My latest assignment is for a research paper. Students are instructed through a lecture and through handouts to use multiple sources in each body paragraph, as a way to learn synthesis. I draw on the blackboard three arrows connecting outside sources to one single paragraph.
I started seeing rough drafts this week.
About a third of the students just had one source in each paragraph, a sort of "book report" style essay which many high schoolers are wont to do.
I sat with two of them in a group conference and had this discussion:
Student 1: I didn't know what "multiple" meant.
Hiram: Even though I explained the concept in class, and on the handouts? Do you remember me drawing on the board, showing multiple sources going into one paragraph.
Student 1: Yeah, but I didn't know what "multiple" meant.
Hiram: Well, then why didn't you look it up, or ask me, or ask anyone?
Student 1: I figured if you wanted me to know you'd tell me.
Hiram: What about you? Why didni't you use multiple sources in each paragraph.
Student 2: I didn't know we had to.
Hiram: You didn't know? You didn't hear me say it in class every day for 2 weeks?
Student 2: I didn't know you were talking to me.