I have been doing some thinking about assignments that students are required to complete in order to earn their credits. This is especially timely, since we're nearly at the end of first semester. This afternoon, the tweet below captured my attention and really made me think about what I require my students to do and if I would want to do the same tasks.
In my mind, I went through the assignments that my three classes have worked on over the course of the semester, and I'm not too happy. My findings are below.
I'm not sure what this says about me or about my teaching. Am I a lazy person, who just doesn't want to do anything that requires formalized writing and really close analysis? Am I a sub par teacher, who just has students do assignments because they have always been assigned and why change?
What are the purposes of the assignments I make students do, but would never do myself, unless required to pass a course? In looking at the English course, I notice that I don't want to do any of the tasks that require essay writing. What type of English teacher would I be if I didn't require students to write an essay? Is it possible for students to learn the appropriate skills without doing the essay?
Most dismal is the Grade 10 history course. I make them do literacy assignments in an half-hearted attempt to get them ready for the OSSLT: a test I am glad I did not have to pass to earn my high school diploma. The purpose of the weekly quizzes is horrible: a way to force students to write down their notes. What on earth am I thinking? The other assignments are just blah...they measure (hopefully) the students' understanding, but they aren't particularly engaging. No wonder my history class hates my history class.
The silver lining in all of this is the Grade 12 history class. There are only two assignments that I would not do...and I already had plans to make those changes. The pirate photo album will be changed back to the pirate cartoon, which students did the first time I taught the class. The Vietnam War letter will be changed, because I intend on removing the unit and replacing it with a unit about the War on Terror and a discussion about "enhanced interrogation techniques".
I am left with one significant question: just because I don't want to do the assignment (and believe that students probably don't either) does that mean there isn't value in it?