‘This I Believe’ -an assignment catalyst

This I BelieveOver winter break I had a chance to read a few books. My favorite was “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” from NPR. The book presents a collection of essays from NPR’s radio program of the same name.

The collection showcases the personal beliefs of citizens. Some essays are from the 1950’s and the others began in 2005 when the show was resurrected.

I highly recommend the book in audio format since you can hear the essays read by their authors. Most of the recent essays can also be heard (and read) at the NPR website.

NPR also describes how people can submit their own essays. They discuss how this idea has been used in classrooms across the world. The obvious assignment is to have your students write their own creed. Here are some additional ideas that I think might work too:

  1. Don’t write it- say it! Have students create an audio version of their essay. Students can record their work with Audacity. The essays could be shared as podcasts allowing students to receive feedback from their peers via comments.
  2. Students could pick a character from a novel and write the character’s ‘I believe’ statement.
  3. Write an essay for a prominent person in history. For example, what do you think Lincoln would have written?
  4. Come up with a class creed- a “This We Believe” essay. If students used a wiki, they could compose this essay collaboratively throughout the semester.

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