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January 23, 2006

Recommended Resource for Teaching English Language Composition

For Friday's English composition class, I used the following production as part of the lesson:

English Composition: Writing for an Audience. Program 1. "School Writing / Real World." Nar. Peter Berkow. Prod. Peter Berkow and Anita Berkow. Annenberg/CPB, Annenberg Foundation-Corporation for Public Broadcasting. PBS. 30 minutes. 2000.

I found that . . .

English Composition1.gif

. . . this educational film is focused on writing in the real world and how this necessary skill applies to various academic fields. In a documentary format, it discusses, through interviews with practitioners in many occupations, various thinking and writing strategies. The importance of skills learned in the expository essay process, for example, and a thorough explanation of the various discourse communities that exist outside of academia are all touched upon. Police Officers, Laywers, Athletic Coaches, Chemists, Professional Musicians and English teachers alike all explain the relevance of writing to everyday "life" in the execution of their jobs. The primary focus seems to be an "overview" of the subject of college writing and its practical applicability for the student writer. The narrative, descriptive and definitive forms of exposition are covered and each section of the short program is bulleted and a comprehensive summary of the show's content presented at the end.

NOTE To English Writing Teachers: The handbook for instructors teaching the Annenberg/CPB telecourse English Composition: Writing for an Audience, is available for purchase HERE. This helpful guide provides a diverse selection of activities, exercises, and discussion prompts for you to use in conjuction with the film series.

If you've had the opportunity to screen this presentation, what are your impressions? What did you "take away" or get from it that might be useful? Please leave any constructive comments that you feel might be useful in the box beneath these remarks. Feel free to peruse the reactions of a few of my students who volunteered to voice their own reactions (some positive, some negative, of course).

All the best,


*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at January 23, 2006 04:01 PM

Readers' Comments:

. . . In any career that a person chooses, a strongly developed knowledge of “school writing” is a necessity. Considering that I am an undecided major, I now realize that whichever major I choose and whichever career it may lead me to, I am going to need to take with me the skills that I have learned not only in this class, but also in my previous high school English classes and my future college English courses.
The film forced me to think more deeply about the importance of writing in various careers. For example, I never considered how descriptive a cop may need to be, and it all goes back to learning what and adjective is in grade school. Some people may think that some in some jobs, writing ends when school ends, but I learned from the film "School Writing and the Real World" that is an extremely essential lifelong skill no matter what career an individual may choose.

Posted by: K. Lewis at January 23, 2006 11:19 PM

"School Writing and the Real World" is a video that was designed to eduacate it's viewers on the importance of becoming a good writer as well as the many different types that exist. The one positive thing that I can take from it is the fact that they took the time to explain that becoming a good writer is a process where you are continually learning and developing your skills. Usually for me, writing is a difficult task especially when it comes to putting my thoughts onto the paper, but the video eased some of that tension and boosted my confidence.
I realized the importance of becoming a good writer because in almost every profession that I can think of, writing is involved. Although writing in the workplace differes from that of college writing, it is still used and mastering it is essential. The video also opened my eyes to the different types of writing that exists and how select ones are used in thier own specific way.

Posted by: Adrianne E at January 24, 2006 12:15 PM

. . . Writing can be used in very many professions and in many different ways. Even football players on a football team use writing.
There are, however, many different types of writing for instance a doctor would write entirely different from a music artist. A doctor might write about problems a patient would have and use a whole different set of terminology than a music artist would. A music artist would write with notes and give instruction on how the piece would be played.
Also people in different fields might write differently because of the audience and they might emphasize more of one thing than another. For instance if you are advertising for Coke you would be more likely to use persuasive writing and humor than descriptive writing. But if you were a police officer describing a crime scene you would describe the event making sure to write down everything and anything because every detail counts.
Writing is very important in the real world because it’s used every day in almost every profession. This is why it’s so important to have good writing skills.

