Friday, January 7, 2011

The Reflecting Pool

A) Goals for the Spring:
I want students to practice the skills they learn in situations where other students need their help or, alternately, can offer them help.  These skills can be anything from commenting on summaries as my class did with Ximena's in the fall or even just helping another class with technical issues. One of the reasons we find our subject matters fascinating and students do not is that we get to apply it and teach it to others, and I believe the more chances students have for such practice the more engaged and interested they become.

I want students to see themselves as writers, not as students in a writing class. This goal extends beyond this seminar, but I have always found the service model for composition classes, and indeed general education, too much capitalist propaganda for my taste. I don't want my students to learn to write better "for other classes," "for their major," or "for their career." I have to claim I want these things on a variety of annual reports, conference presentations and what not, but that is exactly the kind of writing which we do in academia that I want my students to avoid. Having a blog gave students a sense of themselves as agents and possible generators of ideas, and got them to explore the means and possibilities they have to communicate with and affect others, and I want that to happen more in the spring. 

I want students to care about the presentation of their writing. I don't want them to write flawless sentences because they need good grammar or because it is some writing decorum but because they understand that the whole ethos they create is also reflected in their presentation. I was not very good with that in the fall as I wanted to emphasize ideas more and by the time I wanted to switch emphasis to presentation they had established bad habits. I hope to find a way to interact with other classes so students can read each others' blogs and be even more aware of the persona they create, consciously or not.

B) The Mirror Stage: My posts, the other, and the others' posts

My high point was when I discovered that one of my students had created a second blog, separate from the class one, and was running with it and rambling in it about his skateboarding experiences. Not my most in-depth post, but the one that describes a rewarding moment for me in using the networks concept.

In terms of good discussion, I enjoyed the exploration of what it means to be online which started with a post by Richard and continued with posts by Magda and Ximena . Something I saw in my posts and all the other posts also was how often we would discuss the uses and pitfalls of technology, which given the newness of what we were doing, the different platforms, the experimentation etc was very understandable, but my task master personality wishes, in retrospect, that I had been more focused on the connections between classes than on these issues. Maybe a goal for spring.

Finally, I enjoyed being able to connect to all these other classes and see what others were doing. I liked being able to eavesdrop on Magda's study of gender, for instance (and having my students do that too); I enjoyed being able to follow the blogs of two former students who were taking Jason's ENG 102 and see what kind of writers they were; I liked how, when I joined Dr. Van's class ning, some of her students started friending me as if I was another student; and I really appreciated the weird visits on the flag counter that indicated how people were reading my class' blog in places where I would never imagine they would care to come across such a blog.

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