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Informal, Low-Stakes Writing Assignment

CSCL 3458w, Section 2
The Body and the Politics of Representation
Tuesdays, 6:20-8:50 pm

Instructor: Thomas O. Haakenson
Three Possible Write-to-Learn Prompts

1. Representation (5 min. brainstorming with a partner; 10 min. class discussion):
a. What is a representation?
b. List some of the ways in which the human body might be represented?

2. Analyzing Images (5 min. brainstorming with a partner; 10 min. class discussion):
a. How would you define the word ‚Äúpolitical‚Ä??
b. The image on the overhead / PowerPoint is a copy of a painting by Grant Wood titled American Gothic. How might such a representation be political?

3. Course Description (10 min. mini-lecture clarifying terms; 10 min. brainstorming with partner; 15 min. class discussion):
a. Review the course description with a partner or partners. Rewrite the description as if you were presenting the description to one of the following:
i. An elementary school student
ii. A grandparent
iii. A friend not in our course
iv. President Bush


Tom---solid in-class writing assignments in which students check out their presuppositions about key terms and collectively stipulate new definitions. The key, as you probably know, will be in engaging them in this work not because you want them to eventually learn established and accepted definitions (ie "yours"), but because they are empowered to determine, as a group, what (and how) the terms mean for the class community. Will you be able to keep the net wide in the initial stages of this process, and discuss what might have informed their presuppositions?


Your first two intakes seem excellent. They will get the students thinking and will (hopefully) get them to engage with the course material. I am uncertain, however, about the purpose of the third intake assignment. As a student I would want to know WHY I was being asked to rewrite the course description. What do you hope students will gain from this activity? What do you hope to gain from this activity?