Sometimes I wonder if I ask too much of my students. I understand the value of high expectations, and I'm not proposing a lower bar for quality, but rather for quantity. I believe that if we shorten what we ask for, but demand that the product be well-considered, well-written, and well-edited, then we are helping the students and ourselves.
I'm still working out the details, but it all started with Nancie Atwell's proposition that examining and composing free verse poetry can teach almost any writing lesson, and as a result, over the past few years, I've developed a fondness for the "micro assignment." I've decided that I want my students to write briefly, but exquisitely. Kind of like the writing equivalent of an amuse-bouche-- in the cooking world, it's widely believed that if you can execute that one perfect bite, you're golden.