After reading and discussing Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” I asked students in this assignment to take on the role of literary critic and write a review for a fictitious newspaper of the poem. The newspaper was to be published in 1859 and was to treat the poem as if it had just been published.
Of course, I could have had students just write up the standard academic essay that asked students to critique the poem. But that would all too often bore students to write, not to mention bore me to read. It would smack too much of the traditional “English class,” and be enjoyable only to those who want to be literature majors in college. This was not a large number of persons in your typical AP class.
On the other hand, having students construct a real life newspaper article and then do the same task made the task less “academic” and “just for school” and added an element of creativity and “real life” that made it more worthwhile. It made it more enjoyable and relevant for students to create, and much more worth my time to read and maybe even enjoy.