So here's the latest on my #TotalColearner experience: Week 3 is over now, and it worked out great. Just like many of my students I suspect, I took advantage of the Labor Day holiday to get ahead, and I did my reading and storytelling assignments on Monday. I seriously love the story I created, which is a chain tale riff on the Garden of Eden, combining the Biblical account with a Jewish legend (also found in the Muslim world) about Adam and Eve and Samael.
Who's to Blame in the Garden of Eden?
It was really helpful for me to write this story; before, my impulse would be to do the bibliographical/scholarly work: find Ginzberg's sources, bringing in the Islamic evidence that I know from a book by James Kugel, etc. etc. -- all that stuff which I am very good at and which is also useful... but which is not the same as storytelling, for which there are no rules and you really have to approach everything with a sense of THE NEW. Anyway, I really like how it turned out, and I am going to end up with such a cool Portfolio of stories this semester, yay! The two stories I wrote already are good enough to go into a Portfolio, so I might try something even weirder for this coming week, knowing the experiment might fail, but since I have two good stories already, I might as well indulge some strange storytelling impulse this week just to see what happens (I'm thinking of sending Psyche on a chain-of-requests instead of the usual task list she has in Apuleius).
I also got my first comments from students at my blog, and it's working out great I think; one of them said something funny about me participating in the class that made me laugh:
Hi again Laura, I don't think its weird you are participating in the class - I think its great! It reminds me of how PE teachers or coaches never participated in the activities they made us do in middle school, and I was always so annoyed because it seemed they forgot how hard the work is sometimes.
That is exactly why I am hoping to make myself more aware of by participating in the class like a student.
I also really enjoyed using the randomizer just like the students do to leave comments on people's blogs this week. The blog comments are short and fun, different from the detailed feedback that I is my standard way of interacting with students, so I think it is going to be not just fun but also potentially useful to be interacting with them at their blogs this way, as a student, in addition to my teacherly interactions with them.
Having my blog for the class is also super-useful. I geeked out with Blogger tips this weekend because I was tooling up my blog and thought the students might like some of the things I was doing. Being more motivated to find time to create new Tech Tips was one of my goals for this being-a-student project, and it's definitely working out that way too.
Basically I'm kicking myself for not having done this all along: it is not that much time (for my students, the class is 5-6 hours per week, but the assignments are quicker for me since I already have most of the skills that the assignments are teaching), and it just feels so good to be doing this. I am really glad that I picked the bigger class (the one with appx. 60 students) so that my presence is not going to be domineering in any way, and then in Spring, when I have the big Indian Epics class, I can "enroll" in that class.
So far so good!!!
I also have to add that it is really cool to be a student in Kristin Lundstrum's reading group / class for Michael Bonner's book and seeing how she runs the Canvas space. I am going to learn so much from that experience too!
So, here are my three takeaways for this week:
1. Blog comment limitations. Interacting at the blogs is fun, but the lack of real conversational back-and-forth at a blog is a problem, and I'm feeling that same problem as the students do too I think. So, having this experience myself as part of the class will maybe help me think of some good solutions we could try next semester.
2. I seriously love writing stories. I know I said that last time after writing my first story, and the second story this week gave me the same feeling. And I just have not been good at finding the time to do that; now I will be finding time for that every week, and with that practice I will also be getting better at it.
3. Better late than never! I am really regretting not having done this all along; I lost out on a lot of learning opportunities by not having done this consistently all along. I was wrong that I didn't have time for it (it's really not that much time), and I was wrong that the students might find it too weird; so far, they don't find it weird at all. And I am having so much fun!
A screenshot of my class blog with my new widgets and such: