microblogging with students

My teacher's blogThis is my eighth year to teach a writing class. Each year I thing I change something about my approach.

One of the things I love to include in my writing class is some kind of journal or reflection or discussion. I want them writing on a regular basis something that is not “academic” in addition to the academic essay they are working on drafting and revising.

A couple of times I did handwritten dialogue journals back and forth with my students. Another year I did an online discussion board where the students discussed topics among themselves. I’ve also tried giving a list of prompts and just having students write each week the answer to which ever question grabbed them.

But, this year, I think I’ve stumbled upon the jackpot. I had them all set up microblogs on typepad.

Each week I post a video from youtube, and their task is to summarize the video in less than three sentences and then respond to the video somehow.  Typeapad makes this really easy for them with their built-in “reblog” feature. I told them to aim for at least 150 words with each microblog.

I gave them a list of possible ways they could “respond”:
  • How does the video make you feel?  Why?
  • What do you think is the main message of the video?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the main message of the video?
  • How can you apply the main message of the video to your own life?
  • Think aloud about what the video makes you think about.
  • Reflect on the video and what it means to you.
  • Write a short story inspired by the video.
  • If you were in the video, who would you want to be?
  • If you can talk to someone in the video, what would you say or ask?
  • If you could change something about the video, what would you change?
  • Write a poem.
  • Describe what the next video in this series would be.
  • Write a song.
  • Write an academic style paragraph.
  • and MORE . . . . . .
So far, I’ve shown them:
My goal is to show them videos that are either creative or thought-provoking or inspiring.  I have a few more in the reserves, and I’ve also required each student to recommend one video that they think their classmates would enjoy responding to. (If you have a suggestion of a video they might like writing about, I’ll gladly take it.)

So far, I’ve been so pleased with the depth of the responses I’ve been getting from my students, and the quality of their summaries (a skill they must have) has improved in just a few weeks.  And, a great part is that I think they are really enjoying this assignment.

I am really excited when students enjoy learning!

of leaves and grass

Anxi Rou GuiThe summer of 1997 was my first time to see someone drinking tea with leaves.  The leaves were literally bursting forth from this man’s paper cup, and it kinda freaked me out a bit.

I also remember that my surprise at the leaves in his glass of tea amused all my adult students.  How on earth had this silly girl made it through 19 years of life without realizing that tea came from actual leaves?

For several of the years between 1997 and now, I adopted the attitude of sure you go ahead and have your leaves in your tea.  If you offer me some, I’ll drink it, but please just the tea. :)  But, this summer I got really excited when Lawrance bought me a special thermos for brewing tea leaves in.  So, I can have my tea with leaves and drink it easily too.

Lemongrass on our porchWhen I first tried jasmine tea (also back in 1997), I thought it tasted exactly like what soap should taste like.  Now, Lawrance and I also keep a pitcher of cold brewed jasmine green tea in our fridge. (Although, admittedly, the green tea helps with the soap flavor issues of pure jasmine tea.)

And, my newest thing is that I love lemongrass tea.  It is so wonderful!  I could drink it all day long!!  Corrina, our neighbor, friend, and matchmaker, gave Lawrance a lemongrass plant for his birthday.  What she didn’t know is that she was really giving it it me! :D  (Lawrance’s interest in finding the plant was to help me get one.  She didn’t know that; all she knew was that Lawrance wanted some lemongrass.)

Anywho, for two weeks now, I’ve been able to make my own lemongrass tea.  I step out onto our laundry porch (balcony), cut some grass, clean it, and then let it boil for a few minutes in our wok.

Making Lemongrass Tea

As I stood there yesterday, watching my leaves of grass boil filling our home with the oh so refreshing scent of lemongrass, I couldn’t help but think of how much as changed in the past 13 years.

What once shocked me is now commonplace.

What once took me by surprise is now normal.

And, this of course, made me marvel at God’s kindness.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...