This page deals with how to set up creative writing, academic writing,
and professional writing assignments. For information on using journals,
go to Ideas for Using Journals which contains guidelines
and helps for integrating journals into classes.
How do you set up a writing assignment?
An effective writing assignment consists of the following:
- a suitable assignment sheet
- a schedule that asks students to write a first draft, to have
it critiqued, and to revise it.
- materials to help students complete the assignment
- an explicit scoring rubric or description of expectations
Assignment Sheets with Schedule
Students often complain that they don't know what the teacher wants.
Even though we may be quite explicit in describing the writing assignment,
students will tend to forget details unless the assignment is in print.
If it is a creative writing assignment or an academic writing assignment,
assignment sheet should spell out:
If the assignment is a professional document, then the assignment sheet
should be in the form of a memo that establishes the teacher's persona
as supervisor and the student's persona as employee. The sheet should
contain the same kind of information as that listed above, but it should
be phrased as it would be in a memo instead of in an assignment sheet.
- the kind of writing expected
- the scope of acceptable subject matter or research questions
- the length requirements
- the source or citation requirements (if appropriate)
- the documentation form expected (if appropriate)
- the formatting requirements
- target dates for completion of drafts or sections, for critiques,
and for final draft submission
- penalties for failing to meet basic requirements and deadlines
Write down the subdivisions of an assignment sheet for an assignment you
want to give and make brief notes
reminding yourself of what you want to put in each section.
Students may still claim that they don't know what the teacher wants.
Although it is not always necessary to do so, it is a good idea to give
students one or more of the following kinds of support materials:
Sketch out an outline of a paper you want students to write or
jot down a series of questions for them to consider.
- an outline of the paper
- an example of a fairly successful
paper to serve as a model
- editing and style requirement specifications
- a series of questions that might help guide students' thinking or
- a peer critique guideline
A Scoring Rubric
Students should know what the characteristics of a good paper are. Sometimes
these rubrics can be created by the whole class in response to a fifteen
minute discussion based on the question, "What makes one paper better
than another?" Generally, papers can be judged on quality of these aspects
of the whole:
Normally, the first will be double or triple weighted in comparison with
the others. Often rubrics are in the form of a table.
- the depth of content, development of ideas, or quality of argument
- the organization of the whole and the coherence of the parts
- the readibility of the prose
- the mechanical and grammatical correctness of the text
||Very Weak||Weak||Low Average||High Average
If a table is used, a complementary sheet describing the qualities of
each of these characteristics can be supplied.
Sketch out a rubric and define the categories briefly
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All contents copyright (C) 1997. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 7, 1997