National Writing Project

Let's Take Another Look at the Fish: The Writing Process as Discovery

By: Bob Tierney
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4
Date: Fall 1998

Summary: Tierney describes some writing strategies that place concepts of a lesson in long-term memory by building connections to what students know and linking to their emotional concerns.



Just as Agassiz had his student think about the fish without his notes or the specimen, I often have my students do what I call Neuron Note. The name is biological, it is jazzy, and it implies thinking. The students go home without their books or notes and write a summary of what they think they understand. I stress to the students that it is all right if they do not understand, but they need to realize they don't understand. Just as Agassiz's student said, "I see how little I saw before," the Neuron Note helps students identify what they do not yet understand.

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