Category Archives: Activities

The Wire — Discussion Guidelines

Wire Discussion Guidelines

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

Inspired by Stephanie Guedet

Every Monday, a student is in charge of leading class discussion of a selected episode of season 4 of The Wire. But this model could be used for a wide variety of shared reading/viewing/listening options. Students are doing really well with it.

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Rethinking the Introduction

Rethinking the Introduction

Shared by Sarah Alexander Tsai

This activity, which works as an in-class writing challenge or as a regular assignment, aims to help students distinguish between genuine revision and light word-shuffling. In many cases, it’s also an exercise in using instructor feedback to revise.

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Theme Song Introductions

Theme Song Introductions

Shared by Nicole Hancock

This activity uses student analysis of television theme songs as the basis for a discussion regarding what makes for an effective introduction.

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Progress Cards

Progress Cards

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

Every day of class, I try to check in with each student individually, but I also have individual conferences scheduled with students every four weeks to talk about grades, progress, and goals for the remainder of the semester. Students answer the questions from this sheet on large index cards. We discuss them during conferences, but I also carry them with me to give students props when they’re following through with a plan or showing a newly adopted practice and to remind students of their plans and larger goals.

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Post-it Peer Review

Post-it Peer Review

Shared by Elizabeth Baldridge

Inexperienced writers often have difficulty providing substantive feedback on peer work, especially early in the semester before we’ve done enough analysis and discussion of writing to equip them with language to discuss the relative success of different texts. I use this peer review activity early in the semester as a way to encourage students to think about learning from successes and to get students quality revision direction in just a few words.

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First Draft Peer Review

First Draft PR

Shared by Nicole Hancock

I save this type of peer review activity for after I have already established peer review as a worthwhile activity. I usually do it in the middle of the semester to mix things up a bit. I have a timer with me or project an online timer so students do this activity in increments. Figure out what amounts of time work best for your students and the time you have in class. While students are working on this assignment at their desks, I sit at the table in the middle of the room, blitzing through all of their first drafts while they work. That is why they need to have a second copy on the desk. Our classes are arranged with desks in a U around the room; you may have to revise the instructions to fit your classroom design.

Occasionally, I have a student (or two or three) who attends class on a peer review day without a paper. In that case, I substitute one of the extra copies for that student, so he or she can still participate in the activity. Just make sure the substitute paper is not from one of  the students to the immediate left and right or that student will end up peer reviewing his or her own paper. Students get exposed to 2-4 papers that have been written by their peers, so they gain ideas from the papers they have read as well as receiving specific feedback from their peers and me.

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Self-Assessment Grid

Self-Assessment Grid

Shared by Susanna Horn

As a huge fan of self-assessment, I ask students to self-assess before they write their final drafts and then again, using this grid, just as they are turning in the final.  This is also useful as fodder for further writing and/or discussion.

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Ice Breaker — Student Names

Ice Breaker (Student Names)

Shared by Jacque Wilson-Jordan

This activity takes a full 50-minute period, but to me it’s worth it. The classroom geography is decentralized, a welcome change from me standing up and reading the syllabus on day one. The students greet each other and learn about each other. I learn about them; they learn about me. It’s fun to give them a unique quality that may be surprising to them, e.g. that I like to lift weights. The teacher is human! If there’s any awkwardness or weird/unsettling vibe or disruptiveness in the class, this tends to squelch it.

Going through this series of steps and reviewing my sheet when I take attendance on subsquent days helps me learn their names very quickly.

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Writing Ice Breaker

Writing Ice Breaker

Shared by Chuck Guilford

With inspiration from/credit to Ken Macrorie, Peter Elbow, and many others

This is an opening day activity that works both as an ice breaker and an introduction to some practices that will be used throughout the term.

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Student Information Sheet

Student Information Sheet

Shared by Stephanie Kratz

With credit to On Course Workshops

This is an information sheet aimed at building rapport and showing instructor interest in students.

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