Assignments for English 410
NB: Since computers can crash and flash drives can slip away, remember to save all your work in a couple of places. Also note that all your work must adhere to Standard Written English (SWE). In other words, edit your work carefully since you want to be a model for your students.
1. Responding to Readings/Book Report—15%
Respond to readings by typing some of your reactions. You might want to summarize important points and analyze them, wrestle with them, review writing techniques, reflect on your own experiences as a student, etc. Use this opportunity to think creatively about what you were reading, especially as you imagine yourself a (more experienced) writing teacher. For full credit, write at least 500 words and include a word count. Responses are worth ten points each.
You will also write one book or journal report (worth 30 points). Sign up for one of the books on our list or choose an issue from a writing journal. Read or skim through the material, looking for points that are important to your growth as a writing teacher or as a writer. Summarize key points on a handout for your classmates. Offer a brief analysis, including why the book/journal might be useful to fellow teachers. You’ll have ten minutes to present the information to your classmates (rotating schedule).
2. Writing Assignment—25%
The best way to learn to be a writing teacher is to assign writing and assess it. So, prepare a possible writing assignment. Choose a grade level as well as concrete goals for the writing traits you are targeting. (Remember the six AIMS traits: conventions, ideas & content, organization, sentence fluency, voice, word choice.) Your classmates will respond by pretending to be students of the age level you’ve chosen. After collecting their assignments, you will develop grading criteria and assess the ‘students’’ work. Finally, you will explain to your classmates the results of your experiment.
a) prepare the assignment on a handout and explain it to your ‘students’ (rotating
schedule, but you will present the assignment on a Monday)
b) collect the assignment (Wednesday)
c) develop criteria for grading your essays
d) grade your essays (grade plus appropriate written comments)
e) write up a summary of your assignment and the resulting essays (1-2 pages)
f) explain the results to your classmates (the following Monday)
3. Essay Portfolio—30%
In order for your classmates to practice grading and for you to better consider the student experience, you will respond to your classmates’ assignments as if you were regular students. Each week, choose to be a different level of student: A, B, C, D, failing. (Use a pseudonym.)
a) respond to your classmates’ assignments
b) collect your graded essays (with your classmates’ comments)
c) keep an assignment diary for each essay:
i) briefly explain the grade you were trying to get and the features of writing that would earn you that grade
ii) record the grade you received and assess your classmates’ comments.
iii) comment on how you might use or adapt the assignment yourself.
4. Constructing a Writing Unit—15%
As a primary or secondary teacher, you will need to create units that target writing skills. For this assignment, imagine a particular grade level and create a detailed writing unit that you could use in the classroom.
a) memo (1-page explanation of your goal for the unit)
b) syllabus (the set of activities your students will perform over a 5-10 day period)
c) one detailed class activity (a brainstorming activity, a workshopping session, etc.)
d) the assignment itself (the one you piloted on us or a different one)
e) an explanation of how you will grade this assignment (or a rubric)
f) class presentation of the unit and accompanying handout
5. Reflections on Being a Writing Teacher (Final Exam)—15%
In an academic essay (standard format with title, intro, thesis and forecast, body paragraphs with examples and analysis, conclusion), recap some of your thoughts on the act of teaching writing based on the work we did in class this semester. You might want to outline your philosophy as it pertains to some of our readings, examine strategies you developed or learned about through the writing units, or describe issues with grading that came up as you collected your portfolio of essays. Length: 6-10 pages. (2000-3000 words)