T Sale's Blog

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I don’t really have any earthshaking revelations or insights this week, but I wanted to note a couple of modifications I’ve made due to some reflection and trial-and-error.

When I started my English 10 classes on blogging this year, I gave them a couple of ongoing assignments – three, actually. One was to write weekly about their independent reading (SSR) books, just a 5 minute writing in response to some prompts I provided. The second was to do 4 ten-minute freewritings on a variety of topics (which, again, I provided, and if that doesn’t sound constructivist, my experience is that sophomores benefit from topic suggestions; they still get to choose from over 40 prompts). The third assignment was to do a weekly vocab word on our class blog. The vocab assignment worked fine, but I didn’t have them do enough with it. They generated 24 words every week (and to the students’ credit, they were good words), but the list just sat there. Now, I’m having one third of the students provide words, and we’re going to use that list each week as our list to study. The freewritings (they finished 2 of them) were adequate, but not very exciting, and the SSR responses – well, they were writing weekly, but they were writing weakly; they just repeatedly wrote brief summaries of the books they were reading. These last two blogging assignments just didn’t interest the students very much, and they bored me to death. So, we scrapped those assignments. For now, the class is divided into thirds. Each week, one third of the class does the vocab word, and another third of the class does a Reading Response. In the reading response, they just reflect on all the reading they’ve done in the past 3 weeks, from all their classes and from their own independent reading, commenting on what grabbed their interest and what was worthwhile for them. I’m hoping this will serve as a meta-cognitive avenue to some deeper thinking. The final third of the class gets the week off from blogging. Then, every week the groups rotate. These are just the ongoing assignments; we’re still using the blog for occasional on-line discussions. Not only with blogs, but also with traditional written assignments, I’m striving to have fewer assignments and make each one more meaningful.


  • At Fri Oct 13, 08:51:00 PM 2006, Blogger Karl Fisch said…

    Sounds like some good modifications.

    Do you think it would be beneficial to not only provide them with "over 40 prompts," but also allow them to write to their own prompt if inspiration strikes them? That could possibly be the best of both worlds - they aren't floundering for a prompt, yet if something has really gotten them fired up they can go with it. Just thinking out loud . . .


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