It's the start of a new semester and a brand new Creative Writing class. This semester will be a bit strange, as there are 3 different courses all meeting at the same time: Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing, and Race in America. I hope that I can figure out how to work with each student and each group of students and not "ignore" one group.
I am also a bit concerned, because it seems like several students don't want to be here. On the first day of class, more than one student told me they "hated writing" and "sucked at writing." I hope to be able to change their minds, but that is a tough way to start. Plus, the class meets first hour, when everyone just wants to sleep. It will be tough to get some energy going in here.
I am nervous about this new semester and these new students. I hope that I can find ways to get them interested in writing and inspired to write.
The semester is almost over and this new format has brought some amazing rewards and some struggles.
I'll start with the amazing: these students can write! Alejandro brought tears to my eyes as he wrote about life in his shoes; Enrique's take on nationalism was incredible. The sheer talent and the raw emotion that these students put into their writing is beautiful and I am so lucky to be able to be a part of the process.
Now for the struggles: I hadn't anticipated that students wouldn't turn things in. Since they are posting assignments on their own blogs and websites, it is very difficult for me to keep track of any late assignments. Also, since each student has their own design, it's hard to figure out where things are posted and I'm always worried that I am going to miss something. My solution has been sticky notes: if a student turns something in after the deadline, they have to write the assignment title on a sticky note and physically put that note in the inbox. This is the only way I've found to keep track of all of the late submissions.
When I teach this class again, I need to remember to build a cushion week (week zero) into the schedule for routines, blog building, etc. And I've added a week 17 of "one day prompts" to planbook that I might put online, as a final week if time permits.
This class has been a joy and an honor to teach and I'm proud of the design, and proud of my students.
Starting a brand new class in a brand new format with many brand new (to me) students is always a strange transition. I'm used to knowing everyone in the room pretty well, and having a routine; and yet, here in the middle of winter in the middle of a school year it's almost like starting from scratch. There are students in the room who I have never met; I don't know what their attendance is like, or what they are like as students or what they even like to do. But, I'm slowly getting to know students and hopefully they are starting to get more comfortable with me.
It's also strange because there are several freshmen in the room, and I rarely teach freshmen. They will definitely have to get used to my style of teaching! On the flip side, the seniors in the room know me so well that it's like we've known each other forever. I wonder what that must feel like, to be a freshman in a room full of seniors where everyone else seems to know the expectations and routines...I will definitely have to be aware of that and make sure that we all are on the same page.
So far, I'm really liking using this website as a resource, and using peergrade. I think the students liked peergrade as well; although turning the first assignment in was a struggle because of the rampant flu going around and students being absent so much, the feedback they gave was great, and they seemed pretty positive about the whole experience.
Finally, the student blogs and websites (posted under Student Publications) are really great to look through. Their first ISOs were amazing, and I love the fact that each design is just a little bit different and a little bit unique. I hope that the students in the class are enjoying this as much as I am, and I can't wait to read more of what they produce.
I decided to redesign Creative Writing this year and move it from the moodle to this website. I did this for a couple of reasons: First, when the district redesigned bathschools.net, all of the links to my old course on the moodle were broken. This meant that I was going to have to rebuild everything anyway, so this seemed like a perfect time to redesign how I'd been teaching the course. Second, I am working on my Doctorate Degree, and an assignment this semester was to redesign a course. So, I figured I might as well design something I was going to use! And third, I wanted this course to be more aesthetically pleasing (pretty), I wanted students to be working and writing in online spaces, I wanted student feedback and editing and reflection to be more meaningful --and more collaborative-- and I wanted to see if I could create opportunities for student writing that would last long after the semester is over.
I will be posting reflections here on this blog every few weeks, so check back and read! I'll talk about how I think the course is going, what improvements I want to make, what I think is working, and what I need to figure out. I'm excited to take this new journey with you! Welcome!