"When we sharpen a pencil, we get to the point by subtracting. When we write, we get to the point by adding. The modifier is the essential part of any sentence."
- Career English teacher, retired
- Director of Write for College, for 24 years a summer writing program reaching over 1000 high school students
- Author and editor
- Frequent presenter at writing conferences, including National Council of Teachers of English and the Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar
Dr. Francis Christensen & Dr. Bonniejean Christensen
I must admit that I cannot take credit for figuring all this out. That honor goes to Dr. Francis Christensen, who was a professor at the University of Southern California. In 1967 he published his masterpiece, The Christensen Rhetoric Program, which unveiled this entirely new approach that consistently resulted in immediate and dramatic improvement in student writing.
In 1991 I met with his widow, Dr. Bonniejean Christensen, who had spent the intervening years editing and reprinting their mutual writings after his death in 1970. Unable to continue these responsibilities, she thankfully entrusted me with the copyrights to all of their works. Since then I have revised his original text and written an additional pair of workbooks, resulting in a three-book series, published as The Stewart English Program (seen in the photo of her above, and below), which spans grades seven through twelve. I have also reprinted Christensen's collected essays, called Notes Toward A New Rhetoric: Nine Essays For Teachers.
Throughout my teaching career, Write for College has provided my favorite moments in the classroom—aha! moments when the students discover the meaning of free modifiers, learn how to defeat choppy sentences, understand the meaning of "flow," and design an essay from start to finish in their heads before they have even typed one letter.
And never yawning.
Don Stewart and Writing Summit Host Daniel David Wallace (2859 participants in attendance worldwide) April 4, 2022
The History of "Write for College"
Along with my regular classroom teaching, for 24 years I taught a summer writing course for high school students in the Boston area.
It was a 3-week course, two hours each day.
Week 1 was the Sentences, Week 2 the Paragraphs, and Week 3 the Essays.
"Write for College"
The course closed in 2013, but has returned — entirely online. Perfect for blended learning.
It's exactly the same curriculum.
And I am still here.
"Write for College" brochure — 2012
Following in the footsteps
Central to the method of the Write for College program is the study of the writings of giants who have gone before. Here are two of them, as they advocate learning by imitation.
J. K. Rowling
“Read as much as you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading and you'll go through a phase where you will imitate your favourite writers and that's fine because that's a learning experience too.”
“Before we publish anything, or set ourselves up as writers, we may imitate and even copy to our hearts’ content, and when the time comes for us to send forth a message to the world, we shall have learned how to say it.”
All of these books are available on Amazon, or from the publisher, BookLocker.com, in quantity.