Saturday, February 7, 2009


Forgot to include the quote I use for the previous post.

“Coursework should inspire more intellectual probing. It won’t hurt their chemistry grades, and outside books may even raise their scores on the GMAT and LSAT, which have reading comprehension sections. Young Americans have everything to gain from reading, more civic and historical knowledge, familiarity with current events and government actions, a larger vocabulary, better writing skills, eloquence, inexpensive recreation, and contact with great thoughts and expressions of the past. And yet even in the intellectual havens of our [colleges], too many of them shield themselves from the very activity that best draws them out of the high school mindset.”

Then I ask - "Do you agree that college students don't read?" And "Why don't college students read?" You get some really interesting answers!


One of the education faculty shared this idea with me, which she uses on the first day of class to engage students and get them talking. I had asked for suggestions because for what we do, it's like it's always the first day of classes - we don't know their names, they don't know or trust us, and we have no rapport with the class. She uses an activity called Think-Pair-Share: she gives the class a question to consider. They think about independently first, pair with another classmate to discuss what they think and then share their ideas together as a class. I did a modified version of this in two English II's this week and was amazed that it actually worked quite well! I posted a quote on a PowerPoint slide, and also handed it out to the students on a slip of paper as they walked in the door. I noticed that this activity immediately engaged me with them because I was able to greet every single student, make eye contact, and start off on the right foot with them. I asked them to think about the quote while they were waiting for class to start. When everyone was settled, I introduced myself, gave a background of where the quote came from (I took it from Mark Bauerlein's book, The Dumbest Generation) and then asked them, do you agree with him? I couldn't believe that I actually got a response and probably half the students in the class were interested in participating. This established a great connection, opened them up to the idea of participating in the session, and set a really good tone for the rest of the class. The quote I used is posted below, and it worked great. I'm also thinking of using audio or video clips to do this, but the quote is convenient because they don't all have to do it at the same time. The stragglers have less time to think, but everyone can just read the quote at their own pace.

Online archives of Holocaust survivor interviews

The British Library has made available online (for free!) a collection of interviews with survivors of the Jewish Holocaust. Actually their Archival Sound Recordings site hosts over 12,000 recordings of "music, spoken word, and human and natural environments." This looks like a really interesting digital resource! I plan on exploring it and seeing if there's anything relevant that we can bring into classes for a little multi-media change-up!