Spring Course Assignments: Politics of Reading

I love sharing assignments with y’all, and I love reading assignments others create. I don’t think we do that enough, and it’s always inspiring. Even if your course is radically different from mine, I bet there is something I could pilfer and tweak and use to make my teaching better.

So, in the spirit of all that, I’d like to share with you today the assignments (quests!) that I have laid out for my Politics of Reading class.


This is a pretty standard assignment for most of my courses. In the Politics of Reading (POR), we have a multi-authored blog. Take a look at the directions. The directions this year are the same as last with a minor exception. This year, I’ve added in XP instead of traditional grades, and I’ve added in a bonus. Here is the addition:

How Often Do You Post?

You can post as much or as little as you want during the semester. You have a 13-week span, and you can decide which weeks you do not wish to blog. You cannot make up blogs. Late posts will not be accepted. Initially, you should go in and sign up for no more than one blog post per week. During the week of 1/26, I will allow you to sign up for extra spots that are not taken. You must post on your assigned date/time. This ensures that posts do not overlap and that readers have time to look at the blog between postings.

If you wish to write more posts than there are slots available, please let me know. We can work it out.

XP for Posting

Number of Posts XP
Posts 1-5 500 each
Posts 6-10 1000 each
Posts 11-15 2000 each
Posts 15-20 3500 each
Posts 20 and on 6000 each

Get a bonus! Each time you embed links, videos, and/or pictures (appropriate to the content) into your post you receive 300 bonus XP. This is awarded once per post regardless of how many of these items are embedded.

Thoughts on Blogging

While students can decide how they want to earn XP, if they intend to earn it through blogging they have to be regularly engaged with it. This means that I expect them to be posting at least one post most weeks. They cannot just do a massive post dump. They can write more than one per week, but they have to respect the space of others who are also writing and posting on the blog.

Note: 25,500 XP are required to gain the competency in blogging. Points can only be earned through writing posts (and the bonus points counts).

Blogging is also a Major Competency

Entering & Exiting The Realm

This is a minor competency and is just a matter of completing entrance and exit slips. Here are the directions:

Your arrival into the realm, and how you engage once you are within it, are central to your learning in this course. How you engage with the content and each other helps you develop your own understandings as well as those of your colleagues. Each time you enter and exit the realm, you have the opportunity to leave a mark on the community by sharing your ideas and questions.

Entering & Exiting the Realm
As you enter the realm, you will notice a question or statement posted via Today’s Meet. You can write a brief response and post it to our Today’s Meet room. This means you will need to have a device present at each class that allows you to go online to record your response. You will be provided with an additional question or statement to respond to at the end of class as you exit the realm. You will need to use the same link for Today’s Meet for your response prior to leaving. Note that Today’s Meet does provide information regarding when the response was posted. Only responses posted during the appropriate class times will be given credit. This means, for example, that you cannot leave class and then post your exit response two hours later.

You will have entrance and exit slips each week starting on 1/19 and ending on 4/19 (no slips on 4/27). Each response is worth 250 XP. Therefore, you can earn a maximum of 500 XP just for signing in and out of the realm each session.

Translation: 250 XP per slip; 2 slips per session = 500 XP possible per session
500 X 13 sessions = 6,500 XP available to you

(Note 5,500 XP are required to get a minor competency – this basically allows for one absence).

Tweet What You Learn

twitter mingleThe classroom tweeters are back! I feel like I got comfortable with using twitter and now I want to keep it in the mix and push on what I do with it some more. I’m a little stuck here because I want students to actually engage with the tweets their classmates create and retweet and so on….I’m still working on this.

This can be either a minor competency (9,000 XP) or a major one (18,000 XP). If you land the minor and then want to go on for the major, you can get both.

