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Activity 1.1: Understanding the Assignment
In our efforts to make students more effective verbal communicators and thinkers, emphasize that good communication takes practice and that good reading requires reflection. Create a context whereby students come to the realization that learning to "think outside the box," which most of them desire on some level, requires them to practice thinking and writing in unfamiliar ways, i.e., outside the box.
Of course, this applies to all disciplines. Although the emphasis of this module is the development of a creative journal assignment that could be applied to any course across the curriculum, other benefits besides written expression accrue. Students’ responses reveal their imaginative engagement with texts and illustrate their general understanding of assignments, specific readings, and class discussions. Finally, they show students’ grasp of the discipline in a way standardized tests do not.
Key Concepts
  • The more students reflect, write, and experiment in each, the better communicators they will become.
  • Communication can be visual and artistic as well as through prose.
Web-based and Traditional Delivery to Students
If you have the time to develop the assignment on a faculty website, showing it via a projector on a screen in the classroom allows instant discussion of the assignment and a constant reference throughout the semester. If not, a Power Point presentation and/or handouts will do fine. Student samples are very effective. If you do not have any, make up a few with the heading you want and an example of at least one from each of the five categories. Again, the website can provide examples. When explaining the assignment for the first time, it is effective to give an overview before diving into significant details.
  1. Give students an overview of the assignment and its objectives.
  2. Give students an overview of the 20 suggested approaches.
  3. Refer to a couple samples of what students have done in the past:
    • Individual entries
    • Table of Contents
    • Entire Journal
  4. Now, walk them through the particulars of the assignment.
  5. Walk them through the particulars of the requirements.
  6. Walk them more thoroughly through the 20 suggested approaches:
    • Discuss each one.
    • Many students may not be familiar with cartoons,drawings, poetry, collages, or concepts such as a “megaresponse.”
    • Show examples of how students have responded to each in the past.
    • Walk them through the heading you desire.
    • Explain why you want the details.
  7. Show them the Table of Contents and how it relates to the individual journal entries.
    • Discuss the relationship between it and the entries.
    • Discuss pagination.
Assessment of Understanding via Group Work
Divide the class into groups of three or four students (no more). They will be excited and confused about the assignment. The objective of the groups is to come up with four particular items they do not understand about the assignment.

  1. Each group chooses a leader.
  2. Each group presents misunderstandings to the class.
  3. Discussions follow, each led by the instructor.

The goal of the group work is comfort. At the end of this session, students should feel confident that they conceptually understand the assignment and are comfortable with it.