Here are a few examples of what previous students have done for this assignment. However, don't let that limit what you want to do. Remember what is important is you analyze your audience and carefully pick a text that will best communicate to them while using your talents and interests to craft the text!
This student made an argument about what a classroom should be like. The one of the left is the traditional rows pointing to the teacher as the authority. You may not be able to see, but on the desks are papers with Fs and Ds, thus arguing this is not the right approach. On the right is a more collaborative-based classroom with the desks in circles to indicate everyone has a role in the classroom. As you can see it is also more warm and colorful. On these desks are As and Bs.
Here is another diorama showing the impact Wal Mart has on small towns.
This is a very neat idea for this project. This student made a YouTube video arguing that we need to question immunizing our children because of the chemicals used to make the shots. The choice of music and how it adds to the images and the sequence is chilling, haunting and, I think, very effective. Especially in this era of new media where we get a lot of our information from places like YouTube.
This is a poster arguing against PEDs in sports!
This picture can't show how cool this project was. This young lady made an argument against Genetically Modified Foods. What she did here was use a grocery bag and put messages on it urging people not to buy GMF because of what they can do to our bodies. She said she imagined handing these outside of grocery stores like you would a pamphlet, and I thought using the bag was a very clever, nice touch and surely to get the attention of the audience.
But again these are examples. One of the coolest projects I've seen people do are Mix CDs where all the songs are sequenced in a certain way to make an argument. One of these was am argument about "true" hip hop versus the corporatized, shallow version that dominates the music industry. After each crappy song was a "real" song that had more depth in terms of messaging and music quality. It was brilliant. So be creative and have fun with this. Remember, argument isn't only something that we do in essays; it is everywhere and ingrained in everything we do and create in society. Thus, be agents and create texts that inspire change.
Funny how that happens
One of the benefits of teaching college is that you get a month-and-a-half-long break between fall and spring semesters. One of the sucky things about teaching college is that you get a month and-a-half-long break between fall and spring semesters.
First, the sucky things are mostly financial related. As an adjunct instructor, you don't get paid for the break like you do in secondary teaching. Also, it is in the winter and, to me, all things winter suck. And this winter so far has been especially frigid and bleak. Also, you get bored. You can only fill up so many hours in the day when you're broke and its cold outside and it gets dark at 4:30 p.m.
The benefits obviously include the time off. It is, after all, something we all sprint toward for months. It's nice wearing PJ bottoms and not combing your hair for days, and sleeping till it gets dark outside is also a plus. I always try to write and read more, but I never get nearly as much done as I hope. After a while you get too bored to be productively creative.
You also get the opportunity to reflect, and I've made at least one significant breakthrough in my teaching.
Now, breakthrough almost sounds hyperbolic when I write this because it is one of those common sense epiphanies that boldly expose themselves through the wisdom of experience. My breakthrough is that I have to teach basic skills to scaffold to larger ideas. Bing Bing Bing! Now, what I just said is pretty DUH for teachers. This is one of the first things you learn in education school. But of course it takes a while to really set in -- and after a few years of wondering why certain lessons and activities and assignments and yada yada didn't go as well as you wanted. Some things simply cannot be realized as a series of words or theories; some things can only be realized through doing it and doing it and doing it. Sure, I think a lot of my teaching so far has gone well and got better, but something was/is missing still.
I entered teaching with the loftiest of goals: empower the marginalized, bring critical thinking to the masses, end world hunger, stop all war and conflict, cure cancer and end all tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Thus, I planned all activities and assignments to accomplish these goals. For instance, in graduate school my thesis focused on using resistant music (basically rock and roll and rap) as a way to foster a critical literacy. This project birthed my favorite activities and assignments, and I think I have every right to be proud of the work I accomplished.
But much of my teaching has been a rush to the finish line. I've wanted this end result without reflecting on some of the basics it takes to get there. I spent so much time on the big picture that steps leading up to it suffered. I would try to teach an essay, for example, and plug away at the components as we went along -- essentially throwing everything at the poor students at once and hoping we can all make sense of it. "Ok students, I want you create a text that discusses how you want to change the world! It needs to have a thesis and support and evidence and consider audience and purpose and context and not make logical fallacies. Deal?" *student raises hand* "Yes" "Uh, what is a thesis"? "Oh, my bad, I guess we should talk about that." Okay, I was never that bad, but you get the point. ;-)
This break I've focused my planning on the components and how they build to these larger goals. More grass roots and inverted from my previous approaches. I've slowed it down and I hope to see my teaching come together as I've envisioned it since I started. Of course, teaching is an artform and perfection is never possible. I am sure I will make this same post in a couple months leading to the Fall10 semester. But I am at least hoping to see a more complete picture this semester and find other flaws in my teaching.