Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Organizing Writing

Sarah Burgess submitted the following information about recent NUA strategies in her classroom.

My English 10 students are working on analytical essays based on their reading of Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. I differentiated the pre-writing process per my LINKS assignment this past month. After writing question papers and crafting thesis statements (that were differentiated per their ability levels), students were invited to select the type of outline they would most like to use. The choices included: a traditional written outline, an NUA thinking map (brace map), and a drawing for understanding outline (based on Linda Rief’s work).

Many students chose the brace map and completed their rough outlines of body paragraphs on large 11x17 sheets of paper. I was really pleased because those outlines are the easiest to share, and I was able to walk around with the thinking map outlines as models for other students.

In addition, I found that some students were using thinking maps as a brainstorming device before even beginning their outlines. Some were using bubble maps when trying to determine how they would characterize a particular sister. Others experimented with double bubble maps to compare two particular sisters in preparation for discussions of how they may have influenced each other.

One NUA strategy, “Read Draw Talk Write” technique, seems somewhat similar to the “drawing for understanding” outline that I have inserted below. Students have read the book, they are drawing their paper topics, they will talk me through the outline, and finally will write their papers.

I am also thinking about adding the 4-Square Writing graphic organizer as an outline option in the future. I like how this visual aid forces students to think about how their examples and supporting details relate to the topic.

--Sarah Burgess, English 10 Teacher

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