Low Stakes Assignment

What are some strategies or low-stakes assignments you might use to teach your students what genre is, and how and why we move between genres in order to reach our audiences and achieve our desired outcomes? Try to think of strategies that you might be able to use online.

I tried to keep the strategies very simple by explaining what genres are then defining discourse community. Once we had clear definitions, I used several different genres to support a video about African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in particular. The video is short but it explains the origins, usage, phonetics, and grammar of AAVE. Afterwards, my next two (2) classes were dedicated to reviewing different genres that discussed the same topic, AAVE or/and dialects.

  • Youtube, AAVE
  • Journal article, Smitherman et al
  • Personal narrative, Dowdy
  • Speech, Cosby

Then students spoke about rhetorical devices, audience, purpose, and which modal was most/least effective. For class assignment/low stakes, I have them come up with three (3) discourse communities and they each would bring a different genre to the class discussion.

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