Core Description and Guidelines


Sample Policy Statements

Five Ways of Reading

Text Analysis Paper Assignments

Groupwork and Other In-Class Activities

Study Questions

Alternative Assignments

Tips from the Trenches

Sample Exams

Materials Grouped by Instructor

In-class Activities

There's room for lots of innovation here, so use your imagination and don't be afraid to experiment.

Think about group size & space & sound-level issues; sometimes group students yourself according to skill, talkativeness, interests; sometimes let them choose their own groups (you can make changes if you see these not working); try to make groups accountable for their work, though having each one report out doesn't necessarily work; you'll probably have to stay active during small group work to keep them on the job; can link groups (have one group write 3 questions the text raises, pass them to the right, add 3 more, pass again, answer all 6); can assign roles within small groups (time-keeper, discussion leader, recorder/reporter, etc.)

Have pairs or threes of students share their reponses and confusions with each other at beginning of class; when nobody answers a big general question, try this; ask them what's confusing, write it down; sometimes works for warmup with slow class, lets them get their brains in gear.

Consider alternative kinds of assignments, such as

Shift at some point into fast (2-5 minutes) personal questions about students' related experiences (could you relate to this? How?); then 5-8 minutes writing on specific instance of similar experience; ask for volunteers to share & summarize

Try taking an extreme interpretive position (e.g., Oedipus is a twit), but phrase it to show them how to take a position they don't necessarily believe (What if I said that O is a twit; Could we make an argument that O is a twit; Did anybody here think at any moment that O is a twit)

Try overhead writing prompts; have them write down or say aloud all the questions they have about something, then separate them into types of questions (in groups first?)

Buy yourself some crayons and big newsprint paper to use in small groups, or if you have a room with lots of chalkboards, use them

Read aloud, especially poetry (and poems probably at least twice); try reading and annotating with the overhead projector; try prereading (again, maybe overhead); have students read aloud, alone or as a group chorus