Posts Tagged ‘assignment ideas’

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Reading, Writing, Multimedia—and Sisyphus

posted: 4.22.14 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

During a recent trip out of town, I assigned students an independent study project that combined writing, reading, and multimedia. The assignment reached the students’ inboxes via blackboard during a time when I was away from email and could not respond to questions. My absence from email was purposeful. [read more]

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#f**kphyllis: Teaching Phyllis Wise

posted: 2.12.14 by Barclay Barrios

Snow days… I remember them from my twelve years at Rutgers, though I must obnoxiously admit that lately I’ve had the AC on here in warm-but-slightly-muggy Florida.  My current institution is thus immune from the controversy that recently enveloped the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne when Chancellor Phyllis Wise declined to cancel school for snow, prompting an outpouring of hate in social media, much of it grouped under the odious hashtag #f**kphyllis. [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios
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“Speak English or Go Home”: Teaching Coke’s Super Bowl Ad

posted: 2.6.14 by Barclay Barrios

In my circle of friends, the Super Bowl is about only one thing: the ads.  2014 had many gems (who can forget Audi’s doberhuahua?) but one ad has generated quite a bit of controversy: Coke’s multi-lingual rendition of “America the Beautiful”. This quick clip from CNN outlines the sad but perhaps unsurprising reaction to the video: [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios
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Teaching Syria

posted: 9.18.13 by Barclay Barrios

As I write this post, a lot is happening in Syria.  I’ve been thinking about how one might use essays in Emerging to help students both unravel this tense international situation and to help them understand that what we do in the classroom doesn’t just exist in the classroom but connects to the world we live in. [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios
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Teaching Miley Cyrus

posted: 9.11.13 by Barclay Barrios

Miley Cyrus’s performance at the Video Music Awards has caused quite a splash.  I particularly enjoyed the analysis of CNN’s coverage of the performance in the ever-acerbic and satirical The Onion. Given the average demographics of the writing classroom, it’s also a chance to do some work with her “twerks”. [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios
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Teaching Edward Snowden

posted: 7.25.13 by Barclay Barrios

As I write this, Edward Snowden—NSA secret leaker—is still very much in the news, though in a “Where in the world is Edward Snowden?” kind of way.  At the same time, the current issue of Time is devoted to “The Informers” and anti-government hacktivism.

Peter Singer’s essay “Visible Man: Ethics in a World without Secrets” would be a great essay to be teaching right now.  [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios
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The Classroom Film Festival Assignment

posted: 3.19.13 by Traci Gardner

Pop your popcorn, grab a soda, and settle in for the Classroom Film Festival! It may not be what you’d see at Cannes or Sundance, but it is a simple way to bring video into the classroom without any special equipment.

Last fall, I wrote about the significance video plays in the lives of the typical college-aged student. Students like video. When they visit a web site, the first thing they are likely to do is scan the page for a play button. As a result, I want to include video whenever possible.

When I design video assignments however, I’m always worried that equipment and software will be an issue. Usually students’ cell phones have video recording capabilities, and there are free software options that we can use. Even if we have the necessary tools covered, there’s the question of knowing how to use those tools effectively. There may not be enough time to teach students about filming techniques, their cameras, and the software works.

[read more]

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Teaching about Writing Instructions with Comics

posted: 3.18.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Instructions are obviously a nearly ubiquitous part of life in our visual culture and can be found everywhere from the emergency exit of an airplane to a tube of toothpaste. Unlike writing that is organized into prose paragraphs, instructions often take the form of an ordered list that may seem to be woefully lacking in sentence variety for lovers of intricate grammatical style.  However, encouraging students in composition classes to think about writing instructions can be a useful way to discuss audience and purpose and improve students’ understanding of different rhetorical situations.

Technical writing courses often include very interesting prompts about how to write clear, effective, and economical instructions.  My former colleague at UC Irvine, computer science faculty member David Kay, was fond of assigning the task of writing instructions for how to build a particular object from building toys, such as Legos or Tinker Toys.  Peer editing groups would need to try to follow the instructions to build the intended object (such as a specific house, vehicle, or animal) without illustrations and without verbal prompting from the instructor. [read more]

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Categories: Elizabeth Losh
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Catalog Writing

posted: 11.19.12 by archived

It’s catalog season. My mailbox is slowly filling with these glossy little books. I pick through them for the other mail, and leave them to stack up in there. I wish there were a way to stop companies from mailing these catalogs to my house. It’s ironic: When you buy something online, the company then send you their catalog four times (or more) a year. Shopping online could have killed the catalog—but the opposite seems to be happening.

When I was a kid, I got a job delivering catalogs for a major department store. They were heavy as hell. I pulled them behind me in a cart. It took hours to complete the route. A friend from school had a route abutting mine, but he chucked all his catalogs in a dumpster and went off to play road hockey. He got paid the same amount that I did. I’m still not sure what the moral of that story is.

Instead of moving those catalogs out of the mailbox to the recycling bin right now, I’ll write a blog post. About catalogs.  [read more]

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Categories: Jay Dolmage
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Our Fall Assignment Sequence

posted: 9.26.12 by Barclay Barrios

Every year we offer a “standard” sequence of assignments for our teachers. Returning teachers are invited to use or adapt it; new teachers use it as they become familiar with our program, the course, and writing their own assignments. We test the sequence in the summer and gather sample student work at the same time that we use during our orientation. I thought I would offer this year’s sequence, which we titled “Rights and Bytes: The Technology of Civil Rights,” as a model for how we put assignments together. Feel free to use it or adapt it as needed.

Paper 1: Yoshino

At the end of “Preface” and “The New Civil Rights,” Kenji Yoshino suggests that ultimately the law will play only a partial role in the evolution of a “new” civil rights, one based on the value of authenticity and the common denominations of being human. Write a paper in which you extend Yoshino’s argument by identifying other key areas of society that must play a role in the creation of a new civil rights.

Questions for Exploration:

According to Yoshino, why does an exclusive focus on law limit civil rights? What role must conversation play? What’s the difference between civil rights and human rights? How can we make the transition from one to the other? Does covering prevent the evolution of civil rights? What social factors might change covering: peer pressure? popular culture? What’s necessary for a person to achieve authenticity? How might economics, culture, or even religion function in Yoshino’s vision? [read more]

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Categories: Barclay Barrios, Uncategorized
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