Highlighting writing and thinking skills during lecture or discussion During lecture or discussion, most professors model some of the skills needed to write good papers: framing questions, analyzing data, considering alternate views, etc. These moments of modeling can be made more effective if you call attention to them, especially if you echo the language of your Writing Guide. Using sample student papers Just handing out a good example from a previous semester will help some students produce better papers.
You can enhance the effect by taking one minute to explain what you like about the sample. If students read the paper for homework, and you explain what you like the next day, they will be in the best position to understand your emphasis. Papers from your previous courses work very well for this purpose, but the Yale Writing Center website also includes a trove of Model Student Essay s from a variety of disciplines, all available for use in Yale courses.
Selecting excerpts to highlight techniques A variation on using an entire sample paper is to discuss one or more brief excerpts that illustrate a technique you want students to employ. You should also identify moments in the main course readings where authors demonstrate good techniques, although this approach will be more relevant with secondary sources than with primary documents.
Discussing a set of papers When you return a set of papers, take a few minutes to talk about the general strengths and weaknesses of the batch. This discussion can help students better understand the feedback on their own papers. Grammar presentations by students Students learn to identify and correct grammar mistakes most quickly when they work with writing generated for the course. One way to address grammar problems is to assign one student per class session to make a grammar presentation on a common grammar issue: sentence-fragments, possessives, semicolon use, etc.
Presentations could be time limited ex. This kind of brief presentation both provides students opportunities to master common grammar problems and a resource that they can use for their future writing. For graduate students looking for expert advice on planning, drafting, and revising their research paper, dissertation, presentation, or any other writing project. The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning partners with departments and groups on-campus throughout the year to share its space.
Please review the reservation form and submit a request. The new home will include a technology learning studio, several flexible classroom or meeting spaces, and one-on-one tutoring rooms. Skip to main content. In-Class Activities. Here are some examples of questions you might ask What questions do you have about the topic or text we are discussing?
What ideas or passages in particular do you find challenging, intriguing, or frustrating? Using transitional words will help you organize coherently, especially? Starting the essay: You don't need an embellished, exciting opening for a timed essay. Instead, you can state your thesis right away and give a brief overview of what the rest of the essay will do.
This will immediately show your command over the subject. Don't just restate the question without answering it. Always include your answer to the question in the intro. Developing the essay: The body of your essay should be developed with the same attention to logical organization, coherence, and adequate development that you provide in any academic paper. Support your thesis with solid generalizations and specific, relevant details. Don't fill out the essay by repeating yourself.
Don't use subjective feelings instead of real analysis. Concluding the essay: Here you can briefly restate the thesis in new words, perhaps pointing to wider implications in a way that follows logically from what you've written rather than in a way that demands more explanation. Before submitting the essay: Reread and correct any illegible sections.
Make sure your handwriting can be read. Check for spelling, grammatical mistakes, and accidental omissions. If you find any material that seems irrelevant, cross it out and add other information on another page, keying the addition to the page where it belongs. For more helpful assistance on getting started, organizing, and completing a draft, visit the Purdue On-Line Writing Lab.
List as many facts as you can think of about the writer based on what is found in the reading: are there thoughtful conclusions and careful evidence presented about the subject under discussion? What does this tell you about the writer's intellectual response to the subject?
Such a commonplace book will help improve memory of course topics and serve as a helpful resource for review. Short, quick summaries of assigned readings could be asked for first, then short syntheses of ideas in several connected readings, and finally analyses of the quality of an argument or string of related ideas. As micro themes grow in number and difficulty, topics for more formal assignments like critical analysis might emerge and signal productive directions for both teacher and student.
These short freewrites can then be discussed or the class can move ahead. Either way, freewriting will allow students to focus closely on a topic. Share these ideas in class discussion, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses and relevance in terms of the assignment. Start freewriting on a possible direction for the assignment and stop after three minutes, then: - review what was written and underline or circle the idea that seems most prominent; - copy the underlined or circled idea on a clean page and then begin freewriting again for three minutes, focused on the copied idea; - again review what was written and complete the same process of underlining, copying, and freewriting on the specific idea that has been copied.
Each time the student freewrites, in other words, the original idea becomes more and more focused - the students draws closer to the "center of gravity" for the actual writing assignment and have something to start with for a draft.
Such a discovery draft will then allow the student to build on early ideas as a more complete draft is written. Formal Writing Assignments: Writing to Communicate When writing to communicate, students move from their informal and more discovery-based writing to more formal, demanding and public expectations of particular discourse and rhetorical conventions. Do you want students to develop analytical, informational, argumentative, reflective, or expressive skills, or a combination of several skills?
