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Even though the Pittsburgh area has some of the best schools in the country, helping every student become fully literate is difficult. Many students who could become literate membersof their community are lost, and many shidents who could become powerful, competent communicators never become effective writers. One way to give students the power of literacy is to explore the roots of the problem— treating writing as a dynamic thinking process and teaching the prob- lem-solving strategies that give writers control over that process.
The barrier we face in teaching literacy is the barrier we hit in teaching all basic skills: students need to have a sense of themselves as problem solvers.
They need to see and understand what it means to be learners, to be communicators, to be writers, and to be thinkers. By taking ad vantage of the recent research on writing as a thinking process, we believe we can help students leam to better control their own thinking processes so that they can achieve greater success in school and in their community. Given all the constraints under which vmting, like other basic skills, is currently taught, it makes sense to consider dramafac and workable innovations. Such innovations should question some traditional as- sumptions (e.
One innovative method help with coursework for making the thinking process more visible is coUaboraitive planning. This technique allows students to work together while confronting real problems of communication. They can think through those problems and explore their own goals and strategies as writers— and in that process demon- strate what it means to have a reflective control of their own writing and problem-solving processes. The educational innovation on which the project is based is collaborative planning — a process in which students carry out their problem solving and planning aloud with the help of a collaborator. As collaborators, students help each other by modeling the planning process. Supporters also encourage writers to clarify their plans, sometimes contribute to plans, and occa- sionally challenge plans. Collaborative planning is based upon six years of basic research in planning by Linda Flower and John R.
Recent research shows that inexperienced writers who plan at all concentrate their thinking on the topic— thinking of things to say.
However, to be strategic thinkers and effective com- municators, they need to consider the whole problem in a writing task— to think about their purpose and audience, to anticipate how other people respond, and to use their knowledge of textual conventions to achieve a purpose. Therefore, achieving the first objective includes prompting and documenting visible changes in the kind and quality of planning that students are able to do. Unlike most educational projects, we have the enormous advantage of looking directly at thinking and intervening directly in that process. Schools can improve the chances for such transfer by leaching strategies in a variety of contexts. Helping students themselves become more aware of their own strategies is a second way. A third objective is to understand how collaborative planning can be adapted to meet the needs of developing writers in a variety of high school college, and community contexts. Meeting this objective requires an in-depth understanding of these diverse social and educational contexts. Thus, a major goal of this project is to under- stand how collaborative planning can be adapted to help student writers develop both more sophisticated writing strategies and an increased sense of awareness about their own thinking processes.
One result of the observ atioixs that teachers in this project make will be a series of brief discovery memos that will be shared with other members of the project.
These memos will record and comment on classroom observations, giving everyone an on-going story of the students.
Project members will have support in their in- quiry through on-going consultation with other members of their project team and access to a variety of relevant resources.
The Making Thinking Visible Project has grown out of work at the Center for the Study of Writing at Carnegie Mellon— one of fifteen national research centers supported by the U.
Office of Education (Office of Educational Research and Improvement). Making Thinking Visible was envisioned as a way to translate this research into action in the Pittsburgh schools.
The pilot year of planning for this project in- volved both school and community leaders. Support for this initiative to promote educational change through Making Thinking Visible has come from the Howard Heinz Endowment of the Pittsburgh Foundation, cheap write my essay which has helped create a network of educators interested in innovative, thinking-based lit- eracy education, linking elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, and community centers in metropoli- tan Pittsburgh. In the 1989-1990 project year, this net- work included teachers and group leaders from the Pittsburgh Prblic Schools, Fox Chapel School District, Steel Valley School District, Allegheny Presbyterian Center, Robert Morris College, Community College of Allegheny County, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. The 1990-91 project group consists of 24 teacher-researchers from the same loca- tions as the help with coursework 1989-90 group and also includes an English teacher from the North Hills School District and two teachers from Iroquois High School in Erie, Pennsylva- nia. The project will be evaluated for its effectiveness in making thinking visible. The evalua- tion procedures also document the impact of the project on the Pittsburgh educational community and its im- pact on help with coursework the academic community beyond the city. To assess the effectiveness of the project, we are using a variety of methods, including interviews, ques- tionnaires, think-aloud protocols, an attitudinal mea- sure for student writers, field notes, and detailed records. We found data from thepilot year to be qui te informative in planning subsequent years of the project. In addition to these planned evaluation proce- dures, we are also keeping track of surprises— unex- pected spin-offs from the project, effects that we had not anticipated. ERIC Collaborative Planning: Concepts, Processes, and Assignmi-nts Reflecting upon Our Project Nancy Nelson Spivey Carnegie Mellon UmERsm Another goal for our project is for the project itself to he reflective— for us to study ourselves collectively. Together we study the process of collaboration that is manifested in the project, and it becomes an object for our reflection. This is the name of our project and is also a statement of the mission of our project — a very parsimonious way, I think, to say what we are all about as a project team.