Most materials in the Writing Exercises collection have won the Knight Award for Writing Exercises, an award recognizing excellence in short exercises and/or handouts designed to improve student writing and for use in First-Year Writing Seminars. Award winners address topics from a wide range of writing issues such as development of theses, use of primary sources, organization of evidence, awareness of audience, and attention to sentence patterns. Exercises and handouts may be for in and/or out of class use. Materials include a rationale for future instructors.

Recent Submissions

  • Reverse Outlining a Published Article 

    Post, Ryan (2018)
    With the goal of improving the organization of students' writing, this exercise asks students to create a reverse outline of the introductory section of a published article. For each paragraph, students must a) give the ...
  • Sentence Structure Variation 

    Armstrong, Kacie (2018)
    This exercise was designed to help students understand the importance of sentence structure variation. A model passage was used to dissect and evaluate sentence structure variety, and then students practiced this skill in ...
  • Writing to Read 

    Gunhan, Aslihan (2019)
    This assignment is tailored to function as a "Writing to Read" exercise that was conducted in the classroom. By giving the students short prompts, I asked them to consider themselves in different positions (like a journal ...
  • Voice, Genre, Style, Diction, Tone: A Musical Guide to Writing Style 

    Tyson, Lee (2020)
    This handout explains and clarifies the distinctions among aspects of writing style (voice, genre, style, diction, and tone) through parallel concepts in music. While particularly useful in a writing course on musical ...
  • Mapping a City 

    Moynihan, Michael (2020)
    This in-class activity is designed to teach mapping as a tool to develop a research question. It also incorporates a spatial element into the brainstorming process in order to make connections between concepts and terms ...
  • Argument Construction 

    Kumar, Sneha (2019)
    This exercise helps students think through the argument construction process. It uses a series of prompts that encourage students to think about the following questions as they develop their arguments: • how does the ...
  • Sentence Variety Exercise 

    Houck, Dan (2019)
    The exercise asks students to take a blank canvas of simple sentences and add variety to make it more interesting and to emphasize whatever they think is important. It is short and easy, but produced a wide array of results ...
  • How to Craft an Academic Title? 

    Huang, Junting (2018)
    In this exercise, students learn to analyze academic titles of a research essay. It consists of three separate steps. They are designed to help them 1) identify the “academic style,” 2) understand the basic elements (the ...
  • Writing an Effective Introduction 

    Wu, Danielle (2015)
    This handout has two stages: a workshop version for class discussion and a polished version for reference. First, the students put into their own words the common opening gambit for academic writing. We then workshopped ...
  • Analyze 

    Byland, Hannah (2015)

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