5.21 Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

Strategies for Reading and Engaging Across Modes

CIC workshop

Following the discussion of our previous teacher talk (please see below), we thought about how we can implement some of those creative practices into our actual teaching. In this workshop, we talked strategies!

We started with a strategy on how to teach visual analyses. We looked at the Queen of Wands tarot card and broke our engagement down into steps. First, we picked the card apart by naming all of what we see. We took our time describing what we saw or sensed in the card. Secondly, we read the artist’s intention with the piece by looking up their description within the tarot book (that comes with the card). Third, we listened to what others are saying about the piece, or how other tarot readers or tarot enthusiasts describe and give meaning to the card. Then the grand finale: Taking all of this into consideration, we discussed our own analyses. We took turns offering what we thought the card meant to us. We found that these steps can be applied to engagements in many genres. These steps aren’t necessary the writing about the art object, but rather note-taking to help in the writing process.

We also had some discussion about how to engage with poetry. Poetry allows us to open up to our sensations that we experience while reading the poem. We have to pay keen attention to the rhythm, the line breaks, tone, and structure of the empty spaces. And mostly, we have to ask ourselves, how do we feel with the poem. What bodily sensations does it invoke? This is powerful because poetry, and this strategy to reading poetry, teaches us how to make sense of feelings and sensations as viable, critical, necessary reading and engagement practices.

The conversation was dynamic and invigorating. Both strategies complement each other. Both allow students to bring in their own interpretation of art and poetry while also critically engaging in a community to help foster understanding.



5.1 Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

The Creative Teacher

Round table discussion

What a fun conversation this was! There were 13 participants–– a mixture of faculty, creative writing instructors and students, and EWP/ IWP instructors. Such as collective was bound to reap abundant discussions! The guiding questions for this talk centered around how we bring in our creative side to our composition classrooms. Many of us in the English department, and as writers in general, have a creative mindset and way of looking and understanding the world. It’s difficult to be in a field that can sometimes be rigid and regiment in its studies (ew, grammar). We want to feel free in our teaching and learning to branch out into different genres, modalities, structures, and so on. We aren’t just writing expository essays. With that, we ask participants to share how they navigate this terrain.

Many of us indicated the need to break out of regiments composition because of the need to diversify learning. A divide between critical studies and creative studies is a false one because sometimes thinking outside of order is necessary to arrive at and engage with radically new work. Introducing creativity allows students to experiment with their ideas and allows them to bring their whole selves to the table. There’s no need to cut off pieces of themselves to fit the mold if the mold container is flexible and malleable. So, we shift our pedagogical practices towards teaching students how to ask appropriate questions and conduct the proper research to create out of the box projects. We find that with these projects students are more in touch with their interests and with other worlds that may have been unfamiliar to them.

We also discussed some assignments to help students build a bridge between creativity and critical projects. We discuss assignments where students are asked to provide a biography for an object or for a space that they’re in. Assignments where they can use alternative mediums, modes, or genres to make their arguments–– like photo-essay, collage, podcasts, or paintings, to name but a few. We also discussed the possibilities of creative writing assignments in an expository classroom, like short stories, comedy essays, and poetry.

In short, we had an engaging conversation about why it’s important for students to feel encouraged to experiment and to be more creative and open in composition classrooms. And we crowdsourced information, activities, and assignments to can help us achieve more creativity in our own teaching practices.

-b. frantece

4.20– Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

Making Effective Use of Canvas Tools and Engaging Students

hosted by Ben Wirth, PhD and C.R. Grimmer, PhD

As we navigate how to transition to a fully online learning experience for everyone, Dr. Ben Wirth and Dr. C.R. Grimmer gave us some helpful tips to guide us along. The guiding questions for this talk helped us think about how we can be most accommodating to everyone, both to students and ourselves as teachers, during such a precarious time while also still learning composition, writing, and teaching styles. We inquired about the pro’s and con’s of a fully asynchronous course or a course where everyone regularly meets via web conferences, or the right balance of both. We also discussed some activities that can boost engagement for both async and through a webcam meeting.

To start, Ben gave us an overview of his fully asynchronous class that is still filled with engaging reflective activities. He makes use of Canvas Groups tool; it’s an underused, yet so useful, student-led collaboration tool on Canvas. This is an easy way to do group work and group grading–– just select it as an option when posting the assignment. This tool helps students build camaraderie even though they may not be working all at the same time. For non-graded assignments that can still use group work (and use a tool that you and students may already be familiar with), Ben also suggests Google docs, as the software has tools that encourage sync or async conversations. Ben suggests “archive building” is a great collaborative or group assignment. Also, check out wiki-styles for other fun group work assignments.

C.R. gave us some advice from how she teaches her mix of async/ sync course. For an engaging discussion board post, she suggests avoiding prompts where canned, scripted responses are possible. You know, like right or wrong answers or just copy + paste from the book (or from the internet, let’s be honest). When addressing the prompt, C.R. has students apply their response to a third external text–– like a Youtube video, twitter post, a story, songs, etc.––  that relates to them in ways they can articulate. This way, rather than providing a textbook answer, they can demonstrate their understanding of the concept in authentic, organic ways, as well as bring in their own interests. C.R. builds collaborative engagement during the class synchronous meeting; she has them in groups, and they discuss, question, engage with each other’s responses. As a class, they discuss the post that piqued their interests, and together they unpack the students’ responses. It’s fun!

In all, we had a great discussion, we all were able to talk with each other about our own classes and the strategies we use to help boost engagement remotely. We bounced around ideas, alternative activities, and interactive assignments. I was happy to be there!