March 13, 2015

Full Circle

Filed under: Uncategorized — mvervinck @ 2:41 am

photo (7)

I love when things come full circle, and tonight was one of those nights when it happened.  This is my third Slice of Life Challenge.  The first time I decided to join was on a total whim, in a way.  I happened to receive a notice about the challenge in an email.  That same day, a student had asked me during an ESL class if I wrote in English.  At the time, I did not.  I had just been telling them that in order to improve their writing skills, they needed to write.  The question stopped me in my tracks.  I realized that I needed to practice what I preached.  I know as a teacher that the more I know about something, the better I teach it.  This sure does apply to writing, as I came to find out.

I took the SOLC and wrote each and every day for the month of March.  I realized how much I learned through writing, and not just how to create a syntactically well formed sentence following grammar rules of Standard American English (SAE).  I learned how to organize my thoughts, describe things and find topics.  I learned how to put myself out there and let other people read what I had to say.  All of this led to the creation of my book.

If this worked for me, why wouldn’t it work with a few tweaks and changes for my linguistics students?  The course I teach is difficult for students, so why not create a place for them to mull over new ideas and to play with new terminology and concepts?  That’s exactly what I did.  I created a book for students to respond to topics about language.  A place where they could write down their ideas.  A place where we could have a one-on-one discussion that just cannot take place in a class with 80 students.  A place where even the quietest student could state their opinion and say why without worrying about what anyone else would say or think.

Tonight, I enjoyed reading what they had to say.  I learned so much about my students.  Things that I would not have known without reading their entries.  Things like one of the words that a lot of students like the least is moist.   That they do understand that because of smartphones they are not talking or communicating with each other face-to-face very much anymore.  Computers are useful, but they do not want to talk to the IBM computer Watson for serious medical issues;  they still prefer humans.  Many students would love to learn their ancestors language:  Hmong, Tagalog, Chinese, Polish, Spanish, and German, to name a few. Words such as interesting, enjoyable, different and time-consuming describe how students feel about writing in this book.

It was refreshing, enlightening, and, yes, time consuming.  However, if my students can write, by the end of the semester, responses on 75 pages of the book, I can take a few evenings to read and comment about what they have written.

As I said, it seems just right that I would write my Slice of Life tonight about writing a book that started from writing during the month of March 2013, because a students asked me if I wrote, and now I can say that I have written a book as well as currently write responses to the writings of my students which afterwards I write about in my blog during another month long Slice of Life Challenge during the month of March 2015.  I guess, that’s about right! (Although, maybe not completely grammatical!)


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