The essay instructions should make clear to students what set of skills will be most valued when completing the assignment. Analytical: What is valued is the students' ability to examine closely the connection between the parts and the whole of a particular subject and their ability to investigate and articulate the way ideas connect to or contrast with one another. Informational: What is valued is the students' ability to summarize and synthesize information about a particular subject.
Argumentative: What is valued is the students' ability to articulate a claim about a particular subject with appropriate evidence to support such a claim. Reflective: What is valued is the students' ability to look at experiences retrospectively and articulate what has been learned from them. Expressive: What is valued is the students' ability to consider the relevance of personal experience.
Are they to be thinking of the teacher exclusively when completing the assignment? Should they be thinking of a general educated audience, or an audience only of their peers? Should they be thinking of the audience as completely or partially informed about the subject?
Will the audience hold values similar to or different from the writer? How much will the audience identify with the subject and topic under study? Once the purpose, central idea, and audience have been established as part of the assignment, consider providing students additional advice on the STRUCTURE of their writing.
The writing situation considers a problem to which the student is proposing a solution. Students can be asked to consider the costs and benefits of the solution proposed. Finally, an assignment can also be accompanied by a MODEL that illustrates the expectation for writing. Successful assignments can be saved and copied for such purposes in future classes.
The following handouts provide examples of essay assignments that stress various purposes, sense of audience, and structural ideas: sample assignment emphasizing critical analysis PDF sample assignment emphasizing analysis and information PDF sample assignment emphasizing analysis and argument PDF sample assignment emphasizing analysis and reflection PDF 2. The following links provide helpful structures for such assignments: writing a summary of what you read PDF writing a synthesis of what you read PDF writing a critique of what you read PDF 3.
As a class, have students brainstorm a research question that engages with the next essay prompt. Afterward, have students brainstorm the kind of sources that may be useful for exploring said question, the fields that may already discussing or provide insight on the topic like specific news sources or subject specific databases. Then, for each kind of source or each discipline, have students brainstorm key terms and discuss why certain terms are more useful than others in certain searches.
After the list has been made, have students determine where to look for this information. From this point, you can decide whether to proceed with the search as a class or to have students to break into groups to explore different terms, search engines, and databases. You may want to engage your students in a conversation about research questions before this activity or in a prior class period.
Students will likely not be sure how to craft meaningful research questions. Be sure that you build in moments for students to reflect in writing on what the activity means for their own research processes. As a take-home assignment, have students take screenshots of their research process for a larger project including pictures of the key terms they use, the search results, the articles they select, etc.
Students can either save the images on their computer or print them whichever is more convenient. If they took a video, ask them to bring in their computer with the video. In class, have students map out the process—from where they began to where they ended.
It may be best to do this on large sheets of paper, index cards, or construction paper. As they map out the process, have students make connections through a freewrite between the choices they made e. In pairs, students should help each other identify gaps in their research and brainstorm new terms, websites, databases, etc.
At the end, have students write out a research plan for the next portion of their assignment. Have students bring an annotated bibliography and the original sources to class. Have students write about the choices they made in selecting their sources and reflect on how these sources contribute to their developing projects. With their annotated bibliographies, have students use either Prezi or construction paper and string to create a web that represents connections between sources.
Students can address these questions: How do the sources talk to each other? After students create their webs, have them reflect on the gaps that seem to exist in their web or identify the outlying sources that no longer work in their developing projects.
Depending on your course, you may want to make the annotated bibliography a collaborative project, where students contribute the sources they have found to a class archive that other students are encouraged to draw on in their writing projects. Have students highlight all the material borrowed or quoted from another source including their own previous projects in their essays in one color, and in a different color highlight all the places where they respond to or analyze those passages.
Then ask them to evaluate their use of other voices—or trade papers and discuss with a partner. Are the passages adequately unpacked, explained, and analyzed? Is the reader left hanging? How does the student build on and revise or drop things they wrote about in the previous assignment? This activity could work well alongside a discussion of the difference between summary and analysis.
Have students pass their essays around in groups. Does the writer describe how or why the quote is useful for considering something interesting or troubling about their project? Is the quote integrated into the discussion of the paragraph? Afterward, students can return their papers to the original writer, and students can spend five to ten minutes revising their use of that quote.
Have students create a reverse outline of a reading, thinking about questions like: Where is the agenda, the method, and the evidence? Is the argument linear? Does the reading present a compelling argument or an interesting idea? Students can do this work individually, in groups, or together as a class. For instance, is a paragraph introducing a key term or idea?
