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After being away for 3 weeks out of the last 7  (2 conferences, 1 job interview trip), I am now in the unenviable position of playing catch up.  Trying to read/respond to discussion posts, catching up on my google reader (I had to admit defeat last week and mark 1000+ messages as read), marking, writing, etc.  This week is Reading Week at 2 of my universities, so I am taking advantage of the relative quiet on my online course discussions to mark assignments and plan out the next few weeks. I have some writing I MUST do (why is it I can always find something else I would rather do than write?) soon and I also have a few papers and reports to review.  My to-be-read pile is growing as fast as my to do list and I am starting to feel slightly overwhelmed with all that needs to be done.

The one shining light in all of this is the assignments I am grading this week.  First, some background.  I am currently teaching a brand new course that I developed for the University of Alberta called Introduction to Contemporary Literacies.  It is my dream course.  It is the course that I have wanted to teach forever and I am lucky enough to be doing it this term. I am working with 30 fantastic students in this class.  They are enthusiastic, passionate, and interesting teachers and teacher-librarians with deep connection to literacy and literature.  They are keeping me on my toes and everyday I admire them for the work they are doing with their students.

The assignment I am marking this week is one I called “Children’s Reading Experiences” and the purpose of this assignment is to explore the ‘big’ world of children’s contemporary reading experiences. Children’s reading is no longer limited to traditional text-based reading experiences. Rather, children today tend to experience books and characters in a wide range of places, both in print and electronically. The assignment has two parts and asks students to explore these different ways of reading.  Students were asked to pick a particular book, series, or character and then explore all the different ways children might actually experience that book/character/series.  They had to put together some kind of pathfinder (using LiveBinders, Jog the Web, or another tool) to display their results.  Then, they had to write a brief reflection to explain what they learned and why it is important for teachers and teacher-librarians to be aware of these bigger reading worlds.

The students have agreed to share their pathfinders on a class wiki and there are many examples of their work already posted.  Please, take a look at what the EDES 543 group have found: http://edes543atuofa.wikispaces.com/Children%27s+Reading+Experiences+Assignment  I know you will be as inspired as I am!

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