Every semester, I struggle with deciding how many (if any) student presentations my students should complete in my courses. As someone who doesn’t exactly thrive in public speaking situations, I know how anxiety-provoking class presentations can be. Still, I also believe there are so many benefits to student presentations that not including any in my course design would be a failing in my teaching style. In today’s post, I share a few presentation projects my students have completed over the years and why I think these student presentation activities are so powerful for student learning.
As instructors, how can we know what students have learned from our classes? Student evals tell us how they feel about us and our classes, but not about what they learned. Some of us might have students reflect on the course at the end of the semester, but can students really remember small, important details from week 3 during week 16? To find out what students have gained from my writing course projects, I have them complete a metacognitive writing activity for each unit. At ISU, we refer to this activity as completing an “uptake genre.” In today’s post, I explain this concept in more detail and provide examples of uptake genres I’ve had students complete during different sections of my ENG 101 courses. If you want to know more about what your students have learned from your classes, consider adding an uptake genre or two to your course design.
While teaching the five-paragraph essay might be necessary in high school English courses that seem to (unfortunately) run on standardized testing, college writing instructors could use a more realistic approach when teaching writing. Once outside the school setting, five paragraph essays aren’t exactly in high demand. At ISU, our (award-winning) writing program takes a rhetorical genre studies approach to teaching writing in order to better help prepare our students for their future writing responsibilities and interests.
Rather than focus our courses on writing essays and going through grammar drills, our students practice researching various rhetorical genres. While completing writing projects, they also work to articulate what they’ve learned about these genres, how they’ve learned this information, and how they can use these new skills and knowledge in situations outside the classroom. In today’s post, I describe how I teach writing using a theoretical framework that helps my students analyze the texts around them and their own writing experiences.