Feedback please!

First of all, I want to thank all of you for actively participating in my presentation activities tonight. I realize that by the end of class everyone is tired and wants to go home, so your enthusiasm was much appreciated and really helped me to conquer my nerves.

Now, I’m going to ask some specific questions that I hope you will answer in order for me to learn as much as possible from this experience.

1) Pre-writing activity – When planning this lesson, I had mulled over the idea of assigning students a pre-writing activity before giving them the story to read. The idea I had was to ask students to create a pamphlet, telling them that it would need to be something that they felt could make a positive difference in people’s lives. The purpose of this would be to have them approach the story with an understanding of just how difficult that task would be. Hopefully it would help them identify with the narrator and her struggles. However, I wasn’t sure if this activity would be age-appropriate for college students. Would it? If not, do you have any other pre-writing activities I could use with this story?

2) I posted six prompting questions to generate responses (3 for each part of the story), can you think of any that would have been more productive?

3) What did you think of the technique of breaking the story up into two sections? Did it help with your understanding of the text?

4) Timing – I planned two days for this text and the activities. Is that enough time? Too much?

5) Choice of Text – Do you think “The Pamphleteer” is an effective story for achieving the three objectives I had? For a refresher, those objectives were:

  • to practice literary interpretation through written reflection and group discussion
  • to establish a classroom environment that fosters group discussion and collaborative learning, and
  • to evaluate my students’ critical reading and interpretation skills.

6) Written assignments – Were they okay? Do you have any other suggestions?

If you have something to say about anything not covered in the above questions, please say it. I am impressed with the amount of practical knowledge and experience you all have and look forward to hearing your ideas/comments/criticisms.

8 thoughts on “Feedback please!

  1. nikki

    1) I think a pre-writing pamphlet assignment would be both fun and useful–especially if it was an in-class assignment to get the creative juices flowing. I don’t teach college students, so I can’t say for sure whether it would be age appropriate, but I think it would probably depend more on class dynamics than actual age.

    3) I LOVED having the story split into two parts! It increased my curiosity about the ending, and when I read what actually happened, I had a vested interest in seeing whether my predictions came true. (They did not!) What a great way to pull students into the text and encourage them to care about (and pay attention to) what happens.

    5) Yes, I think you chose a great story to establish your classroom climate. That’s an aspect of good teaching that is often overlooked. In fact, it hadn’t ever occurred to me to use a piece of literature to help establish my learning environment, but I really like the idea. When you mentioned that as one of your objectives, I thought about what your students might think of you or your class as a result of the lesson/story: you are open to new/different ideas; your class won’t be boring; you won’t make them read the same old stories; you are creative; you are laid back; you let students talk with each other; you don’t tell students there is a right/wrong answer. If those are things you’re going for, I think you did very well accomplishing them!

  2. afaye

    Your story choice was fantastic! It was a perfect match for your objectives and your objectives are a great foundation to your semester. I’m not sure splitting a text would work with every piece, but I think Mr. Elbow created that technique specifically for “The Pamphleteer” for real. I had such fun engaging what her next step would be in her quirky world of communication. I think this is a great activity to hit-home with the interpretation hypothesis idea Blau emphasizes. Your writing assignments are a hit, too. I wish I could give you some advice on timing, but as a not-yet myself the issue seems so out of my hands. However, you had such an awesome teaching style I think you could handle some on-the-spot time shifts if you needed. Really, you are an approachable, fun source of energy and it was great to be your student. I think you have a very good starting unit and very good starting your class off on the right foot objectives.

  3. esadler

    I very much enjoyed the story; it was different, and I think, a great way to set the tone of a classroom! I do not teach college students, but I was a college student only about three years ago, so from that perspective, I think the writing assignment would be awesome! It would be a fun way to get students to be creative and generate excitement about the course. I also think it would get them thinking about their own “interpretations” of life, which is essentially what interpreting literature prepares them for. I had a professor give an assignment where we had to sum up a “life philosophy” in one sentence. It was challenging, but really interesting to think about, so I think your assignment would be along the same vein, and just as intriguing!

