Friday, December 05, 2008

Gary's Paper

Gary is actually working on his paper!

I passed on your suggestions to Roland. Now that isn't wimping out. It is recognization of strengths. Roland made what could be an outline of any high school paper. Sort of the classic, horrible 5 paragraph paper. As a college professor I hate those. However, they are probably a good pedagogical tool for helping students to learn how to organize a paper. Anyway, Gary has an outline.

It has totally energized him and he is going to town.

I also told him that Andrew knew about some web site where you could plug in your information and then tell it if you wanted your work cited list to be MLA or Chicago or whatever. So he called Andrew and got that and suddenly the bibliography is easy too.

Now he is working on it and saying things like, "Heh, Yondalla! Is it common knowledge that there are two groups of Muslims?" "How do you spell them?" "Yondalla, is it common knowledge that Muslims are supposed to go to Mecca once in their lives?"

Oh, did you guess that he is writing his paper on Mohammed?

Technically it might be a stretch to say that the Mohammed's legacy includes the discovery of zero. You know, since apparently it was discovered in India when Mohammed was a kid, but you know what? I want him to get the paper finished and I am not going to let a little thing like the facts get in the way.

Maybe he will come up with some other interesting tidbits and then I can suggest dropping that one out.


  1. Go Gary!

    I'll sound off late on the idea of breaking down the paper into smaller chunks that can be accomplished in 30 minutes - 1 hour. Many of my students find this makes a paper manageable. Some also like to see all the steps together so they can see progress as they go.

    I hate the 5-paragraph essay, too. They're boring, but I have to qualify that to say I find them so because I see them a lot. They are, I think, a good way for students to get into the habit of writing a paper. One must walk before one can run, and the 5-paragraph essay gets them walking.

    I love that he's questioning whether he should be citing! I tell my students not to worry about that at first, but instead just to focus on writing the paper. Then, put together a comprehensive selected bibliography to show all the sources they consulted as research (the trick is to remind them constantly to KEEP TRACK of where they go). Then, they can go back through it, citing anything that amounts to opinion, quotations, etc. As a teacher, I find I get a more thorough product (particularly, a better bibliography) and the student is able to talk with more confidence about not just what's in the paper, but where it came from.

  2. LOL that zero bit gave me a laugh this morning, let's hope his teacher finds it equally amusing.

    I remember my girls coming in with these "amazing" new things they had learned and me thinking, well duh.

    One thing I hate worse than the 5 para essay? The 12 sentence paragraph. I still remember it from high school (thanks Mrs Williams). Topic sentence, Bridge to discussion (with 3 main points listed), topic 1 leader sentence, 2 support sentences for topic 1, topic 2 leader sentence, 2 support sentences for topic 2, topic 3 leader sentence, 2 support sentences for topic 3, conclusion (restate the intro and bridge as confirmation you proved your point).

    The things that stick in our brain for no reasonable reason...

  3. Good job on getting him to get his paper done. Those little trimuphs can go a long way.

  4. I haven't commented for a while, but I read your blog every chance I get. Just thought I should tell you that I admire you all to pieces, and I hope to be like you when (if) I grow up. Your self control and organizational skills impress me immensely.


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