One of the tools I teach my composition students to use is the annotated bibliography. Think back to your college paper writing days. This is a collection of referenced sources that you may or may not include in your final paper. But, as you research, you evaluate the sources and write up a brief paragraph about each one. If you do decide to use those sources, a lot of your paper writing is completed.
What the annotated bibliography really does is help focus research and teach you about your subject or topic or issue or argument. What have others written about what you’re writing about. What others think about your topic and how it has been presented.
It was gratifying this week while live grading with my students for so many of them to have discovered this process and how useful it is. It’s great when you’re teaching new ideas and you see them come into fruition.
The other important thing I noticed was that all of my students embraced the assignment and are discovering the academic version of their voice on the page. With only a few more weeks of classes, it’s nice to see that the writing teaching is sinking in–even for the students who haven’t been fully engaged in the work of the semester. Even those students are showing great signs of improvements to the writing and their voice.