Thursday, April 21, 2005

With the End in Sight, Thoughts on Next Semester

I think one of my primary coping mechanisms for end-of-the-semester burnout and craziness is to start thinking about the next semester--what I'll do better, what I'll do new, what I'll undoubtedly end up doing the same (though Aunt Joanna's tonic sounds promising, too). Somehow, the paper grind at the end and its accompanying disappointment as I discover how many students just didn't get "there" is easier to deal with if i fantasize about the future. So, I've been thinking about the fall and some of things I'm looking forward to doing, like teaching Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Diana Son's Stop Kiss. But mostly I've been thinking about whether or not to blog in the classroom, and if so, in what manner--individual student blogs, group blogs, a community blog, etc.

There's been a lot of talk recently--much of which I haven't fully read yet from lack of time--about whether blogging is best for what we do here: connect as academics who teach in a particular discipline. As someone who started blogging because it looked like a great classroom tool but then became a blogger for its own sake, I have to admit that I'm leaning toward that philosophy--that blogging works best in spaces like these. But am I right?

I want you guys to help me decide whether to use blogs in the fall, so I'm asking. Who intends to blog in the classroom in their next semester and in what form? And why?


At 2:10 PM, Anonymous joanna said...

I am definitely going to use blogs next semester with my reading students. Despite three weeks of teethpullig and eyerolling, they've finally made the splash and are admitting to liking it. What they're writing isn't inspired stuff, yet. But I can see how over the course of a semester, it can lead to many good things, like posting supplementary materials that they've found, working together on interpretation, and developing a blogsite that reflects their personality (which is the hook to engage them). Also, reading my blog and each other's gives the students a chance to read my praising them as a group or by singling one person out. What I am seeing right now is that blogs do give each student the chance to speak their mind about assignments, and they are more likely to once they get responses.

CLC, I've been meaning to email you about this, but a few weeks ago I said that I'd get you a copy of our EN 102 syllabus. Turns out that you can go to our website, and look up the English department (Rockville campus). The syllabus is there for your downloading.

At 2:37 AM, Blogger Styles said...

How different each writer, student or teacher, must remain. The hard choice is finally yours.

I decided long ago to use the form for intrinsic, personal reasons, occasionally sharing work in print. But I really prefer focused talk centered on longer, published pieces.

They better serve what Hans Georg Gadamer calls "the task of hermeneutics" — bringing "literary form . . . out of the alienation in which it finds itself and into the living presence of conversation, whose fundamental procedure is always question and answer."

I think Gadamer's remain the best pedagogical tools, yet if some newer, electronic form can help, try it out.

At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Liz said...

I'm having everyone blog next semester: my comp 1 folks, my tech writing folks, my film & lit folks. . . . Right now I am so damn in love with blogging, it's probably clouding my judgment, but I've seen such amazing things happen to my blogging students this semester that it just doesn't seem right to deprive any of my fall students of blogging.

I'm considering abandoning my school's course management system except for its gradebook and using blogs for all the things I usually use a class homepage for - syllabus and handouts, online discussions, links to the library, etc.

In an informal and completely unreliable survey, 44 of my 51 blogging students said they were writing more because of blogging than they would be otherwise.


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