The work I had planned for the 102s today went very well. I provided them with three quotations about literature: its value, how to read it, why students sometimes struggle with reading it, that sort of thing. I put them in groups and had them read each quotation, discuss it, take some notes so they'd have something to refer to in the whole-class discussion, know who would do the preliminary talking for the group. It sailed. They not only got the point of the readings, they got thinking about their own struggle to bridge the gap between the way they were taught to read in high school and what will be required of them now. They did a fine job talking in their groups, and they did a fine job sharing ideas with the class as a whole--both sections.
seemed to make a good segue into talking about reading notes. I'll have
to go over the point of notes and what they should contain many times, I
know, but I feel like this was a good set-up for them. I also was able
to clarify the assignment for Tuesday--mostly by having them read the
actual words in the syllabus. (One of the quotations included the
following: "Years of their so-called ‘reading’ is spent ‘making connections’ between
themselves and text or the world and the text, but the foundational step of actually reading the words on the
page is neglected often to
the point that actually reading the assignment isn't necessary." [Karen Swallow Prior, “Why I Support the Common Core Reading
Standards,” The Atlantic].
Never mind reading the work of literature in question; it's hard to get
them to read what the assignment sheet says. I'm just saying.)
I'm sure some of them will still be confused, but ah well.
larger problem is, the only things they have due for Tuesday are a
self-evaluation and a review of the information in assigned pages in one
of their handbooks. We can't do much group discussion of
self-evaluations--and they were already doing a lot of that kind of
reflection on their own experiences in their groups today--and going
over the information in the assigned handbook pages won't take very long
at all. So, what do we do with the remaining 57 minutes of the class?
briefly considered bringing in a very short short story to read aloud
in class so they could sort of practice annotating and turning their
annotations into notes--but the addition of another story, unconnected
to anything else we're reading seemed like it might be confusing. So I
briefly considered starting to read the story they have to have read for
Thursday's class--but that sounded boring as hell.
I'm going to bore them a different way. Unlike my usual practice, I'm
going to do a little preliminary lecturing, primarily about
terminologies--but also about little things like referring to authors by
last name, making sure the titles and characters' names are spelled
correctly, other little pet peeves along those lines. And I'll review
the instructions for reading notes with them, pointing out the examples I
provided. It may be yet another class meeting when I let them go
early--but that's OK. There will be plenty of times when I keep them
until the last second, so it will all come out in the end.
actually going to do more than the usual "chalk and talk" in Nature in
Lit on Monday, pretty much for the same reasons--but also because, in
reading the selection from Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation that I used this semester, I realized there will be a lot that they won't understand at first, so some preparatory glossing won't go amiss.
Assuming they stay awake.
to today: I did, in fact, make good use of the time between
classes--and even some of the time before my first class. I met with my
distance ed mentor and got great answers to some of my questions as well
as a seal of approval on most of what I've done. I do have a bit more
yet to do, in order to have enough to show the VP for distance ed (the
next step in the approvals process), but I am definitely making
progress. I will need to print out a lot of stuff and go over it
carefully to make sure I haven't made any howling blunders--and of
course I don't need to have everything in place completely. I'm finally
enjoying the process: thinking through the pedagogic rationale for what
I'm doing, trying to think like an overwhelmed student who has never
taken an online course before.
totally got distracted there. Writing that made me think, "Oh, before I
forget, I need to..." which led to another, "While I'm at it, I
should..." and a couple of "I'd better do this now..." thoughts--and now
I don't even remember what set off domino chain. Not that it matters,
but this is why I am the absent minded professor: the domino chains are
I'm chipping away at the online course, still finding my way with this
semester's courses (the evening class thing creates a really weird
rhythm, which will take some time to settle down: it's like Dave
Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance," in 7/8 time...). But for now, I think I'm
good. I don't feel any other niggling little things threatening to drop
through the floorboards, so I'm going to draw a metaphoric line through
today on the calendar and call it a wrap for this week.