This series of notes will outline the general process I use for writing and thinking when teaching academic writing to first-year-students. The preparation process involves deciding what needs to be accomplished and then reverse-engineering by the instructor that results in a chain of sequenced assignments (scaffolding): 1) Reading and thinking; 2) brainstorming classwork and sharing; 3) thesis composition; 4) student thesis statement board work; 5) revision workshop; proofreading workshop; and 6) final drafting that includes a version of a rough draft attached to its final draft. I attempt to create transparent lessons that reveal pathways to writing and thinking, and these pathways are embedded in scaffolding. The sequence fits into a two to three week series of homework assignments and class times until the completion of a final draft.
At the outset, students are told to use a journal for all assignments, either on a laptop or on hard copy, and that it will be graded at the end of the semester. This strategy engages students in a process of writing and thinking. Assignments are given during the course of the semester but not repeated at the end of the semester. Students either engage or lose the full notebook grade. I suggest to students that they take notice of what we do in preparation for drafting and during drafting so that they may use these strategies for reading, writing, and thinking in other courses or in work situations later in life.
My students value transparency in my teaching so that they may take, strategies, techniques, templates to other reading, writing, and thinking situations. Should I design classes in which students have to guess in which of my hands the answer to the problem rests, I have become part of the problem in education. They value thinking about thinking (meta-thinking) so that they learn to ask the right questions or at least know that there are questions that will not assist them in thinking and writing. They also value developing perspectival thinking so that they own other points of view so that their perspectives grow beyond those implanted by family, schools, religions, communities, and ideologies.