The start of a new school year is just a flip of a calendar page away for many teachers whose duties include or consist of teaching writing. For many years, I was one such teacher.
One thing I learned over those years was to make sure students understood on the first day of class what they were expected to do in the class. Unfortunately, it took decades of trying various approaches before I found a find a way to accomplish that objective on opening day.
The method I use I discovered when teaching asynchronous online classes for University of Phoenix. The University’s teachers were encouraged to have student use a chat room to get acquainted. When I promoted use of the chat room, students spent almost a quarter of the class chatting about their out-of-school interests before I could get them focused on learning to write.
So, I decided to start off the class by introducing myself in the online classroom as a writer. I told students they could get acquainted in the chat room, but I required students to introduce themselves as writers in the classroom space. That adjustment reclaimed nearly two weeks of class and enabled me to get most students writing at the end of eight weeks at a level that students in face-to-face classes typically took a 15-week semester to achieve.
To learn more about how I used the “I’m a writer” assignment to get students off to a good start, see this post from seven years ago.
© 2021 Linda Aragoni
A writing prompt for students in 2020
I usually start an online writing class by having students introduce themselves as writers. I’m debating whether current events call for posing a different question this fall that recognizes students’ anxieties are about more than whether their bad grammar will make them fail first semester English.
Introduction to the proposed prompt
You are enrolled in an academic program at a time when much in our world seems unstable and unpredictable.
What tools have you developed thus in your academic program that will help you succeed in life? Are those the tools that are in demand in a stable world, or are they tools that will enable you to face an unstable, unpredictable world? If the world into which you’re entering is unstable and unpredictable, how can you prepare for it? How do you know what tools you’ll need?
The writing prompt itself
Write an informative/explanatory text of no more than 650 words in which you explain how well you personally are prepared to function as an independent adult in the world that’s before you. In your text:
- Identify the information source(s) from which you deduced the tools that are needed in an unstable, unpredictable world.
- Describe two, three, or four specific skills or knowledge you possess that either will or will not equip you to take up an adult role in this unstable, unpredictable world.
- Tell readers either how you came by those skills and/or knowledge or why you didn’t acquire them already.
I’ll have to give this some more thought. Many of my great ideas turn out to be duds. If you have any insights, please put them in the contact form.
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni