This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of my favorite educational video site, Next Vista for Learning.
If your term is kicking into gear, then it's likely that batches of assignments will soon be a part of your time. One way to quickly decide you need to thrust something sharp into your skull is to see in students' work largely the same thing, again and again. Easy recipe for misery, that.
Many students will give you something interesting and even novel, though, if you go to the trouble of asking for it.
The screenshot image below is from Found Sounds, a video about a man that makes musical instruments from all sorts of things people have thrown away. (The folks at Great Big Story put out lots of really cool videos, I should note).
Getting anything interesting from a student shouldn't be a function of hoping that one or two students provides a gem. It can also be about asking them to step up and give you something different.
"Everyone, you know your assignment. I also hope you know I'll be reading a bunch of these papers, so I'd love for as many of you as are willing to make what you write fun and interesting."
Not all will, of course, but if even a few do, you'll end up with a better experience when you grade them.
Find a collection of cool and moving videos at the Next Vista for Learning Sources of Inspiration page, and more advice like the focus of this post in Making Your Teaching Something Special: 50 Simple Ways to Become a Better Teacher.