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Rubrics For Brochure Assignments Discovery

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Lesson Plan

Travel Brochures: Highlighting the Setting of a Story

 

Grades6 – 8
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeFive 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

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OVERVIEW

Imagine the images and detailed descriptions of the places depicted in a book you've read recently—whether a far-away land, a historical location, or a city just like the one you live in. Settings transport readers to these places, inviting them to consider what it would be like to visit these locations personally. This lesson plan takes that imaginary tourism one step further by asking students to create a travel brochure for locations in texts that they have read. The activity requires students to think about and collect the details mentioned in the text that should be highlighted and conduct additional research on the location as they design their own brochures.

This lesson plan uses Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko as the example; however, any text in any genre would work well.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

Travel Brochure Rubric: Use this rubric to evaluate the organization, ideas, conventions, and graphics of travel brochures students have created.

Recording the Setting Bookmark: Students use this reproducible sheet, which can be cut into bookmarks, to record details about a story's setting as the read.

Printing Press: Use this online tool to create a newspaper, brochure, booklet, or flyer. Students choose a layout, add content, and then print out their work.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

Often, students end a unit of study by writing a traditional research paper. While this is a good way for students to summarize what they have learned, it may not be the most interesting. Beyond that, it frequently results in summary and rote repetition rather than deep critical thinking. In this lesson plan, students go through the research process, but will take that information and turn it into a travel brochure. In her English Journal article, Janet Northrup says, "Unlike a research paper that usually has two readers, the teacher and the student, a pamphlet encourages ownership of a topic, a topic which each student knows will be shared with (and taught to) others. Also, class members develop research skills. They learn how to find information, develop a sense of voice and audience, write an arguable thesis statement, select relevant facts, create an interesting layout, and edit carefully." This project will meet the needs of both students and the teacher.

Further Reading

Northrup, Janet. "Pamphlets: An Introduction to Research Techniques." English Journal 86.6 (October 1997): 53-56.

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Standards

NCTE/IRA NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

3.

Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

 

4.

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

 

5.

Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

 

6.

Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

 

7.

Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

 

8.

Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

 

11.

Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

 

12.

Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

 

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Resources & Preparation

MATERIALS AND TECHNOLOGY

  • An assortment of travel brochures

  • Various reference materials, print and online

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Printing Press

The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.

 

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PRINTOUTS

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WEBSITES

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PREPARATION

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Instructional Plan

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • learn what makes a good travel brochure by examining commercial brochures.

  • think critically about text details from a text they have read.

  • create a travel brochure that incorporates research skills and text details.

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Session One

  1. Ask students to share their experiences with traveling:

    • Where did they go?

    • How did their families decide to go to these places?

    • What kinds of brochures, travel guides, books, and/or advertisements did their families explore before traveling?
  2. If students have experience with travel guides and travel brochures, invite them to share what they remember about them.

  3. Explain that the class is going to create travel brochure about one of the texts that students have read, focusing primarily on the setting of the story.

  4. Display a variety of travel brochures. Provide time for students to look through the brochures, in groups, pairs or individually. Ask them to pay attention to layout, the highlighted features, illustrations, and the style of the included text.

  5. After the students have had some time to look through the brochures, ask them to share more about what they saw in the brochures. The following questions can guide the discussion:

    • Are there maps? photos? diagrams? other illustrations?

    • What kind of language and vocabulary is used?

    • How is text presented? paragraphs? bulleted lists?

    • Are there specific places highlighted? What kind?
  6. Ask the students if they would like to visit any of the places in the brochures. If the students answer affirmatively, ask them to share what in the brochures made them want to visit. If students answer negatively, ask them to share why they would not like to visit that locale.

  7. Have students brainstorm what make an effective travel brochure. Record their responses on the board or on chart paper. Some answers may be the pictures, the supporting text, the quotes from visitors, and so forth.

  8. Explain that while the pictures and photos are added bonuses on travel brochures, the text plays an important role in persuading people to visit a certain place.

  9. Review persuasive writing with students: In a persuasive writing piece, students begin by determining their goal or thesis. They then identify three reasons to support their argument, and three facts or examples to validate each reason. The Persuasion Map Planning Sheet makes a good visual for the students.

  10. Brainstorm the kinds of information students need to include in their travel brochure. Record this information on the board. You can also refer to the Things to Include in a Travel Brochure handout.

  11. Show the students the Travel Brochure Rubric so they know the requirements for the project.

  12. Once students know the expectations for the assignment, ask them to choose a text for their brochures. Try not to have too many students using the same text. This lesson plan uses Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko as the example.

