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Decision trees

February 21, 2013
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I tried something new with my writing students. I have been working to have the students analyze the errors commonly made. In doing this, early in the semester, I gave them 26 sample sentences of 13 different kinds of subject-verb agreement types and asked them to write rules. We did it in class and wrote the rules. We put the rules on a http://www.crocodoc.com document, which enables annotation of pdf documents online and in my case in front of class. The document resides online for their reference.

This week we are working on fragments, so at the end of last class, after we corrected six different kinds of fragments, I asked the students to make a decision tree for identifying fragments. We made one on the whiteboard, and I told them to go home and make a better one. Today, I had them get out the decision trees and review them with their neighbor before we moved on to a proofreading exercise. I don’t know if it will make a difference; they still struggled with fragments in the proofreading exercise, but I hope in the long run they will benefit. It just seems like it should be time better spent than correcting 20 fragment errors in sentences on a worksheet.

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