By Anke Geertsma

This semester I’m trying out a new first day of class activity. Rather than just asking for students to briefly introduce themselves, I want to ask them to write a recipe for themselves. I’m thinking of titles such as “Recipe for Sweet Steven” or “How to Make a Delicious Helen.” I’ll encourage students to be creative: tell what has gone into making them, such as personal or ethnic backgrounds, languages and experiences, but also what they care about and what motivates them. They can include a photo of what the recipe looks like when it’s ready (a selfie or something that stands for who they are).

I’ll explain the activity and ask them to write down some thoughts in our first class. During this first class I also plan to have them share some thoughts in small groups so that they can get to know each other already. I’m teaching a hybrid class with a course site, so I’ll ask them to publish their recipes online, but this type of activity would of course also work in a regular class by asking students to bring their recipes the second class and sharing them (in small groups or with the whole class).

Besides introducing themselves, I also hope to direct my students’ focus to different genres of writing, for, while most students won’t immediately think of the recipe in these terms, it’s a genre just like the essay or an epic poem. I’ll ask them to consider the genre’s components (list of ingredients, directions, cooking time) and mimic these features in their recipes for themselves. Let’s see how it goes!

Anke Geertsma is a TLC Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature.