by Steve Gardiner
May 1, 2016
For many years, science classes and math classes have embraced technology, have found innovative ways to include technology in the curriculum to create exciting and engaging lesson plans. In general, English classes have not. A 3D Process Paper is an easy way of using technology in a writing assignment that students enjoy.
A normal sheet of paper is two dimensional. Writing flows across the page from left to right, from top to bottom. A 3D paper gives a piece of writing depth, as well.
To do this, we write a paper that explains a process, the steps necessary for completing an activity or project. The result is a two-dimensional paper, and we then add in the depth by doing internet research to find links that help define any terms or process steps that may have additional information or may lead to interesting facts for the readers.
The paper is written in paragraph form with the links to additional information shown as hyperlinks within the paragraphs, much like the paragraphs used in Wikipedia articles or many other forms of internet writing. Students have read these types of articles and are excited to produce that type of writing on their own, so this assignment is easy to motivate. In addition, students all have something, some process they can do very well, and they are often excited about sharing their own specialized knowledge with classmates.
To set up this assignment this year, I wrote a sample paper about juggling, a hobby of mine. Here is a paragraph which illustrates how a 3D Process Paper might approach explaining a topic.
Originally, I had students write the papers, and on the day the rough drafts were due, I had them switch computers and read each other's papers on the monitor. They could talk to each other about the papers, make corrections, and even click on the links to see what interesting information the writer had found. This year, we added one more level of technology to the editing process using Google Docs. I set up a class folder and gave each student access. We uploaded the 3D papers there, then on the due date, spent a class period where they could browse through the folder and read each other's papers, making comments to the writer in the text using the notes function. For a few students, that pushed their comfort level with technology, but there were plenty of students in class who had knowledge of Google Docs to help those who needed assistance.
Students could then take their papers, read the comments from their classmates, make corrections, and submit the final drafts. I had them submit final drafts as a printed page, so I could write notes on them, although this could have been done in Google Docs in much the same fashion as the comments made by other students during the proofreading process.
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