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Session Two

  1. When all of the students have selected a text for the project, invite them to revisit the text to look for examples and passages about the setting.

  2. Demonstrate how to use the Recording the Setting Bookmark to note the examples from the text. Display the example bookmark and discuss the details that are included.

  3. Pass out copies of the Recording the Setting Bookmark for students to use.

  4. Give students the rest of the session to collect details from their books.

  5. As students examine their texts for examples, circulate through the room. This is a good time to take observational notes or ask students questions as they are working.

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Session Three

  1. Once students have found examples from their text about the setting, explain that it’s time for them to conduct research on the setting using the Internet, reference materials, magazines, newspapers, etc. Students can visit Notes from the Road and Travel & Cultures for information on many areas of the world. If the students are using a Science Fiction or Fantasy text, they may have a more difficult time with the research. In that case, they should rely more on their findings in the text.

  2. Invite students to record their research findings on the Things to Include in a Travel Brochure handout. Share with them the example research notes.

  3. As students are researching, help as needed.

  4. Briefly demonstrate the Printing Press for students. Show the students how they can use the tool to create their finished product. Place students’ emphasis on thinking about the content for the brochures and flyers, as the Printing Press will make the process of making the final product a simpler one.

  5. You can also share with the students an example setting brochure of a book that the class has read so they can see what they can include in their own brochures.

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Session Four

  1. After students have gathered clues from their texts as well as completed research on their setting, they are ready to begin working on creating their travel brochures, highlighting the setting of a text using the Printing Press.

  2. Assist students as needed.

  3. Remind students that they cannot save their work on the Printing Press so they will need to work diligently on their project.

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Session Five

  1. Once all of the students have completed their brochures using the Printing Press, allow time for the students to share their brochures with the rest of the class.

  2. Assess the students work using the rubric.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Instead of making a travel brochure about their setting, students could design a postcard highlighting one of the locations mentioned in their text. Students can publish this postcard using the Postcard Creator.

  • Pairing the brochures with the text they accompany would make a good classroom or library display.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • For formal assessment, use the rubric. Additionally, you can ask students to freewrite on the following reflective question: After completing this activity, what role do you think the setting plays in a text? Will you pay more attention to the setting now that you have completed this activity?

  • Informal assessment can come from observations, interviews, and examination of the students' bookmarks and notes.

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Related Resources

LESSON PLANS

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Developing Story Structure With Paper-Bag Skits

Lights, camera, action, and a bit of mystery! In this lesson, students use mystery props in a skit bag to create and perform in short, impromptu skits.

 

Grades   3 – 6  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Utilizing Visual Images for Creating and Conveying Setting in Written Text

This lesson supports third-through-sixth grade students as they communicate story setting to their readers through the use of visual image prompts. Activities include individual and cooperative learning group work, as well as whole class discussion.

 

Grades   6 – 10  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

"Licensed" to Drive: Old West Figures

This lesson invites students to create a "Driver's License" for characters that have made a contribution to western expansion in the United States.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Greetings from the Biomes of the World

To share their research on biomes, students use iPads to create postcards from all over the world.

 

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Printing Press

The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.

 

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CALENDAR ACTIVITIES

Grades   5 – 10  |  Calendar Activity  |  June 15

Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series, was born in 1939.

After students have read one of Brian Jacques' Redwall stories, a class newspaper is created based on the story.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  July 17

On the Road author Jack Kerouac embarked on his first cross-country road trip in 1947.

Students read a section from On the Road that deals with cross-country travel and reflects Kerouac's unique writing style. Students then attempt to write a narrative using Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness style.

 

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PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY

Grades   8 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Journal

Pamphlets: An Introduction to Research Techniques

Describes a four- to six-week project for high school sophomores in which students create pamphlets and in the process learn basic research skills and practice several elements of the research paper.

 

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ACTIVITIES & PROJECTS

Grades   6 – 8  |  Activity & Project

Design a Travel Brochure

Invite children and teens to create a travel brochure to share information about a special place with others.

 

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PODCAST EPISODES

Grades   K – 5  |  Podcast Episode

Red, White, and Blue

Looking for summer adventure? Listen in as Emily chats about books that highlight travel destinations in the United States and books that you can read as you travel.

