This post is also a comment somewhere else. Sorry for any confusion!
These readings were extremely helpful for me in thinking about how to propose writing assignments. I just returned my first batch of papers and realized I had made a lot of mistakes that I don’t want to repeat. I used the assignment that was on the English 110 website for my class and I made very few changes to it. Because it called for a creative response to my course’s topic, I found myself grading essays that I felt should have been responses to a low-stakes assignment. The assignment was not only difficult to grade, but I feel it did little to prepare students for their upcoming analytical essay assignments. I’m curious how others, especially 110 instructors, are handling this? Are any of your essay assignments creative, and if so, how has that been working out?
In the future, I’d like to encourage creative thinking with low-stakes writing assignments that might be part of class or as a take-home assignment. I taught theatre for a little while and I’ve been really interested in incorporating improvisation techniques into the classroom but am unsure if this will just freak students out. I thought the assignment that called for students to write dialogues in groups was an excellent tactic. Has anyone done this before and how has it gone?
I guess I’m just really curious about how other people have incorporated play into the classroom. And play, in this context, is low-stakes writing that can encourage pleasure in using words but also in getting out of our seats and moving around. This week’s readings were so helpful in concrete ways. I reconsidered my way of both assigning and commenting on essays (especially, as Karen already pointed out, reading through them once before commenting). I wonder if we can’t push these ideas further? I’d be really interested to learn more about the ways that creative writing instructors are choosing assignments that challenge their students’ modes of thinking in their work. I’d also like to know if people play games (I do, but I’d like to play more!) in their classrooms? What games are they? Do they seem to work? And maybe I’m the only one who is obsessed with the idea that the classroom should be really fun, but if anyone else feels this way, what can we do to encourage playfulness in approaching both reading and writing?