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Scaffolding my students’ Capstone projects with blogging

September 12, 2011

In my inquiry class, students have to do a capstone project to be get an A. I am scaffolding this work through required blogging about things they are wondering about. My hope is that writing these three blog posts will help students be in a position to go a little further with their independent investigations. To get credit, they will have to write a paper that I accept. In the spirit of growth, they can turn in the paper as many times as they want before the end of the semester, but I need one week to have to time to read and give feedback if they want a chance at a resubmit.

Blog Post #1:

You need to describe something you saw that made you wonder about it. Describe that thing in enough detail to help others wonder about it, too. Take pictures or movies if you feel it will help. Next describe specifically what you are wondering about it and why? Do your best to help your readers wonder with you.

Blog Post #2:

For this post, you will need to discuss another observation or experience that you think relates to the first observation. Discuss why you think these two observations are related. Explain to your readers how you are making sense of what’s happening with those observations. What ideas do you have that help you make sense of it?  How is the new observation helping you to make sense of the first observation? What parts of it are you still struggling to explain? Do your best to help your readers understand your thinking about the two situations.

Blog Post #3

For this post, you will need go out and do some experiments to help you sort through your ideas and explanations. Explain what you did and why you did it. Be sure to explain why you thought the experiment would help you sort of your ideas. What were you hoping to learn by doing it? Second, explain what you observed as clearly as possible. Take pictures or include video if need be. Finally, you will need to explain what this observation tells you about your thinking. Does it lend support for your ideas? Is it making you think something new?  Do your best to help your readers understand how you’re thinking has changed as a result of what you did.

Note: You are free to change your mind about what you are wondering about at any time. For example, let’s say you are no longer interested in what you wrote about in Blog Post #1. If that happens, you will need to describe two new situations in Blog Post #2, and explain what you are wondering in addition to explaining your thinking.

 

Any way, what do you all think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist permalink
    September 12, 2011 6:02 pm

    I just wanted to comment that I really like the italicized sentences you use at the end of each description. They let your students know the type of thinking to put into the blog post. They still need the rest of what you say to make sure they understand the assignment, but the mindset you give them with those sentences is great.

  2. September 12, 2011 8:54 pm

    Thanks, Andy. I’ve been trying to phrase more of my feedback and instructions in terms of an audience, such as “the reader”. It keeps me focused on the responsibility of the writer to their audience, and keeps me from saying things like, “This isn’t clear. You need to elaborate.” I instead i try to say things like, “Your readers might have a hard time knowing whether you mean X or whether you mean Y. Which do you mean? How will you help the reader to understand?”

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