Revision sucks.I’ve been told I’m odd because I find revision enjoyable.  Getting words on paper/screen is hard for me, but once something is written, I’ll tear into it.  I can tweak endlessly, rewrite entire paragraphs, reorganize at the last minute.  My co-authors valiantly put up with me and I’m quite grateful for their patience.

But convincing my students that revision is not just essential, but can be fun, is really tough.  And given the groan that rumbles across a room of teachers when you mention supporting kids doing revision, my students and I aren’t alone.  Two things have helped.  First, the concept of fusion.  Second, The Most Magnificent Thing (h/t to Michelle!).

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Research on Writing to Learn

DictionaryAcademics care a lot about definitions.  And definitions matter.  And that’s a lot of what can turn folks off from academic writing.  Here’s a short example.

Writing to learn.  Seems simple enough, right?  Yes, and no.  For a lengthy discussion, I suggest this great resource from the Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse.  A shorter discussion…

For some people, writing to learn supports students learning content and involves the type of writing that is a good fit for the class–probably a more formal, polished kind of writing.  By doing a writing assignment in, say, accounting, students can better learn accounting content, even though they aren’t running calculations in Excel.  For others,  writing to learn is informal, short writing that is done to capture thinking in the moment, often while students are in class. This writing could be a professor asking students to jot down ideas on an index card before class, and then using them to start a discussion.

Another way to think about the definition is that writing to learn is writing that happens as you’re thinking–through an idea, reading a text, watching a move, listening to a podcast, looking at a piece of art.  The audience for this writing is usually the writer, the purpose is to think, so the form/genre is whatever works.  Notebooks often hold writing to learn, but it could be a piece of paper scrounged from the bottom of a bag.  Sometimes this writing happens in class, or while doing homework for class.  Sometimes this writing happens as part of tasks that are a part of a writer’s life, like making a grocery list, or a pro-con list.  It’s writing that isn’t pretty, grammatically correct, or in sentences or paragraphs.  It can include drawing or sketches, post-it notes, quotes, or who knows what.  It is first-draft thinking so that, by the time you get to the writing that’s for other people in particular forms, the thinking has been refined.  If the length is any clue, this broad, wide-ranging understanding is where I stand.

But, no matter how to you define writing to think or writing to learn, there isn’t enough writing that supports learning going on in classrooms, either at the K-12 level, or at the college or university level.  So I was really excited to read a study that looked at writing to learn and found it had value in college classrooms.

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At it again…

From What Do You Do with an Idea?

This post could conceivably be the third or fourth time I’ve declared I’m going back to blogging.  And it’s true this time too. Though there’s also more this time.  As before, I’ll be blogging mostly about education, including non-jargony summaries/reviews of current educational research.  I also do a fair amount of professional development work with classroom teachers, so have included a page with some information about that.  Near future additions include the typical academic stuff of CV and publication links (though most of those are available at the ResearchGate or links on the About page).  And I may begin migrating course information over here as Blackboard continues to disappoint in both general and specific ways.

This return to blogging is my small contribution to the Reclaim Your Domain movement, which is about reclaiming and owning your digital identity and stuff.  In my reading up on this idea, I’ve found it gets really technical really fast. And while I actually did a fair bit of computer programming in high school (considering it was the early ’90s), I’m a neophyte in coding/internet world of today.  I know just enough HTML to add line breaks and such.  I do care, though, about who owns my stuff and I generally want that person to be me.  And this idea of ownership it can be explained with less code and fewer acronyms.

As part of reclaiming my digital identity, I consolidated almost all of my various blog posts–going back 12 or so years–here. The Edublogs moved seamlessly (unsurprising given it’s the same platform). The Medium move didn’t work because their email got caught in my junk mailbox and by the time I discovered it, I’d already just cut and pasted.  And, in the course of the Blogger migration, all of the post titles disappeared.  So I’ll be spending a few months revisiting those, re-titling them, and publishing them.

So, happy Monday and here’s to writing more.