In my first blog post I talked about our department’s mission to create authentic responses to literature beyond the traditional structure of a five paragraph essay. My solution this semester was to require two forms of response for every project: one critical/analytical and one creative. The creative response usually had multiple options, allowing students to respond in the form that felt most authentic to their experience with the text. I kept the analytical response section to my projects (sometimes five paragraph essay, sometimes a modified version of this) as I wanted to ensure that students were still developing this analytical response skill that I believe will be important to their future education not only here at ESA but in college as well. The two part project approach had varying degrees of success. For some students it was certainly the most natural way to respond to a text and this came through in their natural voice and affection for language. For others, it was clearly a more laborious process and often felt like they were checking boxes (insert simile here). Some are clearly most at home writing from a critical perspective and providing their response in a structured essay. The biggest challenge I faced was students often thought one part or another was optional (interestingly, many students opted out of doing the creative response). I also noticed students were much lazier with mechanics in their creative responses than they were in their essays. I had to make it very clear that BOTH aspects of the response were required and important. My recommendation to other teachers would definitely be to provide structured choice in both sections: too much freedom resulted in confusion, chaos, and fear, while I imagine too much structure would produce a slew of similar sounding essays. One question I still have is how to bridge the gap between creative and critical – is there a way to create original critical responses to texts without utter chaos? I will continue to use this two part approach in my classes next semester.
Authentic Responses to Literature JRC#2
by Jane Collins | Jan 8, 2019 | 11/12th Grade, 9/10th Grade, Authenticity to the Discipline, Literature | 1 comment
I love that there are two forms for students to express themselves. I’m curious about what the mechanics looked like for creative pieces—did students adopt the mechanics that they might see in the styles of some of the authors they’ve read? (I’m remembering an old panel with a student mimicking Junot Diaz’s style in his own piece.)
I’d love to hear about your findings! I find a similar problem in math—how do I bridge 100% choice with having some structure in expectations and use of logic? Maybe there are cross-content resources to use?