Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Impressions

A great idea that I got from the CTL workshop was a letter writing exercise that I find works really well in our type of classrooms.

What do you do? Well, you give each student an envelope and you have them write down their fears, hopes and expectations for the course. They should also include what they hope to get out of us (the instructor) as a resource and how they will engage. Then the students seal the letters, write their names on it, and then they hand them back to you.

I have adapted this idea so that I keep the letters until just before they have to write their learning letters for the final portfolio so they can see how they have progressed and what they have accomplished. It not only makes them pay attention to their roles as writers, but I think it even gives them an idea of how to value themselves as learners and contributors in the course and it makes them realize that you as an instructor are really interested in providing them with a classroom community wherein objectives and goals are set and reached (together).

Try it and let me know how it works for you!!!



  1. Melanie:
    This is great--I might use this next semester--btw, I used your "hands" exercise on the first day of my classes and it went really well-thanks! I'm glad to see you all using this blog! Hope you are well!

  2. Since we introduced zine-making as a way to begin the reflective portion of the final portfolio, I've given the letters back so they can actually cut and paste lines of what they used to think about writing. They can then write their new ideas about writing in contrast to these lines. I like the idea of their own words and writing as opposed to a phrase in a magazine.