- “LEO Thesis Statement“
- “Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements“
- “Thesis Statements: How to Write Them“
This fall I’m teaching ENG 121, English Composition I, for the first time at Red Rocks Community College. (I usually teach ENG 122, English Composition II, and ENG 131, Technical Writing I.) ENG 121 is a first-semester freshman-composition class in which students have to write at least five essays “that stress analytical, evaluative, and persuasive/argumentative writing.”
The textbook I selected is the eighth edition of Axelrod, Cooper, and Warriner’s Reading Critically Writing Well: A Reader and Guide (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008). The students’ first essay is an autobiographical essay about a significant person or event.
Since most of us can’t write (or even “type”) as fast as we think, it occurred to me that having someone else take notes while the student talked about the event or person. In class, I divided the students into groups of three or four according to where they were sitting. (The room is set up with round tables with four chairs each.) I instructed them to take turns talking about the subjects of their essays while other members of the group took notes and asked questions to elicit details.
Some students hadn’t chosen topics for their essays–despite being instructed to do so for this week. Some groups just talked about their subjects without writing anything down. However, I’m pleased to say that one group did follow my directions and told me later that they found the exercise very helpful.
I intend to try this technique again when appropriate–probably with more detailed directions.
This semester I’m teaching four sections of second-semester freshman composition: three sections of ENG 1020 (two on campus and one online) for Metro and one section of ENG 122 (online) for Red Rocks. I’m using the same main textbook, The Bedford Researcher, for all the classes, and the assignments will also be the same for all of them.
I’ve been trying to figure out what would be the most efficient way to post instructions for assignments that I didn’t include in the syllabus (i.e., everything but the papers). I could repeat the information in the wiki for the on-campus Metro classes and the course shells for both online courses, or I could post it once somewhere else and link to it. That way, if I need to make any corrections, I only have to make them once.
I decided finally that this blog is the best place to post the assignments. That way, my students can all ask any questions they have in the same place, and I’ll be notified immediately because I moderate the comments.
I’ll try it this semester and see how it works.
This semester I taught three second-semester freshman composition classes: one section of ENG 1020 on campus for Metropolitan State College of Denver and two sections of ENG 122, one on campus and one online, for Red Rocks Community College. For the two of these classes that were taught on campus, and the others I taught, I used Wetpaint wikis (linked in the previous sentence) to update course schedules and post assignments. In addition, I created a College Research wiki where I provided information on research and students uploaded reviews of internet research tools.
For the last research journal assignment in the writing classes listed above, the students were asked to “[d]iscuss the usefulness and effectiveness of the internet tools you used in the class: the blog [for a research journal], the Delicious bookmarks, and the wikis.”
In their research journals, students offered the following comments about the wikis:
To protect their privacy, even though their comments are on their public blogs, I’m not including students’ names.
I will definitely continue using the wikis as I did unless I can find something better. I just need to get around to requesting that the ads be removed since I’m using them for classes.
I plan include comments on the Delicious accounts and blogs in future posts.
On Tuesday, I wrote about some web-based mind-mapping services I had run across. I didn’t discover until later that Mary Jaksch at Write to Done had written about mind mapping on Monday in a post titled “How to Use a Genius Tool for Writers: Mind Maps.” In addition to including a video of Tony Buzan explaining why mind maps work, discussing hand-drawn mind maps, and reviewing some desktop mind mapping applications, she lists the following web-based services that I didn’t include in my post:
Mind42.com: “Isn’t 42 the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything? Well, in this case it means FOR TWO and indicates the collaborative character of mind42. Manage all your ideas, whether alone, twosome or working together with the whole world – collaborative, browser-based and for free.”
comapping.com: “Try online mind mapping together with your friends and colleagues – simply using your browser.”
In a traditional classroom setting, I frequently have my composition students use clustering (or mind mapping) as a method of prewriting. I’ve been thinking about having my online students try it too using web-based mind-mapping software. I’ve found the following sites, all of which offer free accounts:
Wisdomap: “Wisdomap helps you to organise your thoughts in a powerful mind map format, and allows you to attach notes, videos, pictures, links and files to your map. The colourful, bright and clear maps engage the right side of the brain, while keeping notes and media outside the mind map itself ensures simplicity and clarity.”
WiseMapping: “Wise Mapping is the web mind mapping tool that leverages the power of Mind Maps mixing new technologies like vectorial languages (SVG and VML) and the power of the whole Web 2.0 concept. No pluggin required.”
bubbl.us: “Bubbl.us is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online.”
Video: “Bubblus Basic Mind Mapping“
MindMeister: “MindMeister brings the concept of mind mapping to the web, using its facilities for real-time collaboration to allow truly global brainstorming sessions. Users can create, manage and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeisters from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map and see each other’s changes as they happen.”
Mindomo: “Mindomo is a versatile Web-based mind mapping tool, delivering the capabilities of desktop mind mapping software in a Web browser – with no complex software to install or maintain.”
I haven’t tried any of these yet, so I’d appreciate feedback from people who have used them of know of similar sites.
I’ve found the following grammar sites with explanations and exercises for my students:
I’d appreciate links to any other good sites.
In my ENG 090 class, we’re starting with a review of writing paragraphs. I’ve found the following electronic sources on this topic: