My first writing assignment was going along with the idea of exploring difficult topics through writing. We have been talking a lot about structure and formal versus informal language, as well as music and its structure, in order to get into topics that might find better expression in writing as opposed to verbal discussion.
For their first assignment, the students had to focus on a moment in their lives that stood out to them for one of the three broad reasons below :
- It was a moment when you realized that you were different, but also a moment when you learned to accept what made you unique and finally felt comfortable with that uniqueness
- It was a transition moment, a time when you went from one period in your life to another
- You were in opposition to the world around you; something about your community- it could be your family, your hometown, your country- made you realize that maybe you didn’t quite fit into the mold you had been pressed into.
They then had to think of the “soundtrack” for that time and incorporate that soundtrack in any way- either by mimicking the “sound” of a particular song, borrowing some of the language, or even directly quoting the piece- as a way to make the writing more visceral. We have been talking a lot about engaging the reader and understanding that there are different audiences for each piece of writing, so this was a somewhat different way of going about getting into an essay.
They will also then have to write a reflection piece where they answer a series of questions to evaluate their effectiveness as a writer for that piece.
I guess the issue I may want to tackle is maybe it was too broad or even too narrow. I’m always trying to think of creative ways to engage the students, particularly because it’s such an early class, and I want them to try many different kinds of writing. This would be more of a personal essay sort of piece as opposed to anything too academic, which I felt was a good segway into the the critical essay.
For a discussion lead topic, I would like to try one of the following, with the first being my top choice:
- Students’ Right to Their Own Language (and Identities)
- Defining Writing Studies in the Twenty-first Century