Let’s face it. Students wait until the last minute to write their essays or research papers then turn in their work full of run-ons, fragments, misspellings, and dangling modifiers. And then there are the weak paragraphs with lack of details and elaboration. The current student mindset is “I answered the question. I don’t need the extra stuff because I just got straight to the point.” To help students understand the research paper writing process, this activity is a metaphor for the research paper writing process illustrating the importance of revising and editing student work.
Students will create a pencil holder or cup out of modeling compound and draw connections between creating the holder and improving their design to the research paper writing process.
Modeling compound such as Crayola modeling compound or Play Doh (*Note: If teacher would like for students to keep the final product, use an air drying compound as products like Play Doh do not dry thoroughly and will crumble. If teacher plans to reuse the compound, Play Doh works well but ask students not to blend the colors together. Another option is to ask students to bring their own.)
Toothpicks or other tools that students may add details to sculpture
Miscellaneous art materials to add to model such as mini pom poms, eyes, “jewels”, flowers, decals, etc
(*Note: Teacher may ask students to bring their own so they can decorate their own theme but have a few miscellaneous items for students who forget.)
Step 1: Begin discussion with the question “Why write a research paper?” Write the question on the chalk or whiteboard (or if you prefer, a large piece of kraft paper or something similar), then send students to the board or paper, 2-3 at a time, to answer the question. After everyone has had a chance to answer the question, review the comments with the group drawing arrows or circles to show connections between answers. (5 minutes)
Step 2: Pose the question “How is sculpting like the research paper writing process?” Lead students to discuss how the terms pre- writing, rough draft, revisions, editing, and final draft might relate to sculpting. (3-5 minutes).
Step 3: Pass out the modeling compound; each student should use one color to begin with. Leave toothpicks and decorating items for later. Instruct students in creating their pencil holders. The following script is provided to direct students, but, of course, teachers may create their own or improvise to suit their needs. Dough refers to the modeling compound as Play Doh is a specific brand of modeling compound and all students may not be using that particular brand.