 

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Comments

Irani Alves de Sousa Costa

June 25, 2011

 

 

How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

Prepared by Allison Boye, Ph.D.
Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center

Assessment is a necessary part of the teaching and learning process, helping us measure whether our students have really learned what we want them to learn. While exams and quizzes are certainly favorite and useful methods of assessment, out of class assignments (written or otherwise) can offer similar insights into our students' learning.  And just as creating a reliable test takes thoughtfulness and skill, so does creating meaningful and effective assignments. Undoubtedly, many instructors have been on the receiving end of disappointing student work, left wondering what went wrong… and often, those problems can be remedied in the future by some simple fine-tuning of the original assignment.  This paper will take a look at some important elements to consider when developing assignments, and offer some easy approaches to creating a valuable assessment experience for all involved.

First Things First…

Before assigning any major tasks to students, it is imperative that you first define a few things for yourself as the instructor:

  • Your goals for the assignment. Why are you assigning this project, and what do you hope your students will gain from completing it? What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you aim to measure with this assignment?  Creating assignments is a major part of overall course design, and every project you assign should clearly align with your goals for the course in general.  For instance, if you want your students to demonstrate critical thinking, perhaps asking them to simply summarize an article is not the best match for that goal; a more appropriate option might be to ask for an analysis of a controversial issue in the discipline. Ultimately, the connection between the assignment and its purpose should be clear to both you and your students to ensure that it is fulfilling the desired goals and doesn't seem like “busy work.” For some ideas about what kinds of assignments match certain learning goals, take a look at this page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons.
  • The levels of your students.  What do your students already know, and what can they do when they enter your class?  Knowing what your students are (or are NOT) bringing to the table can help you tailor the assignment appropriately for their skill levels, for an assignment that is too challenging can frustrate students or cause them to shut down, while an assignment that is not challenging enough can lead to a lack of motivation. Knowing your students' levels will help you determine how much direction to provide for them as well.  Some abilities you might want to investigate include:
    • Have they experienced “socialization” in the culture of your discipline (Flaxman, 2005)? Are they familiar with any conventions you might want them to know? In other words, do they know the “language” of your discipline, generally accepted style guidelines, or research protocols?
    • Do they know how to conduct research?  Do they know the proper style format, documentation style, acceptable resources, etc.? Do they know how to use the library (Fitzpatrick, 1989) or evaluate resources?
    • What kinds of writing or work have they previously engaged in?  For instance, have they completed long, formal writing assignments or research projects before? Have they ever engaged in analysis, reflection, or argumentation? Have they completed group assignments before?  Do they know how to write a literature review or scientific report?

In his book Engaging Ideas (1996), John Bean provides a great list of questions to help instructors focus on their main teaching goals when creating an assignment (p.78):

1. What are the main units/modules in my course?

2. What are my main learning objectives for each module and for the course?

3. What thinking skills am I trying to develop within each unit and throughout the course?

4. What are the most difficult aspects of my course for students?

5. If I could change my students' study habits, what would I most like to change?

6. What difference do I want my course to make in my students' lives?

 

What your students need to know

Once you have determined your own goals for the assignment and the levels of your students, you can begin creating your assignment.  However, when introducing your assignment to your students, there are several things you will need to clearly outline for them in order to ensure the most successful assignments possible.

  • First, you will need to articulate the purpose of the assignment. Even though you know why the assignment is important and what it is meant to accomplish, you cannot assume that your students will intuit that purpose. Your students will appreciate an understanding of how the assignment fits into the larger goals of the course and what they will learn from the process (Hass & Osborn, 2007). Being transparent with your students and explaining why you are asking them to complete a given assignment can ultimately help motivate them to complete the assignment more thoughtfully.
  • If you are asking your students to complete a writing assignment, you should define for them the “rhetorical or cognitive mode/s” you want them to employ in their writing (Flaxman, 2005). In other words, use precise verbs that communicate whether you are asking them to analyze, argue, describe, inform, etc.  (Verbs like “explore” or “comment on” can be too vague and cause confusion.) Provide them with a specific task to complete, such as a problem to solve, a question to answer, or an argument to support.  For those who want assignments to lead to top-down, thesis-driven writing, John Bean (1996) suggests presenting a proposition that students must defend or refute, or a problem that demands a thesis answer.
  • It is also a good idea to define the audience you want your students to address with their assignment, if possible – especially with writing assignments.  Otherwise, students will address only the instructor, often assuming little requires explanation or development (Hedengren, 2004; MIT, 1999). Further, asking students to address the instructor, who typically knows more about the topic than the student, places the student in an unnatural rhetorical position.  Instead, you might consider asking your students to prepare their assignments for alternative audiences such as other students who missed last week's classes, a group that opposes their position, or people reading a popular magazine or newspaper.  In fact, a study by Bean (1996) indicated the students often appreciate and enjoy assignments that vary elements such as audience or rhetorical context, so don't be afraid to get creative!
  • Obviously, you will also need to articulate clearly the logistics or “business aspects” of the assignment. In other words, be explicit with your students about required elements such as the format, length, documentation style, writing style (formal or informal?), and deadlines.  One caveat, however: do not allow the logistics of the paper take precedence over the content in your assignment description; if you spend all of your time describing these things, students might suspect that is all you care about in their execution of the assignment.
  • Finally, you should clarify your evaluation criteria for the assignment. What elements of content are most important? Will you grade holistically or weight features separately? How much weight will be given to individual elements, etc?  Another precaution to take when defining requirements for your students is to take care that your instructions and rubric also do not overshadow the content; prescribing too rigidly each element of an assignment can limit students' freedom to explore and discover. According to Beth Finch Hedengren, “A good assignment provides the purpose and guidelines… without dictating exactly what to say” (2004, p. 27).  If you decide to utilize a grading rubric, be sure to provide that to the students along with the assignment description, prior to their completion of the assignment.

