Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poor Idea Development - Building Up Students' Writing Habits

For the past several years, the top reason students in all grades (in Texas) received a one for a score (out of 4) on the state TAKS test was weak development of ideas.
After reading so many papers over the years, I'm almost certain that the results are similar across the nation. Kids, and even adults, tend to list the ideas they wish to convey instead of adequately explaining and giving specific details as they write.

One way to demonstrate this weakness
to your students in a very visual way is using basic colored building blocks like Legos (Reg. U.S. Pat. and Tm. Off.) or a generic version of blocks.

Assign a student in the classroom to be the one who stacks the blocks as the story is being read. For each sentence that develops an idea more completely, a block is stacked vertically, in direct correlation to the development of the idea. At the teacher’s discretion, a compound sentence might possibly deserve to be represented by two blocks. In contrast, when an idea is simply listed, or is underdeveloped, the blocks will again be placed accordingly, being placed side by side instead of vertical. When consecutive ideas flow well and relate to one another, allow the blocks to touch if the student remembered to use some type of transitional phrase between the ideas. If there is no connection between ideas, or there is not a smooth transition between them, leave gaps between the blocks as you place them on the table. This will show the gaps left in the writing of the story. As the writer goes from one idea to another, remember to switch the colors of the blocks to represent that change.
In the end, the blocks will become like a bar graph of how well the composition is developed, and it will show the student which areas need more work, and which ones flow well.

No comments: