In my LIB 1015 class today, I had a good experience with a new in-class activity I designed that aimed to teach students how to read critically. Over the weekend, the students were to have read a chapter from The Little, Brown Handbook titled “Reading Arguments Critically.” When they got to class, I did a quick lecture to spotlight the key parts of that chapter. After my overview, I handed out an essay that I told them was my own creation. My aim, I explained, was write a really bad essay that they would illustrate what kind of bad writing to look out for as detailed in the chapter they had read.For the activity, they broke out into groups, read the article, and then identified the passages that raised red flags. After fifteen minutes, I asked them to report back to me on what principles outlined in the book chapter had been violated and where those violations were to be found in my essay. The students really responded well to the activity and found most of the weak spots. We got a lot of good conversations going, too, that dug deeper into the ideas in the book chapter than if I had merely asked them to discuss the chapter on its own. Another way that I could do this assignment would be to require them to each write a really bad essay and identify the offending passages and what rule or principle was not followed. The inspiration for this assignment came somewhat from Steve Lawson’s post last week, “Bizarro Bibliographic Instruction,” which I highly recommend.