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Cover of The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers v1.0
February 2011
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The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers

Version 1.0
By Miles McCrimmon

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Are you teaching freshman level students? Is this one of the first college level courses your students have ever taken? Probably. That is why this English Handbook is different (and we think better). Miles McCrimmon’s, The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers is based on the understanding that writing is at the center of the college experience, not just something students do on their way to ”higher-level“ coursework.

The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers supports the goal of acculturating entering students to the demands of college-level thinking and writing, whether that goal is being met through coursework in Composition, Student Development, or some combination of the two. Miles shows students how to use writing as a portal for thinking and learning and for communicating with the world. Its writing prompts and exercises encourage students to do a great deal of low-stakes, exploratory writing, but also to experience gradually the rhetorical considerations of going public in a variety of genres and media. Through it all, students are asked to reflect on their writing, exploring precisely how it functions depending on the rhetorical considerations of their voice, audience and purpose.

The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers is both a guide to college-level writing and thinking and a comprehensive college-level writing handbook. In Part 1, students will identify and develop habits of mind they can use for success in college and life, and in Parts 2-4 and the Appendices, they will find the tools they need to become better and more polished writers. Dig in deeper to the organization to see what we mean: The driving energy of Part 1 ("Composing Habits of Mind") is the reciprocal relationship between thinking and writing. Students will use low-stakes, personal writing to identify, develop, and activate the habits of mind they need for college-level thinking, then learn how to apply those habits to their high-stakes, public writing.

The first three chapters each focus on a different cluster of four related "habits of mind", while Chapter 4 focuses on the rhetorical demands of demonstrating those habits in the presence of others.

Chapter 1 ("Writing to Think and Writing to Learn") activates the following habits of mind: examining the status quo; posing productive questions; slowing down your thinking; and withholding judgment.Students are exposed to a variety of ways to use low-stakes writing as a gateway to deeper thinking, not so much as a stepping stone toward producing more audience-centered texts, but more as a preliminary, meditative strategy to generate further questions. Habits of mind activated:

Chapter 2 ("Becoming a Reflective Practitioner") activates the following habits of mind: developing a ”meta“ sense; attending to your own role in observation; reading texts carefully and critically; and nurturing curiosity, wonder, and humor. Students cultivate the ”meta“ sense as a crucial habit they must acquire and develop in order to succeed as college-level writers, readers, and thinkers. They are also exposed to a variety of methods they can use to reflect productively about themselves, as well as about the texts they encounter and produce.

Chapter 3 ("Thinking through the Disciplines") activates the following habits of mind: seeing and making connections; sustaining two ideas simultaneously; articulating multiple sides of an issue; and finding your place and purpose in the world. Students come to understand that the disciplines they encounter in college, just as the occupations they will someday assume, are socially constructed and negotiated. These disciplines have developed distinct conventions for writing, speaking, and making meaning that are under constant interrogation and revision.

Chapter 4 ("Joining the Conversation") introduces students to what’s involved when low-stakes writing of the type produced in the first three chapters goes public and finds a medium and genre. Systematically, students will explore the rhetorical stakes of writing for an instructor, small peer groups, larger units like an entire class, and still broader audiences outside the confines of the academic setting. The rest of Miles’ handbook has the look and feel of a comprehensive handbook, but with a few crucial differences.

Parts 2-4 and Appendix A and B are consistently infused with the principles and habits of mind introduced in Part 1, with exercises designed to reinforce becoming a reflective practitioner, writing to think and learn, thinking through the disciplines, and joining the conversation.

The handbook portion also maintains the personable voice of a writing guide established in Part 1, rather than taking on the dry, pedantic tone of a manual. Textboxes, graphics, web links to text, audio and video files, and samples of student work further enliven the handbook portion. Frequent cross-indexing and internal linking between Part 1 and the rest of the book strengthens The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers dual function as a both a writing guide and a comprehensive handbook. We’ve rambled on enough about this handbook, it’s time for you to take a look.

Check out the table of contents in the tab above, or request a desk copy and peruse The Flat World Knowledge Handbook for Writers at your leisure.
Instructor’s Manual

Instructor’s Manual

The Instructor’s Manual guides you through the main concepts of each chapter and important elements such as learning objectives, key terms, and key takeaways. Can include answers to chapter exercises, group activity suggestions, and discussion questions.

Instructor’s Manual

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

A PowerPoint presentation highlighting key learning objectives and the main concepts for each chapter are available for you to use in your classroom. You can either cut and paste sections or use the presentation as a whole.

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

Test Item File

Test Item File

Need assistance in supplementing your quizzes and tests? Our test-item files (in Word format) contain many multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short-answer questions.

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Miles McCrimmon J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Miles has been teaching English Composition and American Literature for nearly twenty years, since earning his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1992, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. Having helped more than 3,000 students at Reynolds make the transition into college-level thinking and writing, like most any teaching veteran, he developed a few ideas that aren’t adequately represented or played out in the array of traditional textbooks that are currently available. Miles has been a department chair, administered dual enrollment programs in area high schools, helped to develop learning communities linking courses across disciplines, and made articulations with four-year colleges and universities, so he brings some knowledge and experience of how individual disciplines and curricular levels fit together – and more important, how they don’t. Even though he has had a heavy teaching load (three to five writing courses a semester), he has managed to publish a fair amount on composition in edited book collections and journals like College English and Teaching English in the Two-Year College.
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