Thursday, April 7, 2011

Arriba Teamwork!

From Conversation Agent
Tired of having students respond to interesting questions with vague one liners? Try this: for the next couple of weeks, four Basic Writing courses will be practicing how to discuss using claims, reasons, and evidence ONLY in a series of rapid-fire sessions in Google Groups. Luke, Jason, and I started the conversation by creating three questions based on themes from the film The Matrix:
Luke: "What is real? (Morpheus' question)": Remember when you were watching the movie and you felt some anxiety about what will happen? You laughed at some parts even. And there have been other movies where you may have gotten sad. Yet none of these are real--they are movies. Were your feelings real? What is real when it comes to what you experience?

Jason: "The Blue Pill or the Red Pill?": Neo has a choice: To take the blue pill and stay in his current existence or take the red pill and see "how far down the rabbit hole goes". Think about your own life. Which choice would you make and why? Would you choose to stay in the world of "stuff" or dive recklessly into the world of knowledge and rebellion?

Ximena: "What is The Matrix?": The Matrix has been considered by many as a "message" film. What do you think the film is trying to tell us about what is wrong with our world? And, should we care? (or maybe we shouldn't).
Then we asked students to answer one question using the following format:

After that, students were to continue answering as much as possible, only this time they could choose between a question from another professor, or the answers from their classmates or from students in other classes.

I was the first to try this exercise last night, and I have to say that from my point of view, the outcomes were very positive. Some evidence: students quickly caught on to the format and were answering each other's threads quickly and fully--and a few were on fire! Also, some students realized that "the hardest part" was to find evidence for their claims and reasons, so I walked around having conversations as to what kinds of evidence could work, connected the exercise to their experiences of having trouble finding evidence when they responded to the CAT, and gave some pointers.

But the best part was the really positive feedback from the students (as comments to my blog): most found it a really valuable exercise, especially to get them thinking about how to frame their CAT responses. One said that it was the most useful exercise we had done for the CAT so far!

Today Jason's students (two sections) respond, so we'll see what happens there. We'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. Super awesome!
    Can i use it in the 99 handbook? Also, can my students jump on this in May, or will it be closed?