Less Instructions, More Choice: Creating Assignments For All Students

Session abstract or description: 

The more instructions an instructor gives students, the less students have agency in the creation of their assignments and the more students come to see writing in the classroom as different from the writing they do outside the classroom. By giving students less instructions, instructors can give students more agency and more opportunities to see writing as multimodal and connected in a variety of ways to the many different networks they inhibit. Through hands-on activities, this mini-workshop will explore practical approaches to writing brief instructions and to helping students use such instructions to create meaningful writing projects.

Session type: 
Mini Workshop
Session hashtag: 
g3
Session room: 
Fenwick Library Room 4010
Session time: 
Concurrent Session G
Session narrative: 

The more instructions an instructor gives students, the less students have agency in the creation of their assignments and the more students come to see writing in the classroom as different from the writing they do outside the classroom. This mini-workshop will focus on writing brief instructions for assignments in order to put students at the center of their writing. Using brief instructions as opposed to long, drawn out step-by-step instructions, allows for an organic writing experience that helps students develop thoughtfulness and critical thinking skills. Brief instructions also enable students to participate in reflective practices that help them to create their assignments, thus shedding light on the things writers do when writing. By giving students less instructions, instructors can give students more agency and more opportunities to see writing as multimodal and connected in a variety of ways to the many different networks they inhibit. As Jody Shipka contends, “the classroom is just one of many spaces through which students move, learn, act, communicate, and compose” (36). As Shipka writes in A Composition Made Whole, composition instructors can “help bridge the gap between the numerous and varied communicative practices in which students routinely engage outside of school versus the comparatively narrow repertoire of practices typically associated with the writing classroom” (5).
Drawing from scholarship on multimodal composition, for instance, Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe’s “Globalism and Multimodality in a Digitized World,” Adam Banks’ Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age, and Jody Shipka’s A Composition Made Whole, this workshop will explore practical approaches to writing brief instructions and to helping students use such instructions to create meaningful writing projects. Through hands-on activities, the workshop will move from writing brief instructions, to teaching using such instructions, and then to planning assessment strategies.

Session presenters: