Day 21 – Visual Scaffolding and Identifying Grammar Errors

Hey squad! Here’s the post for 3/29.

Prior to class, you had to read chapter 4 and Section 1 of Part 1: The Sentence from Anderson’s text.

At the start of class, we talked about the blog. We are changing a few things. First, blogs posts will be for extra credit. Second, the post will be written with a partner. Instead of emailing us a draft, you should collaborate together. On that note, please sign up for the blog! The sign up link is on Blackboard under the materials/agenda for today.

The first activity we did was a small group discussion about the Anderson readings. These focused on the use of visual scaffolding (Wall-Charts) and on the structure of Anderson’s grammar lessons.

Visual Scaffold

We focused on the positives and negatives of wall charts. For negative, we worried about if students truly learn from the charts and if this was age appropriate. When Anderson states that students often look to walls to recreate the chart in their minds, we felt that some students would actually be hoping the teacher forgot to take the poster down. So, instead of referencing the chat, the students grow dependent on the visual and don’t truly learn. The other concern was that wall charts weren’t appropriate for older learners. Charts would be lots of work, but would have little value. The task would be annoying, ineffective, or boring. Some felt there were better strategies for older learners.

However, we also found some possible solutions and other positive aspects to wall charts. I think the benefits were really highlighted by Katie when she explained how to scaffold the wall chart. Visuals are great when students first enter the Zone of Proximal Development. They need to be taught the information and need the assistance of a teacher. To move through the zone, the scaffolding needs to be slowly removed. The next step would be for students to rely on charts without the teacher. Then they would need to internalized the concept and be able to apply it without the chart. If used right, students will reference the chart until they are able to understand the concept unassisted. This also emphasizes repeated practice. Students need to be coming back to these charts. If integrated into the daily class agenda, students would grown more independent. This would help older students.

The last things about wall charts that we touched on were ownership, authenticity, and mentor texts.

The Sentence

We talked about how Anderson breaks down his lessons and gives a lot of credit to his students. He always recognizes a student’s pseudo-concept, prior knowledge, and interests. These are seen in the mentor texts (they are authentic or student-selected) and activities (students are engaged, play games, add their own work). These ideas connected well with Smagorinsky’s structured process approach, Straub and Elbow’s feedback readings, and the “Not Every Sentence Can Be Great” article.

Student Examples

After our discussion, we put our understanding of Anderson’s chapter into practice. We looked an example of student work and:

  • identified a grammar error
  • defined the error
  • explained the student’s pseudo concept
  • wrote an example mentor sentence for the student

This is practice for when you write your reflection paper about the student papers in your groups. You will actually be doing these same steps! If it helps, you can find an example of the final paper here. Also, below is an example that the table I worked with did. It’s a little messy, but on the right you have a list of errors that we saw. At the top is the Pseudo-Concept (PC). Below that is a definition and mentor text that could be used.


Looking ahead…

  • due tomorrow (4/1) :twitter reflection, read essays and annotate

Group 1 (student B2) Seth, Troi, Ryan, Katie

Group 2 (student C2) Everyone reads

Group 3 (student A1) Haley, Hannah, Maverick, Cate

Group 4 (student B3)  Cammie, Jacob, Christian, Jill

  • due Tuesday: final reflection about student writing due

The essays are available in Box.

To help, I recommend the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center checklist. It defines the 12 mistakes we learned about and give an example of an incorrect and correct sentence. This would be good to print out and reference, especially if some of these concepts are still confusing.

I also think Gustavus Adolphos College proofreading guide. It is intended for students who are self-editing, but the same strategies can be used in this assignment.



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