Last week I introduced you to the first lessons I cover in freshman composition where students learn the basics they will need throughout the class, and they specifically focus on using narrative type elements.
The next assignment is to move into informative writing. There are two main goals with teaching informative writing: 1 – learning how to do/use research 2 – how to inform without focusing on opinion.
I’ve handled the research/informative paper in a variety of ways, but my plan had been to do a lesson called Punctuated Research. What this would have involved was to investigate issues around writing, especially issues that an individual student might have (like what on earth is a gerund?).
Some of the assignments in this unit (besides working on planning, drafting, and revising an essay on informing about some aspect of writing) would include:
- Free-write about something you are an expert on (or something you can explain without having to do research).
- Watch, write and discuss the video The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
What information do you receive from it? What would you research more? How video can fit into research.
- I like introducing tech and some I usually introduce during this time include Storify and Prezi. I also l like to introduce tech that might help with research because I got so tired of hearing I LOST MY FLASH DRIVE. Save your stuff in the cloud, on your drive, print, multiple places! Some I liked to mention were social bookmarking type sites like Diigo, Scrible and Stixy.
- We cover MLA formatting. I also like to show them APA and have a discussion about what is different between the two so they can start thinking about WHY we bother with documentation.
- For some of our reading I liked to share Tips on Writing a Biography, and another on Mark Twain’s Bicycle. Exercise with that one usually had them free-writing what they know about Mark Twain, then discussing in small groups, then writing on the board what we know about him before the article and then after and how we could use the article and what we know to research more.
Hope that this will serve as a good record of some of what I was trying to do with teaching research. There is, of course, more to it that would be in textbooks like types of sources, how to properly cite etc. And, who knows, maybe you can find something to write about from looking at one of these items. You never know what might inspire you.
Next time there will be pirates . . .