What is Developing Writers?

Developing Writers is a community-driven website where members provide free, usable, instructor-created curriculum and pedagogy for anyone teaching developmental college writing.

All materials are generated by developmental writing teachers, and are meant to be shared for adaptation and use in your classroom.

Our assignments are based on a single-text approach.

What is the Single-Text Approach?

A major emerging in developmental writing is the contextualization of developmental courses through the integration of reading and writing. Most notably, Chabot College in California has collected over 10 years of data that suggest combining reading and writing in developmental coursework creates sustained success for students that carries into their college-level efforts. Through these national trends and our own experiences, we have arrived at a framework for teaching developmental writing with a full-length, nonfiction text (or a work of fiction that has multidisciplinary connections) instead of a traditional textbook.

In this model, traditional composition textbooks are replaced with a single text that will introduce students to college-level reading expectations while simultaneously providing complex rhetorical situations in which they can practice their writing.

Among the many benefits to this approach:

  • Students learn in a way that better mirrors the college-level reading and writing they will soon encounter (literature, sociology, history, etc.);
  • Students’ writing assignments are deeply contextual, inspired by and pertaining to the reading’s themes, discipline, vocabulary, social and historical contexts;
  • Students also get the psychological benefit of having finished a complete book, which is something that many of our developmental students report never having done;
  • A single text built around interdisciplinary themes allows us as instructors to talk about the writing process and standard English writing conventions in a fully contextualized way that is relevant and accessible to students;
  • Texts can be simultaneously taught interdepartmentally (sociology, psychology, reading, writing, literature, communications), further reinforcing student learning; students using the same book in multiple classes will see books and ideas in conversation, and having multiple applications.

What can I find on Developing Writers?

Books. Each book is the central text for a semester-long course, and our intention is to have students read it in its entirety. Each book presented on Developing Writers has been piloted at least once by a contributing member, who has also provided course materials for you to adapt. 

Assignments of various lengths, formalities, and focus. (In-class, quizzes, group activities, long essays, grammar games, you name it.) Most are tied to one of the books. Some are designed to help students orient themselves to college. Some develop a particular writing skill. 

Syllabi for your course planning ideas. 

Community, Inspiration, & Feedback. We hope you connect with fellow teachers here. Have a set of best practices? Share it with others. Like an assignment you find here? Rate it, and email the contributor for follow up information. Leave a comment. Ask a question. Start a discussion. We are all passionate professionals working in developmental writing.

Can I use what I find here?

We encourage you to use these course materials, share them with fellow instructors, and contribute your own texts, assignments, reflections, and best practices.


Except where otherwise noted, all content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

What can I contribute?

Assignments. Have a single-text focused assignment that’s creative, successful, inventive, challenging, original, adaptable, or otherwise great for students and instructors? Share it here. 

Syllabi. Have a course planned around a single-text? Show us how you formed learning units, grouped readings, and completed assignments. Contact us to post your single-text course syllabus.

Links within assignment posts are welcome as long as they are relevant and not an affiliate link for a company or product.

How do I become a member of Developing Writers?

Click to create a profile

Why the focus on Developmental Education?

We all know that developmental education has been under national scrutiny. Across the country, developmental courses are being eliminated, redesigned, and examined for effectiveness. As a result, several faculty-led initiatives have resulted in research on best practices.

Research finds that developmental students operate best in an environment that closely mimics college-level coursework. This trend is mirrored in our own revised course profiles that ensure developmental writing students are producing complex, complete texts with multiple paragraphs.

We’ve taken many best practices from a variety of instructors and created several models for a curriculum that will engage students in challenging reading, put student writing in the center of the classroom, shorten and intensify time spent developmental coursework–all while continuing to emphasize writing as a process, writing to learn, and academic genre expectations of style and grammar.

Who Are You?

We are a community of teachers passionate about developmental education. Check out our CONTRIBUTORS to learn more about each member.


Michelle Parrinello-Cason
Michelle is a writing instructor at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park where she teaches developmental writing and composition classes. She received her PhD in rhetoric and composition from Saint Louis University in 2015. Her research interests include pop culture, agonistic rhetoric, and identity construction.

Melody Gee
Melody has been teaching developmental writing at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park since 2011, having previously taught composition and developmental writing at Southwestern Illinois College, and composition, business writing, and technical writing at Purdue University. She earned a B.A. in English at the University of California Berkeley, and an M.A. in creative writing the University of New Mexico, where she first began teaching college writing in 2004. Her teaching interests include accelerated developmental education; rhetoric and poetics; and the rhetoric of non-traditional literacy narratives.




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