Posts Tagged ‘scaffolding’

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Scaffolding Assignments: The Habits Redux

posted: 7.20.12 by archived

Before I get into specifics of assignment design, I just wanted to mention a couple articles I’ve come across that respond to the habits of mind that have been on my mind this summer:

  • Clancy Ratliffe  at CultureCat blogged about how the habits of mind described in the Framework could be aligned with WPA outcomes;
  • The most recent issue of College English includes a symposium on the Framework, which seems to have excited quite a bit of not-entirely-positive feedback.

I’ve been thinking lately about how to structure a series of assignments “inspired” by the habits of curiosity, creativity, and persistence.

  1. I usually begin the semester with the generic “writer’s autobiography,” asking students to tell me and the rest of their classmates something about their history as a writer, how they assess themselves, what writing they do now, and what they hope to get out of the class. As a first informal assignment this fall, I’m thinking of asking students to write about how they are curious and creative and persistent (hereafter C, C, and P); this may have involved learning about dinosaurs or experimenting with make-up or practicing one’s foul shot. I will also ask them to comment on whether and how this connects to their experiences as a writer. This will be an informal first post on their individual blogs set up this first week of class. [read more]

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Categories: Holly Pappas
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The Super Secret Formula: Still Super If Not So Secret

posted: 11.6.09 by Barclay Barrios

When I think back on all of the little class activities I’ve developed in my time as a teacher I don’t think any have spread or persisted as much as the Super Secret Formula.  It’s on my mind because one of our former teachers (now in Georgia pursuing her PhD) mentioned using it with success in a recent e-mail.  That same week the waiter at my favorite breakfast place (who also happens to be a freshman at school) also mentioned loving it.

So what is the Super Secret Formula?  Well, simply, it’s

Cl > I > Q1 > E > T > Q2 > Ce

Students start their paragraphs with “Cl,” a sentence that states the claim of the paragraph.  Then with “I,” they introduce a quotation from the first author, adding a sentenced that explains it (“E”).  The next sentence makes a transition (“T”) to a quotation from a different author, “Q2.”  Finally, students take a sentence or two to explain the connection between the two quotations (“Ce”) and how it supports the argument they’re making in the paper.

The concrete structure of a “formula” provides a good scaffolding for students to build a solid paragraph that works with quotation use but the risk is, of course, that all their paragraphs will becomes (literally) formulaic.  When using this exercise, I start by having groups use the formula to make a sample paragraph.  Then I challenge groups to come up with other formulas for working with quotations.

This is my Golden Tool of my Lore Bag—it always seems to work and students love it.  I think of course they love having a concrete pattern and set of instructions to learn how to think connectively and thus to synthesize while working with quotations.  But I always find that taking the writing class out of the writing classroom has some near magic effect.  There’s something about a scientific-looking formula that taps into some other region of students’ brains and bypasses any anxiety they may have about writing.

So, still super if not so secret.

(If you’d like to see more ideas for working with quotations, read my older post “5 ways I help students to work with quotations.“)

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Integrating sources, Student Success, Working with Sources
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