Posts Tagged ‘transitions’

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Transitions: The First Phase of Taking Flight

posted: 8.12.13 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

“Sometimes,” a student related one day in our basic writing class, “I stand on the corner waiting for the bus. The bus never comes, but I like waiting.”  The non-resident students nodded in recognition, and the local students smiled in sympathy. No bus would be forthcoming. “Why would we need a bus?” a long-time townsperson would ask later on. “Why would anyone want to leave? We have everything we need here and we don’t want outsiders coming in.” [read more]

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Categories: Susan Naomi Bernstein
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5 ways I help students with organization

posted: 1.31.08 by Barclay Barrios

I find that students often have trouble writing papers with strong organization. Sometimes, in fact, it feels like they could swap around all the body paragraphs and it would be the same paper—they don’t logically lead one to the other. Here are some exercises I use to help students focus on the organization of their papers:

1. Paragraph to Paragraph Transition
The most solid transitions, I suggest to students, comes from a statement that directly ties together two paragraphs. Start by having students review the material on transitions in the handbook. Then try this exercise. Have students take two paragraphs from their drafts. Ask them to write a one sentence summary of the first paragraph and then another one sentence summary of the second paragraph. Students should combine these two sentences into one, forming a strong and specific transition.

2. Rearrange the Order
Strong organization is self-evident. That is, when a paper is well-organized each paragraph clearly has a place in the whole. Have students test their organization by bringing in a draft for peer revision with the paragraph order switched around. If their peers cannot reassemble the original order then they need to work on transitions and organization.

3. Model Transitions
Have students locate examples of effective transitions in the current reading. Discuss what makes them effective—is it just the use of transitional words and phrases or is there a sentence pattern at work here? Have students apply what they learn by modeling one of these effective transitions in their current drafts.

4. Trail Markers
Trail markers make sure you don’t get lost in the woods; students can use the same technique to mark the trail of their arguments in their papers. Have students underline key sentences in each paragraph that “point the way” to the larger argument and/or to the next paragraph. If they can’t find sentences that work in that way, then that paragraph might represent someplace their readers might get lost.

5. All Outta Outlines
The strongest organization feels inevitable. Help students to locate that level of organization by having them produce multiple pre- or post-draft outlines, each with a different possible organization; you might in fact ask them to outline until they can’t outline any more. Do some points always need to come before others? Do they need to introduce a term, for example, before discussing it? Looking at multiple organizations can help students see the one that makes the most sense, the one that seems most inevitable.

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Categories: Argument, Assignment Idea, Document Design, Grammar & Style, Writing Process
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Transitional Paragraphs for Understanding

posted: 3.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to review the material in the handbook on clarity and transitions, and also ask them to come to class having identified a passage in the current reading that they found particularly confusing. In small groups, students should share their passages and then pick one to work on. The groups will then insert a paragraph before this passage that uses transitions and acts as a transition to help everyone else in the class understand the movement of the author’s argument in this place.

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Categories: Argument, Collaboration, Grammar & Style
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Topic Sentence Paragraphs

posted: 2.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students review the material in the handbook on topic sentences, paragraphs, and transitions. Then ask them to take all topic sentences from their current draft and copy/paste them into a new document to make a paragraph composed of these topic sentences. Ideally, this paragraph will be readable with some basic flow. Use these topic sentence paragraphs to open a discussion of transitions, topic sentences, and paper organization.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Cut and Tape

posted: 11.20.06 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to take a copy of their current draft, cut it up into individual paragraphs, place the paragraph slips in an envelope, and bring it into class. Bring a roll of tape to class and then, in groups, have students trade envelopes. Each peer reviewer needs to read all the individual paragraphs, determine what their order should be, and tape them back together. When students get their taped-together papers back, ask if the drafts came back in the right order. Use this as an opportunity to discuss organization and transitions, turning to the section on transitions in the handbook to help students review tools they can use to make sure the order of their paragraphs is always perfectly clear.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Drafting, Grammar & Style, Learning Styles, Peer Review
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