Why, yes, I am a model

Profs have a habit of asking students “do this, do that” but not modeling that doing at all.

We say “write an essay” or “create a thesis”. Then we tell them how to do it, with lengthy instructions, written and verbal. Often it isn’t till I get to “construct an analytical theme, everyone” that anyone says, “Lisa, could you do one for us? show us what one looks like?”

I’m more careful to model now, having thought about this for several years. It’s easy in an on-site class. These days I occasionally sit at the overhead projector, modeling how to gloss a document or construct a thesis, with the students helping me. Online classes are a bit different, since my discussions aren’t synchronous.

In my online discussion forums, which I’ve changed to an exercise where they construct a collection of sources and then construct a thesis, I have begun modeling as part of my mid-week post for the first time. I ask everyone to use three of the sources their colleagues have posted at the beginning of the week, and create a historical thesis, using those sources as support. But instead of just pointing to my tutorial on creating a historical thesis (I do that too), I also say something like:

Here’s an example. I’m looking at my quotation from Rousseau’s Emile, the painting posted by Abegail (I’d cite the title if I knew it!), and Jardins de la Reine posted by Sarah P, and I create this thesis:

“Middle-class society in the 18th century seemed concerned for the environment and education of children.”
1. Rousseau’s Emile shows an educational philosophy based on the child’s interests.
2. The painting posted by Abegail shows healthy, well-tended children as part of a family portrait.
3. Jardins de la Reine shows children having fun in the outdoors.

I’ve done this in each class for the first several weeks, using three sources that they’ve posted. It’s helped, I think. The theses I’m getting are much more thought out and interesting than in the pasts.

Yes, indeed, modeling is a good career.

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