Welcome to Write What Matters!
Have you ever wished for a comprehensive source that would steer you in the right direction through all of your reading and writing assignments? This text aims to be that kind of guide. We included lessons, examples, exercises, and definitions for many of the reading and writing-related situations that you will encounter in your first-year writing courses as well as other subject-specific classes that require writing.
This book was created as part of the 2020-2021 OPAL Fellowship for the Idaho State Board of Education. Co-editors Joel Gladd (College of Western Idaho), Liza Long (College of Western Idaho), and Amy Minervini (Lewis-Clark State College) are professors. Reviewer Jamaica Richer (University of Idaho) is a writing center director. All are OPAL Fellows.
This text was co-written and co-edited by college writing instructors with decades of experience teaching students who are entering the college reading and writing environment for the first time. Our interactive, multimedia text draws from a rich set of existing open educational resources, which were carefully curated with you in mind. In addition to you–students in first-year writing courses–other intended users include full-time and adjunct faculty at all Idaho colleges and universities, dual-credit teachers in Idaho, instructors at other institutions whose states have similar written communication competencies, and the casual user who just wants to brush up on critical reading and writing skills.
We wanted our new text to work as a modular support for first-year writing course around the state of Idaho. Using the Idaho State Board of Education Written Communication (GEM 1) standards as our guide, we created a textbook that approaches writing and rhetoric by situation (exigency). We want our textbook to be useful to college composition instructors as a resource for a variety of writing tasks. The text is designed to allow instructors and students to choose the most useful content to support their learning. We believe this type of text fosters student-centered teaching as students learn to write what matters in a variety of academic and professional contexts.
Because we support Open Educational Resources (OER), our text represents a collaboration, reuse, and sharing of others’ Creative Commons licensed content. As much as possible, we have tried to create a text with diverse perspectives and writing styles. Including work by multiple authors can provide a starting point for conversations in writing courses about how writing “actually works in the real world” (Wardle and Downs). We have also included writing prompts and student essays and will continue to add more resources in our ongoing revisions to reinforce and demonstrate the subjects we cover in this text. We invite you to be a part of that process by providing feedback as well as using, reusing, or remixing any of the materials in this text in accordance with the terms of their Creative Commons licenses.
How You Can Use This Text
This is a use-it-as-you-need-it kind of text. In other words, you don’t have to read every word from beginning to end, nor do we expect you to! Instead, skip around using the table of contents to find answers to your questions or to find practice exercises that will improve your reading and writing skills. You might find it useful to have this text with you as you’re planning or doing reading and writing assignments because confusion will happen, questions will come up, and we’re here to help when you need it most.
Write What Matters is designed to support, not replace, the writing instructor or writing center. Our hope is that instructors will use sections of the book that support their personal approaches to classroom instruction. We aim to provide a useful resource for college instructors, support for part-time faculty and dual-credit teachers, and a guide for students who seek success in academic and professional writing.
How Our Text Is Organized
As mentioned in our philosophy statement, this text is loosely organized around the Seven General Education Skill Competency and Knowledge Objectives for the state of Idaho colleges and universities. According to the Idaho State Board of Education site, “Upon completion of the Written Communication component of General Education, a student will be able to
- Use flexible writing process strategies to generate, develop, revise, edit, and proofread texts
- Adopt strategies and genre that are appropriate to the rhetorical situation
- Use inquiry-based strategies to conduct research that explores multiple and diverse ideas and perspectives, appropriate to the rhetorical context
- Use rhetorically appropriate strategies to evaluate, represent, and respond to the ideas and research of others
- Address readers’ biases and assumptions with well-developed evidence-based reasoning
- Use appropriate conventions for integrating, citing, and documenting source material as well as for surface-level language and style.
- Read, interpret, and communicate key concepts in writing and rhetoric.
We recognize that while a few of these outcomes are self-contained, many of these competencies and objectives intersect and are addressed and integrated within various sections of our textbook.
