Monday, October 4, 2010

Teams are Cool and Other Errata

Ok, so that was a tough week with a lot of little issues, but the students are hanging in there and seem to be having a good time. Trying to coordinate the blogs and links and getting the proper emails to use Google Docs as a grade-book was a bit much even for me, especially considering that two of my classes only meet once a week, so if I forget something it may be a week before I can pass along more information and etc. However, it seems that the majority of the students have latched on to the idea that “class” is really our collective blogging and when we meet is more like “lab” so if I need to make an announcement after the actual “class meeting” they are getting it pretty quick. You all may remember that I decided early on to have students break off into teams with a team name that they use as an online last name. For example, I might be Jason Dragon. This idea seems to be having some interesting effects.

One thing I have noticed so far is that team members tend to behave similarly—such as making the same mistake, forgetting the same step in a process, or, on the positive side, proofreading one another’s’ prose, all using some new web tool to great effect, and etc. At this point in the semester it is much easier for me to notice the negative (none of team A posted their email address as directed whereas all the other teams did) but overall I think the dynamic is potentially useful if I can spin it the right way. I am trying to push the idea a bit by having them always use their team name for class work rather than their surname and, strangely enough, I have learned my students’ names much faster than usual.

And now, on to the Google Docs grade-book. I thought this was going to be a nightmare, but it is actually pretty easy and certainly takes no longer than it used to take me to fill in my old pen and paper one. I like it because I can share the grades and comments in the same space and students can see the narrative for the whole semester (and hopefully, their improvements) and this should be really handy for reflective purposes. I am sure some issues will creep up. They always do. But, I am pretty happy so far.
As to connections, my 102 classes are pretty much fully integrated. I have already seen the Tuesday class students reading the Thursday class’ blog entries as models for what they should (and should not, in some cases) do, so that is kind of nice and next week we will begin interactions between the classes on our collective Google Groups. 099 is a more difficult matter because there is just so much we have to do in that class to get them ready for the final essay (the terribly labeled CATW) but I think they are ready to make a visit to Ximena’s class blogs and etc. I think we will foray this Thursday.

I am also VERY happy with the 102 blogs overall. Those guys are having a lot of fun and producing some interesting work. I am ready to get a bit more creative over the next few weeks and try something like Phyllis' bricolage assignment.

Freerice is a complete and total hit and I have them making accounts in the 2.0 version so we can start competitions with other classes. I bet we are not the only ones doing this, so I am going to try and find other class groups on Freerice for some healthy competition!


  1. jason, please let me pick your brain on this matter. it sounds fantastic. when are you on campus?