Today I finished reading and responding to the last of the Storybook brainstorming assignments that students turned in for my three classes this week. In all three classes, the students do a Storybook project, and this first brainstorming assignment is basically the same for all three classes, with slight variations - the students propose four possible Storybook topics, and I give them feedback on each one (if you are curious the specific assignments are here: Myth-Folklore
, World Lit
, Indian Epics
). With this blog I'm trying to reflect on changes I need to make to assignments next semester, but this is an assignment that I am very pleased with overall - I don't think I really need to make any changes.
One of the things that really improved the quality of the brainstorming this semester was that in the first week of class I had everybody spend some time just browsing around in the archive of previous student work - and I think that helped clarify for students how the project was going to take shape by the end of the semester. I can remember in the past that people would start off the brainstorm assignment with a statement like "I'm not really sure what this Storybook thing is all about, but..." - it's such a big help when students share that kind of self-awareness when they turn in their assignments! I guess it's the online equivalent of the blank stares you can encounter in the classroom!
I also spent a HUGE amount of time changing the Indian Epics pages and the Myth-Folklore assignment page to provide links to specific projects for people to look at again while
they are doing the brainstorming. I don't have a big enough archive yet for World Literature to make that feasible... slowly but surely the archive of projects is building up in that class, too!
I also have to confess that I absolutely love sending back comments to them about brainstorming and pointing out to them the amazing resources available online. You want stories about leprechauns? Go to Sacred Texts: look at all those leprechauns
! Looking for the macabre in Brothers Grimm? Try searching on the word "blood
" or "bloody
" for starters at SurLaLune: eeeeek. Jackals in African folktales
- no problem, thanks again to Sacred Texts. By combining Google site-specific searches with the clean directory structures at both Sacred Texts and SurLaLune Fairy Tales, amazing search engine magic is possible.
Next week will come something even more fun - after they pick their topics, everybody will be brainstorming about the frametale ideas they will use. Let the creative juices start to flow!!! Usually when students start these classes they have never heard the word "frametale" but after next week's brainstorming, they will be frametale mavens.
Anyway, I'll have more to say about that next week. :-)