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Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

As I mentioned in my previous post, the first thing I do in class is have my students write and deliver two minute introductions. Obviously it gives me a sense of their writing and presentation skills, but more importantly it allows me to know who they are. Here's the prompt I give them:
Your first formal assignment is to compose and present a short introduction so I may better get to know you. I'm only looking for a two minute introduction. I would like you to type it out and then read it to the class. Make sure you save your work somewhere because I'm going to ask you to post it in your portfolio (more on that later). I'd like to get a sense of who you are and what your voice is. Not sure what to write? No problem ... here are some ideas to help get you started:
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are some of your goals for the year? For your life?
  • What is the most important physical object in your life? (take a photo of it and bring it to class)
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • When have you been embarrassed?
  • When have you worked on a project and completely lost track of time?
  • What is your favorite flavor of Jello?
  • How do you remain upbeat while reading the news?
  • When have you witnessed injustice?
  • Why can't cows walk backwards down stairs?
  • What is your guilty pleasure?
  • What has been occupying your mind most recently?
  • What did you regret posting on Facebook?
  • If the plural of ox is oxen shouldn't the plural of paradox be paradoxen?

You're welcome to answer any / all / none of these questions in your introduction.

Some of these sample questions are serious, and some are just weird. I wanted them to feel open to go wherever they wanted with these. 

If you're an English teacher, you have to read this response I got from one of my students:
My name is Nina, and don’t feel bad if you pronounce it wrong because everybody does. I have a younger sister Dawn who is my best friend and my favorite person. I am usually pretty quiet unless I’m around people I know really well or I’m ranting about something that I know a lot about. If I had to describe my interests in one word, that one word would be eclectic, and honestly, that's the only word that describes all of them. Keep in mind that this is a shortened list: chocolate, wombats, reading, the Beatles, saxophone, mythology, ancient languages, art and crafts, Japan, Homestuck, and etymology. Speaking of which, I will now address the paradoxen issue (I’ll try to keep it short because I could just go on and on).

English comes from mostly Germanic, French, and Latin because England was conquered by the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, and the French Normans. The ruling class were French noblemen, the peasants were Anglo-Saxon, and the religious people, such as monks and priests, spoke Latin. The peasants were simple people, and their language had simple words, like house, farm, pig, bread, ox. The nobles had much more fancy complex words like cuisine, dormitory, facetious, language, paradox. Germanic words have much less structure than Latin and French words, and many Germanic plurals seem to make no sense (goose and geese, sheep and sheep, mouse and mice, ox and oxen). And Germanic verbs? (think and thought, see and saw, go and went, grow and grew). The point is, the reason why oxen is the plural of ox and paradoxes (which actually comes from Greek before Latin) is the plural of paradox is because ox is a Germanic word.


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