Trying out blogging in the classroom has been a fun experiment. This third year has been my best year. I think the reasons were: The topic was focused, and most entries were directed on a neighbourhood – meaning students were reading each others work with far greater interest (the entries were not random). Therefore, engagement with each other went up.
Also, because they were blogging regularly on the same topic (as most blogs are), they were able to develop some confidence with their writer’s voice. I enjoyed reading them–because I got some inside scoop to their frustration and also their interests. It was a good gauge for me.
The blogs were worth ten percent and writing style, use of original photos, analysis, research and inclusion of additional links were the criteria used to grade. As well, students were given peer evaluation forms to use as a basis to further discuss and assist each other’s process.
Yesterday I spoke with a group of folks at my university about using tech tools like blogs and wikis in the classroom. It was an interesting experience and reminded me how much we need to share ideas in this new emerging genre and field.
Below are the the directed blog assignments I sent my students. I did not give them these all at once but posted them weekly on blackboard. As you see, the topics increase in difficulty. To see their reactions to these questions, go to: http://www.diverscite.blogspot.com.
I’ve also posted one of the topic questions I used for my class last year. The class was 170 students and I created this assignment based on feedback from my TA’s and students. I used the internal university system, Roller.
There seemed to be some interest in the ideas of wiki’s as well (I use pbwiki.com)
Below are the blog assignments from week three to week 12:
Assistant Professor: Vinita Srivastava (firstname.lastname@example.org
A Word on the Blog:
You will be expected to post at least one entry per week during the term and may not make up for missed entries by making multiple posts in one week, though you are encouraged to post as often as you like.
You are asked to express your opinions (whatever they will be) but will be expected to be intelligent and respectful about both the approach to and the crafting of your posts. (Subject matter, language, and tone.)
You will not be expected to reply to every comment that your posts might receive, but you will need to monitor them for SPAM and delete as necessary. If you choose to respond to comments, you should do so in a courteous and professional manner.
All entries “published” will be immediately made live and public.
This is a pilot project and, as such, I will be looking to you for feedback (both positive and negative) about the process. You are welcome and encouraged to share your opinions.
Blog Topic One:
Wandering through the local: what do you notice and observe?
Depict or Describe Images of the Future in Regent Park
Past, Present, Future
http://www.crpmuseum.com/exh-mackenziehouse.htm The museum curator, Carol Moore-Ede has said she is available for interviews with students. They should contact her at: email@example.com 3. Visit the following installation and provide a critical and informative review. The National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence program presents the Street Health Stories installation which gives a human face and voice to Street Health’s statistics. Four photographers who have experienced homelessness — Adrienne, Jess, Keneisha, and Meghan — document the stories of 28 homeless men and women through audio recordings and portrait-photography. The exhibit presents eight Street Health Stories in large lightbox prints with headphones.
1.Go see Mary Ellen Mark (info below) and record your impressions. How might her approach to her work inform your Regent Park feature?
2. Go to the World Press Photos Exhibition (03 October 2007 – 24 October 2007)
Find the photo that affects you the most. Describe it. List the details (photographer, prize category). Analyze it. Explain why it might have this impact on you and on the judges. Can you get a copy to share on the blog? Can you include some additional information? Do not forget to mention where you saw the exhibit and what the scene was like at the show.
Public/Collective Memory 1. Monuments remind and warn. For example, WW II monuments line University Avenue: Whose memory are they honouring? Is this considered a public memory? Whose history might be missing?
Monuments speak to the future and the past. Discuss this play between past and future, opening dialogues about what society chooses to remember or forget, and what underlying values and ideologies are embedded in these markers of ‘public memory.’ Contemporary political events have weighed heavily upon the need for public monuments to form a bridge between individual lives and larger institutional values. However, if we look at monuments in a broader sense, monuments can be anything and can be determined by a community–outside of official institutional decisions. Eg. a Rest in Peace graffiti in an inner city neighbourhood might be seen as something that evokes ‘public memory’ of a shooting. What do monuments say about public or institutional values? What do monuments say about specific neighbourhoods? Find a public monument in Regent Park and discuss. Or write about the absence of a public monument and discuss.
Eg. “One in a Million” by J. Asselin on your diverscite blog
3. Write a poem about Regent Park.
Telling Stories—Visual language
The Story behind the story