CI 5461: reflecting on the highlights
As I finish up teaching CI 5461: Methods for Teaching Secondary Composition, I am left with still more questions about teaching and learning.
Having taught the course before, I felt that this second time around, I'd be able to better present the material in a thorough and provocative way. As a result I decided to cut my reading load almost in half, in order to promote a more in depth engagement with the ideas. While we "covered" less material, I wonder how much we actually "uncovered" ideas.
Post-Production Reflection Paper
I'm working hard to find the right balance between learning to write via study of methods, theory, and actual practice of writing. Being a big believer of learning to write through learning about your own writing process, this year I choose to assign a reflective piece for the final paper instead of curriculum lesson planning paper. I am very happy with this decision in that the paper reflected actual thinking about the ideas of digital composing as writers rather than just assigning digital writing. It took me hours to grade the papers. I filled the margins with comments and questions, not because I had so many suggestions for improvement, but because their writing engaged me in a meaningful discussion that had me thinking about these ideas in new way. I learned so much from reading through/grading those papers, making them one of my most meaningful grading experiences. My question now would be...does my enjoyment in grading the papers reflect at all the meaningfulness of the task for them?
Digital Literacy Project
For a final presentation project the students made video compositions using either iMovie or Movie Maker. I was so impressed with these projects. They really took the idea of digital storytelling and video composition to heart creating personal narratives, memoir pieces, documentaries, and digital renditions of short stories (Check them out.). What I found most interesting was how heightened the students' awareness was of their audience. In knowing that these videos would be shown to their peers, they seemed highly motivated to create a quality product. Some of the final products were absolutely phenomenal making me laugh at loud, while others made me cry.
Unlike the two projects above, which were new this year, the blogging component was carry over from last year. I have to say, that I really value the blogging as an informal space for thinking about ideas yet with an audience in mind. Furthermore, the ability to connect and apply the ideas of writing to various multimodal sources online, such as YouTube videos, art galleries, and music, added so many dimensions to their reflection on the ideas. Blogging is a definite keeper for future classes. Read some of the blogs for yourself.
While I could go on more, I'll close with this one last highlight...
The Cohort Cupcakes (see photo above)
The cupcakes, along with many of the other final-celebration goodies, were delicious. I am always surprised how food brings such a festive and collective spirit to an event. Perhaps its the carnival aspect of feasting that food and celebrations bring out in us. In seeing that we all need to eat, and that we all have cravings for celebration, we are able to let go of other traditional classroom dynamics. Then again, maybe it's just my love of chocolate that moves mountains.