Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Paper Training...

Occasionally when I open the blogspot page there is a notification that someone has left a comment on a previous post.  It's always nice to receive a kudo from someone, and even better (in my humble opinion) when the comment makes me laugh.  Such was the case with the comment from my friend, Seth:

"He whizzed with his plans . . ." How I wish you had used "on" in that sentence. on Double Dose - It's All About Research?
 

 Paper Training.

 
 As mentioned earlier this week, there have been a lot of adjustments happening to deadlines, assignments, and motivational attempts.  The BIG research paper due date is looming.  T - 5 days.  Despite the fact that there is a deadline in my grade book, the reality is that I am less worried I am about the deadline than the quality of the work.  Our district encourages us to accept efforts to improve on already-graded assignments, saying that this shows initiative to more more more fully to mastery level of the assessed area.  
 
While this may be true for some students, others have begin to treat assessments as a preview; let's not bother to prepare for a test until AFTER they get a peak at it when it is first administered, and then play the "retest" game.  Let's get real, those of us who teach English do this already.  It's called a ROUGH DRAFT.  Kids get a stab at the project, we offer suggestions for improvement, and they are made.  

But how are we truly teaching kids to think about the comments we've offered?  In the most recent set of rough drafts that I graded, I made some comments two or three times.  (i.e.  "Don't write in first person in a research paper."  "Avoid the use of YOU", etc.)  It would stand to reason that if I circle the first person pronouns on the entire first page, that the same concept would apply to the remainder of the pages.

This is not, apparently, the same understanding of the students, for when the final copies of the papers were turned in, everyone made the changes to the first page - BECAUSE I TOLD THEM TO DO SO -- and never even considered applying the newly-learned concept to subsequent pages.

Yesterday, we sat and drafted the rubric for the rough draft as a class, and decided what was most important.  As a class, the decision was Thesis, Conclusion, MLA Format, Works Cited, and In-Text Citations would be evaluated, 8 points each, for a total of 40 points.  There will be no points deducted or awarded, on the rough draft, for content or grammar.  The comments will be there, and there will be some serious Paper Training.

Did you click on that link?  No, I have not lost my mind.  Between the rough draft and the final draft, we are going to talk about potty-training puppies.  There will be a beautiful powerpoint full of adorable puppies.  We will ohhh and ahhh over the little fuzzy puppies, and then talk about what a pain they are when they first live with a new family.  We will draw connections, we will compare and contrast human paper writing with puppy paper wetting.  I will tease them with a rolled up newspaper and a spray bottle.
 
Did you see what I did there?  I started with Seth's whizzing comment, and wound my way to the whizzing puppies.  Do I intend to saturate my lesson plans in a non-traditional way?  Absolutely.  And I'm not the only teacher considering ways to deprogram kids from "playing school" to actually working with content.  Even if it involves a rolled up newspaper.

Will it work?  I have no idea.  If it does, I've already reserved the domain for CleverPapers.com.