I met with two of my classes for the last time today.
In the first class (creative writing), I had more than one student tell me that they enjoyed the class. Creative writing is a fun class, right? So I think the bar was set pretty low. But then! A student tells me that she loved the class and she wants to be a professor and I am her favorite teacher and just cemented her desire to become a professor.
Then, on my way to my last class of the day, I ran into a former student. And he told me he had just this week looked back at the blog he created for the class. “I put so much work into your class, and I don’t even like English. I want to thank you.”
And then in my last class, one of my students said, “I would get so mad at you for being so picky about the missed periods and stuff in MLA, but now I pay more attention when I proofread to make sure I haven’t missed anything.”
So, yes, I teach my students and sometimes they learn things. And sometimes I even get a chance to find out about it.
For the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year, my theme is gratitude. Every day, I am going to post about something I am grateful for. Tune in tomorrow to see what I pick for Q.
Item #1: New Bloggers
Three out of my five classes did their blog wrap-ups today, and at least a handful said that they were going to keep blogging. Some said they had always wanted/meant to start a blog. One even said she thought you had to be interesting to blog but now she knows better. (And no, she didn’t read my blog to come to that conclusion. 😂) And another student is excited class is over so she can focus her blog on her favorite interest–something she’s always wanted to do.
So, basically, blogging in class gave some of my students the confidence to start their own blogs because they got to play around with the platform in a safe space with a safe audience.
Item #2: New Readers
Forcing my students to read (at least for those three classes) was a success. Almost all of them said they were glad to do it since it got them to read books they always meant to read but hadn’t gotten a chance to. Or they were glad (for 1102) that we read off the banned books list because it introduced them to books they may not have read otherwise.
I told two students about the Serial Reader app and they downloaded it. Oh, and one student told me he was going to keep reading to which I said “Yay!” but he quickly said, “NOT THAT MUCH.” Students: they giveth and taketh away.
Okay, but here is the best comment a student made: Reading off the banned books list made it easier for her to do her reading for other classes, including the textbooks.
READING FOR THE WIN. ALWAYS.
Item #3: Blogging Book Reviews
Forcing them to write reviews on their blog was also a success, especially for my creative writing students. They really did think more critically about the books they were reading when they had to explain why they liked them or not. One student said that the only reviews he ever read were from old people (professional book reviewers) and this was the first time he’d read reviews from his peers, which he really appreciated since people from his age group bring a different perspective. Another student said he never talked about the books he read before and was glad he got a chance to share his reading with people.
My favorite, though, is that one of my students has already positioned herself as a book blogger. Her about page says that she is accepting ARCs. 😍
So, yes. I wasn’t planning for this to be a reflection on using blogging in my classes. I just wanted to point out that some of my students are excited about blogging, which is great, and that most of them are now reading, which of course makes me the happiest.
For the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year, my theme is gratitude. Every day, I am going to post about something I am grateful for. Tune in tomorrow to see what I pick for O.
As I collected my students’ papers today, some of them said they felt so much better about these papers compared to the ones they were getting back. Why? “I know I did better on this one. I can feel myself improving.”
Yes, I said. Good. That’s what it’s all about: seeing how you’ve improved from the beginning of the semester to now–even if you don’t get the grade you want.
They weren’t so sure about that grade part, but they did acknowledge that it felt good to see their progress.
For the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year, my theme is gratitude. Every day, I am going to post about something I am grateful for. Tune in tomorrow to see what I pick for J.
Big Little Lies has given me a lot of feelings, so it is featured heavily in this post. Also, goddess and life goals queen Rep. Maxine Waters has breathed life back into my soul, so I may or may not have featured her, too.
Today I had the opportunity to sit in on a Trig class as part of a pilot program called Teaching Squares. (I have also previously visited an astronomy and zoology class.) While sitting in this class, the following happened:
1. I realized (reaffirmed is more accurate, but go with me here) that math beyond algebra is definitely not my thing. Not only did I have no idea what was going on, but I also didn’t care. It was especially apparent because the astronomy teacher (who was also visiting the class) was super into it and solving problems with the class, and I was just sitting there having flashbacks to when I took pre-calc in undergrad and trig in high school.
2. I loved my undergrad experience, but I really wish I had known more about community colleges and/or that dual enrollment was available when I was a senior. Taking a required math class that I had no interest in would have been SO MUCH better in a small class of ~25 students than the lecture hall experience I had.
3. This experience, along with a chat I had with my students a couple of days ago, reminded me how little effort I put into classes that I didn’t care about or knew I just needed to satisfy a gen ed credit. It gave me a little more compassion/empathy for my students who are doing the bare minimum to get by.
4. Visiting the math class after visiting the astronomy and zoology class also reminded me that I could and would be engaged in a class that is not in my area at all as long as I’m willing to listen. Like I said, I tuned out most of the math stuff (this is not the instructor’s fault–part of it is that it’s the end of the semester, so I didn’t have the refresher of some of the foundational stuff I needed to follow along; also, to be fair, I did learn some stuff) but I did learn some things. Same with the zoology and astronomy stuff.
Time for another link round-up! Here are some interesting things I read this week:
Zetta Elliot has a comprehensive list of 2016 MG & YA titles by African-Americans.
I recently finished J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and then went online and read some reviews (as one does). And I saw an alarming pattern in quite a few of the reviews I read.
Therefore, I have a request:
Please, please, please, please, PLEASE stop telling your students that plays are meant to be seen and not read.
First of all, it’s not true.
Second of all, they then go out into the world and keep spreading that nonsense in book reviews and blog posts and however else they share information with each other.
Here’s the thing: plays are absolutely meant to be read. They start out as scripts. Plays cannot be produced, acted in, directed, costumed, lit, etc. unless the people involved with the plays READ THEM.
In fact, reading a play takes just as much–if not more–imagination as reading a novel or short story. It’s all about teaching students how to read and engage with the form.
And, yes, details are added in the production of a play that brings it to life, but one person’s interpretation of a character or scene or whatever can be different from another’s, which is why the same staged play can play out differently for different audiences depending on who’s involved with the production.
But isn’t that the same with reading a novel?
Maybe someone prefers to see the play, which is fine, but let’s stop with the whole plays aren’t meant to be read deal, okay? It’s fine to say that sometimes plot or action becomes clearer in the seeing of it, and, yes, Shakespeare tends to be better experienced when we see it since the language can be a bit inaccessible. But, you know, people read the play to put it on for us, so the script is the thing–or, rather, the script is the basis for the whole thing.
And it has to be read. And it can be read and understood. It just takes a different kind of effort is all. So stop telling your students it can’t and shouldn’t be done.