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Toronto in May (uncovering the teacher plan, post 2)

I apologise for forcing you to read the last post with little guidance, but could you figure out the aims, measurable objectives and possible instructions on an assignment handout? Did you consider how you might take elements of it for your own student projects?

Figure 6 - I had a whole paragraph about seeing people out and about, but it didn't fit the overall argument well enough, nor could I find much online to support it, so I had to cut it out of the final product--a process students must experience too.
Figure 6 – I had a whole paragraph about seeing people out and about, but it didn’t fit the overall argument well enough, nor could I find much online to support it, so I had to cut it out of the final product–a process students must experience too.

Getting students interested in writing is one thing. Having them employ research, summary and paraphrasing strategies into their academic writing is an even harder task. Further beyond this, ensuring those who aim to do the least amount of effort to complete the tasks possible gives me headaches.If we simply ask them to demonstrate these in a standard academic writing assignment, we’re surely to be disappointed by superficiality of arguments and students are frustrated by having a lack of schema to have anything “new” to say. Personalising the topics, at least early on in the year, while incorporating mobile tech might help to accomplish all three of these in one shebang. In the assignment below, I’ve attempted to operationalise these strategies without them really knowing it.

The previous post is an exemplar of such a writing assignment. Below are what it aims to accomplish.


  1. Provide students with opportunity to demonstrate introductory application of concepts needed to compose research papers.
  2. Engage students in the writing process for research papers.
  3. Give students motivation to explore their local surroundings.
  4. Ensure student exercises adequate, individual effort in the writing process.

Measurable objectives

  • Students can effectively narrow down a topic to argue for one main point i.e. thesis.
  • Students can differentiate several distinct arguments to support this main point.
  • Students can incorporate relevant material from outside sources through summary and paraphrasing.
  • Students can demonstrate meaningful connections between arguments and materials included from outside sources.
  • Students can reference appropriately to avoid plagiarism.

Student instructions

In this assignment, you will compose a short paper on your blog about experiences in Toronto over the course of the next month. You need to define an overall argument that you will aim to prove through a series of no fewer than 4 different experiences. Each experience should:

  • be at least one, logically organised paragraph in length
  • clearly support your overall argument
  • include a reference to and commentary about (e.g. summary and relationship to your point)  a related article or statistics available online
  • be documented by an original photo (with yourself included in at least 3) of the experience over the course of the month

Did I succeed? Did you in selecting the possible aims, measurable objectives and student instructions? Where do you think it might not be adequate?

This exercise is framed for teacher trainees to analyse a product to determine how successfully the assignment was planned and executed according to that plan. Does is accomplish all those things? Would a student produce a similar product to the previous post (with at a reasonably expected language level) given the instructions?

I argue that though this is framed as a teacher training exercise, it is also highly effective to give students as a model of assignment before they know anything about it. We can ask students to uncover the elements of the product to see what may be expected of them in terms of skills–task-based teaching, one could call it. Having students see the final product and dissect it has raised awareness in my students (as writers) of the elements required for an Arts-related paper at the university level and in this application, done so in a meaningful topic first, before being challenged on a more academic nature.

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