microblogging with students

My teacher's blogThis is my eighth year to teach a writing class. Each year I thing I change something about my approach.

One of the things I love to include in my writing class is some kind of journal or reflection or discussion. I want them writing on a regular basis something that is not “academic” in addition to the academic essay they are working on drafting and revising.

A couple of times I did handwritten dialogue journals back and forth with my students. Another year I did an online discussion board where the students discussed topics among themselves. I’ve also tried giving a list of prompts and just having students write each week the answer to which ever question grabbed them.

But, this year, I think I’ve stumbled upon the jackpot. I had them all set up microblogs on typepad.

Each week I post a video from youtube, and their task is to summarize the video in less than three sentences and then respond to the video somehow.  Typeapad makes this really easy for them with their built-in “reblog” feature. I told them to aim for at least 150 words with each microblog.

I gave them a list of possible ways they could “respond”:
  • How does the video make you feel?  Why?
  • What do you think is the main message of the video?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the main message of the video?
  • How can you apply the main message of the video to your own life?
  • Think aloud about what the video makes you think about.
  • Reflect on the video and what it means to you.
  • Write a short story inspired by the video.
  • If you were in the video, who would you want to be?
  • If you can talk to someone in the video, what would you say or ask?
  • If you could change something about the video, what would you change?
  • Write a poem.
  • Describe what the next video in this series would be.
  • Write a song.
  • Write an academic style paragraph.
  • and MORE . . . . . .
So far, I’ve shown them:
My goal is to show them videos that are either creative or thought-provoking or inspiring.  I have a few more in the reserves, and I’ve also required each student to recommend one video that they think their classmates would enjoy responding to. (If you have a suggestion of a video they might like writing about, I’ll gladly take it.)

So far, I’ve been so pleased with the depth of the responses I’ve been getting from my students, and the quality of their summaries (a skill they must have) has improved in just a few weeks.  And, a great part is that I think they are really enjoying this assignment.

I am really excited when students enjoy learning!

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