Monday, November 20, 2006

The Lights Are on AND There's Somebody Home

This is just a little post about a little topic. One challenge I've always faced in American Literature is how to teach the literary movements. In the past I've given overviews and short letters and had the students search for elements of these movements in their reading. This year they performed independent studies in which they figured out Romanticism for themselves and then used Photostory to present their discoveries. As they watched each other's Photostories, they created their own definitions of Romanticism by taking notes on the Photostories' themes. When we finished, they kept their notes out and read a Rationalist piece by Ben Franklin. I asked them to keep sticky notes on the differences between Franklin's piece and Romanticism, and then we created a Romanticism v. Rationalism t-chart on the board. I was blown away by what they were able to come up with in just five minutes; it far exceeded every lecture, overhead, and worksheet I'd given in the past. Instead of moving from whole to part, we moved from whole to part and back to whole again. I know that this constructivist business is old news by now, but I get so caught up sometimes in the technology that I forget that it's the little changes that sometimes make the difference.