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Reading Like A Writer: A Guide For People Who L... [2021]

Thus, on the first lines of text, people will scan more words on the right than on the following lines. This scanning pattern resembles the shape of the letter F, but it is rarely a perfect F. For example, in some cases, people may become interested in a paragraph down the page and may fixate on more words, reading toward the right again, so the pattern comes to resemble an E.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who L...


When writers and designers have not taken any steps to direct the user to the most relevant, interesting, or helpful information, users will then find their own path. In the absence of any signals to guide the eye, they will choose the path of minimum effort and will spend most of their fixations close to where they start reading (which is usually the top left most word on a page of text). It's not that people will always scan the page in the shape of an F. Although years of reading have likely trained people into thinking that more important content comes before less important content, no user really feels that the content has been arranged so the most important things appear in an F shape. The F-pattern is the default pattern when there are no strong cues to attract the eyes towards meaningful information.

Today, lots of people are called upon to write about technology. We need a simple, straightforwardstyle guide that everyone can use, regardless of their role. And it needs to reflect Microsoft's modernapproach to voice and style: warm and relaxed, crisp and clear, and ready to lend a hand.

Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational. An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

l9. Learn the difference between analysis and expressions of your opinion (value judgment). Unless it is asked for specifically, instructors are relatively unconcerned with whether or not you "liked" or "agreed with" the readings.

Since viewers can tune in any time, they could easily miss a disclosure at the beginning of the stream or at any other single point in the stream. If there are multiple, periodic disclosures throughout the stream people are likely to see them no matter when they tune in. To be cautious, you could have a continuous, clear and conspicuous disclosure throughout the entire stream.

In the 1960's, more writing teachers and scholars "rediscovered" classical rhetoric, various strategies for helping people to craft effective texts to meet specific situations. One aspect of that rediscovery (of course, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintillian, and many others were never really lost) was the notion of a systematic process for creating a text, from initial ideas to a finished delivered product. These ideas contributed to an emphasis on helping students approach writing as a process. For the most part, college writing instruction had been a fairly product-oriented thing: "Here's a model; make one like it." Attending to the process of writing means helping students at various stages of producing a text. It acknowledges, for example, that knowing how the final product is supposed to look isn't much help if the writer has nothing to say. It acknowledges that a well-proofread paper is flawed if the content is wrongheaded.

In an online teaching environment, writing will take on more importance. As a teacher, you will be reading more, and students will be writing more. The most important thing is to not feel like you have to comment on everything. Here are a few strategies for commenting and grading.

The combination of striver and seeker makes Brooks an interesting guideto the problem of aging for the kind of driven overachievers likely tobe reading this article. Getting old is something all of us face sooneror later, if we are lucky. But business leaders likely will encounterthe problem long before their dotage, for aging societies and low birthrates imply that executives worldwide are going to have to get used tohiring and managing more older workers.

  • Clark, S. K., & Neal, J. (2018). Teaching second-grade students to write sequential text. Journal ofEducational Research, 111(6), 764-772. =EJ1193513From the abstract: "With the adoption of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards, writing hasbecome an increasingly important area of instruction. Moreover, there has been an increased sophistication inthe types of writing required of young children and the use of textual evidence expected in student writing.Historically, children have not been routinely taught explicit strategies for writing, but have been exposed toless rigid writing instruction such as Writer's Workshop. The current study examined an explicit writingstrategy, the "Read-to-Write Strategy," to determine its effectiveness in teaching young children how to writesequential text. A single subject design (N = 40) was used to compare the writing of second graders before andafter instruction. Results indicated that the "Read-to-Write Strategy" significantly increased the quality ofsequential text from the pre- to post-instruction with a large effect size reported. Implications andrecommendations for educators and researchers are provided."

  • Flanagan, S. M., & Bouck, E. C. (2015). Supporting written expression in secondary students with a series ofprocedural facilitators: A pilot study. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 31(4), 316-333. =EJ1068128From the abstract: "Written expression is a critical component of the academic curriculum that is needed acrosscontent areas and grade levels. Despite the importance of writing, secondary students are struggling to writeeffectively across the phases of written expression, beginning with prewriting. This research sought to supportstudents' written expression and sustain their written expression improvements by gradually reducing the amountof support provided by procedural facilitators. This study presented 3 procedural facilitators from the most tothe least support to 54 eighth-grade students. Results indicated that the procedural facilitators significantlysupported written expression. When the amount of support was gradually reduced, students maintained theirimproved written expression through posttest measures."

