The strategies incorporate both discourse knowledge about genres and process knowledge about planning, revising, and critical reading. The big idea behind the strategies is that if you know the purposes, structural elements, and linguistic features of a genre, you can use that knowledge to guide planning, drafting, and evaluation/revision. For example, since arguments are intended to persuade (or collaboratively reach a conclusion), it is important to consider alternative positions, reasons and evidence on both sides, and rebuttals. Thus, a planning strategy should include brainstorming reasons and evidence on both sides, and developing an organized plan with position, reasons and evidence, counterarguments and rebuttals, and an appealing conclusion. Evaluation for revision is guided by a rubric focused on the argumentative elements, which can lead to specific suggestions for revision. The SSW writing strategies include genre elements, graphic organizers to support brainstorming and organization, and genre-specific rubrics. See Writing Strategy example for argumentative writing.
Knowledge of argument structure can also help with critical reading. Once you realize that you are reading an argument, you look for the author’s position, reasons and evidence, and counterarguments; then you proceed to critically evaluate those arguments, contrasting them to your own ideas and other readings. The SSW Summary-Response strategy guides students in rhetorical analysis of author and purpose, notetaking based on the argument elements, critical evaluation of specific arguments, and writing a summary and response paper. The notes and critical responses from multiple sources are then used in writing students’ own essays. See Summary-Response Strategy.