A great way to get students engaged with an assignment and build buy-in is to encourage their collaboration on its design and/or on the grading criteria (Hudd, 2003). In his article “Conducting Writing Assignments,” Richard Leahy (2002) offers a few ideas for building in said collaboration:

• Ask the students to develop the grading scale themselves from scratch, starting with choosing the categories.

• Set the grading categories yourself, but ask the students to help write the descriptions.

• Draft the complete grading scale yourself, then give it to your students for review and suggestions.

 

A Few Do's and Don'ts…

Determining your goals for the assignment and its essential logistics is a good start to creating an effective assignment. However, there are a few more simple factors to consider in your final design.
First, here are a few things you should do:

  • Do provide detailin your assignment description. Research has shown that students frequently prefer some guiding constraints when completing assignments (Bean, 1996), and that more detail (within reason) can lead to more successful student responses.  One idea is to provide students with physical assignment handouts, in addition to or instead of a simple description in a syllabus.  This can meet the needs of concrete learners and give them something tangible to refer to.  Likewise, it is often beneficial to make explicit for students theprocess or steps necessary to complete an assignment, given that students – especially younger ones – might need guidance in planning and time management (MIT, 1999).
  • Do use open-ended questions.  The most effective and challenging assignments focus on questions that lead students to thinking and explaining, rather than simple yes or no answers, whether explicitly part of the assignment description or in the  brainstorming heuristics (Gardner, 2005).
  • Do direct students to appropriate available resources. Giving students pointers about other venues for assistance can help them get started on the right track independently. These kinds of suggestions might include information about campus resources such as the University Writing Center or discipline-specific librarians, suggesting specific journals or books, or even sections of their textbook, or providing them with lists of research ideas or links to acceptable websites.
  • Do consider providing models– both successful and unsuccessful models (Miller, 2007). These models could be provided by past students, or models you have created yourself.  You could even ask students to evaluate the models themselves using the determined evaluation criteria, helping them to visualize the final product, think critically about how to complete the assignment, and ideally, recognize success in their own work.
  • Do consider including a way for students to make the assignment their own. In their study, Hass and Osborn (2007) confirmed the importance of personal engagement for students when completing an assignment.  Indeed, students will be more engaged in an assignment if it is personally meaningful, practical, or purposeful beyond the classroom.  You might think of ways to encourage students to tap into their own experiences or curiosities, to solve or explore a real problem, or connect to the larger community.  Offering variety in assignment selection can also help students feel more individualized, creative, and in control.
  • If your assignment is substantial or long, do consider sequencing it. Far too often, assignments are given as one-shot final products that receive grades at the end of the semester, eternally abandoned by the student.  By sequencing a large assignment, or essentially breaking it down into a systematic approach consisting of interconnected smaller elements (such as a project proposal, an annotated bibliography, or a rough draft, or a series of mini-assignments related to the longer assignment), you can encourage thoughtfulness, complexity, and thoroughness in your students, as well as emphasize process over final product.

