There are several things I do differently than my colleagues when teaching writing. First, I don't use a textbook. I do a lot of "chalk talk" and don't give grades to drafts. Students learn by trying and making mistakes, which are pointed out and (hopefully) corrected in the next draft. When I take the time to give feedback to a draft and that feedback is ignored, grades drop and they drop quickly.
The first half of the semester focuses on various types of paragraphs. The last assignment before midterms was a problem/solution paragraph set. The final draft was written in the format of a business email which was addressed to someone who could (in theory) actually do something about the problem. I wrote some formatting rules for business emails on the board but many of students didn't bother to write them down. When it came time to turn in their final drafts there were many errors and some students didn't even bother to write their assignments in the form of an email. Cue the depressed sigh.
Making writing assignments as practical as possible is another thing I try to do in my writing classes. Students who actually sent their problem/solution emails to the person they identified resulted in bonus points. They just needed to bcc me in the email. Less than ten percent of my students took advantage of this opportunity. A large portion of the 90% who couldn't be bothered to send an email will complain about the grade they earned (they will argue the grade they were given) at the end of the semester when it is too late to do anything about it.
After midterms we will start on essays. The goal of writing essays in my class is to write something that can be published in a newspaper as an opinion piece. Around ten of my students have succeeded in having their essays published in national Korean newspapers in the last 3-4 years. The successful students were given a one-letter-grade bump in their final grade. More importantly, they were very proud of their accomplishment and had a positive attitude toward writing in English for future assignment and projects.
Topic selection and audience assessment are key elements of my writing course. I don't choose topics for my students to write about (except for the midterm and final timed-writing exams). It is important for the students to choose a topic that they know a lot about or are very passionate about and for them to have an audience in mind when they are doing their pre-writing.
Attention to detail is a final goal that I hope my students take away from my writing class. I am currently working on a project with a website design firm. The employees have to be asked to make changes several times before they are made correctly. It is very frustrating working with unprofessional employees and I am looking for a new firm to do business with. I hope that my students learn that their actions have consequences and a lax attitude toward their work will result in their losing their jobs or the reputation of their company suffering (or both).
I enjoy teaching writing, not because I believe students will need to write five-paragraph essays in English in the future, because I believe learning to ask questions and follow directions will help them become successful after graduation. It's better than they learn that with me when the worst-case scenario is receiving a failed grade, not getting fired from a job.