Posted by: Sam H. at January 24, 2006 02:37 PM

The film explained how the skills learned while in school will be used throughout a person's lifetime. Any profession that is chosen will more than likely involve some form of writing. The type of writing will differ depending upon the occupation, but the skills learned will always prove to be helpful.
The film mentioned many different professions, even ones that would normally not be associated with writing. An example of this would be a football player. All jobs will at some point require at least the basic writing skills learned while in school. The skills learned will improve a person's success in the profession they have chosen.

Posted by: Ali L. at January 24, 2006 04:34 PM

. . . Writing is all around us in all of our day to day activities. That without a good understanding and a good background in writing you will not have a good job. Mostly every job you go for has some form of writing in it. I learned there are different steps to take when it comes to writing There are more steps then you would of ever guess when it comes to deal with writing The more you practice your writing outside of the classroom the better you will get. writing, is not easy to get good at. It takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication to become a strong writer Only, those who are truly dedicated and have a strong willpower to help improve there writing will see an improvement You are not a born writer You become a good writer after years and years of practice and dedication. You can either write a list, write a quick note, write in a diary, or write in a journal. These are different forms of steps to take to help improve your writing in the world around you.

Posted by: Jennifer G at January 24, 2006 05:45 PM

. . . Writing does not end when you finish school. Writing goes with you in some way during your career also.
It does not matter what type of career you choose, writing in some form will always be apart of that job. Whether it is by writing out prescriptions, inventories, medical histories, or a menu. Writing is everywhere.
Knowing that writing is in all aspects of all kinds of careers, it made me realize that writing is actually very important. The film made me want to improve my writing skills so that I can excel at whatever career I decide to pursue.

Posted by: Liz L. at January 24, 2006 06:13 PM

I have learned from watching the film that all different types of jobs require some form of writing. Within each job people use writing as a communication device to provide details and descriptions of events. It allows other people to know exactly what has occured.
What I enjoyed most about the film was that I learned that in the future I am able to provide strong information to others about my job. I would like others to read the impotant details of my work. I would like to display great facts about the work force.

Posted by: Kelly J at January 24, 2006 06:33 PM

Mechanics, football coaches, and musicians. These Generally aren't jobs you associate college writing... or even high school writing for that matter, but the truth is: you should! It may not be blatantly obvious but you do... I didn't know this until I watched that film in class, School Writing and the Real World.

This film brought some very interesting facts into light, like Mechanics need to write a detailed report of the car they worked on so if something goes wrong he can look back at the notes and see if he messed up somewhere. This is also useful if the customer were to press charges or something of that sort, if he has it all in writing it helps him defend his case after all; writing is so much stronger than spoken words.

So even though you may think these kinds of classes are a waste of your valuable time, or you'll never need to write a persuasive paper again; think about the profession you're going into and try to think, logically, about all that comes with that job. Writing will be in there somewhere nine times out of ten.

Posted by: Rachael T. at January 24, 2006 06:33 PM

The thing I learned from watching the film is that more and more jobs require good writing skills today. Each job has to communicate by using their writing skills and the common "jargon" used. A group of people who have their own language for their jobs or hobbies is known as a discourse community.
I also learned how writing is used in the steps and thought processes of these peoples daily routines. Diesel mechanics and police officers were the two jobs that really surprised me. In each job they have to make out reports for every person arrested and for every car worked on. Jobs these days are calling for more detailed writings to get their ideas across and communicate.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at January 24, 2006 07:27 PM

Writing is important in the “real world” because it is a paramount and required aspect of virtually every professional job market (and—quite obviously—a successful and fruitful career is essential to a high quality of living). Being successful often depends on nurtured writing skills and the abilities to generate academic and appropriate documents as well as comprehend technical reading material. Writing is a central communication tool used everywhere everyday. Because of its usefulness and demand in the workplace, mastery of college writing (and workplace writing) yields tremendous benefits.
As a computer science major, writing will play an important role on the job as I document and place comments throughout the code I write while developing software. Such documentation must be clear, concise, and easy to understand by others within the discourse community. I may also have to file comprehensive progress reports to superiors describing developments in certain project areas. Though most of my time will most likely be spent typing code, a significant part of it will certainly be spent typing written documents whose role in the office (and to my job position) will be absolutely critical.

