Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20-30 minutes
This activity prepares students to deal with the poorly formulated
assignments they will encounter in other classes.
You'll need some typically bad assignments like those your students
are likely to encounter (compare/contrast, "read this and
tell me what it says," etc.). Their topics should be relevant
to your readings.
1. Using the assignments that match questions the students have
seen before, give the whole class an assignment and have them brainstorm
first a question and then a problem statement (condition plus consequences)
that might motivate an argument in response to the assignment.
Repeat the exercise until students get the idea.
2. Put students in small groups and give each group two or three
assignments (different ones for each group). The groups convert
each assignment into a question and then into a problem statement.
3. Reconvene the class to share the results. Have the class formulate
a "dictionary" of what teachers really mean when they
ask students to explain, discuss, compare and contrast, etc.
4. You can follow up this activity by creating for each new reading
one or two typically poor assignments for the class to convert
to problem statements.