In-Class Activities

On this page I will share a variety of in-class activities I created for both ENL 102 Critical Writing & Reading II, and ENL 265 Business Communication. As mentioned, I incorporate various pop culture references into assignments and activities in order to make them engaging and relevant.

A screenshot from a lesson plan on Delivering Negative News

In the screenshot shared here, I outline the concept of delivering negative news in a business setting. Because I believe in finding multiple ways to explain a concept, I created a follow-up slide in which the process of delivering negative news is metaphorically described as making a “sandwich.”

Image demonstrates my “sandwich method” for delivering negative news. Alongside the sandwich is a photo of Homer Simpson eating a sandwich. Students found the image funny as they know I am a huge fan of The Simpsons.

After explaining the process of delivering negative news in a written way, I then followed it up with a second slide in which I visually deconstruct the elements (buffer/cushion; explanation; negative news; redirect) as ingredients for making a sandwich. The phrase “making (or building) a sandwich” became our classroom colloquial expression for delivering negative news.

Screenshot of an in-class assignment’s instructions which ask students to “make a sandwich” to deliver negative news.

In a second Business Communication in-class assignment, I explain how to use tact and tone in addressing a customer by framing that customer as an angry “Karen Who Wants to Speak With the Manager.” Students also found this reference relatable and relevant, and many of them referred to it when further writing about and discussing the importance of tact and tone in all forms of communication.

Screenshot from a lecture on the role tone and tact play in communication.

When in comes to major unit assignments, such as the synthesized annotated bibliography, object analysis, and contribution essay for ENL 102, I am a big proponent of conducting “miniature” versions of the assignments in class. Having students experience firsthand how an assignment is put together, and how it works, is, I believe, more effective than simply explaining the instructions, sending them off, and hoping for the best.

In ENL 102, the unit 2 assignment, meant to help them narrow in on a thesis, is known as an Object Analysis. For this assignment, students are choosing an object of study (in our course this meant a film or series of films in the MCU, or something as specific as a character or single scene), making 10 objective observations (what objectively-true things are they noticing?), analyzing each observation (what might that thing mean or represent?), then interpreting their analysis in a thesis statement (“What I believe the MCU is doing with XYZ is…”).

Screenshot of instructions for conducting a “miniature” version of the ENL 102 Unit 2 assignment

To help students see how the assignment is meant to work, we conducted several “miniature” versions together in class (our “miniature” object analysis asked the class to watch a scene together, make 3-5 observations, analyze those observations, then come up with a “practice thesis” together as a class). We watched a short scene from episode 2 of WandaVision after which they shared their objective observations. After discussion, we watched the scene a second time; this was followed up with their analysis for each observations. Finally, I asked them to brainstorm a bit by looking at both the observations and analyses, and choosing one set to interpret. Below is a screenshot in which I share the observations, analyses, and final interpretation the students made. It is followed by a second screenshot in which I visually break down their in-class observations and analyses to show how they arrived at their interpretation.

Screenshot shows the results of the in-class assignment
Screenshot shows a breakdown of the observations and analysis, and how they led to an interpretation

Screenshot of an in-class assignment’s instructions which ask students to choose a side in an argument, and use evidence from assigned articles to help back up their choice

In this ENL 101 assignment students were asked to choose a side of an argument concerning how nostalgia might benefit mental health by providing a sense of comfort. Students were instructed to choose whether they agreed with the notion, disagreed, or some combination of both. To help back up their decision, students were asked to cite evidence from our various assigned articles in which experts weigh in o the topic. Finally, students were asked to synthesize their argument with quotes from the articles.

Screenshot of an in-class assignment’s instructions which ask students to read a passage and identify its tone

In this ENL 101 activity students, in small groups, were assigned sample passages and asked first to identify the genre, purpose, and audience of the passage, then determine the author’s tone. They were then further asked to discuss why they thought the author used this tone, and what, if any, relationship exists between the genre, purpose, audience and tone of the passage, and cite which particular phrases in the passage helped them to identify the tone.