Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fun Finals Activity

Today, I tried out a new finals activity that may not be so new for some of you: we had a reading similar to what writers have when they are about to publish a book. I called it the "Winter Reading" for the class, and it included having students choose a short writing or a small part of a longer writing to read to the class. To make the mood more like a real writer reading, I brought some snacks, and I introduced each student with anecdotes from the semester and what not. This last part was my favorite as I have been thinking for some time about ways to say something personal and individual to students at the end of the semester, a practice that comes from a teaching mentor of mine who used to recite "nuggets" about our class during the final period. Students seemed to enjoy the activity, and the realistic treatment made it meaningful yet enjoyable, I think.

I only did the activity in developmental and first-level comp classes, though. For my second-level comp students, who have to write all source-supported papers, I'm thinking about having a mini-conference in lieu of a final in future semesters. That is another topic for another day, though--back to the papers.


At 8:17 AM, Anonymous joanna said...

That's a terrific idea, and one which I will use next semester. I like that it combines the academic with the affective--must be loads of fun.

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous clc said...

That is a great idea. I'd be curious to know what kinds of things they chose.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger macncheese said...

I'll try to remember to post more tomorrow after three more finals, but after the first final, I was a bit surprised that so many students (3 or 4) chose a paragraph where they had to interview someone on campus. I wondered if those students felt uncomfortable with any of the more personal writing they did. Most of the rest of the students read funny or entertaining pieces where they wrote from the perspective of an inanimate object. Few chose any of the later writings, which were much more personal.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger sharon said...

Sounds like a great way to end the term. I'm not surprised that few of your students chose personal writing to share.

Students often have a different criteria for choosing works to share with the class. This is an extremely risky task, given that they are reading to their peers without the safety of silence. To read your own words out loud to an audience is to reaffirm that the words and ideas are yours - an emotionally tough task, even for more advanced writers. It is often quite personal to read anything out loud.

Certainly, this has been a successful exercise in part because your students felt safe enough to read to others. That speaks highly of your classroom environment.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger spiral said...

In all of my other classes, the students seemed to choose pieces based on how interesting they would be for the audience and/or how well they did on the paper. Most of these pieces were personal in nature, which was a big change from the first class, and many of them were funny, suggesting to me that the entertainment value was a top priority.

I hadn't thought about this until now, but I suppose their choices reflect a good level of audience awareness. The students who did not choose entertaining papers actually apologized for reading a "boring paper" and waited longer to volunteer to read, especially in one class where it seemed like each reader was attempting to top the previous one. That class, which had bonded especially well over the semester, was a blast: the students stayed for the entire two hours, paid the best attention to their fellow classmates, and hung around for a bit when all was finished.

After such an excellent class, though, I was disappointed with my next class, where I felt like I should have perhaps given a little talk about reading etiquette: students entered the room and walked in front of their fellow students while they were reading, talked while others were reading, asked me if they could leave class as others were reading, etc. In the latter case, which happened twice, it was a bit difficult to keep myself from boiling over. I just kept telling myself, "It's almost over." Ah, the personality of classes.

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Professor Dave said...

It's always interesting to learn each class personality. Both the reader and listeners. At least they weren't on cell phones.

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At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Randy said...

I really appreciated this post.

At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Distance Learning said...

That's terrific idea. I want to know more about it


At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's always interesting to learn each class personality. Students seemed to enjoy the activity, and the realistic treatment made it meaningful yet enjoyable, I think.

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a tremendous inspiration, and one which I will make exploit of next semester. credentials be alive inquisitive to make out what kinds of possessions they choose.

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