Assignments

Conversation Analysis

Shared by Jacqueline Wilson-Jordan

With credit to Joan Livingston-Webber and Beverly Braniff who wrote and/or tried earlier versions of this assignment

This assignment, which requires field research and is fairly demanding, asks students to observe and analyze the conversation in a chosen discourse community. I thought the James Baldwin essay might be dated because of the term “Black English,” but you should have seen the faces and heard the voices when I asked them to discuss James Baldwin’s points about how coded language can protect those who use it, such as (even) from the police. Sparks were flying! The project was excited and produced good results.

Portfolio

Shared by Barb Bird

We do the portfolio assignment a bit differently from what others have done (that I’ve seen anyway). We really focus on the reflective, metacognitive essays, but we do require specific evidences for how they have accomplished the course objectives. It has really helped students accomplish the portfolio project well when I began emphasizing course objectives throughout the entire course.

Essay 2.15 (1)

Essay 3.15

essay 4 mini research paper

Shared by Barb Bird

I have found that students really like having a lot of choices for essays. I used to just leave it open-ended (topic could be anything related in any way to our readings), but I found that that much openness actually froze students’ minds instead of helping them. So every year I work on crafting another really strong option for each essay (I still have several options in each of these essay assignments that need better crafting).

Annotations and Quote Responses

Shared by Barb Bird

These assignments are designed to encourage student engagement with assigned readings–first to understand the reading and to consider its component claims and then to respond thoughtfully to one of those claims.

Final Presentation and Reflection

Shared by Glenn Newman

In this take on a final reflection, specifically designed for an ALP course, students are asked to deliver a presentation on their progress as a preparatory activity for a final written reflection. I set up an ethos theme in my courses, less Aristotelian, more about what will we do when what we bring to the table is not enough.This helps us think about how we can move beyond the classroom and into our real-time lives, and it’s a driving theme in their final reflective piece.

Humans Profile

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

Using Humans of New York as a profile genre, students are challenged to produce their own Humans-style profile, using photos and individual stories to profile a local place of their choosing. This one requires some solid scaffolding, but it has yielded some exciting, inspired results from students who were genuinely interested in the work. I recommend this video for getting students to think about their approach and questions and this StoryCorps app as a useful tool for interviewing. Also, I created a writing-only alternative for students who don’t have access to a smartphone or digital camera that involves using traditionally-written profile portraits to describe the subject and the setting.

TIB Assignment Sequence

Rubric for TIB 3a

Rubric for TIB 3b

Rubric for TIB 3c

Shared by Karen Henderson

This assignment sequence we work on for about a month at the end of the semester. I use the This I Believe essays as models and ask students to write their own. I subsequently publish a hardbound book of student essays each year, which is my way of making the audience more authentic. Not every student chooses to be published, and it’s just an option not mandatory. The revision process comes from forcing them to think of the “one paper” as three separate papers, starting small, expanding, and then editing back. It does take quite a long time, but it allows me to model and scaffold learning, and the students do a lot of group work, so they see how their classmates’ papers come alive and become really nice writing. It’s a great way to end the semester, and I hope it changes their attitudes toward revision and group work.

Reader’s Notebook

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

Inspired by Jeanne Henry, Nancie Atwell, and Meagan Newberry

This semester, I’m trying to make the joy reading component of class more focused on the joy. I’ve dialed the work back and dialed the intensity down and tried to strike a balance between my need/desire to hold students accountable and the reality that external motivators and consequences aren’t conducive to reading for pleasure.

Rock Star Battles

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This is a sampling of the prompts I give in a weekly writing challenge called Rock Star Battles.  Students are to apply the skills they’re learning in class to fun, challenging writing tasks that are designed to encourage a focus on audience and purpose.  Students post their best-attempt pieces to a discussion board, and everyone gets work credit for completing the assignment.  Two students (one of my choosing and one of the class’s) earn Rock Star Points (a coupon worth a three-point boost to any assignment’s grade).  At the end of the semester, students choose their best two battle pieces to include in the portfolio.

