|Students create their own maps of connection|
Students often have problems thinking about the flow of their ideas within the paragraph unit. This is not surprising as different thought-pathways occur with each (full) stop.
For instance, having expressed one idea, the next one might illustrate, supplement, qualify, or reverse the preceding sentence.
As a result, our sentence journeys quickly become very complicated. A complex argument often degenerates into confusion, and the sense of feeling lost. Writers and readers need signposts, and they need a map.
In reality, writing involves weaving together a complex and dense thread of connectives and transitions. These words have the special function of signalling the direction of travel. They help to maintain a sense of purpose and direction. By using them effectively the writer is able to stick to a plan. Transitions help writing to flow.
By thinking about the different kinds of transition needed in writing it is possible to create word and phrase clusters for each one.
In visual terms each cluster can become a line that has many variations:
the Location Line,
the Timing Line,
the Comparison Line,
the Contrast and Difference Line,
the Supplement Line,
the Disputation line,
the Sequence Line,
the Example and Illustration Line,
the Summary Line.
My book provides lists of these word clusters, together with hundreds of examples of their usage drawn from published writers in all fields of work.
I have also provided a useful summary of the most frequently used transition words and phrases at the end of this blog.
It is easy to create your own multiple-line personalised maps:
Pairs of students research and select the key words that will stand in as the stations.
They draw coloured lines with sufficient stations and then add the words to create their personalised map of connection.
They will be learning about connection by making links.
A traditional - and easy - way to create a London Tube-style connection map is to use coloured wool and drawing pins on a noticeboard. Each station then becomes one of the key words or phrases used to signal a sentence connection or transition. The cluster then represents the colour of the line.
Lines of writing can also be demonstrated in the classroom by using human subjects as the 'stations' and throwing around a ball of coloured wool. But be warned, this activity can create a tangled web. Yet this experience usefully serves an apt metaphor to express the idea that complex writing sometimes works - and sometimes fails. Sentences are social; they require teamwork.
A useful follow-up game is to guess the line:
"If am at station X and move to station Y, which line am I on?"
Logic line clusters can also be used to analyse an essay. This involves highlighting the writer's choice (or implied choice) of connection and transition, sentence by sentence. In this process we stick back in and stress the otherwise invisible moments of connection and transition.
Clearly, a high frequency of time-based words suggests narrative; a high frequency of space-based words will be evident in description; multiple sequence words are crucial for argument, &c.
I also like to use the idea of the electronic circuit board. We are not always using all of the elements on the board. Nonetheless, a broken circuit will sometime lead to a fatal system error.
I'd love to see your connectivity maps if your have tried out this activity!
Images for Connectivity on Pinterest
The Nine Lines of Connection:
The Space Line
A sense of where something is in relation to something else. This use is rather like using a preposition or an adverbial phrase. The words associated with this usage are: above, across, adjacent, adjacent to, alongside, amid, among, around, at the side, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, down, from, further, here, here and there, in front of, in the back, in the background, in the centre of, in the distance, in the foreground, in the front, in the middle, near, nearby, next, on this side, opposite to, over, there, to the left, to the right, to the side, under, up, where, wherever. These words all suggest a sense of place or location and are therefore very useful for visual description.
The Timing Line
Supply a sense of when something is happening, or to communicate the sense of a logical sequence in time. Examples of this usage of transitional words and phrases are; about, after, afterwards, all of a sudden, as soon as, at the present time, at the same time, at this instant, before, currently, during, eventually, finally, first, formerly, forthwith, fourth, from time to time, further, hence, henceforth, immediately, in a moment, in due time, in the first place, in the future, in the meantime, in the past, in time, instantly, last, later, meanwhile, next, now, occasionally, often, once, presently, prior to, quickly, second, shortly, since, sometimes, soon, sooner or later, straightaway, subsequently, suddenly, then, third, to begin with, today, until, until now, up to the present time, when, whenever, without delay.
The Comparison Line
Point to a comparison of two ideas. This may be achieved by deploying words such as additionally, again, also, and, as, as a matter of fact, as well as, by the same token, comparatively, correspondingly, coupled with, equally, equally important; first, second, third, fourth, fifth; furthermore, identically, in addition, in like manner, in the light of, in the same fashion, in the same way, like, likewise, moreover, not only ... but also, not to mention, of course, similarly, to say nothing of, together with, too. As these examples demonstrate the ruling idea is similarity.
The Difference Line
Indicate a contrast. English provides many examples to signal the notion of difference. The most common examples are and still, and yet, above all, after all, albeit, although, although this may be true, at the same time, be that as it may, besides, but, conversely, despite, different from, even so, even though, however, in contrast, in reality, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, or, otherwise, rather, regardless of, still, then again, unlike, whereas, while, yet.
The Supplement Line
If the writer wants to present additional or supplementary ideas the most common options are: also, and, as well, moreover, then, too, besides, equally, furthermore, in addition.
The Argument Line
In the process of disputation, argument, or debate a writer sometimes indicates that a point has been agreed or already taken into account. In order to suggest that a point has been conceded the following words and phrases may be used: granted, obviously, to be sure, agreed, certainly, of course.
The Sequence Line
In order to provide a sense of logical sequence the writer uses words such as accordingly, as long as, as a result, because, because of, consequently, due to, even if, for fear that, for this reason, for the purpose of, forthwith, given that, granted (that), hence, henceforth, if, in case, in order to, in that case, in the event that, in the hope that, in view of, inasmuch as, lest, on account of, on (the) condition (that), only, owing to, provided that, seeing that, since, so, so as to, so long as, so that, thereby, therefore, thereupon, thus, to the end that, under those circumstances, unless, when, whenever, while, with this in mind, with this intention. In these examples there may be a sense of cause and effect, or the sense that one idea results from another. In some cases there is the sense of conditionality or a specific relation of purpose.
The Illustration Line
If the writer has been using concepts, ideas, or theories, it is often helpful to provide an illustration or an example. For this purpose we deploy words such as: another key point, as an illustration, by all means, certainly, chiefly, especially, first thing to remember, for example, for instance, for one thing, for this reason, frequently, important to realize, in detail, in fact, in general, in other words, in particular, in this case, including, indeed, like, issues to consider, markedly, most compelling evidence, must be remembered, namely, notably, on the negative side, on the positive, point often overlooked, recalling, significantly, specifically, such as, surely, surprisingly, that is to say, taking into account, to be sure, to clarify, to demonstrate, to emphasize, to enumerate, to explain, to point out, to put it another way, to put it differently, to repeat, truly, with attention to, with regard to, with this in mind.
The Summary Line
Useful connective words include: after all, all in all, all things considered, altogether, as can be seen, as has been demonstrated, as has been noted, as shown, above, by and large, finally, for the most part, generally speaking, given these points, hence, in a word, in any event, in brief, in conclusion, in conclusion, in either case, in essence, in fact, in short, in summary, in the final analysis, in the long run, on balance, on the whole, ordinarily, overall, that is to say, that is, to sum up, to summarize, usually.
It will be clear that many transitional words have multiple and overlapping functions. The summary, for instance, also signals the end of a sequence. Similarly, examples may also be supplements, because they provide additional illustrations or instances.