Friday, October 16, 2009


I found a website that has some nice webquests on it, by the United Kingdom National Portrait Gallery.

I asked my English students to try one of the webquests, in which they had to analyze a Rudyard Kipling “Just So Story” and write their own “Just So Story.”

However, it quickly became evident that the students would not be able to complete this task.  For two reasons.

First of all, they do not have the requisite skills to analyze a story, then write their own story in a similar style. 

Second of all, many of the students are only marginally motivated academically; and when the temptations of the internet are laid before them, they cannot resist surfing away to distracting websites.  I had been so focussed on incorporating the internet in my pedagogy, that I failed to acknowledge that IT can be a double-edged sword.  Access to computers can make students less productive.

So, today, we turned off the computers and went old school.  With me at the helm, modelling the process, we wrote a “Just So Story” together. 

I was worried that the students would be bored and resistant to the lesson, but they were involved, and I think most of them enjoyed it.  One student commented on her blog:

Today's class was really fun. We created a story about a retarded ghetto rhino with braces, horns, a laughing Hyena, and we laughed.

I explained to the students that the process of producing media always involves the same three steps: analyze, personalize, synthesize.

I was a bit anxious before the class started.  My plan was to have no plan.  I just wanted to write a story from scratch, using the students’ ideas as they threw them at me.  I think the students appreciated having the process modelled for them and enjoyed the spontaneity (and authenticity) of the process.  In the future, I plan on doing this again; hopefully, frequently, with other types of media.

It is good for the students to see me modelling the production process and to see me taking risks.  And it is good to spent time away from the computers.

Photo by Trzebiat.


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