Putting a Paper Back Together Activity

by Lily Campbell

A great way to use an e.g. paper to work on organization and transitions!

The Basics:

– Print out several copies of an e.g. paper of your choice and cut it up by paragraph.

– Students organize into groups and each group gets a complete cut-up paper.

– Groups spend about 15 minutes putting the paper back together, making notes as they go explaining their choices. What organizational clues are they finding?

– Discuss the Intro/Conclusion

– What should an Intro do? What kind is this? (Acts Of Inquiry pg. 247)

– What should a Conclusion do? What kind is this? (Acts of Inquiry pg. 265)

– Discuss the order of the main paragraphs. Identify the following:

– Minor claims for the paragraph

– How that claim is developed: what kind of evidence is used?

– Map out a reverse outline on the board, considering relationships between minor claims

If you have more time:

– Groups can work on coming up with alternate organizations and discuss advantages and disadvantages of each

– Students can spend some time outlining an upcoming major paper using new skills

For Instructors:

– Consider using an e.g. paper that resembles one of your major assignments. My students were working on a comparative rhetorical analysis, so I used “Persuasion for a Better Cause” by 2006-2007 winner Ashley Thoreson.

– I’ve found this assignment can be scaffolded in throughout the quarter. Early on, it serves as an introduction to thinking about organization. Later on, it allows you to address surface-level concerns like transition phrases or the known-new clause.

For Students:

– You can modify this activity with your own papers! Find a partner and exchange cut-up drafts. Then, try to put each other’s papers back together. Take a look at where you agree/disagree about organization and discuss:

– What transitional cues are missing in my paper that confused my partner?

– What alternate organizations were suggested by this activity? Would rearranging my argument make it more effective?

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