This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.
There is never a bad time to reflect, and there are endless topics on which to do so! The end of the semester is a natural time to ask students to consider how their writing has improved or what they’ve accomplished over the past few months of class—and you can use Grammar Girl podcasts to aid you in a reflection assignment.
Podcasts have been around for a while, but their popularity seems to increase every day—and for good reason! They are engaging and creative, and they cover every topic imaginable. They are also great for the classroom: you can use them to maintain student engagement, accommodate different learning styles, and introduce multimodality.
LaunchPad and Achieve products include assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one (or all!) of these suggested podcasts for students to listen to before class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about digital products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative.
If you are using LaunchPad, refer to the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page "Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts."
Assignment A: This activity will ask students to review how they’ve improved in their writing over the course of the semester.
First, ask each student to review their first draft or first essay for your course. Using the instructor and peer review comments they’ve received, each student should identify the area in which they struggled most. You may wish to give students some common areas of concern to choose from, such as citations, organization, topic sentences, comma usage, and active/passive voice. Students should submit their chosen problem area to you. Alternately, you can identify the areas you found to of greatest concern in your students’ first drafts.
Next, assign students relevant Grammar Girl podcasts based on their chosen problem area. For example, if a student says they had trouble with active/passive voice, you could assign “A Common Passive Voice Mistake,” “Active Voice and Passive Voice,” “Active Voice Revisited,” or “Passive Voice Revisited.” You may wish to put students into groups by topic if that seems appropriate, for example, if three students identify problems with their comma usage. If you do so, have them discuss the podcast(s) after listening.
Ask students to take a later or final paper and evaluate it for the issue they identified in that first paper.
Finally, have each student write a short reflection on how they’ve improved and where they still have some work to do!
Assignment B: Every year brings difficulties, but also accomplishments. This activity will ask students to reflect on an accomplishment from the semester.
Ask students to identify an accomplishment or something they are proud of from the past few months. This could be related to academics and writing, or it could be something more day to day such as getting a new job, forming a new good habit or breaking a bad one, learning how to cook something new, or doing something that scared them.
Assign the following Grammar Girl podcasts for students for homework.
Writing Scripts and Speeches
Are You Annoyingly Redundant?
Then, ask them to take what they’ve learned about podcasts and writing to craft a podcast script about their accomplishment. Don’t forget a title for your podcast episode, and podcast series! They might consider answering some of the questions in their script:
Why is this an important accomplishment for me?
Did I plan to reach this goal? What steps did I take to achieve this?
What is the next personal goal I hope to complete?
Once scripts are completed, you can ask students to present them, either in small groups or to the whole class. If time and resources permit, you may also wish to ask students to record and submit the project as a podcast.
More Grammar Girl Activities
If you are looking for other activities, be sure to check out the other Grammar Girl posts, especially: