Last post, we discussed the importance of reading to good writing. To start off our discussion this week, here’s a recap of recent news highlighting research in reading along with some compelling personal arguments on why reading:
- Does Reading Fiction Make You A Better Person?
- Reading a Novel Changes Your Brain
- How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?
- The Most Likely Person to Read a Book?
- Reading Books Is Fundamental
Remember, World Book Night is April 23! How will you share a favorite book with your students!
Kyle Pierson (Communications, Seminole) continues our discussion on how to address the challenges facing a student who’s skipped remediation and gone straight into core classes. Her suggestions include:
What is the primary writing problem you see? If you could fix only one thing, what would it be?
Students who write sentence fragments often don’t seem to understand they are not expressing clear thoughts.
What problem do you find runs a close second?
Comma splices and run-on sentences are also clarity killers.
What error or not ideal writing practice can you live with?
Pronoun agreement errors can cause confusion, but I consider it a “second tier” issue.
Do you address writing problems one at a time or do you work with the entire paper?
I try to focus on correcting errors related to the most recent grammar lesson. For instance, I will mark the sentence fragment errors and I will refer the student back to the book to review the rule. Knowing the rule is often not much help if the student doesn’t know the parts of speech. If they cannot pick out a prepositional phrase, the explanation is often not much help. That leads me back to teaching a lesson on prepositions.
Do you distinguish between clarity/expressions issue and grammar? Or put another way, between content and execution? And if so, how? Do you give 2 grades or mark down for one?
I remind students that sentences work as a series of grammatical phrases. The better they construct the sentences, the clearer their writing will be. I use a rubric for grading. On the first draft, I concentrate on content. I ignore the grammar. The revised paper should be more developed and I include a grammar grade on the second draft.
Besides the Writing Center, do you have a particular resource that students find really helpful? Particularly for online or independent study?
I refer my students to SmartThinking. In fact, one of my assignments is to submit a paper to SmartThinking and turn in the comments for a grade. Students really like knowing about this resource.
Any other tips or tricks you’d like to share? Mnemonics, memory techniques, visualization, metaphor, diagrams, song, story?
I use a “Helping Verbs” song that I used as a middle school teacher. It is very silly, but students can quickly learn the helping verbs if they sing the song (it is to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down). I also have them do a memory exercise in the first or second day of class where they say their name and the name of a helping verb. The next person has to remember the previous person’s name and the helping verb, plus say their own name and helping verb. I go around the room until everyone has had a turn.
How do you address writing anxiety? How do you encourage a reluctant student?
I have students start with a list related to the topic. That usually proves to them that they have thoughts and ideas on the topic. But that ideas are stuck in their head and making a list will spark relationships that they can write about. Also, I do free writing exercises in the beginning of class.
Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your ideas and experience!
What’s your experience in writing? What’s your experience with developmental students? Share the questions you’re exploring and the solutions you’ve found in the CETL blog. Send your articles, reviews, presentations, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org – we want to tell your story!