Trying Something Less Controlling

Just tonight, frantic that I hadn’t gone in yet to do all the discussion summaries I began doing over a year ago, it occurred to me that the students should do them.

I have been modeling and demonstrating (which is my job, I learned from Stephen Downes’ paper of 2006 in the crazy class I’m taking) for six weeks. Every week I’ve summarized the discussion, citing the students’ posts, noting their contributions, and suggesting leading analytical questions based on what they discussed (and didn’t discuss).

So tonight in the two classes which have the most active, intellectual, creative forum posts, I wrote instead:

We have several excellent threads, or topics, going here.

For the last several weeks, I have come in and summarized at this point, then presented some further leading questions.

This week, I’d like to have you do that.

Choose one topic/thread, and summarize that thread only (if the thread you want has been taken already, reply to that person’s post to add your input — please don’t repeat information). Use quotations and cite each other’s posts, as well as your sources from the class as needed. See whether we can develop a thesis (a statement with a point of view) for each topic area.

This is a really good class and I think you can do it! 🙂

Something feels really right about this, though of course I can’t predict whether it will work. I have been seeking places in these classes where I can turn more control over to the students. I have not had the opportunity to provide as many different options for earning points as I would like, and this technique would make it necessary for students to read the work of their colleagues and comment, rather like a blog, instead of just responding to my prompt. We’ll see how it goes…

2 comments to Trying Something Less Controlling

  • Laura

    I am eager to find out how this works! I might try it next semester, too. I like how you told the class how great they are doing and why they can do what you modeled for them. Thank you for sharing this idea.

  • Jen

    Great blog. I have my student write an initial post on whatever is going on, then they have to reply to a certain number of classmates, and then they have to post a “close-the-loop” message that summarizes the discussion that has been created from the thread of their initial post. The students who read directions do well on this. Next semester, I will try to figure out how to take full advantage of those “close-th-loop” messages. It’s an awful waste if only the initiator reads ’em, you know.

    Keep up the great work,
    Jen

2 comments to Trying Something Less Controlling

  • Laura

    I am eager to find out how this works! I might try it next semester, too. I like how you told the class how great they are doing and why they can do what you modeled for them. Thank you for sharing this idea.

  • Jen

    Great blog. I have my student write an initial post on whatever is going on, then they have to reply to a certain number of classmates, and then they have to post a “close-the-loop” message that summarizes the discussion that has been created from the thread of their initial post. The students who read directions do well on this. Next semester, I will try to figure out how to take full advantage of those “close-th-loop” messages. It’s an awful waste if only the initiator reads ’em, you know.

    Keep up the great work,
    Jen