The groups discussed gaps between students as readers and students as writers and how they could help students use one in the service of the other – reading for writing and writing for reading with an emphasis in both on the student as actively making meaning.
We had this activity where students had to read the text, and you know, mark three to five places that they found particularly interesting, you know, whether that was phrases; sentences; paragraphs, which required them to select a limited number of parts that they had to... had to use; putting them in order of priority. Say you were trying to justify why, and think about why you think that's more important. And then the students would then fold that in half, and then in the left hand column they'd write the idea that they suggested was the most important in their own words. So they're translating, and then making that piece of writing their own. And then writing in the top of the right hand column, 'Yes, but something bothers me'. So you're actually getting them to kind of question what it is that they've read, and to become confident in reaching a judgment. And then they'd read another text, and they can compare it with the first text that they'd read, which is really important in the field of history that we're working in, because it's about students evaluating different arguments, and which arguments they find most convincing.
We shared our Short Writing Tasks, considered ways of using their texts to stimulate and capture discussion in class, and talked about the limitations of 'for and against' responses in argumentative writing.
We also discussed how to work critically with more than one text, situating them in relation to each other to be able to make interesting and evaluative comments in relation to coursework or exam questions.
You might have, say for example, like ten minutes writing time, where you'd say, 'I want you to write about three of the factors that you think are most important, and just spend ten minutes just writing it down'. Then you might say to them, 'I want you to connect those factors: show what the connections are between each of those. And then I might want you to write down which are the most important factors, and why you think that is.
The emphasis in these activities/discussions was broadly on students generating and capturing ideas and arguments from their reading, through their talk and in their writing. How though do they develop the capacity to articulate their thinking clearly and effectively? Go to the next page