Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Writing assignment: An activity that focuses on planning the text

The limited time requires rigorous organization and the selection of the content to be addressed, which implies determining what is relevant, building a hierarchy of notions and concepts. Planning ahead is perfect with this activity. 
Start by reading and creating a summary, what stands out is the evaluation of various text levels (depending on the focus or the problematic of the text), during which the authors receive comments from real readers about their own writing. In fact, this is one of the few situations in which writing, within the context of learning, addresses not only to the teacher or the students, but also to genuine readers. The collective review serves as a model and as a tutored practice for writing the actual exam. Students who voluntarily make the summary report that they learn a lot: they learn to write and to actually understand the contents.
As a reading assignment, the summary helps link what was worked in class with what they read in the literature, and to revisit the topics of previous classes. Students who attended the class compare the summary to their own notes and evaluate if the most relevant concepts are included. If those who are reading were absent in the class, they receive information about what they missed before. On the other hand, the teacher can see what the students have understood in class, and explain concepts again in case of misunderstanding; it also allows him or her to display the correction criteria in act.
I cannot ignore that this activity takes time from classes, during which there is no progress on new topics. Since reviewing notes can take too long if they are really comprehensive, it's the role of the teacher to determine the focus of analysis. Writing the summary is a very laborious task; therefore not all students want to get involved in it. As a teacher, I have to spend a considerable amount of my time in the beginning of the course writing the first two summaries, but if I don't do that I take away from the students a model that they can follow, and I don't encourage any compromise from their part. 


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