The first full week of classes witnessed lots of writing for a variety of purposes. Blogging, tweeting, and more traditional writing were all in play, the latter in particular used for expressing areas of interest and relating personal histories of writing. Each form, though, acted as a precursor of discussion and a reminder of purpose.
Both #111cr and #252ac are structured toward course goals and students' interests, toward university learning outcomes and our own more particular curiosities. I'm here to help students fulfill both, but I also want students to learn to look to each other. As the semester stretches out and we go along together, it is my hope that we will come to rely on each other, to keep our ears and eyes out for interesting items related to our relative areas of expectation and interest. This is but one of the many reasons for the varied forms of writing required and performed so far.
We write for ourselves, but we should also come to write for each other. A student's written work is important and deserves to be seen and recognized by others in the class and even beyond the boundary of the course. I know that I'm more interested in coming to know what students find and know to be important than whatever I might have to say to or write for them.
This leads us toward discussion of both the past week and the week to come. In #111cr, students cut and revised their writing from 750 words to 140 characters. I not only wanted to know more about what they wanted to know (hence, a 750-word piece prompted by "What do you want to learn?"), but I also wanted to get them thinking about the different kinds of writing they do and why. That many were able to pare down their work and maintain meaning even in 140 characters or less leads me to think Twitter use might be sustained for the entire semester.
Students in #111cr also received overviews of Microsoft Word and online resources related to citation styles via the first student-led facilitation of the semester. Two more such facilitations are scheduled for next week. In asking students to led a class session on something of importance to college-level writing, I seek to accomplish at least two things: (1) provide students the opportunity to more directly fulfill their own expectations about the course and (2) help students learn from one another. Again, this relates to what I wrote above about coming to rely on each other instead of just the instructor.
There's already plenty of evidence of this in #252ac as I mediated students' discussion of their lives with writing and opinions on troublesome aspects of today's communication styles. It remains a bit jarring, though, how many took to raising their hands before speaking. Such an act is more polite than interrupting, but I'm unaccustomed to keeping track of whose hand was raised first. Many students still tried to make eye contact with me while they spoke, even though the rest of the class showed just as much interest in their words.
Students in #252ac also continue their work with the Media Representations of Writing (MRW) assignment. This is most evident so far on their blogs and on Twitter, but that changes next week with the pecha kucha presentations scheduled for next week. Having students talk about their ideas and observations of how various media portray writers and writing gives us all a chance to learn what we think. Many appeared nervous as I talked about the pecha kucha style of presenting and later performed a live example. I trust that nervousness to dissipate with preparation.