Posts Tagged ‘sequences’

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A Sequence on Sequencing: How? (Part III)

posted: 4.1.15 by Barclay Barrios

There is one more approach to sequencing you can use.  I don’t tend to use because, well, I think you’ll see…

We’ve included nine sequences in Emerging, many with options built in for alternate readings and assignments.  So a third method of making your “own” sequence is to modify one of the sequences that’s in Emerging. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Barclay Barrios, Emerging
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A Sequence on Sequencing: How? (Part II)

posted: 3.25.15 by Barclay Barrios

Last time I talk about forming a sequence around a particular reading, but one of the things I love most about this approach to my teaching is that it allows me to respond to things going on in the world right now.  And so a second approach to sequencing is to start with a current event or topic and then build a sequence that explores that issue.  Not only does this method help students to see how what we do in the classroom connects to the world around them but it also offers me the chance to bring in any number of small supplemental texts from the media. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Barclay Barrios, Emerging, Pedagogy
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A Sequence on Sequencing: How? (Part I)

posted: 3.18.15 by Barclay Barrios

Last post I talked about why I choose to sequence assignments.  In the next several posts I’d like to offer some techniques I’ve found useful in designing sequences so that you can create your own.

One of the methods I use is reading centered.  I start with a reading I really want to teach and then I build out the sequence from there.  Given the shape of our semester we can usually cover four readings.  I like to use the following pattern for assignments: [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Barclay Barrios, Emerging, Pedagogy
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A Sequence on Sequencing: What and Why?

posted: 3.11.15 by Barclay Barrios

I chose a sequencing approach to the assignments in Emerging.  I thought it might be useful to talk a little bit about why I made that decision, so over the next few posts I hope to offer you an introduction to assignment sequencing—and also some tips on how to make your own sequences.  [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Barclay Barrios, Emerging, Pedagogy
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When Every Word Counts

posted: 6.13.07 by Barclay Barrios

I’ve been working with a GTA on the standard set of writing assignments used by new GTAs and adjuncts every fall. Since he’s teaching our FYC course this summer, we get to test out the assignments and we get all the sample papers we need for orientation. Anyway one of the things I’ve been sharing with him is how very crucial each word can be in an assignment. One wrong word can wreck an assignment and just shifting to a new verb can prompt super successful papers.

In fact, we spend a lot of time on verbs in our spring orientation, which is designed to help the fall’s new teachers start writing their own assignments for use starting in the spring. Here are some of the verbs we look at how to write effective assignments:

  • explore: tend to avoid this one since the paper can end up meandering
  • reflect: this one can prompt a lot of interiority and some regurgitation
  • discuss: too generalized; doesn’t encourage students to find a central argument or focus
  • argue: creates a for/against, win/lose, balck/white mentality
  • defend: combative stance
  • refute: combative stance
  • extend: good word because it asks students to move beyond the readings
  • examine: not too bad
  • evaluate: good word because it asks for some sort of critical thinking
  • propose: good because it asks students to articulate a position
  • assess: good like “evaluate”
  • demonstrate: can be good, depending on the object

To give you some sense of how these play out, we use sequences writing assignments a la Ways of Reading, though with our own readings we’re putting in a custom reader. For a more specific example, here’s the rough draft of our fourth assignment for the fall:

This semester we have read works that deal with a variety of complex systems— universities, the world, Wikipedia. Our final reading, “The Animals” by Michael Pollan , takes place on Polyface farm, yet another complex system. It is safe to say that nearly all facets of life in the twenty-first century are small parts in highly dense and interconnected world. Using Michael Pollan’s “The Animals” and at least one other reading from this semester:

Write a paper in which you examine the economic potential of complexity.

It’s funny. I always forget how hard it is to write an assignment until I sit down to do it. Then I hem and haw and tweak and tweak… changing a word here… a verb there… frustrated and crazed… all to get the assignment just so.

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Categories: Readers, Teaching Advice, Ways of Reading
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