Texts from last night

Thinking about my teaching presentation last night, the one thing that bothers me is that I did not do a good job of explaining how the lesson flowed from one activity to another.  I felt that it came across as individual mini-assignments that were loosely based, but not necessarily part of a cohesive whole.  As far as the pre-writing goes, we would have spent a good amount of time discussing the conventions of the comedy genre, and I would have referred back to the list we created during the later discussion, which hopefully would have tied the pre-writing to the story and discussion.  Actual discussion would also not have been as forced, and I would have taken the time to allow for a lot more student input before telling them what was happening and how it fit into the definition of postmodernism. I like to have allow lessons to form organically in each class I teach and this loose approach may have been detrimental to the format of the presentations for 610.  Oh, and I agree with Maggie that following monkey acting activities was not an easy task.

That is just me nitpicking however, and overall, I thought the lesson went fairly well.  You guys were fun to teach to and I wish we time to actually discuss the story, because I think it is fun.  Your evites were all great, good job, and a particular tip of the hat goes out to Alicia and her naked skating.  Thank you for your input last night, and I look forward to reading your comments.

10 thoughts on “Texts from last night

  1. abbie

    You are obviously a natural in front of the classroom — you seemed very at ease and in control of the room. You also seem to have a really good understanding of your students, their abilities, and their interests, which is so important.

    I think your lesson flowed well. And what a fun story to use to talk about something that has the possibility of being dull (genre). I know it probably wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I took it for what it was and enjoyed reading it. I think the e-vite assignment was a great fit, and I’m sure students would really get into it (as into it as Alicia and I? who knows) — and coming up with assignments that students would actually enjoy doing is tough. I also think it’s a neat story to use to start off a discussion on postmodernism.

    Well done; I enjoyed it.

  2. Alicia

    What I thought while watching your lesson was that you are clearly just a great teacher. Without using a lot of the visual aids so many of us had, you still managed to communicate what I felt was a powerful lesson. The story you chose was not one that a person forgets easily, and the Evite assignment was just fun and brilliant. I am totally stealing it from you. Your example was perfect to show what students should strive for in completing the activity.

    Any additional scaffolding on comedy or tone or mood would just add to the lesson. Bravo!

  3. Susan

    I agree that following monkey activities was not an easy task, and also following your comedic story involving a hanging going into a serious hanging protest was somewhat awkward… but so it goes.

    I enjoyed the story you presented and will keep it in mind for when/if I teach undergrad. I agree with your teaching philosophy of having class form organically. If a good discussion is forming, why stop it…

    Because there is no complete ending of what Colby did, you could consider having students write an ending for post-writing.

    All of your activities were appropriate. The list (funny that your students love lists, reminds me of when I coached middle school basketball and all the kids wanted to do was run “suicides”) was a nice transition into what do these details remind you of? Of course, I enjoyed the mock e-vite activity the best, and it served its purpose of mixing genres or two unlikely subjects, playing into mood and tone. This would definitely lead into a nice discussion on absurdity. Nicely done!

  4. Beth

    First of all, I had never before heard of the story you presented, but I thought it was absolutely hysterical. So, thank you for introducing me to a new work of literature! 🙂

    I agree with Abbie that you seem totally at ease in front of a classroom, which is a hard thing to pull off, at least for me. Yes, the presentation did seem like mini-activities in a way, but I don’t think that was a bad thing. I understood how they all fit together, and I think the pre-writing activity would have been especially interesting to really get students thinking about how comedy is oftentimes funny because it *breaks* our expectations (i.e. sending out pretty invitations…for a hanging). Also, the follow-up activity of e-vites was awesome! We not only had fun doing ours, but I felt it really helped me understand the writing process for “Colby,” which leads to a deeper understanding of the text itself and how it is constructed. Does that make sense? I hope I articulated that correctly…In any case, very engaging and thought-provoking lesson! I hope you can get the story approved…it doesn’t seem much darker than a lot of the popular children’s/teen literature out at the moment…

  5. deb56

    Todd, your poise in front of a class is something that can’t be learned. You are a good role model for your students. The story was an ingenious method to teach genre -an ambitious task you handled with aplomb.

  6. Lindsay

    Todd, you are very comfortable in front of a class and I loved the story choice. I like how your lesson was geared towards thinking about genre conventions with this story. I think that prewriting about the comedy genre before giving students the story was definitely a great way to get them to start thinking about the piece and what the author was trying to do with it. I loved to e-vite activity and I think that your students would enjoy it too (if you are ever able to teach this story to them!). Overall, great job!

  7. Tim

    I enjoyed your presentation and I don’t think you neglected us with your explanation of how the lessons flowed. I liked your exercise in writing e-vites; I think it would get kids involved. It was a nice way of getting them thinking about the story. The story you used was great, but I’m not sure if you students would get it right away – I know mine wouldn’t.

    You have a very natural persona in front of the class – I image you get a lot of students interested in literature with your approach. Very laid back, but you said on tweet that you were writing failure letters, so I image you aren’t a push over!

    Great job….


  8. Susanna


    I love that story, and I really enjoyed your presentation! I know you may have struggled to teach that type of story in the past, but now that you can, I am sure your class will really get something out of it. I agree that your teaching demeanor is natural and relaxed, which I’m sure students really like. (The Kodd Telly monster proves that!) And back to the story itself– finding a story that will really force students to consider dark humor as a literary device is priceless! My students often miss that nuance on AP passages, and I can’t wait to share this story with them (next class!)

    I actually saw a lot in common between your story and “The Death of the Right Fielder,” the story on which Lindsay presented. I just shared that with my students, and they loved it, so next I’ll have them read your piece and compare. (Next year, I want to teach both short stories in conjunction with “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing the great material. I also just loved the Evite idea– I’ll be stealing that as well. 🙂

  9. nikki

    I loved the story and thought the e-vite activity was great (and hilarious!). I actually gave the story to one of my students (whose name happens to be Colby) because I knew he’d really enjoy/appreciate it. We had a great conversation about it (several other students got sucked in as well and ended up reading the story too). He totally got the contrast of the wedding imagery with an execution. (I believe his exact words were “I think that’s called juxtaposition, right?”) Gotta love when the kids actually GET it, and I think your lesson sets them up to do just that. Nicely done.
    I’m going to stop writing now because the power in the school has just gone out once again. Our tax dollars at work…

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