Monday, January 27, 2014

A Little Trip to the Prado Museum

I have been back in the regular classroom this year teaching Creative Writing. It is only one block out of our seven block rotation, but it really does keep me hopping with all the other duties and jobs I have to manage in EdTech. The extra work is worth it, because I feel that after a few years completely out of the classroom, it is good to reconnect. It helps with student and teacher relationships, and it keeps me honest. Regular classroom teaching gives the EdTech person street cred in my opinion, because other teachers realize that what you are talking about isn't simply theory, you have been doing it in your classroom. I have been blogging all year about EdTech and educational leadership, but not much about my teaching; now I will share some of the recent action from class and some plans I have for the future.

Last Creative Writing class, we took a little trip to the Prado Museum virtually with our computers. Of course it isn't the same as visiting the museum in real life, which I pointed out the the students, but it gave us an opportunity to get inspired through the use of art. I gave the students 10 minutes to wander the virtual Prado and find a work of art that spoke to them. Then I gave them another 25 minutes to write. Out of my 15 students, 12 of them really got into it and the other three did the task, but really didn't get jazzed about it.

After writing, I shared my painting and poem that I wrote, because it is important to model the activity yourself and I wanted the students to hear me explain my approach to the writing. This immediately erupted into several students say, "But I didn't write a poem!" I managed to get everyone calm again by explaining that the poem is where MY writing took me and that EVERYONE has their own process which is completely fine and acceptable. It was good because it gave us a chance to discuss how Creative Writing is different from many courses where there is a "correct" answer or an exact "correct" method for tackling a problem, however, in Creative Writing we are exploring our OWN methods. Once we got to sharing our art and what we wrote, the students really got interested in the different thoughts their classmates had and the different methods they each used for getting into writing. Today we will revisit this writings and begin working on poems, which is sort of funny because we are ending up where the students didn't think they went in the beginning -- poetry.

Later in the semester, I plan to have two friends, who are both professional writers, Skype with my class and talk about their jobs and lives as professional writers.