Thursday, March 1, 2018

Midterm, They Sort of Squirm, and The Early Bird Gets the Worm

I think I was a week early. This is the first time I've taught the undergraduate version of my teaching writing course, and looking at spring breaks, partnership work, holidays, etc. this was the day for the midterm projects - which for the writing course is to teach a book about teaching writing unassigned in the course or, because this was an undergraduate course, a young adult novel you wanted to read and haven't read.

100% chose a YA novel to read. My graduate students never do that; they always choose the teacherly and pedantic. I'm sort of impressed that they went with fiction.

As a means to show the containments and constrainments of genre, I had the students take all their thinking about the book and 'shrink' it into an informative brochure to sell it to other readers and potential teachers. We discussed the genre - hell for some, but cleverly challenging for others - and the application for classroom practice.

Different this year, however, was the fact that I wanted to save time and new I couldn't have 20 presentations because we would be there forever, so I split the groups into pods and let them present their work to each other. I simply sat in the middle and took notes from what I was hearing in stereo (I admit, my brain was a bit frazzled trying to hear three ways). They did present quickly, enjoyed the time, took notes on each other's work, and allowed me 45 minutes at the end to make a case for why I do midterms this way.

Phew. Glad I slid into this success. I didn't know if it was going to work because I'm not used to undergraduates, their pace, or where they are developmentally. Still, I think it was a success. I honestly could have left the room and they would have continued the maturity - they were that engaged and I didn't even need to lead the way. Kudos to them.

Okay, Thursday, I see you. I know what you have in store for me and I will do what I can. Promise. But I can't guarantee anything.

It's March already? Ugh.

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