Group Presentations

Shared by Jeremy Branstad

I use this assignment to help students understand the concepts of main ideas and supporting details. The assignment is given during unit two, the placeography, and involves having students work together in groups to give a presentation to the class. They decide on a main idea for their presentation together as a group. They then go out and take pictures to support that main idea. Students use the worksheet (page 2 of the attachment) to do all the planning collaboratively during classtime.

Narrative Collage

Worksheet for Indian Education

Student Samples

Shared by Jacque Wilson-Jordan

This is a narrative collage. I’ve used the assignment for years, and the students love it. In addition to the assignment sheet, there is a worksheet based on an analysis of Sherman Alexie’s “Indian Education” (from *The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven*) and two award-winning student models of the collage.

Style Wars Complaint Letter

Shared by Beth Gulley

This assignment was designed to teach students to use a mentor text (from Bob Brannan’s A Writer’s Workshop), to get them to write to an audience from someone else’s perspective, and to demonstrate their understanding of the issues presented in a text (in this case the 1980’s documentary Style Wars).

Writing Rights

Shared by Gael Grossman

Adapted  from Burkhardt, J.M., MacDonald, Mary C. (2010). Teaching information literacy: 50 standard-based exercises for college students. Chicago: ALA

This is an assignment I use to get my students thinking about plagiarism and other issues of academic honesty. It’s more a discussion based assignment; however, I have had students write their response to it as well.

Campus Resources Paper

Shared by Beth Gulley

This assignment was designed to subtly promote student engagement on campus and increase student awareness of campus resources in addition to teaching MLA documentation and writing from sources.

Book Reflection Example

Shared by Gael Grossman

Book Reflections (silent reading) – You will be reading independently chosen books this semester.  A book will need to be approved by me and generally be at least 200 pages in length.  A book may be fiction or nonfiction. They may not be an assigned book, a textbook, or a requirement for another class.  It should not be a book you’ve already read. For around every 25-30 pages read, you will write a 1 page typed response.  This is not a summary of the pages but more a discussion of personal connections you had with the book so far. This can include your likes/dislikes, predictions of where the book will go next, and reflections (what it makes you think about outside the book).

We will discuss and practice this in class first.

Book Ballot

Ground Rules for Book Clubs

Book Checkout Form

Reading Strategies 101

Reading Strategies 101Filledin

Book Club Reflections 216

The Envelope please

Book Club Final Reflections

Shared by Meagan Newberry

With inspiration from/credit to Harvey Daniels’s Literature Circles

Students formed groups based on the book of their choice (they turn in a top 3 out of a choice of about six—I got a grant to buy sets of book). They met for about 20-30 minutes once a week. They set their own ground rules, after we talked a bit about what makes a group  work, etc. I also spent time on reading strategies (attached, but I use those separately with the whole class, or even in classes without book clubs).The “Book Club Reflections 216” attachment is one example of what I asked them all to do each time they met. I used the honor system and asked them to report if they read or not, and if so, how much. I found that students self-reported pretty accurately, and I simply choose not to police them because I want the crux of this to be reading both for pleasure and the challenge of discussing chosen reading. Most students participate actively and enjoy the process. Of course, a few are always unprepared, and we talk about how to prevent that. For those few, the “grade threat” sadly is what pushes them to try to be prepared. I really hope for intrinsic motivation with this, and for 80% of students, it works really well. I highly recommend a copy of “Literature Circles” or “Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles,” both by Harvey Daniels.

Lit Letters

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

With inspiration from/credit to Nancie Atwell’s The Reading Zone

This assignment asks students to write critical response letters to their instructor and their classmates about their joy reading books.  The assignment sheet itself borrows heavily and extensively from Atwell’s.  There’s very little original material here.

Wikipedia assignment

Shared by Sarah Alexander Tsai

This group project, which can easily be scaled up or down, invites students to trace the way Wikipedia authors use and cite secondary sources.  In following Wikipedia‘s “research paths,” students are likely to recognize both the strengths and limitations of collaboratively edited resources.

The Name Game

Wach’s “What’s in a Name?

