Each year, I like to have a small-group, short-class meeting with students, ideally at the beginning of the term; today we had ours in Composition 2, and four students met together, with me, for :15 classes. The time allows me to get to know students a bit better, on the individual level, as well as put faces to names. It also gives students a more comfortable environment in which to ask the questions that need to be asked. It always surprizes me how few students actually ask a question when something is confusing or unclear!
We went over the first project, the scene descriptions Buster Keaton’s One Week, and I think everyone’s pretty clear on its parameters. I asked for volunteers to write a few of their draft sentences on the board, and then we modeled a mini-workshopping environment–especially insofar as we could address the goals of the assignment. We talked specifically about concise language, including how to eliminate “filler” and other unnecessary verbage to make the descriptions more active and precise. Several students volunteered of their own accord, though I did have to volunteer some myself! The last group needed a bit more encouragement, but they did graciously agree to stay 5 minutes after regular classtime to make up for a late start. I was especially happy to note that almost all students watched the short clip several times–and that they began to pick up more things accordingly! If this project goes well, students will have a good base for later work with analysis.
Next meeting, students will be bringing in two copies of their complete drafts for workshopping, and hopefully I’ll have time to give comments on those that seem to be misguided.