I also modeled the first assignment for my class after Lisa’s first creative non-fiction assignment using the theme of community and language (which is the larger theme in our class). Before this assignment, the students have been working on low stakes responses to texts assigned for homework which I have to admit, they hate.
I think that the majority of the students in my class are finally excited about this assignment because instead of analyzing a text, they can be a bit more creative. In addition, they all do have amazing stories to tell about their identities and backgrounds and I hope this encourages them to investigate this through writing. I will say that even after showing examples and going through the creative non-fiction texts we have read in class thus far, they are having some trouble understanding how they should weave personal narratives into piece that still has a “main idea” or purpose. They also, after briefly looking over some working drafts, are struggling to write with conviction. We have spent a great deal of time discussing how to do this but maybe I should alter my assignment in ways that will promote this conviction in their writing or perhaps scaffold the assignment in a way that would allow the students to figure out what possible topics would really interest them in writing.
In light of this realization, chapter 4 of the St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing is extremely helpful in that Glenn and Goldthwaite provide a number of ways to structure writing assignments that can help students figure out what to focus on in their own writing. I particularly liked the assignment that asks students to assess and define terms like analyze, explore, evaluate, entertain, describe.. etc. It honestly didn’t occur to me that they would be unfamiliar with these terms and it makes sense that if I am asking them to utilize these methods in their writing and they don’t fully know what it means it can be frustrating or confusing for them. This is definitely something I want to use to structure future writing assignments or rhetorical responses.