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Supporting Student Writing Dr. Íde O’Sullivan, Patricia Herron, and Lawrence Cleary, Research Officers with the Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre,

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Student Writing Dr. Íde O’Sullivan, Patricia Herron, and Lawrence Cleary, Research Officers with the Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Student Writing Dr. Íde O’Sullivan, Patricia Herron, and Lawrence Cleary, Research Officers with the Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre, UL

2 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 2 Game Plan Friday: –End-goal: The in-class assignment –Organizing the pedagogical frame and tying writing types and purposes to learning goals Saturday: –Questioning writing assignments –An Academic Literacies approach: Whose values? –Formative feedback –In-class assignment (40 minutes)

3 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 3 Knowledge and Experience How does your experience with the Writer’s Retreat inform how you support student writers? How does your pedagogical experience and knowledge inform how you support student writing? How does your experience and knowledge of your students, individually and as a group, inform how you support student writing?

4 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 4 Experience and Knowledge How does your experience and knowledge of the writing process inform how you support student writing? How does your experience and knowledge of writing and learning strategies inform how you support student writing? How does your experience of peer support inform how you support student writers?

5 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 5 Free-writing Exercise For the next five minutes write without stopping. Do not remove your pen from the paper. Write without stopping. If you have nothing to say, say “I have nothing to say” until you can think of something to say. Write in sentences, but do not pay attention to the perfection of the form. Do not edit or sensor your writing. Writing Prompt: Given what you already know, what can you do to support student writing?

6 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 6 Logical Order and Memory Memory is one of the five canons of Rhetoric –Invention –Arrangement –Style –Memory –Delivery “These categories have served both analytical and generative purposes…they provide a template for the criticism of discourse (and orations in particular), and they give a pattern for rhetorical education” (“Canons of Rhetoric” Par. 2.).

7 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 7 Memory, Logical Order and the Arrangement of Ideas Logical arrangement of ideas –Chronological/temporal –Spatial/geographical –Topical/categorical General to specific Global to local Increasing order of importance Methods of Development AnalysisCause / EffectClassification ProcessDescriptionComparison / Contrast NarrationExamplesDefinition

8 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 8 Generating Ideas through Order What are some of the characteristics of academic writing? Can you think of a person, thing or activity with which it shares some or, even better, many of these characteristics? Can you think of a metaphor or simile for writing or for some aspect of writing? –Academic writing is an X –Academic writing is like an X

9 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 9 Logical Order and Memory When we give students ways of organizing ideas like this, we give them a point of departure for analyses, generation, application and regeneration. We give them the tools that they need in order to assess how they will proceed. –Writing Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revision, Editing and Proofreading. –Assessing the Rhetorical Situation: Occasion, Topic, Writer, Audience, Purpose. –Assessing Writing/Learning Strategies: Cognitive, Metacognitive, Affective, Social.

10 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 10 The Writing Process Prewriting: Planning and Gathering Information Drafting: Giving Thoughts Shape and Order Revision: “Re-seeing” (Re-thinking) the Means and the Ends—the Global Issues Editing and Proofreading: the local issues

11 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 11 Assessing the Rhetorical Situation Occasion (Kairos)Occasion Topic (Topoi) Writer Audience Purpose

12 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 12 Strategies for learning Cognitive Metacognitive Affective Social

13 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 13 Giving Students a Framework So one way to support student writing is by organising the tools that they need so that when an occasion for writing presents itself… –they have a way of identifying and assessing their procedural options –they will have an organised way of assessing the context into which they write –They are able to choose arrangements that make for easier conceptualisation and retention. –They are able to respond to feedback by prioritising their learning goals, scaffolding their learning so that progress can be monitored.

14 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 14 Other kinds of support Writing assignments that students understand; helping students to understand what is written. Providing good resources: Web-sites, handbooks (both discipline-specific and writing-specific), guidelines.handbooks discipline-specificwriting-specificguidelines Providing students with services: Teaching and Learning Centres, Writing Centres, WAC and WID programmes, peer-learning programmes and Writing Fellows programmes. Providing formative feedback Providing more space for dialogue on writing and learning strategies and on transferable skills develoment and application Providing more—both high- and low-impact—in- and out-of- class writing opportunities Involving students in the assessment process (peer- response)

15 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 15 Assessment Teacher collects, assesses in accordance to either visible or invisible grading criteria and returns work to student with an assigned grade and with comments. Teacher collects a sampling of the work done and gives individual oral feedback in conference. Teacher spot-checks and makes a few suggestions on how student might better achieve a particular learning outcome—no assessment at this time. Students might be given criteria for evaluating their own work and/or the work of their peers.

16 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 16 Providing Formative Feedback The power of formative assessment lies in its double-barreled approach, addressing both cognitive and motivational factors. Good formative assessment gives students information they need to understand where they are in their learning (the cognitive factor) and feedback develops students' feelings of control over their learning (the motivational factor). Timing? How much? What mode? Written, Oral, Demonstrative (Modelling)?

