I’ve moved my teaching post up from Wednesday this week as I may not get to it tomorrow. I’m continuing my discussion of three different courses I taught that connect to each other.
One thing I’ll note right off is that when I taught ENG 113 and 131 in person it was for a Spring semester that started late due to weather. This was probably a good thing as, at the time, I had a hard time planning the first week of classes. Part of this was due to drop/add so you never knew who was really staying in your class, but also because I didn’t want to just do busy work for a week. Drop/add time was shortened later on which help, and I also found better ways to spend the first week.
The plan was to intro the class for one week, and to then spend four weeks on fiction. Since we had the delay I went over the syllabus, and then dove straight into the course work. The first week was to discuss why we write fiction. I asked them to look for where they encounter stories around them. This included sharing author interviews in print and on video before moving in to the specifics about plot. The book we were using contained fables, parables, and fairy tales along with other types of stories. These types of fiction pieces were well received.
This is the same basic plan I had for both classes. My night class would cover it in two class periods, and my day class would have three days to cover the material. My night class knew they had a short paper due on fiction by week four. My day class knew they to present before the end of week 4 if they were presenting on fiction and they had to turn in their creative fiction by then if that was their creative project. What I would be grading for these students was slightly different, but the overall discussions and all should have been the same.
They, as you might have guessed, were not.
My night class didn’t come prepared. They had not read the material. My day class, if they were unprepared, faked it better. My night class was in a computer classroom so I set up discussion boards and we tried discussing the works that way instead of face to face. This actually worked! It allowed me to transition them to talking face to face later in the course. They were more willing to type and discuss a story than to do so verbally. I decided that the night class would have discussions on Monday, and then Wednesdays would be for writing. I would give them plenty of time in class to work on their essays for each unit. My day class fared better, and were much more talkative. I found this interactive video later, and used it in a composition class, but I’d like to use it again to discuss story and narrative.
How did this experience effect how I presented ENG-113 once I taught it online? Their first week involved a getting to know you discussion board (like in class introductions, and also helps students get used to the online format), and they also had to select a literary term to write about. I used a wiki for this. The first week they just had to pick the term. The second week they had to update the wiki with their definition and examples on the term. This could be pretty short, as low as about 250 words, but needed to be properly formatting in MLA. This let them practice with the online class, practice the MLA formatting they should have learned in ENG-111 (comp 1), and introduced them to the idea of literary terms which I discovered when teaching 113 and 131 wasn’t a given.
This is just the start of what took away from teaching these supposedly similar courses. Next time I’ll dig into the rest of the fiction course work, and see if we can switch over to another genre.