The minus one is because I'm a big ol' softie and I agreed to meet with one student on Friday afternoon. But at any rate, I'm DONE with the others! Yay!
But as I was conferencing I had an idea, and I'd like to run it by you guys and see what you think and if you can help me refine this idea into something workable.
One of the weirdest things to me about student writing is the way that so many students have misconceptions about what their own academic writing should look like. There is a total disconnect between the academic writing that they read all of the time for papers and such (journal articles, scholarly books, textbooks, etc.) and what they turn in.
Now, when I designed the syllabus for my course, I kind of had this in mind when I assigned students a journal article, which they are to have read for Monday but which we will have the whole week to cover. I was thinking that one of the things that I wanted was for them to have experience looking at "real" academic writing as a model for their own writing, which I don't think they necessarily consider real or academic.
So my idea is this. I want to organize some sort of activity that uses the article that demonstrates to them in a concrete way that the following are not appropriate:
1. Keeping your argument a secret because it creates "suspense."
2. Using the words "I feel" to indicate things like thinking, believing, recognizing, etc.
3. Repeating your introduction - word-for-word - as your conclusion.
4. Organizing the essay not in relation to the power of the ideas but in a chronological sort of a way.
5. Using just one technique for transitions - all of them.
6. Opening the paper with rhetorical questions, again, because it creates "suspense."
7. Opening the paper with "Imagine you..." and anything that follows that.
I'm sure that there are more, but those are the ones that strike me that one would just NEVER find in actual academic writing that is published. My point isn't to make rules against these things, but instead to demonstrate that if one is going to thwart the conventions that one should be conscious of doing so and be doing it for a reason. Also, I think it allows us to think about purpose and audience in a more specific way than they're used to doing. When was the last time one of you wanted a journal article you were perusing to create suspense?
So anyway, I'm not sure how I'm going to go about doing this. I had already planned a reverse-outlining activity with the article, and i think that this to some extent goes along with what I'm talking about here, but I also think that it could be fun for them to close off an activity related to the above with asking them to write something in parody in which they break all of the conventions that I'm talking about. Huh.
My apologies for the inarticulate and pathetic nature of the above thoughts. I am totally fried from the conferencing.
6 years ago