The content of this textbook is aimed at helping students meet these learning objectives. This textbook contains 12 major sections:
- The Writing Process
- Reading and Writing Rhetorically
- Essay Types
- Writing your story
- Writing to inform
- Writing to analyze
- Writing to evaluate
- Writing to persuade
- Writing for social change
- Writing to reflect
- Writing with Sources
- Addressing Bias and Stakeholder Claims
- Writing to Inquire: The Research Process
- Writing for Employment
- MLA and APA Documentation and Formatting
- Writing Basics
- What makes a good sentence
- Word choice
- Help for English Language Learners
- Writing and Rhetoric Readings and Resources Collection
- Anti-Racist Readings and Resources
- Anti-Ableist Readings and Resources
The “Essay Types” section, which houses a number of chapters, is geared toward English 101 or similar foundational writing courses in which various modes are explored. The “Writing to Inquire” section is more appropriate for English 102 or similar inquiry or research-based writing courses. All other sections and chapters can be used for English 101 and 102 courses because these areas cover competencies that are essential to all types of academic writing. The primary content provided in each competency area has been integrated with both students’ and instructors’ cognitive load in mind. The latter part of the textbook contains supplementary readings that can be integrated as necessary to augment particular lessons or assignments. You may notice that the major part of the text you’re working within is identified at the top of the page. We hope this helps you to navigate between sections and subsections and to understand the relationships between them. When using this book in a modular fashion, instructors may link directly to the section of the book that applies to their instruction.
Gender and Gender-Neutral Language
As you read, you may notice that we use a variety of pronouns such as she/her, he/him, or they/them to refer to a person we’re discussing. Our goal is to represent all people, regardless of gender, and to do so in a balanced way. Therefore, in some paragraphs, we may designate “she” as the pronoun, while in others “he” will stand in for the person being written about. However, you’ll also come across “they” being used as a singular pronoun, which may be confusing at first. The pronoun “they” allows a single person to represent any gender, including those genders that aren’t accurately represented by “he” and “she.” It’s important to consider gender-neutral language in your own writing, so we wanted to make sure we modeled what that looks like in this text.
Culturally Relevant and Affirming
The rhetoric, lessons, examples, assignments, and readings include a range of perspectives and cultures in an effort to be inclusive. That said, if you come across a word, phrase, or sentiment that does otherwise, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can make changes in our textbook. The Anti-Racist, Anti-Ableist, and LGBTQI+ readings and resources chapters provide content that will encourage critical thinking about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. All four public colleges in Idaho identify inclusion, diversity, and equity as valued principles to uphold: Lewis-Clark State College, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, and Boise State University. Future iterations of this text will include Latinx resources.
Our textbook has been written with accessibility in mind. Instructors can upload the whole text to online learning systems, such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Google Classroom. However, we know that consistent WiFi is a problem in rural areas of our state, so the book can be downloaded in multiple formats including PDF and EPUB or MOBI files. It can also be accessed through text-to-speech readers provided through your learning institutions or other common text to speech tools, such as Read Aloud and Dragon. All videos have subtitles/closed captioning.
A Note about Citations
This text includes a combination of chapters using MLA and APA, maintaining a single format consistency within that particular chapter. Using MLA and APA mimics real-world writing in which both formats are used extensively. While you would never want to combine formats within one paper (stay consistent with just one format on a single paper), students should have knowledge of both formats that will be used throughout their college career.
A Note about Source Attribution
In addition to new content, this book draws on a variety of existing OER resources. Within each chapter there are sections written by Joel Gladd, Amy Minervini, and Liza Long, and authorial attributions are given. This book also contains other resources integrated under Creative Commons licenses. These open education resources (OER) include complete and remixed chapters and are enhanced with digital reading experience by including videos and visual reading features. Shared and remixed materials are denoted with attribution information when necessary in the shaded box at the bottom of those pages. This book was peer reviewed by Jamaica Richter. If you are interested in reviewing and/or contributing to this book, please reach out to us by using the feedback form at the end of the book.
Links and References in Online and Print Versions of This Text
The online text includes links, but we’ve used specific language to allow readers of the print version to find the same pages within the text or outside resources. For example, in the “Summarizing a Text” section, we mention an external text in this sentence: “In his essay, “Consider the Lobster,” writer David Foster Wallace asks readers to consider the ethical implications of feasting on lobsters. (You can find a copy of this essay online at Gourmet.com.)” If you’re using the print version of this text, you can find that David Foster Wallace essay by doing a web search using the title, author, and website like this: “consider the lobster david foster wallace gourmet.com.” If you’re looking for a page within this text that we’ve linked to, go to the Table of Contents, and look for the title of the relevant section there.
