important work!



Amy Braziller



Elizabeth Kleinfeld






Amy Braziller (Red Rocks Community College) and Liz Kleinfeld (Metropolitan State University of Denver) are the authors of The Bedford Book of Genres. In this webinar, Amy and Liz will debunk the assumptions surrounding teaching with genres and share examples of writing from their own students. Learn more about how teaching with multigenre and multimodalties increases student engagement, helps students compose in real life/rhetorical situations, gives students flexibility in their writing choices, and encourages students to complete more in-depth research. Learn how Amy and Liz’s own interests in rhetorical theory, 21st century literacies, and teaching genres helped shape The Bedford Book of Genres. Receive teaching tips on how to incorporate the strategies suggested in the text into your classroom.




Amy Braziller is an English faculty member and former department chair at Red Rocks Community College. She received her B.A. from Empire State College and her M.A. from New York University. Amy has presented on teaching writing and new media at numerous national and regional conferences. Her research focuses on the intersections between classroom and personal writing. Amy, who is at work on a series of personal essays related to her punk rock days in NYC, blogs about food, film, music, GLBT issues, and social media distractions at  She is co-author (with Elizabeth Kleinfeld) of The Bedford Book of Genres.


Elizabeth Kleinfeld is the Writing Center Director and an Associate Professor of English at Metropolitan State College of Denver. She received her B.S. from Bradley University, and her M.S. in English and Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric from Illinois State University. Liz is a contributing researcher on The Citation Project and has published essays on new media, writing centers, and student source use in various journals and collections, including Computers & Composition Online. She is co-PI on a grant to develop a program on academic literacy for at-risk students, particularly migrants. Her current research focuses on how writing centers can intervene in students’ research processes. Liz is co-author (with Amy Braziller) of The Bedford Book of Genres.



Kristin Arola



Jennifer Sheppard



Cheryl E. Ball




Teachers of writing are conscientious evaluators of their students' written work, and the strategies for creating those grades vary widely, from providing formative or summative feedback and using heuristics or rubrics, among other methods. These assessment strategies can happen in many media, such as handwritten comments, typed summative and in-line comments, oral feedback (including audio recordings), and even screencast talk-throughs of student papers. But we are often asked, how does grading change when teachers are evaluating more than just the written content? With the spreading use of multimodal assignments in writing classes, this webinar will offer participants multiple perspectives and strategies for responding to multimodal student work, based in current writing studies research and combined-decades of experience teaching multimodal texts.




Kristin L. Arola is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology at Washington State University, where she directs the Digital Technology and Culture program. Her work brings together composition theory, digital rhetoric, and American Indian rhetorics so as to understand digital composing practices within larger social and cultural contexts. Her most recent book, Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment) [with Anne Frances Wysocki, Utah State UP, 2012] is an edited collection that explores how the media we produce and consume embody us in a two-way process. She is also the co-editor of the third edition of CrossTalk in Comp Theory: A Reader [with Victor Villanueva, NCTE, 2011]. Her work has appeared in Computers and Composition, Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion, and the Journal of Literacy and Technology. She resides in Pullman, WA, with her amazing husband and charming dog.


Jennifer Sheppard is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Communication at New Mexico State University, where she directs the Design Center, a space supporting students’ hands-on development of communication projects for clients. She regularly teaches courses in document design, multimedia theory and production, technical and professional communication, and online pedagogy. Her research interests include new media, information design, professional communication and pedagogy for face-to-face and online instruction. She has published on these issues in Computers and Composition, the Journal of Literacy and Technology, and several edited collections, including Designing Texts: Teaching Visual Communication and RAW: Reading and Writing New Media. She lives in Las Cruces, NM with her partner and their very busy toddler, Eli.


Cheryl E Ball is an Associate Professor of Digital Publishing Studies in the English Department at West Virginia University. Her areas of specialization include multimodal composition and editing practices, digital media scholarship, and digital publishing. Since 2006, Ball has been editor of the online, peer-reviewed, open-access journal Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, which exclusively publishes digital media scholarship and is read in 180 countries. She has published articles in a range of rhetoric/composition, technical communication, and media studies journals including Computers and Composition, C&C Online, Fibreculture, Convergence, Programmatic Perspectives, and Technical Communication Quarterly. Her recent books include a scholarly multimedia collection The New Work of Composing (co-edited with Debra Journet and Ryan Trauman, C&C Digital Press) and the print-based RAW: Reading and Writing New Media (co-edited with Jim Kalmbach, Hampton Press).


Lonni Pearce



How do you help students to help themselves develop as writers? Consider the ways that today's students search for and access information--online, through dynamic searches. Writer's Help meets students where they are by offering accurate and useful information through dynamic search capabilities, as well as through model papers and writing exercises. But how can teachers best introduce students to Writer's Help and use it as a helpful pedagogical strategy for teaching writing?