Posted by: Sean O. at January 24, 2006 07:44 PM

The best thing I can take from the in-class movie must be realizing that I will need to use my writing skills in my future career. Although I understand that writing is a part of everyday life, I never put much thought into the fact that I will be forced to do a great deal of writing involving my profession.
I plan on becoming a successful lawyer after graduating college. The policewoman interviewed in the movie spoke of the descriptive writing she is required to do on a daily basis. Since I will be working with the law, I will also be required to prepare and read writings of my own.
I have now realized that becoming a lawyer will require planned speeches which contain the proper terminology. During this class, I hope to acquire the proper skills I will need to succeed in my future profession.

Posted by: Angela H. at January 24, 2006 08:23 PM

After watching the film about School Writing and the Real World, I learned that academic writing skills are necessary in every job. Writing is used in the working world as a form of communication. It is important for all employees to be able to communicate with their employers by writing in an appropriate voice and manner. I always knew that writing was important to some jobs. I now realize that all employees write everyday.
The wide range of job settings shown in the film proved that there are many different uses for academic writing. A police officer writes many times in one day of work. The officer writes to communicate to their employer and often to a judge. They have to write effective reports to make a strong case.
Even professional athletes use writing skills at work. A football coach in the film explained how the players are required to take a written test on the plays they went over during the week. Professional athletes use writing to communicate to their coaches on how well they are progressing mentally in the sport. This was the most surprising to me.
This film showed many jobs that used writing every day. I never thought many of those jobs would use academic writing skills so much. Now I realize how much writing is used for communication in the career world. I can not think of a job that would not require academic writing skills.

Posted by: Cathy at January 24, 2006 11:03 PM

From the film School Writing and the Real World, it is a given fact that the skills we acquire during school can be used not only in college but also in the real world full of different careers. During high school and college, we are usually taught to write and format a certain way, and in some professions that we are looking into, we wonder why we are required to take certain classes. The reason is because it is important for every profession and it is an ability that we must master in order to be successful in school and the future.

For example, writing is important for even the smallest jobs we would usually not relate writing to, such as a mathematician. One may believe that writing is not required, but that is not true. If you are to become a math professor, you need the ability to write lectures so that students are able to comprehend the steps and the work written on the board or in notes.

Writing is also important for bigger jobs or professions such as businessmen, journalists, or authors. Writing is the main criteria for these jobs, and it starts in school. If you are not able to write, then there is not a chance for succession, because others need to be able to comprehend the papers, essays, or even novels.

Posted by: Linda M. at January 24, 2006 11:24 PM

The biggest thing that I took from this movie was the use of good writing skills in the working world. English has never been a favorite subject of mine, and I've always questioned whether or not I would use writing skills at a "real" job. But watching the flim made me realize that good writing skills are always necessary, even in places you might not expect. For example, I didn't realize that police officers had to write out detailed reports of crime scenes; I thought they just went out and arrested criminals.
Overall, I think the flim opened my eyes to the importance of good writing skills, even in places I wouldn't have expected otherwise. I'm currently a computer science major, and while at this moment I don't see where good writing would play a role, I will most certainly expect to use these skills in whatever field I decide to work in.

Posted by: Terrell W. at January 24, 2006 11:37 PM

The film, "School Writing in the Real World", developed a positive image of the importance writing has in every job, whether is be a police officer or a journalist. Many jobs in the real world require their colleagues to record and describe their job performance. This film allowed for me, as a college student and a soon to be colleague, to become more aware of the importance writing will have in my future.
As a psychology major I will be expected to evaluate and describe a persons’ psychological state. The skills I learn now are the ones I will have to rely on when I join the work force. I won’t be the only person expected to write for their career, but merely a small part in the world filled of writers. Writing is not only an expectation for certain jobs, but it is a requirement; whether it is a requirement with yourself or with your boss. My awareness of this nature is a positive point I learned from this film.

