How Writing Works begins with the Genre Toolkit, a flexible set of strategies that students can apply to any writing situation. Instead of a descriptive (“good writing looks like this”) or prescriptive (“use these generic conventions”) approach, we use a discovery approach. The toolkit helps students identify a genre’s structure, purpose, content, style, and audience.

By practicing the toolkit, students will develop useful problem-solving habits of mind for future writing situations—identifying what genre to use, how that genre works, and how to use that genre to meet their rhetorical goals.

At the core of the toolkit are three simple questions:

  • “What is it?”

  • “Who reads it?”

  • “What’s it for?”

These three questions guide students through the project chapters that follow.

“Done frequently in my classrooms but not in my texts. Bravo.”

Mathew Bartkowiak, University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County

“This is a smart feature, forcing students to use analyses for every genre instead of being told “what” something is. In their own writing, this toolkit can give them a plan before they even get started.”

Kimberly Yetter, Middle Georgia State College

“[The Genre Toolkit] demystifies writing.”

Gareth Euridge, Tallahassee Community College

“By providing the students with a “toolkit” they will be able to note that the skills are applicable to a variety of rhetorical situations.”

Phillip (Gregory) Gibson, Henderson State University

“[The Genre Toolkit] allows student to write more honestly than what students sometimes feel is expected.”

Betty Stack, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

“The “discovery approach” and the genre questions that anchor this text are very much in line with contemporary scholarship in transfer and “writing studies” (and best practices in pedagogical approaches relevant to this research). To have them so well-integrated into a writing text would make our job all that much easier.”

Jeff Pruchnic, Wayne State University

“I like the discovery approach to presenting the genres. I think its greatest strength lies in the possibility it creates for students to develop an internal locus of control as they become aware that they are responsible and able to learn on their own.”

Marilyn Yamin, Pellissippi State Community College

“The variety of methods of attack for different genres cover more than other texts I have used.”

Charles Hamilton, Northeast Texas Community College

“Rightly beginning in Chapter One, the Tool kit feature is drummed meaningfully and successfully throughout.”

Osayimwense Osa, Virginia State University