The NDSU graduate students put on their annual conference this weekend, and invited Geoff Sirc to to deliver the keynote. He provided his usual fascinating reading of contemporary composition (iTunes reviews) in the context of classical rhetoric and engaged education. I'm terribly aware that this little post has none of the rhythm or groove displayed by the iTunes reviewers.
I used to have students write Amazon reviews, but it was always interesting to see how much the classroom assignment interfered with the nature of online writing. I also suspect that many of the fine and interesting examples Sirc showed us come from people who enjoy playing with language, people who are comfortable playing with language. When I give my students an opportunity like this, I find out that many struggle with those notions of play, voice, creativity. Heck, I struggle with playfulness, as much as enjoy it. Lots of good reasons to use an itunes / amazon review assignment, but it needs to be supported by the teaching of creativity (possible!?) and probably some of the kinds of voice / sound pedagogies suggested by TR Johnson.