I’m working with an architecture course for my FYLC in the fall, so I’m thinking of this specific course for this assignment, but it could be easily abstracted for a non-FYLC course.
Low-stakes writing activity:
Part 1: Think of a building you’re interested in–either a specific building, like the Flatiron, or a building type, like a brownstone. Find an image of it.
Part 2: Spend about 10 minutes writing about the building, in whatever format works well for you, such as a freewrite, a brainstorm, or a bulleted list.
Part 3: Now imagine you’re writing about that building for an AIA guide, for a Time Out NY article, or for a Twitter thread. Transform all or part of what you already wrote into about 150 words in one of these 3 styles.
Part 4: Read someone else’s response. Reply to that response addressing the following: Which genre did they choose for Part 3? How did you know? What features did it have that helped you understand that? What else could they have added to make their writing fit the genre even more?
(If I were going to assign a low-stakes assignment to get students thinking about genre, I would want them to consider a variety of genres, and we might brainstorm a list of different genres we could compose in. But it’s harder to sequence this in an asynchronous class, so I would have a couple to get them started.)
I really like this assignment. One thing I might add is a moment to reflect on the changes between parts 2 and 3. You could ask the writer to think about what they had to do to change from formless to a genre specifc form. This might take the place of the peer review that you have after part 3 or it could happen as well as that review. You could use the same questions as the peer responses.