on getting started
In a previous post I briefly mentioned about some of the students [really just a few, like three or four out of 24] in my composition class not being able to get started when faced with an assignment. By this, I meant the short in-class writing assignments (eight to ten minute things) as well as the in-class essays (75 minutes). After they get going, they have things to say and their syntax is just dandy, but it's the "get going" part that stumps them.
It doesn't seem to matter if the short writing assignments come at the beginning, middle, or end of class (they're typically at the beginning but occassionaly they've been after we chatted about things for awhile), the inability to get started is still there.
It doesn't seem to matter if the assignment is "write an essay" or "answer this reading comprehension question" or "brainstorm on this topic" or so on—they can't get started. Even when the assignment is just to freewrite, they sit there and stare at the page despite the fact they just answered the question "what is freewriting?" with "put pen to paper and just write whatever comes in your head and it's impossible to do it incorrectly."
Some of them have long commutes—upwards of an hour to get to campus for a 7:30am class—but some do not. Some sleep during the commute, some of them read, some of them doodle.
Ideas? Suggestions? Thoughts?