Prewriting & metacognition (From the book Think Write! 2012)
Introduction to basic composition and critical thinking: prewriting. Focused on Developmental Writing coursework.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Prewriting & metacognition (From the book Think Write! 2012)
What is thought?
What is language?
Can you think without
What is the value of thinking
How is language related to
Socrates claims that thinking
is talking to yourself…
What does that mean?
Language as Thought
Before you can say anything, you have to know
something—what you want to say. We often do not
know what we know (or what we don’t) until we have
to put our ideas into words.
Words are symbols that represent ideas—concepts.
Knowledge through dis·covering.
Often, we miss things that are right in
front of us because we don’t stop to
think about what passes right before
our eyes—to look at what is all around
us—essentially missing the forest for
To become successful thinkers, we
have to develop more than one voice
(introspection), and learn to
dialogue with others.
Everyone needs a sounding board to
bounce ideas off of.
To do that, you have to cultivate
language skills. Language is the
medium of reason (logos) and
Your book defines meta-cognition as the act of thinking
about thinking. Think about that…
• What metaphor might we come up with to represent meta-cognition?
Prewriting: Reflective Discovery
The first step of the writing
process is Invention (inventio)
• Discovery or exploration
• Topic selection
All writing is rhetorical.
Aristotle defines rhetoric, the art
of persuasion, primarily as
invention: the ability to see in
any given situation the available
means of persuasion.
Think of a time that you saw
something and thought it was
terrifying, dangerous, or impossible,
and your first impression turned out
to be utterly wrong.
Discuss the illusion and subsequent
realization that there was in fact no
What changed your perspective? How
did you feel after you discovered that
it wasn’t as bad as you originally
thought? Explain why.
The Language of Language
Keeping the concept of meta-cognition
in mind—always—remember that
when you get ready to write, it’s not a
magic act. It takes work.
Thinking & writing are arts
• They are mastered through
disciplined practice. Skillful
communication is not a science!
There are conventions, but like a
sport or playing a musical
instrument, you have to do it to
get better at it.
If you don’t know where you’re going, and
you don’t have a plan, you’ll never get there.
Topic selection strategies:
Asking Questions (stases)
First things first, find a topic that
you’re interested in and get your
Know the Situation
Once you have a topic, you have to consider the
occasion for which you are writing. We call this
the rhetorical situation
Topic alone won’t direct
you. You have to know
Know Your Audience
Thinking ≠ Writing
If you don’t know who you are writing to, you may end up
writing to nobody. While Socrates posits that thinking is
talking to oneself, writing is usually to and for a specific
Code Shifting: Different kinds
of audiences require different
Tone & diction
Know Your Purpose
What is your goal? What is at stake?
Every text has a goal or a purpose—your reason for writing.
If there is no reason, what’s the point?
According to Cicero, there are three reasons to write:
When you write, like when
you travel, the purpose is
you’re going. It keeps you
Read the following excerpts. Discuss and write down
the following information with your groups:
1. Who is the audience and how do you know?
2. What is the main idea or topic?
3. What do you think the author’s purpose here is?
Excerpt from the Rush Limbaugh Show:
Again, I've got no reason to make anything up. I have no
reason to lie to you. There's nothing in it for me to do that. I
don't have an agenda so important to me that I want people
believing what I believe when it isn't true. That's the exact
opposite of what my objective is. My objective is to have
people grounded in truth and reality in greater and greater
numbers, governing themselves responsibly, participating
in the arena of ideas. I have no interest in lying to you. I
have none… Now, there are rare times when I'm wrong
about something, but not purposefully. I'm telling you that
if you are a new listener to the program or a recently
arrived low-information person, the manmade global
warming story is a hoax.
Excerpt from Scientific American:
In August 2012, John Christy, a climate scientist from the
University of Alabama, Huntsville, testified to the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee that the Earth is
not warming. In part, Christy's testimony, a controversial one,
was based on what he described as a problem with how
surface temperatures are measured and averaged. Climate
scientist Gilbert Compo's response to that was: Well, I'll
measure those temperatures differently. So he set out to use an
entirely different method to determine if the Earth's surface
temperature had increased 1.2 degrees Celsius since
preindustrial times. The answer: Undeniably yes. This new
method shows that it is not a factor of measurement error and
that the Earth has in fact warmed, said Compo.
Now, in your groups, come up with your own topic about a
contemporary problem that needs to be solved or addressed.
Select one of the different forms of prewriting and collect the
group’s ideas. What do you know about the subject?
Asking Questions (stases)
After you brainstorm, write down the following information:
1. Who is your audience and why are you addressing them?
2. What is the main idea or topic? (Be specific.)
3. What is your purpose or goal? Is there a solution to the problem?