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The Teacher Tip

DNA: A Metaphor for Growth

December 1, 2017

Adapted from Reimagining Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson

A writer’s DNA involves our expressive, curious, creative, and social nature. It allows us to make decisions based on a particular set of relationships as we work with a medium. The medium can vary: words, paint, movement, sound, landscapes, numbers, the structure of building or bridges. But that decision-making core – and all the relationships that constitute it – has to grow for the writer, artist, dancer, musician, gardener, architect, or engineer to develop. Unfortunately, this decision-making core gets lost when we’re so busy looking at the text.

  • The ends are the beginnings; we all have what it takes to write even before we learn to write.
  • Our decision-making core is guided by relationships between intention, audience of self and others, and the exploration and transformation of a medium. 
  • Growth expresses itself through and in supportive environments.
  • A lack of environmental stimulation can cause atrophy. 

It isn’t that language isn’t important to writing, or that we shouldn’t think carefully about the text itself. But we have to think about the text in relationship to the writer and all the decision-making relationships that govern the act of writing. 

To learn more about Reimagining Writing Assessment and to download a sample chapter, visit

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