Kristin Lundstrum had a great post earlier this week about what it means to have favorites: Favorites. The way that theme of favorites plays out for me is that every semester I have favorites among my students' projects. Without fail, semester after semester, there are a few projects that just totally grab me, and it's always fun at the beginning of each semester to see those projects take shape, week by week.
And yes, since I am teaching online and never meet my students f2f, the main way I get to know the students each semester is by commenting each week on their projects in great detail. Most students have never received sentence-level feedback on their writing, so that is what I provide, and I spend usually about 20-30 hours per week doing that, sometimes more in a really busy week. As a result, I get to know their projects very well, and that is how I remember the students: through their projects and through our back-and-forth interactions about them. You can see this semester's projects in my classes here:
Having taught this way for over 10 years, I am a total believer in the power of creativity and the ability that every student has to create beautiful stories that would never have come into existence otherwise. So in my classes the goal is for students to feel motivated and confident to create those stories and then to share them with others in the class. There are no quizzes, there are no exams... there are just stories. And lots of them! Fabulous creativity unleashed semester after semester after semester.
That means the end of the semester is an exciting time because some of the Storybook projects build up to a really dramatic conclusion, and this morning I got to read the conclusion of one of my favorite projects this semester... and it was such a WOW moment! I had fallen in love with this imagined world and its characters from the very start, feeling the same depth of connection that I feel when reading a really good novel. Now, this student is a professional writing major, so in all kinds of ways she was better prepared than other students not just to come up with a fantastic idea but also to have the skills needed to really develop her idea fully. So, just technically speaking, this is an exceptional project... but totally aside from its technical virtuosity, I fell in love with it because there are so many elements that I personally connect with. It's the kind of fiction I read when I am choosing books for myself, and it is now my great hope that she might return to this project at some point in the future and turn it into a novel. It is exactly the kind of novel I would read!
So, I wanted to share this project here: if you are a time-travel or fantasy or magic fan, you might enjoy reading it, and even if that is not your style, you can still get a sense of the power of student creation by looking at what this student has done. So, here's a link... Of Monsters and Myths
And here's a screenshot of the final chapter; the project follows a seasonal theme and winter is the last one... and like I said: WOW. The whole thing is about 5000 words (each story/chapter has a max limit of 1000 words), and I am so impressed at what she was able to do within those limits. :-)
And now I will get back to work; there are still lots more stories for me to read today! :-)