Note to teachers: Make sure you let students using the print version know this so they can access web resources.
We would like to acknowledge the traditional and ancestral lands of the Shoshone-Bannock, the Shoshone-Paiute, the Coeur d’Alene, the Kootenai, and the Nez Perce tribes on which we are teaching, learning and working today. The struggle for Indigenous rights is deeply connected to human rights. It is important that the stories and traditions from tribal nations are heard, celebrated, and protected.
Co-editors: Joel Gladd, Liza Long, andAmy Minervini
Reviewers: Jamaica Ritcher and Ryan Witt
We would like to thank the following people/entities:
Jonathan Lashley, Associate Chief Academic Officer, Idaho State Board of Education
Open Pedagogy + Advocacy + Leadership in Idaho Fellowship
Apurva Ashok, Program Manager, Rebus Foundation
Lewis-Clark State College Humanities Department and administration
College of Western Idaho English Department and administration
University of Idaho Writing Center and administration
About the Authors
I’m thrilled to be working for Lewis-Clark State College as an instructor in the Humanities Division. My passion is teaching rhetoric and composition courses (English 101 & English 102) and helping students to become stronger writers and critical thinkers. I also teach a content methods, intro to literature, and journalism course and am a strong advocate for our awesome student newspaper, The Pathfinder. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1997 and my Master of Arts in English Literature in 1999, both from University of Idaho. I also have minors in Spanish and journalism.
As a strong believer in lifelong learning, I more recently earned my post-baccalaureate degree from Lewis-Clark State College in secondary education with an English/Language Arts emphasis. My broadened knowledge base in pedagogy as well as the middle and high school student populations have helped me to better understand the strengths and challenges of incoming freshman at LCSC. A longtime resident of the Valley, I love spending time with my two kids and parents and exploring our beautiful corner of the world. I enjoy archery, golfing, tinkering with new technology, thrift shopping, and of course, surfing Netflix. There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. –John F. Kennedy
I am an author, educator, and mother of four children, one of whom has bipolar disorder. My book, The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness (Hudson Street Press, 2014), was a “Books for a Better Life” award winner. My essays have appeared in USA Today, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Time.com, The Mighty, MindBodyGreen, Good Men Project, and Boise State University’s The Blue Review, among others. Since my essay “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” went viral, I have appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Erin Burnett Out Front, Anderson Cooper 360, Don Lemon, Dr. Oz, the Diane Rehm Show, NPR’s Weekend Edition, and other programs. I presented talks on children’s mental health and stigma at TEDx San Antonio in October 2013 and at the National Council for Behavioral Health in March 2016. I was featured in the Peabody award-winning HBO documentary A Dangerous Son in May 2018 and participated in the 2019 Columbine documentary, An American Tragedy.
I hold a B.A. in Classics from Brigham Young University (1994); an M.A. in Classics from the University of California, Los Angeles (1997), and an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University (2016). My dissertation research focused on mental health advocacy and leadership strengths. I am an assistant professor of English at the College of Western Idaho and live in Eagle, Idaho. I am passionate about inclusivity and diversity and believe that education has the power to change lives for the better.
My B.A. is in English and Philosophy, from Wake Forest University (2004). I earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Literary Studies (2013). In 2013, I began teaching at the College of Western Idaho, where I currently specialize in teaching Writing and Rhetoric and American Literature. My content expertise is in American literature, but I’m equally passionate about open access, open education, and inclusive teaching pedagogy. I consider digital tools such as the Pressbooks platform, Hypothesis, and H5P to be important components of inclusive pedagogy, rather than merely “ed-tech” add-ons. I see this open textbook, Write What Matters, as a living platform for engagement—for students, certainly, but also other teachers and professors.
Creative Commons Licensing
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons as CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.
We wish you well on your academic journey, and we hope this first-year writing OER textbook supports you throughout your first college writing courses and beyond.
Sources for this page: The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
English Composition by Contributing Authors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License