    Your prompted questions were great! They really got me thinking, especially when I wasn’t sure what to write about. They really helped me synthesize the text.

    I am essentially ambivalent about the “splitting the text” thing, but I think that’s part of my abstract nature. Not knowing the end didn’t torment me, but finding out the end in class was an interesting experience–discovering the ending at the same time as the rest of the class. I think either technique would work, depending on your students.

    I also thought your timing seemed right-on for a college-level intro to lit course. I think two class periods in college would be enough time to set your classroom tone and cover this story.

    I think you met and exceeded your objectives.

    Overall, I was really sucked in by your presentation. You were engaging, and the time went by really quickly. Also, I had never read that story before, but I very much enjoyed it. Some people aren’t “poetry” people–I’m not really a “short story” person, but this short story really surprised and intrigued me, so excellent choice! Great job!

  4. Alicia

    I’m going to start by admitting that I didn’t like the story when I first read it. I knew it was supposed to be funny, but I thought it was so odd and I came away with “okaaaay….this story is just not for me, I guess.” HOWEVER…

    (Make an inference as to how the post will continue. What will she say to turn this into a positive comment? How will she redeem herself?)

    when we went through your well-conceived activities, I found my opinions about the story changed quite a lot, and I think that’s a compliment to you. I liked the division of the story (not at first, but after!) I can’t say I would have ever guessed the end, but it’s weirdness contributed to the discussion about what the heck this woman was seeking and why she would imagine such a thing as the Pony Express. Very useful.

    I also like the idea of a pamphlet before the exercise. What a GREAT way to get students to consider their own desires when making a pamphlet. Also, I think students usually enjoy a creative project that isn’t just a paper or a writing assignment in the traditional sense.

    You’ve got it goin’ on, woman. You’re going to do a wonderful job!

  5. adalton4

    I thought having the story in two parts worked really well! It really allowed us to focus in on the changing mood of each section and gave us time to think about the actions of the speaker and her personality before going on to learn more about her in the 2nd section.

    I think your lesson definitely addressed all of your goals. Good job!

  6. Lindsay

    Like everyone else, I think that splitting the story in two parts worked so well for this story…and I loved the story choice! As you said in your presentation, I think the story choice is an accessible way to get “non-literature” students to think about literature. The pre-writing activity you mentioned sounds really great. I know when I was reading the story, it got me thinking about what kind of message I would put on a pamphlet if I were to make one. I think that assignment would get your students involved with the story and they would have fun being creative. Also, your guiding questions were helpful–especially for those “non-literature” students who may never have been taught how to analyze literature before. Great job! I really enjoyed your lesson!

  7. Ashley

    I enjoyed the Pamphleteer. I thought it was so different and interesting. I enjoyed her tone/voice. I also like what you did with the end. I would have liked to discuss more of it though. (I know you only had 30 mins!)

  8. Susan

    I liked your choice of the Pamphleteer.

    1) Students may benefit from a pre-writing activity and I like your idea, although it seems like it may be more of a project? I think it’s age level appropriate and what makes the difference for college students is that they might put forth ideas into the writing that you wouldn’t get from high school students. You may also want to just consider having the students write about a pamphlet they have come across or someone passing out pamphlets. Did the students read the pamplet, did they agree with it, etc.?

    2) The prompt questions were appropriate and effective. Sorry, I forget if this was one of prompts 4-6 so forgive me if you included this because I know it came up in the discussion, but I would want to see more prompts that have to do with the ending of the story, and who the letter is given to. Perhaps ask students to back up their answers through the text (Scholes style).

    3) I think it was a cool, new perspective to have the story broken up. It seemed almost easier to digest in smaller chunks too.

    4) I’m not sure because I have not taught a class yet; however, I think in college you have the flexibility of continuing on with whatever you left off with from the previous class (although you don’t want to build up too much overlap).

    5) I think your objectives were met through what you taught and presented that we did not have time to get to.

    6) I think the writing assignments were appropriate, and it was nice that you provided the students with choice.

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