1. "Integrating Low-Stakes Writing into Large Classes" (post; pdf) "provides guidelines and methods for incorporating low-stakes writing into your class without being overwhelmed with work."
a. Below, you'll find an overview/synopsis of the following:
- Benefits, challenges, & practical considerations
- "Responding (or Not) to Low-Stakes Writing"
- 8 [+5 in the infographic] practical, useful, and easy-to-implement writing strategies for large classes
- Process Journal Exercises (pdf)
- "Process Journal Exercises for a Research Essay"
- "Process Journal Exercises for an Analysis Essay"
- "Process Journal Exercises for a Narrative Essay"
- "[S]tudents learn more when they are required to articulate their knowledge in writing."
"Low-stakes writing" ...
a. "[H]elp[s] students ..."
- "keep up with reading"
- "better understand course concepts"
- "take a more active role in the course."
b. "[O]ffer[s] students the opportunity to ..."
- "think critically about course material"
- "grapple with disciplinary concepts and terms"
- "practice problem solving without the pressure of evaluation."
c. "[O]ffers unique learning benefits because it ..."
- "honors students’ developing knowledge"
- "lets them articulate their ideas before perfecting their language or sentences."
d. "[P]romotes more active learning by ..."
- "asking students to explore course concepts in writing"
- "offering opportunities for students to share their writing in class."
3. Challenges & Considerations
"[M]any instructors of large college classes are hesitant to assign writing because they believe" ...
- "it will be too time consuming"
- "they must also dedicate significant class time to teaching writing skills"
- it will take too much time to mark.
b. Considerations (Each point is elaborated in the text.)
"Low stakes writing ..."
- "shouldn’t focus on the quality of the writing."
- "should be assigned through the term."
- "should require critical thinking."
- "should focus on motivating students and fostering conversation and community."
- "needs to be well integrated into the class."
4. "Responding (or Not) to Low-Stakes Writing"
a. Key Points (Each point is elaborated in text.)
- "[C]ollect it [at least] at first so that students can see that you’re engaged with the writing they are doing, but will not critique it in a high-stakes manner."
- Be "less focused on criticism and more focused on positive encouragement or asking questions to further students’ thoughts."
- "[B]e upfront with students about how you will respond to the low-stakes work they do and how their writing will be assessed."
- "[T]he syllabus should clearly state how it will be accounted for and whether or not it will count toward participation points or will be assigned a certain percentage in the overall grading breakdown."
b. Methods of Response to Consider
- "Ask that students share ideas arrived at through low-stakes writing with the rest of the class, but do not collect or grade the writing itself."
- "Collect and skim over students’ writing, but rather than responding to everyone, select key questions or themes to address with the full class."
- "Collect and skim over students’ writing and select a few quotes or questions from student writing to share during class discussion."
- "Be sure to give credit to the students in class when you use their quotes."
- "[T]his will signal to the class that you are reading their writing even if you aren’t responding to each student individually."
- "Allow students to respond to each other in small groups first."
- "You may create specific questions for them to discuss in their groups to help structure their discussion."
- "Then collect the writing and give students credit, but offer no response."
- "Collect and read over student writing and offer only words of encouragement or brief questions."
- "Collect and read over student writing and respond only with minimal marks that you define in a response key (underlines, checkmarks, wavy lines, asterisks, etc."
- "Give students incentives for doing low-stakes writing tasks rather than collecting or grading it, such as letting them use their low-stakes writing as open notes on a test or letting them know the low-stakes task will be revised as part of a high-stakes one."
5. Writing Strategies
- Each strategy is developed in great and specific detail (with variations as well as tips for assigning, sharing, and responding) in the text for practical, ease-of-use application in class.
a. Writing to Learn Strategies
- "Study Questions"
- "Concept Papers"
- "Round Robin"
- "Class Notes"
b. Writing in Preparation Strategies
- "Writing about Paper Topics"
- "Writing Before and After Reading"
- "Writing about Models"
- "Writing Stages of the Draft"