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Writing Workshop: Developing, Assigning, and Assessing Writing-to-Learn Tasks Rich House, Anne Watt, and Julia Williams Workshop Overview Definition: Writing-to-Learn, Writing-to-Communicate Writing-to-learn tasks and assessment Developing writing-to-learn tasks for your courses

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writing workshop developing assigning and assessing writing to learn tasks

Writing Workshop: Developing, Assigning, and Assessing Writing-to-Learn Tasks

Rich House, Anne Watt, and

Julia Williams

workshop overview
Workshop Overview
  • Definition: Writing-to-Learn, Writing-to-Communicate
  • Writing-to-learn tasks and assessment
  • Developing writing-to-learn tasks for your courses
writing to learn

Writing-to-Learn

What do we mean and how will it help our students?

two perspectives on writing
Two Perspectives on Writing
  • Writing to Learn
  • Writing to Communicate
  • Student writing sample
student writing sample
“Student” Writing Sample

“ascertain if some magnetic arrangement might not be included with the circuit to wor so that it would exactly neutralize the static charge in So many knots of Cable if these devices Could be put in the Cable & their capacity would remain as Constant as the Capacity of the Cable = it would be valuable =

Try two insulated disks of rubber on which is a strip of Zinc & of Copper Connected together =“

student writing sample6
“Student” Writing Sample
  • Thomas Edison
  • Greenwich Cable Telegraph Pocket Notebook, June 10, 1873
  • Speculations, plans, critiques, rough technical drawings, thinking/visualizing on paper
slide7

Writing and Thinking

Discovery Thinking

Invention

Writer-based

Audience: Self

Personal Language

Teacher as Mentor

Personal Knowledge

Forms: Journals, Notes,

Rough Drafts

Critical Thinking

Revision

Reader-based

Audience: Distant

Formal Language

Teacher as Evaluator

Contextual Knowledge

Forms: Essays,

Reports

Discovery and Critical Understanding

a world of difference
A World of Difference
  • Writing to learn: in order to explain the matter to oneself
  • Writing to communicate: in order to explain the matter to others
  • Impossible to explain the matter to others before the student has explained it to herself
  • Course assignments generally focus on WTC, rather than encouraging WTL
benefits for students
Benefits for Students
  • Improved learning
  • Deeper understanding leads to improved written communication
  • Assessment burden reduced
1 journals logbooks
#1: “Journals” (Logbooks?)
  • A place to write regularly
  • Can be assigned topics
  • Or open topic, with specified structure
  • Or open topic and structure, but specified number/frequency of entries and/or amount of writing
journal assessment
Journal Assessment
  • Collect periodically
  • +/- on individual entries, and letter grades for the set of entries
  • Or small number of points for each entry
  • I assign credit, offer readerly response in spots, and make a few teacherly comments at end of the set.
  • No need to mark grammar mistakes except when interfere with understanding point
journal advantages
Journal Advantages
  • Student sense of ownership
  • “Permanent” record/ documentation
  • Reflection
  • Fewer small pieces of paper floating around
journal disadvantages
Journal Disadvantages
  • Can be bulky for both you and students to carry around (consider electronic alternatives?)
  • Easy to fall behind in grading
2 short response papers
#2: Short Response Papers
  • Perhaps due on weekly basis on day of their or your choice
  • Limit to a page or a few paragraphs
  • Can serve similar function to journals, but generally writing is more polished and better formulated
  • Varying degrees of structure vs. openendedness
assessment responding to response papers vs journals
Assessment: Responding to Response Papers vs. Journals
  • Expect more developed thoughts
  • Expect more eloquence and polish
  • I do correct grammar and other sentence level errors
  • Less purely self-oriented: a mixture of writing-to-learn with writing-to-communicate
3 in class writing
#3: In-class Writing
  • In-class written response
  • Possible topics:
    • What did you learn in class today?
    • What questions and concerns do you still have?
    • Explain one of the concepts we discussed in class today.
    • Answer a specific question
  • Assessment: collect essays, read quickly before next class, respond to students (individual or collective)
4 writing notes
#4: Writing Notes
  • Students write notes back and forth to each other
  • Summarize what you understand about the concept being studied; difficulties and questions (200 words, 2 copies)
  • Pass your note and respond
  • Assessment: collect copy, assess points based on student’s degree of response to note
5 explain a problem
#5: Explain a Problem
  • Good as accompaniment to homework problems
  • Explain in words what you did to solve a particular problem from the homework
  • Assessment: can be done with peer groups; important that the student makes all work explicit, provides justification for doing the work in a particular way
6 letter
#6: Letter
  • First letter: addressed to partner in class; problems with concept or topic (200 words)
  • Second letter: response to partner’s letter; offering solutions, clarifications (500 words)
  • Assessment: collect and read; award points based on level of analysis and response
designing writing to learn assignments

Designing Writing-to-Learn Assignments

Goals, Guidelines, Questions

goals
Goals
  • Integrate into important course work: no busywork or add-ons
  • Promote active learning, interactive learning
  • Improve classroom communication, environment
  • Integrate with problem solving, reading, talking, listening, visualizing, critical thinking
guidelines and checklist
Guidelines and Checklist
  • Consider purpose of the assignment: consider audience for the assignment
  • Consider the context for assignment: in class, out of class, lab
  • Consider the form of the assignment: in-class writing, journal, note, letter, problem explanation, etc.
  • See attached checklist
writing workshop developing assigning and assessing writing to learn tasks24

Writing Workshop: Developing, Assigning, and Assessing Writing-to-Learn Tasks

Rich House, Anne Watt, and

Julia Williams