Collaborative Learning Workshop
“When students write for teachers, they are writing ‘uphill’ in the authority dimension: instead of having the normal language-using experience of trying to communicate ‘across’ to others in order to tell them what’s on their mind, they are having the experience of trying to communicate ‘up’ to someone whose only reason for reading is to judge the acceptability of what they wrote and how they wrote it.”—Peter Elbow
One of the tenets of this course—as well as an idea that has permeated modern rhetoric—is that rhetoric is a framework for understanding and participating in the social construction of ideas. Therefore, we make choices. Which ideas do we believe and go with and which do we ignore? In other words, rhetoric is present in every communicative act. Everything's an argument. As a discourse community we will decide which ideas have value.
Kenneth Bruffee explains in “Collaborative Learning and the Conversation of Mankind” that learning isn’t done in isolation by individuals, but instead should be worked out within community. This is where knowledge is made and maintained.
We’re in this together. So, your task is to work it out. You will read each other’s essays as collaborators.
In order to give our collaborative time some guidance and to help with getting these essays as close to perfect as possible, we will reference Peter Elbow and Patricia Belanoff’s “Sharing and Responding.”
We are using Google Docs in this course, so don’t be shy about using the technology to help you. The chat, comments, and suggesting features will be useful.
To be done During the Writing Process
Step 1--Sharing: No Response
- Student reads work out loud to peers
- Peers do not respond but only listen attentively
- Student gains from actually having to think of her work as communicating to others
Step 2--Pointing & Center of Gravity
- Pointing – Peers identify striking words or phrases
- Center of Gravity – Peers identify particularly powerful moments in the text
- Allows writer to see areas of development to enhance readers’ experience or to see new directions in which the composition could go
Step 3--Summary and Sayback
- Summary – Peers summarize what the text says in a 1 sentence summary
- Helps writer see whether main idea is coming across
Step 4—The Almost Said
- Writer asks peers questions about what peers would like to hear more about
- Helps writer with development of composition by finding details that may be missing or determining whether subtle details are working as intended
Step 5 —Reply
- Peers respond with their thoughts about the topic and/or the writer’s view (discussion of content, not composition)
- Discussion can generate problems with topic/view, reveal counterarguments that need to be made, or provide ideas that writer hadn’t considered
Step 6 —Voice
- Peers help assess tone and language of the work – feelings and attitudes expressed, trustworthiness, vividness, uniqueness and individuality
- Thinking in terms of voice allows peers to describe writing with less need for technical language
Step 7 —Movies of the Mind
- Peers describe what they are thinking while they listen to or read the composition, their progression as a reader.
- Writer might stop peers in the middle of the text or ask for “I” statements about readers’ feelings
Step 8 —Reply
- Believing – Writer asks peers to pose as though they believe everything in the composition and to provide additional ideas/development that will enhance and improve arguments
- Doubting – Writer asks peers to pose as though they doubt everything in the composition and to propose what problems exist in the argument and what opposing views must be responded to or counter-argued.
- Helps writer get opposing feedback from readers about the persuasiveness or argumentation in the composition
Step 9 —Descriptive Outline
- Descriptive Outline – Peers break up the composition into “says” and “does” statements: “says” statements summarize sections of the composition; “does” statements describe each section’s purpose for the whole composition (rhetorical effect, function for the rest of the piece, etc)
To be done near the end of the writing process
Step 10 —Criterion Referenced
- Peers respond to specific criteria or standards for the paper, whether generated by the writer or by outside demands (i.e. rubric at the end of the assignment sheet)
- Editing will be done during this step
- Calls for specifics from peers, references to passages & words that show how a writer is doing at meeting the specific criteria for the assignment