Learning to Write Better: Short Tasks for Students
Mastering the Art of Short Assignment Writing
Large and complicated academic projects can become a real problem for both: students and educators. While learners have to wrack their brains sitting over a tedious task, teachers should invest a deal of time to read and grade it. For this reason, most educators prefer to assign small papers. Indeed, a paper doesn’t have to be too long to help students develop their skills and demonstrate their knowledge.
If you believe that long projects are a waste of your and learners’ time, then you should take a look at this article on: “How to Write Better“. We will discuss some formats of assignments – short but effective.
Stating the right questions, understanding them, and giving precise and short answers is a perfect practice that develops thinking and analytical skills. As a teacher, you should provide your learners with tools that will help them approach the information correctly and shape their methods of processing it. That is why the first thing to teach them is the art of questioning and answering.
First of all, your task is to explain why asking questions is essential. You have to show learners how the materials unwrap themselves and become deeper and more interesting when you start stating questions. Show them how thoughts move in the process of asking and demonstrate how the information becomes clearer when questions are well-thought.
There are several practices to try in a classroom:
- Ask students to write a single question as a response to a specific text (fiction or non-fiction)
- Offer them to state questions to each other and answer them with carefully formulated phrases
- Assign a short task to ask students to state a question and write a short answer
Encourage them to be specific and think about the structure of their response.
Writing a summary is a great way to understand a text. The idea is to identify core details, main arguments, and central themes. If the book or article is large, then the summary writing is more challenging.
When teaching your students to create comprehensive summaries, ask them to read the text and make some notes in the process. Short assignments like a chapter summary should be offered regularly to let learners grasp the technique with time.
Read the most compelling pieces aloud to let students understand the task better and learn how to create their summaries.
Short creative responses
Academic assignments can include some imagination and creativeness! Offer students to imagine themselves as characters of the novel or even historical figures and ask them to compose something like this:
- Juliette’s small diary entries
- T. Jefferson’s reaction to the banking plan
- Messages between two political figures of modernity
Also, you can encourage them to invent a character themselves and imagine his or her thoughts about an event or idea. Such assignments will help students read literature better and understand depicted characters deeper.
Short paper writing is a perfect field for interdisciplinary collaborations. For example, students can write a summary of a historical event using the vocabulary from the English class. Also, they can try describing a chemistry or physics lab report with the help of literary language and rich imaginary. Humanities can be combined with social sciences and even technical disciplines. The trick is to discover new capacities of the writing language and learn to approach different types of texts in an unexpected manner. Such exercises will help learners feel more confident and free when reading and making interpretations.
Grammar, style, punctuation
It doesn’t matter if an assignment is long or short when it comes to mechanics. As a teacher, you have a chance to pay more attention to punctuation and grammar when checking short assignments. That is why you can provide small additional tasks connected with the structure and formal part. For example, ask your students to add a particular number of quotes, specific words, or sentences with a defined structure. No matter what additional task you will invent, remind your students that grammar and style are essential.
Short papers can be even shorter. Ask your students to write a single sentence to:
- Summarize an entire book or journal article
- Create a story (description of something/someone, joke, dramatic story)
- Describe a concept from any discipline
Such tasks encourage learners to choose the right words, put them together correctly, and express only the most important things in a discreet manner.
As you may agree, short assignments are sometimes more complicated than long ones. Being strict and to the point is a real art and a challenging task to complete. At the same time, such practices allow students to evaluate and edit themselves as well as to learn how to express complicated thoughts briefly without losing the main point. These are the skills that will help them throughout their education, career, and everyday life.