The next objective for my Honors 10 students was to write a thesis statement. In the class before, they had (on their own) brainstormed topics to write their research papers on. Now they were told to pick a topic/question and bring a thesis statement to class.
For the thesis, I told the students this: pick a topic and write a thesis with an ARGUMENT.
The thesis statements I received back—hardly any arguments. I was shocked, but what was effective about the assignment was my ability, through Google Docs, to give instant and individualized feedback to the students and shift them in the right direction.
The night before the assignment was due, I went through and commented directly to students about their statements.
As the students advanced, I had them add an attention-getter. Then draft an intro paragraph. I left comments on each student’s submission, helping to scaffold his/her learning in the right direction.
It was an effective assignment for me, because it allowed me to do an assessment of their learning as well as help them to see a new way to approach their papers. Because we brainstormed the topics together at the beginning, it was almost as if we were looking at the assignment backwards, or from the inside out. This, though confusing at times, I think helped the students to dig deeper with their research. And having their posts online allowed me to connect easily with them and make sure they were on track the entire time.