Posts Tagged ‘assignment’

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Multimodal Mondays: Combining Words and Visuals to Analyze a Text

posted: 9.23.13 by Andrea Lunsford

Arguments that combine words and images are ubiquitous, but students often absorb these multimedia messages unconsciously. Assigning an activity that asks students to interpret an image and complement it with words will give them practice in analyzing and creating visual texts. [read more]

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Assignment: Make A Writing/Learning Meme

posted: 9.17.13 by Traci Gardner

I like to begin a term with composing activities that help me learn about students’ background as readers and writers. I usually ask students to write some kind of literacy narrative (which I wrote about in this month’s Ink’d In). I’ve also created and gathered prompts on writing about writing that I use as formal or informal assignments. [read more]

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Making My Teaching Beliefs

posted: 7.25.13 by Traci Gardner

Somehow, I have escaped writing a teaching philosophy for a long time. In fact, I’m not positive that I ever have written one. If I did, it would have been some twenty years ago, and I have no idea where I’d find it now. It’s not that I haven’t thought about what I value as a teacher. I blog about what matters every week. I just haven’t had to write an official statement—until now. [read more]

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e-Pages: When?

posted: 3.27.13 by Barclay Barrios

I had planned on colon-titling this post “Write!” but as it turns out the correct subtitle is “When?”  Specifically, “when” is the problem I faced in class this week, as in “when are students going to turn in this draft?” or “when are students going to show up for class today?”  Both of these are suddenly pressing problems, although I can’t say if it’s because of our local institutional quirks or simply the way writing classes work.  Hence, this post—part explication, part plea.

About half my students turned in a draft for this assignment.  I’m wavering between two hypotheses.  First, it’s midterm season.  Technically, for us, it’s just after midterms since we just had our spring break (early, yes, I know).  But there’s also a more general issue with this course.  As a spring section of our first semester writing course, it tends to have a very high fail rate, in part because many students taking the course weren’t able to pass it in the fall.

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e-Pages: What?

posted: 3.20.13 by Barclay Barrios

So what was it like using one of the selections from e-Pages?

Well, for starters, it’s one of the few times I’ve ever had students “like” a reading. I won’t claim that had anything to do with having the reading online; I think it had a lot more to do with the subject matter (as one student described it, “it’s about that MySpace porn star”) and the fact that the events of the essay took place in South Florida, not far from our school.  About the usual number of students actually did the reading, with about the same mix of those using laptops in class and those who had printed the reading.  For my students, it seems like it was just another reading.

What I found far more interesting was my own reaction to the reading.  I live and breathe technology.  I’ve taught whole classes using just PDFs and my iPad. I grade electronically, too. But I just couldn’t read this essay online. I had to print it out so that I could attack it properly: highlighting, underlining, annotating. [read more]

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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.

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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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Scaffolding Assignments: The Habits Redux

posted: 7.20.12 by archived

Before I get into specifics of assignment design, I just wanted to mention a couple articles I’ve come across that respond to the habits of mind that have been on my mind this summer:

  • Clancy Ratliffe  at CultureCat blogged about how the habits of mind described in the Framework could be aligned with WPA outcomes;
  • The most recent issue of College English includes a symposium on the Framework, which seems to have excited quite a bit of not-entirely-positive feedback.

I’ve been thinking lately about how to structure a series of assignments “inspired” by the habits of curiosity, creativity, and persistence.

  1. I usually begin the semester with the generic “writer’s autobiography,” asking students to tell me and the rest of their classmates something about their history as a writer, how they assess themselves, what writing they do now, and what they hope to get out of the class. As a first informal assignment this fall, I’m thinking of asking students to write about how they are curious and creative and persistent (hereafter C, C, and P); this may have involved learning about dinosaurs or experimenting with make-up or practicing one’s foul shot. I will also ask them to comment on whether and how this connects to their experiences as a writer. This will be an informal first post on their individual blogs set up this first week of class. [read more]

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Categories: Holly Pappas
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Habits of Mind: Persistence

posted: 7.6.12 by archived

In my plan for re-focusing my comp class, I’ve saved for last the one that’s hardest for me to grapple with and also most crucial (in some ways) for my students’ success. In many of the classes I’ve taught, between 20 and 30% of the students either disappear without officially withdrawing or continue to come to class without turning in any (or many) assignments. I look back at the report I’ve cited earlier (“Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing”) to copy out the definition of persistence: “the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.” Many of these students had the ability to pass the class, but something gets in the way of their completing the work of the course, or sometimes of even starting it.

I’d like to be able to poll them to find out why this is so. In particularly bad semesters I sometimes ask students to write an anonymous page about how they assess their progress in the class and, if they’re not happy with how they’ve been doing, what’s been going on to interfere. Pens fly, and the mood seems to be one of eager confession. Generally the resulting pages speak of difficulties balancing schoolwork and the rest of life (my students often work at least twenty hours a week, and many have family obligations as well) or of chronic problems with procrastination.  In my more insecure moments I worry that it’s something about me or how I’ve taught the class, that I haven’t designed assignments that are sufficiently engaging, or that assignments are too difficult for students to approach. [read more]

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“Never Going to Make You Cry”: Why Students Should Choose Their Own Topics

posted: 3.5.12 by archived

When I was in high school and university, I dreaded writing assignments that didn’t allow me to choose my own topic and approach. As soon as I got a writing prompt in an English class, I would read through the different questions the teacher had provided, scanning for that crucial statement: “choose your own topic” or “write about a theme of your choice.” I realize some of my peers would never have wanted to choose that option; they liked being given clear parameters; and they would be uncomfortable if forced to choose their own subject material.  That didn’t make them lazy, less creative, or less confident writers.  It just made them different from me.

I try to remember this when giving my own students writing prompts. The difference is that I now start with the idea that all students can choose their own topic, but I provide extra help for students who need assistance doing so. I hope that I am accommodating all types of students this way.

A few weeks ago, there was a photo of a student essay making its way around the Internet. In the photo, a student highlighted how, on an essay  submitted for a class, he or she had started every single line with a few words from the lyrics to the Rick Astley song “Never Going to Give You Up.”

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
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