On Day 3 of our research paper unit, I give students the following exercise…
My intro to lit students wrote their research paper about Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night. We spent three weeks (or six classes) covering the novel and its companion research paper. In class four, we all met in the library’s tech classroom to review the resources at students’ disposal there for their paper.
An opening exercise from a mid-semester English Comp and Rhet class…
I gave my students five sources with the “masthead” info about each of them and asked them to evaluate the sources with three ratings: thumbs up, thumbs sideways, or thumbs down.
I’m reading Seth Godin’s education manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams, and I found this paragraph particularly interesting.
Godin’s point is that given the availability of “large amounts of information” on the internet, teachers should rethink the role memorization plays in the classroom.
Godin’s own book has lots of “facts” in it, but there aren’t really any footnotes or citations. Which got me thinking…it’s not that we’ve lost the need for the kind of information the internet gives us. It just means that it’s more important to know HOW to get that information than to already have the information stored away in our brain.
So here’s a first semester writing exercise I came up with. I give students ten “facts” and ask them to confirm or deny them. They can use their phones in class to search for the answers. The caveat? They to find at least three sources that confirm the fact. Yes, Wikipedia can be one of them, but they’ve got to go deeper than that. Here are the “facts”…
For the first four weeks of the summer, I worked really hard on developing a journal article from an earlier conference paper (posted here). At the end of those four weeks, I generated an extended abstract that I sent around to a few people for feedback. I’ve since taken the last three weeks off from working on it. I’m picking it back up today.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that I can extend to my teaching:
1. Go find 50 sources that you think could contribute to your work. Only four or five will matter but committing yourself to that number will mean you’ll dive deeper than you would have otherwise. You often find your best stuff in the works cited page of the more obvious articles/books.
2. Use speech-to-text software to spitball your project. It takes away the anxiety of the blinking cursor on a blank page. Talk. Then edit.
3. Write. Every. Day. I wrote at least 1000 words a day for three weeks straight. I couldn’t have written the 600 word abstract without it.
The abstract is after the jump…