Shared by Sarah Alexander Tsai

By investigating the origins and meanings of their own names, students learn how to blend primary research (especially personal interviews) with focused personal narrative.  Since this fairly low-stakes assignment also functions nicely as a community builder, I like to assign it early on.  Recommended accompanying readings for this assignment are as follows:

    • Bonnie Wach’s “What’s in a Name?”
    • Tom Rosenberg’s “Changing My Name after Sixty Years”
    • Sandra Cisneros’ “My Name”

Annotations

Shared by Barb Bird

With inspiration from/credit to Carie King, Ball State University (collaborator)

We require students to annotate all of the articles assigned as readings.

Digital Visual Arguments

Sample Student Projects here and here

Shared by Ethna Lay

Writing instruction changes exponentially as the technologies for writing change. Sensitive to this need to address a rapidly flexing pedagogy, I have designed a digital, visual argument assignment for my first-year writing students. The project involves making an argument as a visual montage followed by a verbal, written reflection considering whether images can do what words do, and the converse query, can words do what images do.

Small Object Large Subject

Shared by Ethna Lay

With inspiration from/credit to Adam Gopnik’s introduction to the volume ofBest American Essays of 2008

The small object/LARGE SUBJECT essay is often an easy way for students to embark on cultural criticism.  I’d tag it “new media,” as its relevance to this site hinges on the productive role of the affordances of technology like prezi for basic writers during the invention process.

Descriptive Writing ChartFour Visitors Assignment SheetFour Visitors Peer Review SheetGoing Somewhere Sample, and Questions for Going Somewhere

Shared by Jessica Weleski

I use this Four Visitors assignment at the beginning of the semester to help my students learn narrative structure and to allow them to have some fun with writing. As we lead up to the writing of the story, we talk about narrative structure and pacing, descriptive writing, and punctuation of dialogue (in preparation for punctuating research quotes). Since the story isn’t about the students’ own lives, I find that sometimes the peer review is a little less threatening. Each of the students in a peer review group can help envision ideas to make the characters of the story even more zany when they appear in the final draft.

Assignment Creation

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This is the primary handout from a workshop I designed for a department in-service.  Accompanying the handout were a variety of interdisciplinary texts and miscellaneous manipulatives.  I’m sharing it here in hopes that even without the accompanying materials, this could be a useful starting point for creating assignments and assignment sequences that enact best practices.

The Language of Education

Shared by Sarah Tsai

This essay assignment invites students to identify, research, and unpack the pedagogical and administrative buzzwords that play a role in their school’s official documents (and marketing!).

Preparatory activity also posted here.

VALUES ANALYSIS

Shared by Susan Naomi Bernstein

With inspiration from/credit to “Recursive Processes in Self-Affirmation: Intervening to Close the Minority Achievement Gap,” an article published in Science 17 (April 2009) by Geoffrey L. Cohen, Julio Garcia, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Nancy Apfel, and Patricia Brzustoski. Their research investigated the connections between writing, values affirmation, and school success. Also see “Writing Beyond Stereotypes” on Bedford Bits: Ideas for Teaching Composition 5.9.11 by Susan Naomi Bernstein.

I have invited students to write in response to various versions of this prompt throughout the term as a touchstone for affirming their strengths and values as writers. Students may find this writing prompt especially valuable as preparation for any high stakes writing venture, including but not limited to: beginning a new semester; building resilience at midterm; undertaking revision and reflection for final portfolios; preparing for high stakes tests and assignments.

Final Novel Projects

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This is a collection of fun multimodal writing projects for students’ joy reading novels.

Active Reading Notes

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This packet leads students through the process of the kind of active reading that might be required for a summary or response paper.

PostSecret Novel Project

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This is one of the novel projects I assign to accompany joy reading of high-interest novels.  In it, students are asked to make inferences about characters in their novels, and they’re also asked to make writing choices informed by analysis of a specific genre (the PostSecret card).

Blog Guidelines

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

This packet is the guidelines for fun blog writing as well as the options for topics that I’ve been playing with lately.

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