Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hear it, Read it, Analyze it

This is a simple activity that I will try out with my students. Before lecturing on Proposals, I will have the students engage in an activity that will demonstrate the making of a proposal. I will begin by dividing the class into committees (or islands again) and give them a problem to work out. (This is similar, but not identical, to the activity on p. 262. I’m planning to do an alternative activity because my students tend to use the problems and solutions that we come up with in class and this thwarts their creativity.) I plan to begin with an abstract idea and through the lecturing and class discussions move towards a more concrete idea of how to make a persuasive proposal.

Here’s the problem :
A new government has been installed that rejects Freedom of Speech in favour of Complete Censorship. Give them examples of what might be censored (such as certain words, who speaks, writes, reads etc). Each group is on a committee that wants to counter this problem , i.e. denounce censorship. Your task is to brainstorm a number of solutions and choose one that seems most feasible, and summarize, in a line or two, the benefits of such a solution.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just Saw Something Cool: The Class Blogger

Hi Everyone,

I've been conducting classroom observations this semester (I have 28 of them to do!)
I just saw a great idea, being used by one of the GTAs here at WVU.

One of my research interests is accessibility -- how do we make our pedagogy as broadly accessible to the widest range of students as possible -- whether we see this broadness as across "learning styles," "modalities," "abilities," languages, learning backgrounds, or other differences.

One way that we can create access is through redundancy -- a positive kind of redundancy, in which ideas and information can be made accessible in multiple formats, and the class is engaged in translating ideas across these formats. 

So, the idea was this: every class session has a blogger.

The teacher set up a class blog, linked to the course webpage.  A different student is the blogger each day, and they record notes, summarize conversations, narrate classroom action, and so on, as best they can.  The succinct but descriptive writing they do is important in and of itself.  And their synthesis and summary is then there for students who may need reminders, might benefit from another perspective on the day's themes, or otherwise benefit from accessing this information another way.

Asking students to take turns doing this also seemed to nicely "democratize" the class. Over the course of a semester it might even chisel away at the idea that the instructor's voice, vision, and version are the only mediums for the creation and dissemination of classroom "knowledge."

Anyhow.  I thought this was a really nice technique.

(I saw this done in a computer classroom, and the blogging was done in "real time."  But the blog post could be done retroactively as well, after class as a homework assignment.)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Memoir Ideas...

Hey I want to do some more memoir-related activities with my students (particularly ones to help them think through conflict and the main memoir elements). Does anyone have suggestions that could help me? The setting/character/conflict/resolution shared story is a good idea. Are there any others that have worked particularly well in the past?

Please help :)