Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

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Using Padlet for Class Brainstorming

posted: 11.20.13 by Traci Gardner

When I left the classroom for the world of educational software and web development in the mid-90s, classroom brainstorming was either done on the chalkboard or in Daedalus InterChange. Those two options were the only way to collect student ideas in one place that everyone could easily access. Both, of course, came with their limitations. Chalkboard notes were (and are) fleeting things that someone has to transcribe, and InterChange discussions scrolled quickly up the window, leaving students and me unable to see all the ideas on one screen.
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Categories: Traci Gardner
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Writing to Embrace the Future

posted: 10.7.13 by Susan Naomi Bernstein

For our first writing project, my students were invited to choose a place that held significance for them—and to write an essay that made a persuasive point about that place. We read drafts together—as a whole class, in pairs and small groups, with me in office hours and over email. [read more]

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Categories: Susan Naomi Bernstein
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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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4.5 Minute Lesson on Audience, Purpose, and Voice

posted: 7.29.09 by Traci Gardner

Too many times I’ve seen students’ eyes glaze over when I explain how audience, purpose, and voice matter in composition. No more. From now on, I’ll let The Wicked Sick Project video take care of this lesson.

The short video, which Chris Boese shared on Facebook, shows two employees from Australian PR firm George Patterson Y&R who buy a generic bike on eBay and then write a new ad that sells the bike for 5 times what they paid for it. The only difference was the description of the bike in the eBay ad.

In their entry for PR Lions category of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the company explains their goal for the project:

Every advertising agency around the world is locked in a constant battle of creativity vs effectiveness. Some clients don’t believe in the value of a creative idea. Instead of just TELLING our clients that creativity works, we decided to PROVE it to them.

So the employees set off with the basic plan of “Show, Don’t Tell” and created a short video that documents their effort. The eBay ad that they created demonstrates a clear understanding of audience, purpose, and voice.

Here’s the video. It does include a couple of words used that the MPAA would label as “one of the harsher sexually-derived words,” and there’s a derogatory use of the word gay. I realize it won’t be appropriate for every classroom. That said, I would probably ask students to discuss why the employees included those problem words as part of the overall exploration of how the employees’ voice and choice of details builds their ethos with their audience.

The eBay ad is not the academic language of the classroom. It’s not even what I’d call great design for an online document (please, fewer lines in all caps!). That’s okay though. The ad wasn’t written for a college composition or professional writing assignment. It was written to sell a bike at a profit, and it does a stunning job of accomplishing that goal.

Show this video to students, and in 4.5 minutes, you’ll show them that shaping language for a particular audience and goal really does make a difference—in some cases, an especially profitable one!

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Categories: Popular Culture, Rhetorical Situation, Teaching with Technology
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Balance is the Challenge

posted: 6.19.07 by Barclay Barrios

Derek’s comments on the last post have me thinking about finding the balance between invention and expectation, between uniformity and diversity, between heuristic and rubric and creativity and innovation. For me, these are not just questions for individual assignments or individual courses; instead they’re the kind of concerns I struggle with as the local WPA. On the one hand, I want students to learn X or Y rhetorical form or critical thinking skill but on the other hand I want students to practice J and K kinds of originality and individualism. On the one hand, I want a common set of outcomes and a fairly uniform student experience but on the other hand I want teachers to be able to innovate in their courses since that innovation can then enrich the program as a whole.

Balance is the challenge.

In terms of my classes, the problem often manifests itself for me in the “class argument.” In any given set of papers I find the same argument in a good chunk of them, an argument that invariably reflects class discussion or group work. It reflects, too, what students come to understand of the rubric and my own expectations. Here are some ways I try to find a better balance:

  • I try to allow multiple paths into my assignments. I try to word them so that you can argue any side, so that you can start your thinking from any personal opinion, so that you can be as creative as you’d like. At the same time, since my weaker students tend to flounder with an assignment that’s too broad and open-ended, I also provide a set of questions for thinking about the assignment, questions which provide direction and structure for those students who need it.
  • I take difficulty into account when grading. I tell my classes it’s like diving: go for a more difficult maneuver and even if you don’t nail it your score will reflect that you tried something new, above, and beyond. In many ways, then, a paper that takes risks is better positioned from the get go than a safe paper.
  • I harness the class when I can. So, for example, a rubric generated out of class discussion is less an imposition from above and more a common agreement of expectations.

Not ideal, but I don’t think it can be. I think the kind of balance Derek is prompting in his comments is and must be a struggle. You know, in Chaos/Complexity Theory (an odd little interest of mine) the goal of any complex adaptive system is to reach what’s called “the edge of chaos,” a surprisingly robust state between the death of static stagnation and total chaos. I guess that’s what I need to aim for continually in my teaching and my program–the edge of chaos.

BTW, the tailbone is a bit better today. Lotsa rest (on my tummy was best), hot baths, and tylenol seem to have done the trick.

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Categories: Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Teaching Advice
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