Archive for the ‘Drafting’ Category

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Create What You Want To!

posted: 6.18.09 by Traci Gardner

Dozens and dozens of ideas float through my head every day. My thoughts are cluttered with them, but they go nowhere. I don’t post them on Twitter. I don’t write them down in my journal. I don’t even scribble them on a Post-It note so I can return to them later. I get so focused on trying to think of perfect ideas that I never write anything down.

I’ve been rethinking that process recently, thanks to photographer friend, Steve Mermelstein (@usrbingeek). Steve recommended Escaping Your Portfolio, from Chase Jarvis. In the entry, Jarvis explains that a photographer’s portfolio of work is typically thought of as a collection of outstanding shots. The problem with that way of thinking, he says, is that the “metaphysical weight alone of the word portfolio can crush the creative spirit rather than enhance it.”

As a writer, I quickly saw that Jarvis was describing the photographic equivalent of my problem. His solution is simple and liberating: “ditch the concept in your mind and wander aimlessly creating things that you want to create.”

Like Jarvis, I’ve been buying the belief that everything I post online has to be a perfect example of my work. Since anyone can read what I write online, everything I post has to be perfect. Why didn’t it ever occur to me to just label some of my writing as drafts or unpolished ideas?

I’m aiming to write more and think less for a while. Rough drafts of all those things I think about have to be better than no drafts at all, right? Don’t wait for the perfect words, the perfect shots, the perfect sounds! Just create your texts. The best ones can always be shifted into a polished collection later.

Beyond teaching me a lesson for my own writing, Jarvis’s blog entry is one that I want to share with students, especially students working on audio and visual compositions. Jarvis has the authority of a working professional who has published some great pictures. Students should easily see the connection to their own work.

After discussing the entry with the class, I’d challenge students to post at least 5–10 new things every day. Their posts might consist of words, photos, videos, or audio files. The important thing is that they don’t need to be perfect or polished. After a week or two, have students review the collections and choose some favorites. As they share their choices with you, ask them to reflect on the process of creating whatever they wanted to and how it might affect other projects that they work on.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Planning, Revising, Writing Process
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Teach Using Twitter… Sort Of

posted: 5.9.09 by archived

Copyblogger has an interesting article about writing gripping Twitter headlines. Why not apply this same approach towards having your students write theses, key ideas, or even titles for their papers?  Most students can use practice writing powerful and interesting titles.

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Categories: Adjunct Advice, Assignment Idea, Drafting, Gregory Zobel, Planning, Teaching with Technology, Writing Process
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Tracking Revision

posted: 4.3.08 by Barclay Barrios

As they work on revising a draft, ask your students to turn on the track changes function in Microsoft Word (or any other similar feature in other word processors).  Have them submit their revised drafts electronically so that you’ll be able to see the extent of the changes in the draft.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Say What You Mean

posted: 10.22.07 by Barclay Barrios

I’ve found that syntax problems in student writing often result from their attempts to sound academic or to express a complex and exciting idea in too compressed a space. I tell students “Say what you mean” and encourage them to do that by reviewing material in the handbook on tone, conciseness, and jargon or, just as usefully, but having them reflect on the writing styles of the essays we read, which often use plain language to express very complex ideas.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Revising
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From HOCs to LOCs

posted: 10.8.07 by Barclay Barrios

Help students see the relationship between Higher Order Concerns and Lower Order Concerns but directly connecting the two. Students should identify key sentences in their drafts that reflect their intentions in terms of audience, purpose, argument, development, and transition.

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Categories: Argument, Assignment Idea, Drafting
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Hyper Paper Text

posted: 4.9.07 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to review the material in the handbook on organization. Then have them come to class with a copy of their current draft in which they have circled key words in their writing and drawn lines connecting them. How does this design impact the experience for you and for the reader? Are the connections among the ideas in the text of the essay visible to peers, and, if not, how can they revise to make them so?

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Categories: Drafting, Learning Styles, Revising, Writing Process
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Reverse Drafting

posted: 3.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the material in the handbook on drafting and revising. Because students often see a published piece of writing as always-already perfect, ask them to imagine earlier and earlier drafts of the essay they’re currently reading. How do they think the author started? What areas do they think needed the most revision? And how can they take these lessons back to their own writing?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising
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Citing Error

posted: 3.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Before a draft is due, ask students to proofread their essays for grammatical errors. If they find any, they should copy them to a new sheet, correct the errors, and then provide MLA citations for the pages of the handbook that support those corrections.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Citing Sources, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Proofreading/Editing, Punctuation & Mechanics, Revising
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Audience and Argument

posted: 3.7.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the materials in the handbook on voice, tone, and argument. Have them summarize the argument of their current draft or the current reading and then reword that argument to be sent as a text message on a cell phone, as an instant message online, as a blog posting online, and as a note to their parents. How does medium change message?

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Categories: Argument, Assignment Idea, Document Design, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Rhetorical Situation, Teaching with Technology, Thesis Statement
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Worst Formatting Ever

posted: 2.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Challenge students to bring in the most unreadable draft ever by playing with the format of their papers in a word processor. As part of the assignment, students should read the material in the handbook on formatting papers and/or document design. Have the class vote on which reformatted draft is the most unreadable and use that to start a discussion about paper formatting and what makes a paper readable.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Document Design, Drafting, Teaching with Technology
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