Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best of Class

I've had many great moments this semester but I especially liked the group article project I developed for my ENG 101 class. The process was too complicated and I will definitely streamline it for future use but it ended up being a lot of fun. I describe the activity in my November 19 blog post but my favorite part isn’t mentioned – the group presentations. Students expressed trepidation at having to stand in front of the room but they all did an amazing job. Some read from notes, others had memorized their “parts,” and one group put together an impressive PowerPoint. The best part is the way they worked together to create seamless presentations. When one group realized one of its members was absent they quickly checked the class Facebook page (where I had asked them to post their responses in advance) and managed to fill in beautifully for their missing classmate. I was really impressed with them and I could tell that they were impressed with themselves. They also realized how tough it can be to stand in front of a roomful of students, asking them questions and getting them to engage in discussion. In their final class evaluations, some students suggested doing more student presentations throughout the semester, something I am definitely considering for the Spring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Best of Class: Ximena's Believe It or Not

And the winner is...[DRUMROLL]

you are not going to believe this...


Now, right off I want y'all to know that I always take my end-of-semester reflections with a grain of salt. After all, 'Tis The Season to Butter up The Teacher Just before She Turns in That Final Grade.

On the other hand, this year I had two sets of classes that had 0 (zero) motivation to butter me up at this point in the semester. My Basic Writing students knew who was (or was not) going to take the CAT-W, and my Shakespeare students knew that they would get 100 points from me no matter what they said in their reflections (let me tell ya, those assured 100 points can liberate some students!).

So, why am I calling this moment the best of class? Judge for yourself:

I. Four excerpts from Shakespeare reflections

"If a student had a lot of things on his or her plate (work, school, friends, global warming, occupy wall street, etc.) I would not recommend [the Shakespeare class]. It does not make one to be less of a man to run way from this class and focus more on the essentials....this class requires a lot of hard work and time..."

"Oh boy was I happy to have you as a teacher. You gave the impression that you're goofy, have  a sense of humor but are still assertive when it comes down to it. And I appreciate that, a teacher that is not too serious and knows how to teach while still enjoying what she does."

"If I had the power to put up flyers all over LaGuardia, it would state that ALL students who are required to take one English elective should unquestionably take [the Shakespeare] class"

"I wish there were a part two to [the Shakespeare class] because I would love to recommend myself to take it. If a student is really serious about learning about William Shakespeare but in a fun and unique way then this is the class to be in."

II. Four excerpts from Basic Writing reflections

"After I got over the initial shock that my classmates and students in another class could see what I wrote, it hit me I can do what I do best and that is… be nosey."

"I definitely recommend this course to other students because it will help them not only to be better writers but also better human beings."

"The  shallow  idea I was having about the course before I started the class, is to help one to write good English. But after several weeks of the class I made to understand that is not the only purpose of the class because it has help me to know much about society that I have no idea about."

"The most memorable moment [in this class was] thinking about reality. It’s touched my soul. We are living in the time where rhythm of life so fast that we sometime even doesn’t have time to think about some simple things."

Oh yeah, and apparently I should NOT teach using PowerPoint because I stink at it (okay, the students did not quite put it that way, but I got the hints). *SIGH* live and learn....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Bad" Drawing

Art-in-New York.

Deformation of the Figure.

Non-art resource.

I created my online activity, "Bad" Drawing, as part of the Community 2.0 seminar. Although I cannot find the site anymore (I think it was on Wiki, but I am not sure now), my students had this activity in my Art-in-New York course before the semester ended.

A. Learning Objectives.
Before my class experienced it, I created a revised "Bad" Drawing Assignment to meet my students' needs.

B. Reflective Description.
As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, Blogger was blocked in the lab that I reserved for creating student blogs although I specifically wrote that my class will use blogger.com when reserving the lab. However, LaGCC lab technicians were supportive and available during our lab time, so the issue was resolved smoothly. Nevertheless, what do you think students attempt when they cannot view their blogs in a computer lab? Yeah, right, logging on to ePortfolio. "NO EPORTFOLIO THIS WEEK! DO NOT LOG ON TO DIGICATION!!!" was the first thing I had to say on the day. This was kind of sad.

C. Conclusions.
I made ePortfolio optional for my students this time, but it was not my intention. It was just that Digication was down for that specific day I scheduled an appointment for my students to have an ePortfolio workshop. We simply switched our system. Next time, I will try to schedule it much earlier. The good news was that, though, because the class already had blogs, we were able to maintain our course schedule and my class was not interrupted too much by the accidentally-created Digication down time. At the end, Digication is just a tool for my students to learn.

The idea of this "Bad" Drawing assignment came from my "100 Drawings" assignment, which I give out in the beginning of every semester. Students often tell me they are so bad at drawing and become very nervous about losing points because of it. To tell you the truth, those students are normally best ones in class. I became curious to find out what their notions of "good" and "bad" in drawing. Moreover, I decided to "torture" them further by assigning "bad" drawings where they can lose points by creating good drawings (!!!!!)...oh well.

After the lab, a few students told me that having a sample blog entry for this assignment can help them post their own entry. I will consider that next time, but my feeling is that things like this (the first "Deformation of the Figure" entry) do not come into exist if I show them a sample work ahead of time. Also, another student made four posts, instead of one post with four pictures: (1) Non-Art, (2) Def of the Fig., (3) Art-Res., and (4) Fantastic, which I found fascinating.