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Writing to Learn: Exercises

Habits of Mind

1. Review the “Habits of mind” listed in the “Framework…” Individually, choose the two you believe to be most important for your success in the university, and also, for career and community success.

Now, free write for five minutes explaining your reasons for choosing these two habits of mind. Now, in small groups, share and explain your choices. No judgments! The point is to have a conversation about the relative importance of these attributes. Simply notice similarities and differences in peoples’ choices, and listen to one another’s thinking on the habits of mind.

As an alternative to the exercise described above, take a few minutes for everyone in the class to list the habits of mind in order of importance. Now in small groups, compare lists and discuss differences and similarities. The point of both exercises is to spark careful discussion about and to familiarize your class with the “Framework…”  

2. Review the “writing, reading, and critical analysis experiences” listed in the second portion of the Framework. Individually, in small groups, or as a class, review each one. Discuss those experiences that are unfamiliar or about which people have different understandings. The point of this exercise is to make sure your class shares a common understanding of these learning experiences.

3. Review the assignment sequence for your course. Discuss each one and how you anticipate it will challenge you to acquire the habits of mind listed in the Framework. Now discuss how each will present you with the listed “writing, reading, and critical analysis experiences.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach

1. Individually, in small groups, or as a class, brainstorm a list of issues currently under debate at the local, state, national, or international level (you might even choose campus issues that perennially inspire debate). Using the interdisciplinary “map” in the example about as a model, make a map of the range of interdisciplinary interest. You may use text boxes, idea-mapping software such as Inspiration, or simply draw the map on paper or a whiteboard.

2. Go to the New College website and its list of degree programs to see the disciplines in which students and faculty are working all around you.

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