04 March 2010

Your Assistance Please: And I Was A Boy From School edition

What's a writing assignment you were given that you really enjoyed doing?


Marjorie said...

My last assignment in AP Lit was to write a letter to a character from any of the books we'd studied that year. That was fun. In mythology class I wrote a creation myth, which was also fun, and it was a good challenge because it had to include certain elements like at least three generations of gods and a war between the deities. In college composition class in 10th grade we had to write a "definition paper" and I wrote one that kind of un-defined the word "book" and I thought I was so clever.

Elizabeth said...

A timely question! Tonight I have to persuade some fifth-graders to write a descriptive paragraph (did you know the writing process has exactly five steps? Neither did I!), and I have no idea how I am going to do it. (Losing my snarky attitude about the writing process might be the first step.)

I feel like my primary and secondary school experience was nothing but "alternative" assignments: we were assigned to write Huckleberry Finn's college application essay instead of just a paper on ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, for example, and I never once had to write a book report in elementary or middle school, but rather had to do "paper bag book reports", in which you bring five relevant objects in a paper bag and briefly talk to the class about how each object relates with the book. Doubtless this was an attempt to engage the students, or possibly give us variety from the drab papers and book reports that my teachers assumed, incorrectly, that other teachers were assigning. As a result, I felt completely unprepared when I showed up at college and was expected to write papers.

Once I was in college, though, I found I liked those traditional writing assignments, once I found something about which I had something to say, which is always the hardest part. I remember spending an enormous amount of time working on a paper on James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" for my Introduction to Fiction class, for example, but I liked doing it, because I felt like I had something that I wanted to say in my paper.