No Boundaries; A Classroom Anthology?

In a stack of papers called Writing.

  • Jan
  • 20
  • 2006

Respond to the following five questions:

  1. What have you been doing well so far this year?
  2. Looking back on where you were at the end of last school year, what has been the most significant change in your reading and writing skills?
  3. What else do you think you need to change in your reading and writing skills?
  4. Are you satisfied with your work so far this year? WOWN?
  5. What is one assignment you’ve completed this school year that you are particularly proud of and why? This does not have to be an English assignment. Have you done anything outside of school you’re proud of?

No Boundaries

This is the assignment that’s starting off this semester. I’m hoping to give students a way to not only think about their learning, but to look at what has made them proud and happy over the past few months. The fact that this assignment is wide open has caused a bit of interest: their response to those 5 questions can take nearly any form, so it doesn’t have to be an essay unless they want it to be. This has made many students happy.

While it is a gimmick, I think that having an assignment without the usual boundaries helps raise interest level. I guess I’ll see when the final products start flowing in (the final draft is due next Friday; depending on how class progress goes, I may push that off another week).

The other product of this assignment, though, is that I hope to get some ideas about what students have done over the past few months that are things they do care about. That should help me in my quest of getting my students to care about their writing. I’m hoping that something a student writes will give me an idea for the next assignment.

I’ll be putting my “Perspectives” assignment in place soon and that might help students pay more attention to their writing. With the blog entries they’ll be writing, they might pay more attention, too, since anyone will be able to read them. Then again, apathy might just as readily kick in, there.

No matter what, though, it’s the more personal writing that students care about, the writing that tells their own story. So maybe it’s a classroom anthology of our stories. A semester project? What if we look at all of our literature as models of authors telling their story? And then we go write our own story about something related or in a similar style or dealing with the same internal conflict? Hmm…

I like the idea of working toward a classroom publication as a way to get students to care about the fidelity of their writing. I guess I’m just a bit cynical about it because I keep doubting myself that it will make a difference. Then I will have gone through all that trouble only to find that I spent that time for nothing.

Daydream (Anthology Directions)

Would it work to keep it this loose? If I focus on this, do I have enough to address the standards and the literature I need to? What if the following was the actual assignment sheet I handed out in the next 2 weeks, and subsequently became the focus for the rest of the semester for each English class?

To create a classroom anthology of our stories (we’ll create a title as we move throughout the semester), each student will put together:

  • 3 written pieces
    • The written pieces can either be nonfiction (autobiographical, investigative, reporting) or fiction (short stories, poetry). Each piece should go through the entire writing process at least once. Models of professional writing in this category are readily available in class; student samples will be read as a class.
    • 1 piece should be addressed to an academic, formal audience; 1 piece should be addressed to a group of your peers; 1 piece should be addressed to someone like a boss or superior at work.
  • 3 audio pieces
    • The audio pieces (podcasts) should only be 1-2 minute pieces about a specific subject (something that makes you mad, happy, upset; something you wish you could chance; advice to the incoming freshmen, etc.). Use KQED’s Perspective pieces as samples and we will listen to several of those in class.
    • All 3 pieces should be addressed to the general public. Remember that people will judge who you are by the words and language you use, so speak accordingly.

We will work on this anthology throughout the semester and investigate publishing options along the way. At this point, online publication of the submissions is the goal.

Comments are closed.