Political Groups in Teaching

I want my students to be involved with the political groups that exist for teachers. I want them to be aware of the conversations that are taking place on social media. These groups are not always about reading instruction, but the larger political issues they discuss are tied to reading instruction in some manner. Here are the directions:

Political Groups in Teaching requires you to join, and be an active participant in, at least one group for educators on FB. I have identified two groups: (a) The Bad-Ass Teachers’ Association and (b) Teachers Throwing Out Grades. If you have a suggestion for a different group, please run it by me first. Both groups have twitter accounts and use other forms of social media. You may choose to follow/engage with them on these other formats, but you must join the FB group.

Overall Expectations of the Quest
1. Join at least one of the two groups listed above on FB OR get approval to join a different group.
2. Be an active participant in the group(s) you join.
3. Come prepared to share highlights from the group and how it connects to class on a regular basis.

More Specifics
1. What does it mean to be an active participant?

  • An active participant is someone who both reads and speaks information shared with the group. You should be reading the posts on your group on an almost daily basis. You should also participate (share ideas/ask questions) as often as it makes sense to do so.

2. What does this sharing thing look like?

  • You will be expected to share six times (every other week starting either the week of 1/26 or the week of 2/2). Sharing could take the form of a whole class presentation or leading a small group discussion. It will depend on how many people sign up for this quest.
  • When you share, you will structure your ideas however you feel best.Your session will be limited to 15 minutes which can include us discussing the ideas you have shared with us.
  • You will want to highlight critical issues in the group, and you may want to share specific posts/threads.
  • You should help us understand how what you are sharing connects to or builds on what we have been learning in class.

Earning XP
For each session that you share in class, you can earn 1000 XP (6000 total).

Between sessions, you can create a document that highlights the important issues discussed in your group that week. You can do this using any format you want EXCEPT you cannot write up a formal summary/paper and share it with us via google docs or something similar. Examples of tools you could consider using include:

I have provided this list to get you thinking. You do not have to use a tool from it. If you havestory questions about a specific tool, please let me know. Share your document with the class by linking to it on twitter and using the course hashtag. I cannot credit you if it is not under the course hashtag. Additionally, tag me on twitter @LeighAHall so I am aware to give you credit.

XP for creating documents between sharing sessions is as follows (note that I will only count one document between each sharing session and will accept a maximum of four):
First Document = 1000 XP
Second Document = 2000 XP
Third Document = 4000 XP
Fourth Document = 10,000 XP

Note: You can share this document on a blog post. If doing so, you will need to contextualize the post so that a broader audience (beyond this class) can understand what they are seeing. If you create a document AND share it on your blog, XP goes as follows:

  • normal XP for writing a blog post
  • whatever XP you would have received based on how many documents you have created
  • a bonus of 2000 XP for constructing a blog post and sharing it with a broader community

This counts as a major competences at 20,000 XP. Also, notice how I brought in the sharing session. I might do something like that for classroom tweeters.

Post of the Week

I’m doing Post of the Week again (this class is 100% F2F). I like how it highlights work done by students and exposes them to the writings of others. Post of the Week is a minor competency at 1000 XP. You just have to lead it once as a student so it’s pretty easy to get. Recall that you have to do two minor competencies and one major to get an A in addition to a minimum of 80,000 XP (or you could do two major competencies). Since you can get a minor by leading one of these discussions and doing entrance and exit slips I assume there will be no complaining.

XP for Post of the Week will work like this:

Initially, you can sign up to lead POW one time. On 2/2, you can take any spots that have not been filled.
Leading POW one time will give you 1000 XP
Leading it two or more times will give you 2500 XP each
Co-leading a POW will give you 1500 XP the first time you do it and 3000 each time thereafter (no more than two people).

POW will be strictly a minor competency. Students can do extras though to earn more XP should they want or need it.

Let’s Do This!

Ok – so I hope you found this to be helpful. I would love to hear what assignments you use in your course, where your struggles are, etc…I think the more we talk and share, the better our teaching will be.

One Year Ago – Post Tenure Slump