  • Graham, S., Bollinger, A., Olson, C. B., D'Aoust, C., MacArthur, C., McCutchen, D., & Olinghouse, N. (2017).Teaching elementary school students to be effective writers: A practice guide. (NCEE 2012-4058).Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of EducationSciences. =ED533112From the abstract: "Writing is a fundamental part of engaging in professional, social, community, and civicactivities. Nearly 70 percent of salaried employees have at least some responsibility for writing, and theability to write "well" is a critical component of being able to communicate effectively to a variety ofaudiences. Because writing is a valuable tool for communication, learning, and self-expression, people who donot have adequate writing skills may be at a disadvantage and may face restricted opportunities for educationand employment. Students should develop an early foundation in writing in order to communicate their ideaseffectively and efficiently--yet many American students are not strong writers. In fact, less than one-third ofall students performed at or above the "proficient" level in writing on the 2007 National Assessment ofEducational Progress Writing Assessment. The authors believe that students who develop strong writing skills atan early age acquire a valuable tool for learning, communication, and self-expression. Such skills can bedeveloped through effective writing instruction practices that provide adequate time for students to write. Thisguide, developed by a panel of experts, presents four recommendations that educators can use to increase writingachievement for elementary students and help them succeed in school and society. These recommendations are basedon the best available research evidence, as well as the combined experience and expertise of the panel members.Appended are: (1) Postscript from the Institute of Education Sciences; (2) About the Authors; (3) Disclosure ofPotential Conflicts of Interest; and (4) Rationale for Evidence Ratings. A glossary is included. (Contains 15tables, 2 figures and 346 endnotes.)"

  • Graham, S., Bruch, J., Fitzgerald, J., Friedrich, L. D., Furgeson, J., Greene, K., Kim, J. S., Lyskawa, J.,Olson, C. B., & Smither Wulsin, C. (2016). Teaching secondary students to write effectively. Educator'spractice guide. (NCEE 2017-4002). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and RegionalAssistance, Institute of Education Sciences. =ED569984From the abstract: "The goal of this practice guide is to offer educators specific, evidence-basedrecommendations that address the challenges of teaching students in grades 6-12 to write effectively. This guidesynthesizes the best publicly available research and shares practices that are supported by evidence. It isintended to be practical and easy for teachers to use. The guide includes many examples in each recommendationto demonstrate the concepts discussed. Throughout the guide, examples, definitions, and other concepts supportedby evidence are indicated by endnotes within the example title or content. For examples that are supported bystudies that meet WWC design standards, the citation in the endnote is bolded. Examples without specificcitations were developed in conjunction with the expert panel based on their experience, expertise, andknowledge of the related literature. This guide provides secondary teachers in all disciplines andadministrators with instructional recommendations that can be implemented in conjunction with existing standardsor curricula. Teachers can use the guide when planning instruction to support the development of writing skillsamong students in grades 6-12 in diverse contexts. The following are appended: (1) Postscript from the Instituteof Education Sciences; (2) About the Authors; (3) Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest; and (4)Rationale for Evidence Ratings."

  • Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Beard, K. (2019). Teaching writing to young African American male students usingevidence-based practices. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 35(1), 19-29. =EJ1214370From the abstract: "Studies that specifically test the effectiveness of instructional procedures for improvingthe writing of young African American males who experience difficulty learning to write are almost nonexistent.Although writing intervention studies include these children, researchers rarely disaggregate their data todetermine whether the writing treatment enhanced the writing of this group of students. For this article, wereanalyzed the data from 5 true experiments conducted with mostly young African American students experiencingdifficulty learning to write. Each of these studies taught 1 or more fundamental writing processes or skillsusing evidence-based writing practices validated in previous research. Our reanalysis of each of these studiesfocused only on students who were male, African American, and experiencing difficulties learning to write. Wefound that teaching fundamental writing processes and skills using evidence-based practices improved thesechildren's writing performance, including their performance on skills directly taught as well as on otherwriting or reading skills not directly taught in some instances."

  • Hacker, D. J., Dole, J. A., Ferguson, M., Adamson, S., Roundy, L., & Scarpulla, L. (2015). The short-term andmaintenance effects of self-regulated strategy development in writing for middle school students. Reading &Writing Quarterly, 31(4), 351-372. =EJ1068130From the abstract: "Our purpose for this quasi-experimental study was to evaluate the short-term and maintenanceeffects of the self-regulated strategy development writing instructional model by Graham and Harris with7th-grade students in an urban, ethnically diverse Title I middle school. We compared the writing skills of ourintervention students with those of students in a control school. For 5 weeks, we coached teachers at theintervention school in a strategy for persuasive writing. Teachers at the control school also taught persuasivewriting but used traditional instruction. We used a pre/posttest design to measure short-term growth, and wecollected a maintenance writing score 2 months after the intervention. We used gain scores from pretest toposttest and from posttest to maintenance in a hierarchical linear modeling analysis. We found no differencesbetween the 2 groups from pretest to posttest; however, scores between posttest and maintenance showed that theself-regulated strategy development students scored significantly higher than students in the control school."

  • Ricks, P. H., Morrison, T. G., Wilcox, B., & Cutri, R. (2017). Effective writing content conferences in a sixthgrade classroom: A cross-case analysis. Literacy Research and Instruction, 56(2), 114-131. =EJ1133235From the abstract: "Conferencing gives teachers and students opportunities to discuss student writing andprovide feedback in individual settings. Practitioner guides offer suggestions on how conferences can beconducted, but little is known about what types of interactions occur. Two case studies, including a cross-caseanalysis, were conducted to describe key components of effective conferences in one sixth grade classroom.Results showed that a structured and predictable pattern emerged in which students identified the purpose forthe conference, examined a main issue of content with their teacher, and planned for the future. These studentstook ownership of their writing conferences by directing the conferences, maintaining a serious tone, andestablishing a safe and positive atmosphere."



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