Reflective Walking - Ask students to pose, in writing, a difficult question related to the assigned reading or the course more broadly, especially one that they have struggled with (or are currently wrestling with). Then they should take a 20-60 minute walk, undistracted by a podcast or other content. After returning from the walk, they should try to respond to the question in writing as best they can. Finally, they should write a brief reflection on how the process of formulating the question and mulling on it during their walk affected their response to it.
Personal Narrative -Ask students to identify one personal experience that relates to the course. The experience can be a personal anecdote or a wider-ranging reflection on a concept from the course that they found especially compelling for a personal reason. Ask students to share this experience or concept and why it is meaningful to them, using one of an array of formats and media. These may include a written essay, short fiction, poetry, illustration, comics, film, music recording, podcast, etc. In addition to the personal narrative, the students should write a brief reflection about the assignment: what was it like to connect the course content to their own lives so personally? What medium(s) did they use for the personal narrative, and how did it affect their process? The students’ work may be shared with other classmates via the class website, learning management system (Google Classroom or similar), over email, or in print, but students should be alerted to this before they submit the assignment, and have the ability to opt-out of such wide sharing. Such sharing can serve as the jumping-off point for online discussion threads, synchronous conversation in person or virtually, and other written responses.
Persuasive Letter - Ask students to distil the ideas in this course into a three-page letter, written to a member of your family or close community that you think would most resist its ideas and frameworks. Try to be as clear and concise as possible, while also persuasively presenting evidence and and arguments in a way that you think would most win this person over. Students can feel free to use a pseudonym for the addressee, and there should be no expectation that this letter will be sent or shared in real life (though that’s up to the student!). Then the students should write a brief reflection about the assignment: without having to identify specifically who the recipient of the letter is, explain what this person’s objections to the course content or framing might be, and where they come from. What strategies does your letter use to try to overcome these objections? How did writing this letter make you feel? What did you learn about the course content and/or its relevance in the world from doing this assignment?
Your Course in the News - Ask students to select an article from this week’s news stories that relates to some element of the course such as a recent reading, a theoretical concept, or a statistical / visualization / media method they are learning. (Finds news sources through the library on this guide.) They should explain the content of the article and how it relates to the course in writing (for instance, discussing how a theme from the reading appears in current discourse, or how the method they are learning is being deployed in the article). What is the news source, and how might this influence the way that the course content appears in this particular article? Then the students should write a brief reflection about the assignment: what was it like to find course material reflected in current events? Were you satisfied with the way that the article treated it? Why or why not? This assignment may be posted directly to the class website, learning management system (Google Classroom or similar), or shared in other ways as the jumping-off point for discussion online or in person.
Teach Another Person - Have students sit down with a family member, friend, or other person not in this course. Ask them to teach this person either a particular concept from the course or one of their choice. Then ask them to report on the interaction: what was easy? What was difficult? What did they learn about the subject matter by having to teach it to someone else? What medium(s) did they use to hold the lesson, and how did it affect the conversation?