Friday, April 21, 2006
MS Word Comments: A Two Way Street
When my students turn in papers to be graded, I use Microsoft Word's comment feature to enter comments in the margins as I read them. However, today it occurred to me that comments can be a two way street. Students can make comments on their own papers just as easily as I can. We can turn comments into a space for dialog about their writing.
So today I will ask my students to enter their own comments in their own papers before they turn them in. I will ask them to place a comment next to each paragraph and in that comment tell what they believe that paragraph does in their paper (how they think supports the thesis, how they intend it to focus and direct a reader's attention, etc.).
Many instructors ask their writing students to communicate the same sort of information (metacognitive comments about the student's rhetorical choices) in a "cover letter" in advance of their paper. I think having students report on their rhetoric may work better if they do it in marginal comments, right next to the writing they're writing about.
The next step, then, is for me to use their comments on their as springboards for my own.
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