Posted by: Samantha V. at January 24, 2006 11:45 PM

After watching the film that deals with school writing and the real world, the one thing that stands out in my mind from it is that no matter what profession an individual chooses to pursue in the "Real World", the majority of them have a writing aspect to it. Whether it be in a science or math field where you need to collect data and come up with a lab report or even in the Law Enforcement Field where you need to produce descriptive written statements that will go on record and even be used in court.

Being able to polish up skills necessary in carrying out work assignments and duties and actually going back and using skills that you learned in college or prior to that times, helps you see how much you actually did need those skills. Sometimes those types of tools come naturally and a person is so used to using that specific style of writing that they can hardly recognize it as one. This essentially becomes the first step to developing your own style of academic writing.

Posted by: Emily S. at January 24, 2006 11:50 PM

After watching the film in class, one thing that I can take from it is the informative message about writing it gave. The film helped me realize how often and important writing is in a lot of careers. Another thing I learned from the movie is the term "discourse communities". I didn't know much about writing strategies and things like writing communities.

Posted by: P. Beckles at January 25, 2006 11:52 AM

After watching the film, School Writing and the Real World, the one thing that I can take from it is the importance of writing skills. Most jobs require a background in writing, so you must learn different styles and skills. The better your writing ability are, the better your chance for success in the working field. Sometimes you have to write with your co-workers to get things done, so it is important that you can put up your part of the bargain

Posted by: Brendan at January 25, 2006 12:29 PM

. . . A wide variety of writing styles [are] available to me. Although I had already written with many of these different styles, it was refreshing to hear about it all again, especially after the few months that I had not taken an English course. I am glad for the fact that they broke down each of the different styles of writing as well. It allowed me to review and remember things from previous classes.

I am also going to take away from this video the many different ties they made between writing and the real world. It is important to take writing very seriously no matter what career choice may come along in your life. This video not only stressed that, but also gave different styles suitable for certain jobs. This was very helpful for me in seeing these links and ties, as well as the writing styles alone.

Posted by: Missy Z at January 25, 2006 12:45 PM

I didn't think that the film was very imformative. It was basically something that I already knew. It just seemed like it was a film to refresh my memory. Its not like we don't already know that different careers and special groups have their own specific jargan.

Posted by: DavidR at January 25, 2006 02:05 PM

Robert Frost is saying in this poem that the world os perceived to end in two different ways, through fire or ice. Some fo the people think that the world will fall through fire, but the other part think that the world will end through ice.
Robert Frost thinks that the world will end in fire because of so much hate that is throughout the world. Although he also states that if the world would happen to end a second time he would have it end through ice. If it would end in ice he would be hoping that there would not be as much hate.
During the last two poetic lines Robert Frost says that either way the world will end, whether it be fire or ice, it will be beautiful and great. Frost would be satisfied either way.

Posted by: Liz L. at January 25, 2006 03:59 PM

Where can I view Writing for the real world. Is it available at the libraries?


Posted by: pg at January 25, 2006 09:35 PM

Note from Lee:

PG, yes it should be available in any large university library stateside. Use the info in post to locate it; the ISBN is: 1576802299

Better yet, watch it online in a media player (with free membership) at this address:

I should add that the entire series is available there as well, an invaluable teaching resource and wealth of information

Happy Hunting!

Posted by: Lee at January 25, 2006 10:44 PM

The film was very conducive to my learning of English in relation to the world and in the education field. It heightened my perception of how vast and imperitive proper writing and reading skills are in not only the education field, but to the business realm as well. I learned about a "Discourse Community", which is simply a system relevant to a sect of people invloved in the same type of work. This "system" consists of a privy language, or "jargon", and a consensual appreciation and dedication to the task itself shared by all members of this discourse community.
There is more to English than where to place that comma or how many grammatical mistakes did I make? Sure those things are relevant but, that's not the fulness of English! English is an art form just as singing or dancing in its respective right. It has many components and when you put them altogether, you get your desired response from the demographic.

Posted by: Holden Jones at January 27, 2006 01:15 PM

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