[Edprof] collaborative learning in editing

Lieb, Thomas tlieb at towson.edu
Thu Aug 30 11:01:01 PDT 2007

I typically begin the semester with a multi-day "jigsaw" exercise. On day 1, I break the class into three groups and assign each group one major AP style topic: Abbreviations and Acronyms, Capitalization and Numerals. I ask each group to review the pertinent entries and cross references for its topic and create a "Top 10" list for that section (e.g., for Numerals: "In general, numbers one through nine are spelled out and 10 and above require figures."). I review the lists as they are being created to make sure all entries are accurate. Each entry must include a sample sentence. Homework is to make copies of the list for each student in the class.

On day 2, I have each group hand out its list and walk the class through it. I then reassign each group: The group initially assigned to capitalization switches to abbreviation, and so on. The task for this day is for each group to carefully review the Top 10 list for its new topic and create a 10-question multiple-choice quiz focusing on that topic. I have students use the Web Winder Self-Grading Quiz wizard (also used for several ACES quizzes): http://www.webwinder.com/ww_display_calc.php3?old_script_id=20. When they are finished, they e-mail the HTML files to me. I check them for accuracy and then post the quizzes online.

On day 3, I shift the groups again, so that the group that started with capitalization and moved to abbreviations now switches to the topic of numerals. Once again, each group reviews the list for its new topic area, but now the next task is to TAKE the quiz prepared for that topic. Time allowing, they also can take the quiz for their original topic area.

After that, students have had a good deal of exposure to three key AP topics. If time permits, punctuation can be added as a fourth topic area.

Thom Lieb
Author, Editing for Clear Communication 
Professor, Journalism and New Media
Towson University
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