Put your money where your mouth is

Stepping it up this week a bit in the ‘modelling-best-practice’ stakes…

It occured to me that as I am advocating the importance of studying texts and their traditions to…well basically, the development of human society as we know it, that I’m not doing enough of this in my own university classes.

Last week I got a real buzz relating the theoretical material in this unit to contemporary texts and practices, namely to the story of Terminator II and to the ‘Pirates vs Ninjas’ meme.  So this week I am using another text as a way to relate to theory, this time going into even more depth.

I have chosen the film Pleasantville.  I am going to use this film to explore ‘critical literacy’ and interrogate the resistance to critical reading of text in secondary English.

Yes I am.

Now, to construct the learning experiences.

In the lecture I am going to focus in on metalanguage, showing students how historical paradigms of English curriculum (skills, cultural heritage, personal growth, critical-cultural) have been revisioned in two more recent literacy frameworks that have had significant influence on contemporary English curriculum – Luke and Freebody’s ‘Four Resources’ model, and Green’s ‘Three Dimensions’ of literacy (which we have already been using at length).  I’m also going to rock their world by showing them how subject-specific pedagogy relates to more general theories of pedagogy, such as the ‘Productive Pedagogies’ that are used here in QLD, as well as to theories of learning such as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

The two hour tutorial though.  Hmmm.

My message in the coming weeks will be to embrace ‘workshops’ as well as individual and group ‘project based learning’ as alternative approaches to lesson organisation.  I want them to start thinking about how we traditionally do “class” and what learning experiences are encouraged there.  As I’m electing to ‘put my money where my mouth is’ this week I suppose I should give them a taste of this too…but what to do?

Perhaps I will split the two hours into a ‘workshop’ and a ‘project’.  Will I have time for both?  I’d like to also screen the first ~20 minutes of the film in class, giving me 30 minutes for the rest of the workshop.

That leaves ~50 minutes for students to complete a seperate project.  But what?

I’ve been watching Bianca do this – I know I need to start with a driving question or challenge

…and thus I am away to make coffee and have a think about this.

Ideas welcome x

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  1. #1 by Troy on March 26, 2011 - 4:39 pm

    Hi, sounds like fun! I’ve been busting my guts working on the PBL- problem at the start, a prezi, tables with problems/issues/tasks set up around the room so groups break off and rotate around the workshops. But the group would much prefer to allow me to stand up the front and lecture. I am resisting the urge. I don’t know everything (nor do I want to, that’s the fun of teaching, right?) and the group are not empty, needing a filling of knowledge from me.

    Do you mean by ‘resistance to critical reading of text in secondary English’, as in students critical reading, as opposed to teachers describing and explaining meanings? Does this link up with the influence of students contexts on their reaction and responses to texts?

  2. #2 by kmcg2375 on March 27, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    Do you have lectures Troy? I try really hard to get my ‘sage on the stage’ moments out there.

    I also try to minimise teacher talk, and even had an upfront chat about that with students in lesson one, but I also love to explain things. I can’t help it. I love telling stories too. And one of my favourite uni lecturers Stephen Juan used to tell the BEST stories in lectures that made the material seem so much clearer, so I kind of take that model and run with it a bit I guess. The key to his success, I think though, was that his tutorials were far more open, more democratic, and more conversational.

    Too much teacher talk in the tute can interfere with that aspect of things (why can’t all students see that??!) so I’m with you – resisting the tute-as-FAQ-session model, if for no other reason than…I don’t know all the answers!

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