work collaboratively to organize and evaluate research and draft a response to their group's inquiry question,
consult with their instructor about their work-in-progress on the investigating and explaining project,
explore strategies for writing the collaborative explanations.
Connection to Course Goals
Research and collaboration are essential skills within academic communities (as well as within many other contexts). Students continue to use close and critical reading skills as they negotiate answers to inquiry questions. Discussing strategies for writing the explanation requires considering rhetorical situation.
Connection to Students’ Own Writing
Today’s class is another CSOW smorgasbord. The activities engage students in composing the annotated bibliography and the collaborative explanation.
Attendance and introduction (2-3 minutes)
Assess inquiries and explain activity options (5-10 minutes)
Determine which groups you need to meet with today. Explain that while you meet with each group, the rest of the class needs to work on one or more of the following activities (put the instructions on an overhead or make handouts):
Negotiate answers to inquiry questions
If your group is finished with research, take time to share what you found by reading sources and/or bibliography entries. Discuss your opinions—now that you have researched, how do you answer your inquiry question? Compare your answers now to what they were when you started. What changed them? How did they change? If they seem unchanged, why is that? Are there subtle changes you’re not considering? Make notes about all of this, as you’ll need to use them as you write your explanation.
Try to negotiate a group answer to your initial question and write it down (you’ll need this as you write your explanation). If you can’t come to a consensus, write down the differing opinions and try to explain why they differ.
Read and evaluate sample explanations
Take out your assignment sheet and review the strategies and criteria for the collaborative explanation. Read the sample explanations and discuss their strengths and weaknesses (using the grading criteria as a guide). As you discuss the samples, also discuss your plans for the explanation you will write.
Work on drafting explanations
You can begin drafting your explanation even if your research is not 100% complete. Reread the assignment sheet to remind yourselves of the explanation’s purpose and audience. Begin drafting. Be sure to hold onto what you write today so that you can use it as you draft the rest of your explanation.
Conference with groups (30-35 minutes)
As students work, you can conference with the remaining groups. Aim to help them assess their inquiry: have they found relevant, reliable sources? Are they finding a range of perspectives on the subject? Is anyone very behind (if so, how can you and the group help the person catch up by Wednesday?)? Are there group dynamic problems that you can ease? Aim to leave each conference having helped the group formulate a plan for being ready to draft the explanation on Wednesday and Friday. Also, be sure you have communicated that you understand where each individual student is with his/her research. This should help motivate anyone who is lagging behind and it should ease any concerns that the best-prepared students may have.
Discuss explanation strategies (10-12 minutes)
Take time to revisit the assignment sheet and to reiterate the purpose, audience and strategies for the collaborative explanation. Ask students who chose to read and evaluate sample explanations last time and/or today to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the samples as well as to offer any advice about how to draft the explanation.
Conclude class and assign homework (3-5 minutes)
Finish reading your sources and writing annotated bibliography entries. Bring all of your sources and all of your bibliography entries to class next time.