Saturday, September 27, 2014

Understanding - Do they know what you are saying?

Recently I have noticed a huge disconnect between me and my students when it comes to out of class assignments. In an attempt to make things easier (or so I thought) I duplicated the class on our college course management service (Moodle). As I created the numerous duplications, I assumed that the class and the course work made sense - after all, it was linear, there were numerous types of assessments, the links all worked and there was multi media. However, over the last week many students have reached out to say they don't understand the assignments, how to use Moodle or how to post their assignments.

This has led to some serious contemplation on my part - am I clear when I deliver messages to my students or am I simply assuming that they understand? Could it be that since I understand what I am doing, I believe they do? Is this a case of the teacher not taking time out to recognize the needs of the student? There really is no clear answer but I think I can attest to the following:

  • Never assume your students understand what you are saying or writing
  • Always review in class the assignment or course work that is on the CMS
  • Before you leave a module or week make sure that each student has asked, and you have answered, any questions they may have
  • If students are still not understanding, be fluid and revise - just because we have more education doesn't make us smarter than our students; in fact, it may make us a bit blind
  • Tell your students that no question is "dumb" or "silly" - they should always feel free to ask for what they need
Even with 11 years teaching under my belt I still learn something every day...from my students.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Character Creation

Today's focus is on character creation, one of the most important elements of any narrative. My students tend to struggle with this part of their story as they simply can't allow their imagination to take over as they create. Here are some ideas that may help you write a great character:

  1. Let go of your fears and simply write. Jack Kerouac wrote the initial scroll for On the Road without punctuation and it is a brilliant work; if he hadn't entered the process with a sense of free thought, there might not be a great novel.
  2. Look at pictures of people or characters that you like - what do they look like? The first thing we notice about people is their appearance so as you create remember that.
  3. Identify the character's goals or objectives, their prominent beliefs, and their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Although it may not appear in your final work, create a back story for your character. What got them to the first line of the book? What helped to make them who they are in this moment?
  5. Think about those minor, random moments that define our lives - these are the moments you want to consider while creating the character.
  6. Use a character creator or avatar creator so you can visualize the character.
To really write a great character, you need to close your eyes and imagine yourself as that character. Don't self-sabotage by putting boundaries on your creativity!!