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If you find yourself wishing your students would write more thoughtful papers or think more deeply about the issues in your course, this handout may help you.At the Writing Center, we work one-on-one with thousands of student writers and find that giving them targeted writing tasks or exercises encourages them to problem-solve, generate, and communicate more fully on the page.
The poem reads as follows: Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity It asked a crumb of me.
For some students this begins to happen internally or through what we call “thinking,” unvoiced mulling, sorting, comparing, speculating, applying, etc.
that leads them to new perspectives, understanding, questions, reactions about the course material.
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These exercises may ease their entry into shaping their ideas for an assignment: As students use language to shape ideas, they begin to feel the need to test their ideas or move beyond their own perspectives.
Sometimes we have ideas that make good sense to us, but seem to lose or confuse readers as we voice them in conversation or on the page.
With an understanding of how to discover and arrange ideas, they will have more success in getting their ideas onto the page in clear prose.
Through critical thinking exercises, students move from a vague or felt sense about course material to a place where they can make explicit the choices about how words represent their ideas and how they might best arrange them.