Next are a few elements to avoid in your assignments:

  • Do not ask too many questions in your assignment.  In an effort to challenge students, instructors often err in the other direction, asking more questions than students can reasonably address in a single assignment without losing focus. Offering an overly specific “checklist” prompt often leads to externally organized papers, in which inexperienced students “slavishly follow the checklist instead of integrating their ideas into more organically-discovered structure” (Flaxman, 2005).
  • Do not expect or suggest that there is an “ideal” response to the assignment. A common error for instructors is to dictate content of an assignment too rigidly, or to imply that there is a single correct response or a specific conclusion to reach, either explicitly or implicitly (Flaxman, 2005). Undoubtedly, students do not appreciate feeling as if they must read an instructor's mind to complete an assignment successfully, or that their own ideas have nowhere to go, and can lose motivation as a result. Similarly, avoid assignments that simply ask for regurgitation (Miller, 2007). Again, the best assignments invite students to engage in critical thinking, not just reproduce lectures or readings.
  • Do not provide vague or confusing commands. Do students know what you mean when they are asked to “examine” or “discuss” a topic? Return to what you determined about your students' experiences and levels to help you decide what directions will make the most sense to them and what will require more explanation or guidance, and avoid verbiage that might confound them.
  • Do not impose impossible time restraints or require the use of insufficient resources for completion of the assignment.  For instance, if you are asking all of your students to use the same resource, ensure that there are enough copies available for all students to access – or at least put one copy on reserve in the library. Likewise, make sure that you are providing your students with ample time to locate resources and effectively complete the assignment (Fitzpatrick, 1989).

The assignments we give to students don't simply have to be research papers or reports. There are many options for effective yet creative ways to assess your students' learning! Here are just a few:

Journals, Posters, Portfolios, Letters, Brochures, Management plans, Editorials, Instruction Manuals, Imitations of a text, Case studies, Debates, News release, Dialogues, Videos, Collages, Plays, Power Point presentations

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the success of student responses to an assignment often rests on the instructor's deliberate design of the assignment. By being purposeful and thoughtful from the beginning, you can ensure that your assignments will not only serve as effective assessment methods, but also engage and delight your students. If you would like further help in constructing or revising an assignment, the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center is glad to offer individual consultations. In addition, look into some of the resources provided below.

Online Resources

“Creating Effective Assignments”
http://www.unh.edu/teaching-excellence/resources/Assignments.htm
This site, from the University of New Hampshire's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,  provides a brief overview of effective assignment design, with a focus on determining and communicating goals and expectations.

Gardner, T.  (2005, June 12). Ten Tips for Designing Writing Assignments. Traci's Lists of Ten.http://www.tengrrl.com/tens/034.shtml
This is a brief yet useful list of tips for assignment design, prepared by a writing teacher and curriculum developer for the National Council of Teachers of EnglishThe website will also link you to several other lists of “ten tips” related to literacy pedagogy.

“How to Create Effective Assignments for College Students.”
 http:// tilt.colostate.edu/retreat/2011/zimmerman.pdf    
This PDF is a simplified bulleted list, prepared by Dr. Toni Zimmerman from Colorado State University, offering some helpful ideas for coming up with creative assignments.

“Learner-Centered Assessment”
http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/tips/learner_centered_assessment.html
From the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo, this is a short list of suggestions for the process of designing an assessment with your students' interests in mind.
“Matching Learning Goals to Assignment Types.”
http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/How_to/design_assignments/assignments_learning_goals.html
This is a great page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons, providing a chart that helps instructors match assignments with learning goals.

Additional References
Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fitzpatrick, R. (1989). Research and writing assignments that reduce fear lead to better papers and more confident students. Writing Across the Curriculum, 3.2, pp. 15 – 24.

Flaxman, R. (2005). Creating meaningful writing assignments. The Teaching Exchange.  Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008 from http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Sheridan_Center/pubs/teachingExchange/jan2005/01_flaxman.pdf

Hass, M. & Osborn, J. (2007, August 13). An emic view of student writing and the writing process. Across the Disciplines, 4. 

Hedengren, B.F. (2004). A TA's guide to teaching writing in all disciplines. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Hudd, S. S. (2003, April). Syllabus under construction: Involving students in the creation of class assignments.  Teaching Sociology, 31, pp. 195 – 202.

Leahy, R. (2002). Conducting writing assignments. College Teaching, 50.2, pp. 50 – 54.

Miller, H. (2007). Designing effective writing assignments.  Teaching with writing.  University of Minnesota Center for Writing. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008, from http://writing.umn.edu/tww/assignments/designing.html

MIT Online Writing and Communication Center (1999). Creating Writing Assignments. Retrieved January 9, 2008 from http://web.mit.edu/writing/Faculty/createeffective.html.

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