cards and sticks for teaching writing
Yesterday Jane wrote about helping a student who’s a visual thinker to actually understand what was wrong with her/his paper. She mentioned using cards and sticks to do this, and that this was a technique she’d learnt when working in writing centres as a grad student. (In the US they have writing centres where students can drop by when they need help writing their papers – and the people working there actually know about techniques for helping people with various disabilities or just different styles of thinking and learning – it sounds a wonderful concept.)
Anyway, we all chimed in in the comments asking what the cards and sticks system is. And Jane answered – and it sounds glorious! You write down your thesis statement and supporting claims and evidence for them on cards and join them all up in a tree shape – that way you can see whether your “argument tree” is not going to stand up because it has no roots (no evidence, for instance) and also whether it’s lopsided, so there’s lots of evidence for some claims and none for others. There’s lots more too it, go read it yourself.
I want to try and use this with my students. I really don’t have enough techniques yet for really helping students understand WHAT is wrong. The way I was trained, it was all sort of implicit, we were expected to either just get it or to drop out, I suppose, but really, it would be better to be able to actually teach these sorts of things.