9.12.11

analysis of a blog

My grade 11 Language and Literature class are doing online language, so it's time to analyze a blog as a text.

I had already given students a guide to looking at nonfiction texts and a way of breaking down cultural context, and we reviewed the basic method of analysis:
I went on blogger.com, started hitting the 'next blog' button, and found this:


LLYMLRS fit my needs perfectly: it's personal and definitely about creating community. I printed the post and the first 10 comments and gave it to students with the following guiding questions:

  • What features of the post strike you as being significant? Of those, which can you describe in terms of our techniques?
  • How does Lily, the author of the post, present her identity in terms of social class and sophistication?
  • On LLYMLRS, you need to have a real identity to make a comment, and even then the comment will go to moderation the first time you comment. How does that affect the cyberculture of the site's community, and how is that reflected in the comments?
  • How can we see the nonstandard English in terms of identity and community rather than judgement?
  • What is the purpose of the post and the blog more generally? What details support that?
  • How would you describe the tone of the post, and why is that significant?
  • How does the post reflect the advertising value of the post and downplay it at the same time?
I have to say that this went smashingly well. At first they were highly judgmental about the language errors and the tone, but once they applied the stuff we had done about language and identity, prescriptivism vs. descriptivism and syntax/diction analysis, they were able to articulate interesting and thoughtful analysis of the post.

I did a 'What I know/think/wonder' exercise on the way out, and one student wrote, 'I think that I can't read anything anymore without thinking about how the language works.' Music to my ears.

7.12.11

learning stations in high school

So I'm taking the bus home with my sons, both in first grade, and they're telling me about how they have stations in their classroom, and they rotate between different activities, or sometimes the activities rotate to them. And I started thinking how great this setup would be in an upper school classroom as well, and I ask a lot of questions about how it works.

At the same time, I notice something with my IB Diploma Language and Literature class (grade 11). I had spent 2-3 class sessions presenting information to them as we had a lot of material to move through. However, when they do their orals, they clearly do research on their own, more or less ignoring what I had presented.

So today I need to get through a lot of information about Online Language, so I think, why not do stations? I quickly put together a Google doc identifying four different sets of texts and accompanying questions, get them all devices from which to watch and read, put them in groups and get them started.

I set the time of the rotation at fifteen minutes, but adjust it to twenty to encourage discussion. Also, during the first station, I decide that I want them to rotate not as a group, but to change groups each time. There are only 12 students, and I use a spreadsheet to quickly set up twelve different patterns of moving between A, B, C & D. I print them and handed them out. That works great.


Generally, I really like how the stations worked. I gave the background information to the students so they could move through it, getting what they needed but having the freedom to focus on it as they wished. The conversations in the groups was less than I would have hoped, but they did ask each other questions for clarification rather than asking me first. And again, the amount of collaboration was their choice.

I will definitely do this again, but perhaps try to design activities that forces them to be more collaborative. Keeping them in the same groups for the entire time might encourage that as well, but I really like the concept of speed-collaboration that I set up here. But I can also see the potential of having smaller tasks done more rapidly.

2.12.11

diigo as textbook



First of all, I have not posted in months because I've been mad busy, with work and family and other projects. I'm back on form and want to blog about some of the stuff that I'm doing.

'emacs and textbooks' bpink_fish13

I haven't taught out of a textbook for years, and I haven't missed it. Sure, I was a little lost when I first arrived at an international school and looked for a literature collection from which to teach, but I've never really looked back, in English nor the other courses I've taught, including history. (I taught a class I called Global Civics a few years ago, and I taught almost exclusively from The World Factbook.)

This year, I'm teaching two IB Diploma classes for which I am not currently using any text at all, including novels: English Language and Literature and Information Technology in a Global Society. (In the past, ITGS teachers bought up GCSE IT books, but we never use them.) I spend about 1/3 of my prep time looking for resources and texts for these courses. I needed a way to quickly amass resources online and make them available to my students, both in class and at home. I started the year making the link lists manually on Moodle, but it was slow and involved too many steps.

I had been using diigo for years for myself, but I had never explored the lists options, always using tags to organize my links. I opened a new account and started making lists for each unit in each class which I then link on the Moodle page; I use it for myself as a place to find things, but I can also share those resources easily with students, parents and colleagues. It works very well.

I've shown off the highlighting features for my students, and a few use it, especially my ITGS students. The next step is also to have students start up their own and share links with the community, but at this point just using it as a resource dump in place of a expensive and quickly out of date text works quite well.

Anyhow, here are my lists.