For me, the heart of Bean’s discussion on designing formal assignments is his RAFT/TIP heuristic (98), which encourages the creation of assignments that are problem-driven and rhetorically situated. Bean suggests that the trouble with traditional assignments (the “term paper”, the “research paper”) is that they are topic-oriented – “Discuss diabetes!” – and thus likely to result in “data dump” or “all about” papers that are boring to produce and boring to read. Moreover, these papers bear no resemblance to any writing that we actually do in our fields: they are composed in a rhetorical vacuum, and sent down a one-way street to the teacher-as-examiner.Continue reading
When I have to talk about the value of informal writing – or scribbling, if you like – I often refer to the notebooks of Charles Darwin. You are likely familiar with the doodle that represents – or did it generate? – one of the most important insights in the history of knowledge:
But you can also open the notebooks to almost any page, and “see aloud” Darwin thinking the thoughts that will soon turn science on its head – check out this passage for example. This is a great way to spin “I don’t know what I think till I hear what I say” into “I don’t know what I think till I see what I write.” If you happen to be one of those people who keeps a personal notebook or journal, it’s easy to supplement this example with a personal anecdote about how writing can pull the invisible and unknown into full view.
I’ll kick off the discussion with a few remarks after my rereading of Bean’s Chapters 1 and 2. For each Chapter I’ll then throw out a question or two for you to respond to. These follow roughly those guiding Qs found in the Schedule for Week 2 – but I’m tweaking here and there as we go.
Let’s start with, hmm, Chapter 1! Bean wastes no time in setting the stage with a host of interesting ideas and problems. For me, the most important concept introduced in Chapter 1 is the idea of design – in our context, the intentional decisions made by the teacher regarding the learning experience that the student will undertake. Continue reading
Welcome to the Blog for the Fall 2016 Writing Fellows, where we’ll discuss the weekly topics and readings. Moderators will set up one or two guiding questions, and their views thereupon, and the rest of us can comment at the bottom of the post in the “Leave a reply” box. You can reply directly to the Post, and also to others’ comments on the Post. It’s standard blogosphere procedure, and the default tone is conversational. Still, we take the idea of “writing to learn” seriously, so be brief or be lengthy, but either way, try muting your perfectionist internal editor, and let your fingers do the (fresh) thinking.
It is important to be consistent in your visits here. By contributing something every week, we increase the collaborative learning of the group. Many past Fellows have remarked that some of the most important insights of the semester came while writing their comments or reading the comments of the other group members. Because not everyone has done a lot of writing online, it might be inspiring to hear from a previous Writing Fellow on how she felt about blogging in an online community of colleagues. Here’s a few thoughts from Davina Mill (Psychology Writing Fellow Fall 2010):
Congrats, guys, for being selected for WID. You’re here because you’re open to new teaching ideas and WID delivers. You probably already do a lot of special things in the classroom, but I know I certainly walked away fine tuning some old techniques, and learning a bunch of new ones to boot. You’ll get out of blogging what you put into it, so a couple of suggestions that, looking back, I think you might benefit from knowing about.
WID groups meet about once every 2 weeks. Given this structure and my tendency to procrastinate (not that any of YOU do, but just in case…) sometimes, I’d wait to the last minute to do the readings and then add my comment to the blog. Which meant I put less into the process and got less out of it. Suggestion: do readings early on and then throw ideas onto the blog!
And I mean “THROW!” I was a bit hesitant to write… this is a group on writing and critical thinking, so I worried, Will what I write make sense? Plus, before I got to know how cool everyone in the group ends up being, I was worried my peers would scratch their heads at my ramblings. Heck, maybe you are too! But, the key here is: It doesn’t matter. Seriously. This blogging is meant to share ideas, but also to help you unclog your own thoughts. Hey, maybe we should call it Blog and Unclog. But I regress. Main point: try not to get hung up on spelling/ grammar and if you make sense. Your contribution will more than likely resonate with at least one person in the gorup. (note: I am working very hard right now to restrain myself from obsessively correcting my errors in this blog)
As you can see, I tend to ramble in my blogs. But blogs can be super short, too.
So, blog and unclog- it’s liberating and will help you get the most out of the experience.
And don’t worry about how you end your blogs because…
– Davina Mill, Psychology
So, I hope you are looking forward to the online conversation here as the weeks proceed. If you have any questions or comments about the blog and how we’re using it, doesn’t hesitate to chime in.
Have you previously done any online writing or blogging? Take the comment box out for a test spin…