17 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 17 Approaches to Teaching Writing Ad-hoc approaches—many different teachers giving instruction that is tailored to what are viewed as connected to module or disciplinary needs. Systematic approaches—the result of a writing culture: –Rhetoric and Composition (US) –New Literacies (UK/Commonwealth)

18 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 18 Academic Literacies Mary Lea and Brian Street (2006: 369) conceptualise approaches to student writing as falling into one of three overlapping models: –A study skills model— “…sees writing and literacy as primarily an individual and cognitive skill”; –An academic socialisation model— “…is concerned with students’ acculturation into disciplinary and subject- based discourses and genres”; and –An academic literacies model— “…is concerned with meaning making, identity, power and authority, and foregrounds the institutional nature of what counts as knowledge in any particular academic context”.

19 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 19 Learning to Write by Writing We learn by doing. What do we do? What kind of writing should we promote? What do we learn? What kinds of learning does writing promote? But how can I promote writing without committing myself to massive amounts of reading and to countless hours of feedback and assessment?

20 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 20 Different kinds of writing… Genres –Essays Essay in sociology Essay in comparative literature –Reports –Lab report (biology) –Lab report (chemistry) –Technical background report (engineers) Text-types or functions Writing introductions GeneralisingArguing Describing functions Writing criticallyExpressing reasons

21 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 21 Different kinds of learning Subject-specific knowledge (stuff) Discipline-specific knowledge (ways of thinking/ways of processing stuff/ways of interacting) Visual, aural, kinaesthetic, inductive, inductive, intuitive learning, etc. Cognitive, social, affective—basic literacies: reading, writing, IT skills, interpersonal /instrumental communication and negotiation skills High-order thinking skills—categorizing, classifying, analysing, synthesising, measuring, evaluating, theorising.

22 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 22 Skill Sets Literacy, numeracy, IT literacy Communication skills, teamwork, leadership skills High order cognitive skills Bloom’s taxonomy: knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluate

23 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 23 Exercise: Compare and Contrast Work in small groups to extract salient information from a table of data in order to make a recommendation. What skills were tested in the completion of this exercise? –Creating qualitative measuring criteria –Logically organising information –Categorizing and classifying information –Negotiating and compromising –Logical reasoning –Basing logically reasoned conclusions on retrievable, defendable supporting evidence

24 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 24 Learning to Write; Writing to Learn Learning, Writing, Writing to Learn, Writing to Learn How to Write in the Discipline

25 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 25 Writing to prompts (Murray, 2005; 2006) What writing have you done with your students in/outside of class? What writing would you like to do with your students in/outside of class? Keep writing non-stop for 5 minutes. Write in sentences. Do not edit or censor your writing. Discuss what you have written in pairs.

26 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 26 Reflection and discussion 1 What was the impact of the previous exercise?

27 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 27 Lesson plan 1 Think about a recent lesson you delivered where you had difficulty engaging the students’ interest. Would they have benefited from engaging in this type of activity from the beginning of the class? Design a writing prompt that engages them in the topic of the lesson you are about to commence.

28 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 28 Reflection and discussion 2 Why integrate writing into my classroom?

29 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 29 Writing activity 2 Summarise in writing the main points of the previous discussion. Did this writing exercise help focus/organise the main points of the discussion for you? Did the writing exercise help clarify the main points/outcomes of the discussion? How do you think this could be applied in your classroom?

30 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 30 Lesson plan 2 Think about a recent lesson you delivered where students may have benefited from summarising in writing the main points of a discussion/reading in order to focus that discussion. Design a similar “summarising” exercise and consider how you might infuse it into this lesson plan.

31 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 31 Why integrate writing into the classroom Nurturing good writing skills enhances students’ ability to think in complex and coherent ways (Bean, 2001). Writing promotes learning and active problem- solving abilities. Encouraging students to practice the conventions of their academic discipline will familiarise them with these same conventions.

32 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 32 Writing is unique “The process of learning to write is largely a process of learning to think more clearly” (Arapoff, 1967:33- 4). “Writing serves learning uniquely because writing as process-and-product possesses a cluster of attributes that correspond uniquely to certain powerful learning strategies” (Emig, 1977:122).

33 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 33 Why integrate writing into the classroom Writing is important in all disciplines. Non-systematic approach to writing support and development is evident in the audit and analysis. It is often presumed that students will be acculturated or somehow induced into academic writing simply by being immersed in the culture, in this instance the academy (Lea and Street, 1998:158). It is the responsibility of faculty in all disciplines to cultivate students’ writing (Mitchell and Evison, 2006:72).

34 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 34 Reflection and discussion 3 Reflection What other kinds of writing can I include in my classroom? How could I include these activities in my classroom? Discussion and writing activity Discuss and make a list of the types of activates you could engage in.

