Since the launch of the Common Core State Standards in 2010, I have placed a number of fairly standard writing assignments (DBQ’s, LEQ, and SAQ’s) before my students. But I didn’t stop there. I also placed before my students an ever-increasing number of alternative writing assignments. They included:
- The Historical Fiction Letter
- The Historical Figure Twitter Parody Account
- The Student Produced Kahoot
- The Mini-BRIA
In Part 1 of this post, I described each of these writing assignments and included samples of student work. I also explained why I assigned this kind of work.
Here in Part 2, I will describe the challenges I faced in placing these writing assignments before my students. I will also describe the alternative writing assignments I plan to assign my students next year. And I will describe the alternative writing assignments that U.S. History teachers elsewhere have placed before their students.
The Challenges I Faced
By far, the biggest challenge I faced was finding the time to grade all of the work. The truth is that I really struggled in this regard.
Several other major challenges I faced:
- Finding myself in the position of having to teach students how to write.
- Getting criticized for not spending enough time teaching the content.
- Getting criticized for calling upon my students to write historical fiction. Now and then, I heard the cry that I should only call upon my students to produce “academic writing” (aka the kind of writing that colleges will assign and that continually calls for students to offer up a claim, evidence, and analysis.).
What I Will Do Differently Next Year
Next year, I will try to find someone in the community—ideally a retired English teacher, writer and/or editor—who would be willing to help me grade the writing. I will also search for a local college student willing to provide the needed support. If the Common Core State Standards expect me to assign more writing, I’m going to need some help grading it.