Illustrating a key point of evidence? Be sure to give students time to reflect on what they have discovered through the reverse outline and how it can apply to their own writing. You may want to give them an in-class writing activity that asks them to take their own draft and model it after the essay and reflect on how the new structure influences the content and purpose of their draft. Using the whiteboard, blank paper, or colored construction paper, have students, in groups, create a visual map of the text that they read for class.
Students can then discuss the choices the writer made in response to a specific audience or conversation. Afterward, students s hould gather in groups to discuss various strategies for addressing potential issues that may have arisen, and then the whole class can discuss approaches to revision. Discussing the readings can then serve as a jumping-off point for looking at student work. Revision can be one of the toughest aspects of writing for students to fully grasp and take advantage of.
Extensively working with revising in class to demonstrate what effective revision can look like helps students to understand that revision is more than simply correcting grammar and word choice. At any stage in the drafting process, working on revision with the entire class can help students conceptualize how revising can be done effectively. Depending on your class and its needs, you may either want to pre-select students whose essays best exemplify an issue the majority of the class is grappling with or have students volunteer their work themselves.
Self-volunteered drafts may engage several different issues. As students look at the samples, have them think about how the project might be supported with texts from the class, how it contributes new knowledge, and how the writer might move forward in the essay. As you go about your discussion, you will be modeling ways of responding to texts in peer review. Be sure to make that explicit to the students. After reading a round of student drafts, you may find that there are common challenges that students are working through.
These common issues can be the basis of in-class workshops to help students navigate these particular challenges. Below are two examples, but there are many other writing challenges to work with in class. Transitions: Some students may be listing their major points in the body of the paper rather than developing a project; consequently, you might call on a student volunteer, or project two anonymous paragraphs from a student paper, to examine how one paragraph moves to the next.
Ask students how the two paragraphs might be related and, in groups, have them rewrite the ends and beginnings of the two paragraphs so as to make explicit how the ideas in the paragraphs build on and relate to one another. Have each group present their revisions and discuss their strategies. Students must not only cite information correctly, but also integrate the quote into their own language and consider how the quote is working with their argument.
From here, get a volunteer from class or choose a student ahead of time and project or distribute a paragraph from their essay. As a class, discuss how the writer could revise their quotations and citations. Then, have students turn to their own texts and work on the way that they use sources in their projects. Paired read-alouds can be used at different points in the drafting process for different purposes.
With a rough draft, you can ask: Does the new set of eyes see more places to push the project further? Are there places where the evidence is unclear? Where might more textual support be needed? At a more polished stage, read-alouds can highlight fluency, sentence structure, and grammatical errors. Useful for working through difficult readings, reverse outlines are also beneficial to students during drafting.
Have students reverse outline their own papers, identifying the individual aims and rhetorical moves of each paragraph, and then have them reflect on what they have noticed. For a more multimodal approach, students can create their reverse outlines using Prezi, construction paper, or the like. Have students look at a sample paper with comments first; then engage them in a discussion of how to prioritize and use feedback.
Afterward, give them the opportunity to reflect on their own feedback and write a revision plan. At any stage in the writing process, ask your students to reflect on the writing that they have done so far, using the following prompts for in-class, informal, ungraded writing: What personal investment do you have in this issue? Why does your argument matter? What counter-interpretations might work against your emerging claims?
What are you struggling with most as you approach the draft? How does how you are writing aid or complicate your answers to these first questions? If you choose to, you can discuss these writings as a class or in small groups. Have students use markers, pencils, Play-Doh, pipe cleaners—check out the art cart in the FYW office—to draw, make, or sculpt a representation of a certain part of the writing process perhaps right after students have completed an assignment.
Afterward, give them a few minutes to write about their representation. In small groups, students can share their various processes. Doing so allows students to unpack what approaches and strategies worked—it also gives them a chance to see how others approached a similar task. They should then write a brief story in class that in some way touches on each of these themes. What is still confusing for you? This will help students practice metacognition by allowing them to consider what in their thinking has changed and what remains a challenge for them moving forward.
Your cart is empty. Then pair and share. Flying Balls —Bouncy Castle balls with an opening sentence written on each. The ball is then tossed to another student who does the same. Modelling —Show them examples of good, interesting writing. Character —Show random pictures of people from the Internet. Develop a character from the image using prompt questions provided by the teacher.
Examples are dialogue, developing setting, conflict, narrative point of view, etc. Music —Play low-volume atmospheric instrumental background music while students are working. Learning Outcome and Success Criteria —Helping them know and understand the goal or outcome they are striving for and where they are going allow them to stay focused.
Pro-Tip: Running out of ideas on how to write "good? Pro Tip: You'll find even more great activities and prompts for learners to finely tune their writing skills within our most popular book ever, The Critical Thinking Companion.
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