The Sixth Assignment

This refers to the “come up with your own assignment and I have to ok it” option.  This assignment is the epitome of my teaching philosophy for this course.  It gives them the opportunity to create their own learning, to think about what they need to know, what situation to apply this course to.  I obviously don’t know what they are going to come up with but I will continue to revisit this post to list their assignments.  I told them that it must engage others in some way, either digitally or in person.  The examples I offered was giving a toast at a celebratory event during the semester and practicing for a job interview.  Here is what they have come up with so far:

Asking the boss for a raise.  The plan is for us to help her in a coaching/roll play session, then she does the ask, reports back and writes two pages about the experience for me.

Talking to the boss who intimidates my student.  This was scrapped because she quit her job.

One student wants to read a poem she wrote in front of the class.  So she’ll do that, then answer questions about the poem, then write me two pages about the experience.  (This 2-page reflection is required for almost all of the optional assignments.)

Debate.  One student suggested she debates others on marijuana laws (of course) and a bunch of students jumped in on that (of course) so now we have to figure out how to organize it.  The next class session I will talk to them about their responsibility to organize this thing.  I’ll take a little bit of time to help them (like 5 minutes) but I am not going to spend class time figuring this out.  They have to do it.  Update:  The organizer gave me the date they’d be doing their debate (LOVE THAT she felt empowered enough to take control of the class time in this way), and said they’ve been dividing up the topic, sure everyone will  get 2-3 minutes to present.

We’ve had a number of these now.  List so far:

Student read a poem he wrote.

Student sang a song.

Student showed us some of her drawings and explained them.

Student taught us about Nigerian Pidgin English.

Student taught us how to make Nigerian rice.

Student taught us how to meditate.

Student wrote and presented one of his raps.

Summarizing now:  lots of how-to speeches, especially emergency health situations, lots of personal poems and art exhibits. One student explained her 23 and me results, one read a letter by her newly married aunt written 20 years ago to the aunt’s mother. A few students engaged in debates–one on the legalization of marijuana (as promised), and one on the death penalty.

So far, so good.  The students are excited both about presenting what they want and listening to their classmates do their thing.  And I’ve been very moved as to how personal some of these presentations have been and the openness and kindness with which the class received them.  I am surprised there hasn’t been more online or at least out-of-class assignments but we’ve had time to accommodate everyone so far and it’s been really fun watching them do an assignment they have created.

25 thoughts on “The Sixth Assignment

  1. The sixth assignment is life total life, and i say that because sometimes you just need a way out. having the option to independently create something all our own. I dont always consider myself the most engaged person in any class so to have the flexibility to do something a bit different than what im required helps the stress of it all. i think more teachers should do this wherever its applicable.

    1. Yes, this was my favorite assignment, too. I really liked seeing what you would come up with. I think you were the first one to do a poem, and so that opened it up for everyone else to write their own poetry.

    2. I honestly like this because it allowed us as students to become more creative. It allowed me to express my feelings and thoughts in a poem. It creates a sort of diversity from other classes.

  2. I really liked the ‘sixth assignment’ idea. It made class feel more applicable to my real life which most classes don’t. It also kept class more intersting because you never know what someone is going to present but it’s almost always presented with passion.

  3. I enjoy the ”sixth assignment ” my class is very talent and its is interesting to see what they came up with .i really like my group of classmates .

  4. When the semester began I wasn’t sure how I felt about choosing my own assignment. I was slightly apprehensive about it, unsure of what I wanted to choose and when/how I would complete the assignment. It’s funny how liberation in academia is so rare that a taste of it felt intimidating. It turned out really well though! After getting an idea of what some of my classmates were doing I decided to lead a discussion which I thought went really well. The sixth assignment gave me an opportunity to gain experience in a new area for me on MY terms. Removing the constraints of a typical classroom assignment alleviated so much pressure and enabled an important growth opportunity. Kudos!

  5. This was a creative way to keep us motivated to continue. it helps when you have options especially once the semester gets tough. thank you for the 6th assignment. continue this tradition it is a great addition to your no grades course.

  6. I could not agree anymore with this. I enjoyed very much learning from my classmates and the different things each and one of them were doing. It was very interesting and it would be cool if in some other classes teachers would let you make your own assignments. We would learn so much and as well really put some good work in those assignments.

  7. The Sixth Assignment is a really good idea. I personally wanted to do it. Come up with something but i couldn’t. Reading about what people came up with was really interesting.

  8. This had to be my favorite assignment because I’m able to just be creative on my own and not rely on something strictly mandatory. This has to be the best class ever to be totally honest.

  9. I had a thought of doing the sixth assignment but it wasn’t from my friends point of view on immigration but I changed it I went the other direction to try something new on doing the YouTube video.

  10. “come up with your own assignment and I have to ok it” option. This assignment actually give student a opportunity to do something that they think is important for themselves and for others. Also it gives the student to understand knew things from their classmate. it could be somethings that probably they never hared of or something that they thought it wasn’t important. so by listening to others could bring some censes to them.

  11. I’m actually considering this as one of my assignments and the ones that the students had performed in the past sounded really cool. I’m actually going to talk to you professor on this possible assignment and let me know what you think.

  12. I think it’s great to give students their own freedom to create an assignment that would actually give them credit towards a good final grade. Obviously professors have their own requirements for doing well in the course but to allow students to create their own requirement so that they don’t have to dogmatically do only what the professor wants makes students feel more inclusive in the grading process.

  13. The liveliness of this assignment sparks passions and stories that some would be afraid to speak on or do otherwise outside of this environment. It gives a chance to assess oneself without the deplorable evil of self resistance.

  14. The 6th assignment sounds like it can be a very personal assignment. Many classes don’t have so many opportunities to express yourself and in a way teach yourself. This is a good way to do that and along with the credit/no-credit criteria, it provides a lot of breathing room to do your assignment.

  15. The 6th assignment is the most liberating assignment. You can do anything that you are passionate about and still get an A. This assignment is also a great way to assess who is there to learn and who is not.

  16. The sixth assignment is a great idea because you have so many topics to choice from. And it gets students to engage more in class.

  17. Honestly I didn’t think anyone would do this project when I saw it in the syllabus. Although after reading this I think its amazing how students have utilized this project. I love how students have taken this opportunity to share things important to them. Or even just to teach a how to lesson, I think those are intriguing. You never know what you are teaching someone.

  18. I think the sixth assignment is really cool. the whole grading system encourages learning and growth so I think the sixth assignment becomes a product of that. The student already feels more comfortable due to the grading system so the sixth assignment really just allows the student to showcase their creativity and think freely and broadly.

  19. This is one of my favorite assignments referring back to what you said ”it gives the opportunity of creating their own learning and to think about what they need to know. This assignment is perfect for those to come up with anything to speak about and make themselves learn something new as they teach their peers as well.

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