[eDebate] Looking for information about writing in college

Peters Tammie L. tpeters
Fri Dec 5 13:33:55 CST 2008

This group has been kind enough to help me in the past.  I was hoping I could impose on you yet again.  
I am a high school English teacher -- and I'm very confused.  For the past 20+ years (since I was in high school), English classes focused on the teaching of literature and the writing about literature, as well as the writing of researched essays.  However, that paradigm seems to be changing.  We're being told that our job now is to teach kids how to read and comprehend a wide variety of sources:  newspapers, technical reports, essays, various types of literature, etc.  
In addition to the change in reading focus, we've also been asked to change our focus in teaching writing.  Instead of teaching students specific formats for writing (such as the ubiquitous 5-paragraph essay and the cited researched essay), we should be teaching students a general "love" of writing by letting them explore lots of different types of writing for many different audiences.  
Here is where my confusion sets in.  85% of our students at my school plan to attend college, either 2-year or 4-year.  Thus, we have an obligation to prepare our students for college level writing.  However, I feel we are getting mixed messages about what writing is required in college.  Is having students (especially h.s. juniors and seniors) write personal narratives, personal opinion pieces, newspaper-type articles, and the like useful to prepare students for college writing expectations?
Perhaps a broader question would be what do you think college freshmen should know about writing?  Are there particular types of writing high school juniors and seniors should focus on?  And what do you think some of the glaring weaknesses are of college freshmen writing?  Don't forget:  we are talking about students who will end up majoring in the entire spectrum of disciplines.  Here's your chance to tell a high school teacher what she "should" be doing! :-)
Thank you for your input,
Tammie Peters
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