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Sample lesson: Think before you write (with assignment

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Context: In Media Foundations, Media Writing I, one intended course outcome is that students will develop an effective, individualized writing process that includes thinking before drafting. Assumptions: 1. Students have learned, or used, some kind of brainstorming technique previously, but may not have learned mind mapping 2. Students have not previously reflected on why/how they brainstorm and why it’s important to the writing process 3. Students have considered purpose and audience in a previous class 4. Students have some resistance to learning new processes Lesson objectives: Primary objective: Learn different ways to brainstorm for different contexts; consider effectiveness/result of brainstorming; find most personally effective brainstorming technique; assignment: research, practice and reflect on new technique: visual mind mapping Secondary objective: Reflect on writing process; practice independence in finding information useful to learning Learning skills objectives (reflexive focus on highlighted objectives): reflect on experience; think things through on paper; learn through practice; try new processes Set up: Class members mostly work individually in this class, as they will be individually reflecting on the activities; there is also some pair work and group discussion . Materials: assignment handout; white-board markers and board. Set up: Describe method: students will be trying out different brainstorming techniques, reflecting upon them, then researching, practicing and reflecting on mindmapping at home. Ask: why might we reflect on these process and not just do them?? [this frames activity and assignment as a learning skill] Context: You’re going to write an article for a Youth Culture magazine (e.g. Vice) about your favourite band, movie or book. What will you do first? [Eliciting how/if students think first.] 1. Lists: ask students to brainstorm information in a list; students to reflect (below) in writing, then discuss as a class. Reflection: (to be included in final assignment) • How many points did you come up with? • Was it hard or easy to think of things? • Did you organize your list in any way? If so, was it conscious or unconscious?

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From your list, what would you do next if you had to write an essay? Think about possible situations where making a list or lists might be the best way to brainstorm—can you name two or three?

2. Questions: Ask students to create a list of questions for the topic they used above. Reflection: (to be included in final assignment) • How many questions did you come up with? • How did you decide on the questions? • Did you have an audience in mind? How might having a specific audience in mind help? • Was that easier or harder than making a straight list? • Think about possible situations where asking questions might be the best way to brainstorm—can you name two or three? 3. Freewriting: explain the “rules” of freewriting; ask students to freewrite about what it’s like in high school; review as a class—how much did you write? Was it hard? Easy? How did you feel about it? Do it again: choose one sentence, and freewrite again with that as first sentence. (Students may want to read out loud and comment on one another’s writing, but don’t tell them this will happen beforehand). Reflection: (to be included in final assignment) • How many ideas, images, stories or details did you come up with? • Was it hard or easy to keep going? • Did you get stuck? Why do you think that is? • How did you feel when you were given the task? Why might that be? • Think about possible situations where free writing might be the best way to brainstorm—can you name two or three? 4. Discussion: with a partner, discuss the issue “Video games are bad for you.” You will take opposing sides, for and against (your personal opinion doesn’t matter, pretend you hold that side). In the large group discuss: • How did “arguing” help you formulate ideas? • Did you change your mind about anything through discussion? • What are the advantages of this thinking method? • What might be the difficulties in discussion or argument with another person or people for thinking? ASSIGNMENT: Mind-mapping (homework)—review class; give directions for assignment, relating it to class.

Take-home Assignment (Rubric follows) 1. Please review your reflections of listing, questioning and freewriting; please edit for a clean copy. 2. Please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlabrWv25qQ and watch the video. 3. Please find two other online resources that discuss or demonstrate mind mapping; one of these may be free, online mind-mapping software. 4. Summarize all three sources (four or five full sentences will do), pointing out the main characteristics of the method and any similarities or differences between this method and the prescribed video (include full URL information for your two other sources). 5. Describe what kind of mind mapping you think is most suited to your thinking/learning style and why. (Will you use colour? Images? More than one word per line? Will you do it by hand or on the computer?) 6. Using your chosen method, please spend 10 minutes mind mapping your thoughts on one of the following topics; assume you will be writing an informational article for a web or print youth magazine: hiphop; horror movies; television news; social media; youtube. 7. Reflection: Describe your experience creating a mind map: • What was the best thing about mind mapping? • What was the hardest thing? • Do you think mindmapping would be useful to you to come up with ideas about a topic? Why or why not? What are the advantages/disadvantages? • Think about possible situations where mind mapping might be the best way to brainstorm—can you name two or three? 8. You have been asked to write an essay about the place of media in the lives of youth for a skateboarding culture magazine. Of the four thinking methods you have practiced and reflected upon, please say which you would choose and why it would be the most effective for you. (You do not have to do the thinking, or write the essay.) (approx 150 words)

You should hand in the following (30 points=12% of final mark): □ □ □ □ □ Edited reflections on listing, questioning, freewriting (from class) 5 Summary of three mindmapping sources, with complete URLs 5 A detailed mindmap (by hand or by computer) 5 An edited reflection on mindmapping 5 Short paragraph outlining why you would choose one method over the other 5

You will also receive a grade for grammar and mechanics Marks: 1. In-class reflections 1 Little detail, thinking; answers few questions. Fewer than three sources; no summary of methods; incomplete or complete URLs. Limited thinking, mapping. Map has few branches. 2 Some detail, thinking; answers some questions. Fewer than three sources; some summary of methods; some or complete URLs. Some thinking, mapping. Map has an inadequate number of branches. 3 Adequate detail, thinking; answers most questions. Three sources; mostly clear summary of methods; some or complete URLs. Shows some extended thought and attention to map style; map has an adequate number of branches. Adequate detail, thinking. Answers most questions. Adequate reflection and reasoning; some logical structure. Many grammar and mechanical faults; no detriment to meaning. 4 Good detail, thinking; answers most question completely. Three sources; clear summary of method; complete URLs. Shows extended thought and attention to map style; map has a good number of branches. Good detail, thinking. Answers most questions completely. Good reflection and reasoning; mostly logical structure. Some grammar and mechanical faults; no detriment to meaning. 5 Extensive detail, careful thinking; answers all questions completely. Three sources; clear and detailed summary of method; complete URLs. Shows highlydeveloped, extended thought and careful attention to map style; map has many branches. Extensive detail, careful thinking. Answers all questions completely Excellent reflection and reasoning; logical structure. Few grammar and mechanical faults; no detriment to meaning.

2. Summaries

3. Mindmap

4. Mindmap reflection

Little detail, thinking. Answers few questions. Limited reflection and reasoning; no logical structure. High degree of grammar and mechanical faults; obscures meaning.

Some detail, thinking. Answers some questions. Some reflection and reasoning; some attempt at structure. Many grammar and mechanical faults; somewhat obscures meaning.

5. Short paragraph

6. Grammar and mechanics