In this webinar, we'll explore four methods for effectively integrating Writer's Help into a first-year writing class. We'll look at ways to encourage students to seek out information that they need independently, as well as activities for in-class workshops. For new Writer's Help users, the webinar will offer ideas for choosing one of the four methods to try and then will suggest some paths for integrating Writer's Help more fully. Our goal will be to consider which methods might work best in different classroom contexts.



Johndan Johnson-Eilola




Although most of us have moved beyond simply teaching to the five-paragraph essay into richer, more diverse types of texts, we often still focus on relatively limited texts that focus on the academic classroom rather than the broader world in which students live. In this webinar, we’ll discus how teaching writing using scenarios or cases. Scenarios—composition’s version of a mathematical story problem—provide students with realistic rhetorical situations that provide a richer set of possibilities than traditional, academic assignments but still bounded enough to focus on specific pedagogical goals.



Susan Miller-Cochran





Susan Miller-Cochran, now Director of the Writing Program at the University of Arizona, helped shape the First-Year Writing Program at North Carolina State University while she served as Director from 2007-2015.  Her research focuses on instructional technology, ESL writing, and writing program administration. Her work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Composition Studies, Computers and Composition, and Teaching English in the Two-Year College, and she is also an editor of Rhetorically Rethinking Usability (Hampton Press, 2009) and Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition (NCTE, 2002). Before joining the faculty at NC State, she was a faculty member at Mesa Community College (AZ). She has served on the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the Executive Board of the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators. She currently serves as Vice President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators.


John R.jpg

John J. Ruszkiewicz




What makes teaching writing through genres so appealing is that it encourages students to work the way productive writers do. Because students encounter genres everywhere—in music, movies, games, reading—they quickly grasp the concept and see how it applies to the kinds of writing they produce. Taught right, genres offer writers the formulas they crave (at least initially) and the freedom they need to adapt to constantly changing rhetorical situations, audiences, and media. So the strategies students take away from a genre approach apply well beyond the composition classroom.




John J. Ruszkiewicz is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin where he has taught literature, rhetoric, and writing for more than thirty-five years. A winner of the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award, he was instrumental in creating the Department of Rhetoric and Writing in 1993 and directed the unit from 2001-05. He has also served as president of the Conference of College Teachers of English (CCTE) of Texas, which gave him its Frances Hernández Teacher—Scholar Award in 2012. For Bedford/St. Martin's, he is coauthor, with Andrea Lunsford, of Everything’s An Argument; coauthor, with Jay T. Dolmage, of How to Write Anything with Readings; and the author of How To Write Anything and A Reader's Guide to College Writing.



Nancy Sommers






For students to succeed as academic writers, they must become comfortable with arguing positions and anticipating counterarguments. Academic writing asks students to enter debates, respond to the words and ideas of other writers, and construct arguments supported with evidence. If students are reluctant to take a stance on an issue, confuse opinions with positions, believe that introducing counterarguments will weaken their claims, or come from culture that value different modes of argumentation, they will have difficulty grasping the expectations of academic argument. Nothing is more vital for students’ success as academic writers than becoming comfortable analyzing and constructing arguments. In this Webinar we will explore specific ideas for teaching argument and offer practical classroom activities for helping students succeed as academic writers.




Nancy Sommers, who has taught composition and directed composition programs for thirty years, now teaches writing and mentors new writing teachers at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  She led Harvard’s Expository Writing Program for twenty years, directing the first-year writing program and establishing Harvard’s WAC program. A two-time Braddock Award winner, Sommers is well known for her research and publications on student writing. Her articles "Revision Strategies of Student and Experienced Writers" and "Responding to Student Writing" are two of the most widely read and anthologized articles in the field of composition.  Her recent work involves a longitudinal study of college writing to understand the role writing plays in undergraduate education. Sommers is the lead author on Hacker handbooks, all published by Bedford/St. Martin’s, and is coauthor of Fields of Reading, Tenth Edition (2013).

BBR.jpgThe English department at Bedford/St. Martin's is searching for something new.


We're coming out with a new edition of The Bedford Reader and we want the very best examples of writing your students have to offer! If we accept a piece for publication, you and your student will receive $100 each.


We hope to celebrate academic success and provide future learners with attainable models. We're very interested in researched student essays and essays written in response to one of the readings in the book.


To submit work or to learn more, shoot us an email at


Long one of the most popular composition readers on the market, The Bedford Reader provides compelling readings by excellent writers. It takes a practical and flexible approach to the rhetorical methods, focusing on their uses in varied writing situations. The popular "Writers on Writing" feature illustrates the many ways writers create meaning from what they read and experience, and the Kennedys' instruction helps students connect critical reading to academic writing.


Free exam copies are available on request.


(Cross-post from Gillian Daniels' blog.)