Skip to main content

Starting a MOOC

I recently began a MOOC through Wesleyan. It's part of my Champions of Wayne goal this semester. As director of academics, my boss and I are asking staff to set their own goals alongside their mentees. For me, it's to actually complete a MOOC. I tend to start them and never finish.

So this weekend, I began Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot. Watching the videos was the easy part; it's actually sitting down to write that's been difficult. I'm starting to realize what students go through when we don't give them time to brainstorm before asking them to write.

Brando Skyhorse, a novelist and the course's instructor, posed great questions about characters that I plan to use in my own creative writing course:

1. What do they want? What gets in their way from getting what they want? This is the rising action.
2. What are their weaknesses?
3. Where are they from (emotionally and geographically)?
4. Where are they going?
5. What can your characters do to surprise you?

I've started and stopped so many times this weekend as I've tried to craft a character. I've turned to apps to help with brainstorming (I had forgotten about Story Dice, an app I downloaded years ago and never really used). 

I'll post a character after I spend a little more time developing him. I'm even finding it difficult to not write about or craft characters that seem a little too like characters that were in novels that I've read recently. Time to go on a walk to clear my brain.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…