Monday, October 13, 2014

Write arounds for topic selection

A couple weeks ago one of the Humanities teachers approached me about introducing some resources for students who would be doing research papers on World War I. As we talked, I realized that my introduction of resources would be the the introduction students would be getting to this research paper, and so I asked about doing some topic-selection work with students to get started. I then briefly outlined the concept of write-arounds, and the teacher was excited to try something new as an opener for the research paper.

I'd never done a write around before, but I'd read about all of Buffy Hamilton's work with the idea and was eager to try it out. I was also a little nervous, as this was my first time collaborating with this teacher and I really wanted this to go well.

After a little consultation with the teacher, I dug into our primary source databases, and did some other World War I searching (the 100 year anniversary of the start of the war means that there is a LOT of great World War I resources out there, including several excellent Twitter feeds). I tried to pick out things that would provide some background knowledge and also spark questions that could lead to future research. Since this was an introduction to World War I, I couldn't rely on students having any background knowledge.

I found a pile of great articles and images, and then sifted through to find the best of the best. We had a class of 28, so I made seven groupings of five different passages and images. Often there were connections (direct or implied) between at least two of the articles submitted, but each collection represented a range of events. Some of the articles appeared in more than one set, but no two collections were exactly alike. I taped each grouping on a separate piece of large chart paper and I also bought a bunch of different-colored pens, so each group member would have a different color--I almost forgot to do this, but am so glad I did. Everyone having a different colored pen makes it easier for me and the teachers to "see" the conversations, and to better understand how different students interacted with the text.

Before

 And it was awesome. I was amazed at how quickly students engaged with the text. We have a strong culture around annotation here, which definitely helped, but it was still amazing to see how focused and engaged students were. Papers quickly filled up with writing and lines and questions and images--and the occasional disagreement about an interpretation.

After--this represents about 10 minutes of write-around time

After giving them some writing time, I asked each group to select a scribe who would write down "What we discovered" and "What we're still wondering about" lists for their group and email them to me. Students quickly moved from quiet work to small group discussions about the texts they'd been reading.

Next, we came back for a large group discussion and I asked students to share what they discovered and what they were wondering about. Several hands shot up immediately, and students added to their peers' questions and discoveries by sharing what they'd learned from their own write arounds. Eventually I had to cut off the conversation so I could review next steps in the process--and several students were visibly disappointed. I want to emphasize this--I had to cut off an intense conversation about World War I research at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. I was there and I still can't quite believe it.

I spent the last portion of class giving them a brief overview of some of the sources on the LibGuide for their class that would be helpful as they explore these questions and settle on a research topic. No database reviews or source-type requirements--just a "choose your own" exploration to help them get a bit more familiar. 

After class, I compiled each group's "Discovered/Wondering" lists into one big document and posted it to the class LibGuide so all could reference it. I also took pictures of each write around and compiled it into a slideshow--both so students could reference their own work, but also so they could see what their peers had been learning about. I'm excited to go back to this class and see what kinds of research topics they've settled on. 

If I were to do this as a pre-searching activity again (which I think I may have the opportunity to do), I'd like to try having students move between different sets of articles--perhaps moving between different themed groupings or responding to the same articles/topics in different contexts. I loved how the low-stakes process of the write-around made diving into a new topic so inviting--I think this is a process that will definitely help nudge more research towards inquiry. 



6 comments:

  1. Admin, if not okay please remove!

    Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

    www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do you want to inspire your students to write great narratives, essays, and reports? Check out these grade-specific writing topics from thesis help organized by mode (explanatory, creative, and so on). Or search for writing topics that relate to a theme, such as “life” or “animals” or “family.”

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find this article useful. Kindly share more such articles so that I can get better insight. phd dissertation topic selection

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very good technique, it is very useful. Thank you for writing this kind of post.
    PhDassistance in india:

    The HIGS software solution is a research and development company that offers a wide range of guidelines for doctoral students. We help PhD researchers achieve their goals by closing the gap between problems in the research vision and the practical implementation of technologies.

    Why are we the best doctorates in India?

    HIGS has years of experience in the industry and is one of the leading lecturers in India. All of our employees are experienced editors and research experts with many years of expertise.

    What do we do?

    University registration

    We will help you register for a PhD at top universities such as IIT, JNTU, Anna University, VTU, Sathyabama University, Amity University, Hindustan University, NIT and more. Our research team will guide you to the selection of the specified domain and Completion of the topic. They also help you to identify the base paper in your domain.

    Problem identification

    Technical Readers Help you read concepts and help you identify the solutions to identified research problems.

    Research paper writing

    Technical editors will help you prepare the documentation for magazine, conference and accompanying documents and other reports.

    Journal Paper Publications

    Our experts will help you to publish your research in international journals such as IEEE, Springer, Elsevier, SCI journals and conferences.

    Plagiarism check

    100% original and plagiarism FREE work on writing checks Turnitin

    Thesis & Synopsis Writing

    We help you to do your PhD thesis. We deliver the best result.

    Guide ship help

    We help you to get a guide-ship in top universities in INDIA.

    Deadline

    The HIGS team knows the value of punctual transmission, and for this purpose we always deliver your order before the deadline.

    So you can sit back and relax!

    Visit our website here http://higssoftware.com/

    ReplyDelete