One of the biggest differences between the experience I had as a student and the experience students have in my classroom has to do with assignments. When I was a student, assignments often had no discernible relationship to what we were doing in class. Oh, we would have to write about a text we read for class. But once the assignment was given out, we were generally on our own — there were no opportunities to work on it in class, to reflect on the skills the assignment asked us to practice, to share and workshop our ideas with our classmates.
The courses I teach are different. A sequence of major assignments form the backbone of the semester. Almost everything we do in class is explicitly linked to one or more of those assignments. We break them down into stages, work on them collaboratively, and discuss the challenges students might face along the way. Like many teachers, I design assignments not just to assess performance, but also to give students opportunities to practice and develop important skills.