Last Friday, Patrick and I went to see Dr. Kelly Schrum from George Mason’s Center for History and New Media speak about Digital Education and History. She showed us how she uses some tools by actually making us use them in her presentation. It was fun and
I had a great day teaching yesterday. It was a surprise, because I had been feeling pretty under prepared. I taught a letter from Lydia Maria Child and part of Thoreau’s Walden. We did a long time on Thoreau and how he uses his philosophy to comment on social justice issues of his time. When we switched to Child, I emphasized that she was a spectator at this trial of a woman who had been accused of attempted murder of the man who had seduced her. I asked them to pretend that they were Child and to “live tweet” the trial. They got really excited, so much so, that I decided to bring up twitter and assign them a hashtag they could actually use. I’m not sure that they learned as much from the activity as I would have liked, but they sure did have a good time. Many were still talking about it outside the classroom when they left. And that result, I’ll take!
In my second class–American Multicultural Literature–we had finished reading a Lucha Corpi mystery novel for class. One student had asked last week if we could do a list of characters to start with, so I took that idea and had my students brainstorm all the important characters they could think of. Then we assessed the symbolic meaning of the characters. Then I divided them into groups and asked them to make a character map reflecting the issues in the text. I gave each group four markers or colored pencils. In this activity, I tried something that I don’t often try, in that I made them separate into who had finished the novel and who hadn’t so that the ones who had finished weren’t expected to brief the others on the characters and plot. That worked so well! I heard a student in the finished group say, “This is the best class session ever!” Their maps were very cool, and in a related bit of technology, I used the Elmo document camera to project their finished maps on the screen.
It was a good reminder to me to try lots of new things in the classroom. Gotta shake it up!