35 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 35 Writing-to-learn activities (WAC Clearinghouse) Keeping reading, project, and / or writing journals and / or learning logs Writing summaries Annotating a text Writing responses to texts, lecture points or problem statements Synthesising information Starting discussions Focusing a discussion Analysing a process, an event or an argument Solving problems, preferably real ones Writing to explain the implications of a case Writing letters Writing definitions

36 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 36 Writing-to-learn activities Writing exercise Define a writing-to-learn activity. Writing-to-learn activities are short, impromptu, informal writing tasks which focus students on the ideas being presented in class (WAC Clearinghouse, 2008).

37 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 37 Writing activity 3 Think about a difficult concept in your field/discipline, especially one that you know but have difficulty explaining to others. Explain this concept in writing to a group of first-year students. What does this do for your understanding of this concept? Now think about how you might test if your students have understood this concept?

38 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 38 Exercise: Problem-solving After you introduce a new concept in your course, ask students to write out a theoretical or practical problem that the concept might help to solve. Students can exchange these problems and write out solutions, thus ensuring that they understand the concept clearly and fully. (WAC Clearinghouse, 2008)

39 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 39 Reflection and discussion 4 What are the benefits of engaging students in writing-to-learn activities?

40 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 40 Benefits of engaging in writing-to- learn activities Focuses the mind on ideas/key concepts being discussed in class – even before they are addressed – thus engaging the students’ minds. Concentrates the students’ attention on content and discipline-specific writing simultaneously Helps them to clarify their thoughts, to learn and to ultimately develop their critical thinking. Ensures that they are engaging regularly in writing, thus keeping their writing skills sharp.

41 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 41 Why integrate writing into the classroom In many cases, the only writing assigned to students is for assessment. Consequently, writing becomes associated with stress and anxiety. Informal writing activities and activities which encourage students to write regularly help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with writing. Students realise that writing can actually be a fun experience. Students develop confidence and fluency in their writing. It helps them make the transition to formal academic writing with greater ease.

42 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 42 Writing activity 4 Write a Limerick commencing with the following line: There are students that never can learn …………

43 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 43 Reflection and discussion 5 Do you have any objections to using writing-to- learn activities in your classroom? Have you any worries or concerns about integrating writing-to-learn activities into your curriculum?

44 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 44 Worries and fears Bean (2001:9-11) recognises the following worries amongst staff: Integrating writing and critical thinking into their courses –will take time away from content; –will not be suitable for certain disciplines; –will lead to an excess burden of marking or grading; –will confront them with their lack of writing expertise.

45 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 45 Writing activity 5 Annotation Identify the key ideas in this reading (Carter et al., 2007:279). Explain in writing the subtle differences between the concepts of writing to learn and learning to write.

46 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 46 Lesson planning Design a writing-to-learn activity with a specific learning outcome in mind that could be easily integrated into a class you are planning for the coming academic year. Present this activity to the group.

47 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 47 Writing-to-learn activities (WAC Clearinghouse) Keeping reading, project, and / or writing journals and / or learning logs Writing summaries Annotating a text Writing responses to texts, lecture points or problem statements Synthesising information Starting discussions Focusing a discussion Analysing a process, an event or an argument Solving problems, preferably real ones Writing to explain the implications of a case Writing letters Writing definitions

48 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 48 Conclusions Could you see yourself incorporating Writing to Learn into your curriculum?

49 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 49 Works Cited “An Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum.” The WAC Clearinghouse, University of Colorado. 29 April 2008.http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/index.cfm Arapoff, N. (1967) “Writing: A Thinking Process”, TESOL Quarterly 1.2 (1967): Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, Berlin, James A. “Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories.” College English 44.8 (1982): Burton, Gideon O. “Cannons of Rhetoric.” Silva Rhetoricæ. 26 Feb Brigham Young University. 18 Nov http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm Brookhart, Susan M. “Feedback that Fits.” Educational Leadership, December 2007/January 2008 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 16 Nov http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/dec07/vol6 5/num04/Feedback_That_Fits.aspx Carter, Michael, Miriam Ferzli and Eric N. Wiebe. “Writing to Learn by Learning to Write in the Disciplines.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 21.3 (2007):

50 4/26/2015Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre 50 Works Cited Ebest, Sally Barr, Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu, eds. Writing from A to Z: The Easy-to-Use Reference Handbook, 5 th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, Elbow, Peter. Writing Without Teachers, 2 nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, Emig, J. (1977) ‘Writing as a Mode of Learning’, College Composition and Communication, 28.2 (1977): Lea, Mary R. and Brian V. Street. “The ‘Academic Literacies’ Model: Theory and Applications.” Theory into Practice 45.4 (2006): Mitchell, Sally and Alan Evison. “Exploiting the Potential of Writing for Educational Change at Queen Mary, University of London.” Teaching Academic Writing in UK Higher Education: Theories, Practices and Models. Ed. Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams. Houndmills, Basingstoke:Palgrave/Macmillan, Murray, Rowena. How to Write a Thesis, 2 nd ed. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open UP, 2006.


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