After students were finished blogging, I surveyed them regarding the effectiveness of the simulation. Anecdotally, they felt that they were able to walk a mile in the shoes of another and would have missed that opportunity with more traditional instruction. Anonymously, students were asked to respond to the following questions: What would have made the sharecropping simulation better? What could Mr. Dunning have done to improve his instruction? Multiple threads emerged. To begin, students wanted the simulation to last longer. Additionally, they wished that I had included living expenses and that I had thrown more difficulties their way in order to make the experience even more realistic. After reading their responses and completing my own reflection, I am convinced that the activity was a success and look forward to using my experience and their advice to improve this unit for next year.
The mantra of "show me, don't tell me" was the focus of our revision process this week, and composition students worked on adding specific details to their definition essays. When writers offer accurate details, they create focused pieces in which readers can make clear pictures in their minds. Likewise, the writer demonstrates expertise and knowledge regarding a topic when he or she uses details that are accurate, precise, and original.
In addition to revising their definition essays, students began planning personal narratives. Inspired by the 1950's radio series, This I Believe, hosted by Edward R. Murrow, students will explore the values that inform the decisions they make in their daily lives. They worked this week to define the term 'values' and began to determine which ones were held most dear by their families. By the middle of next week, students will begin drafting personal narratives about their most fundamental beliefs. I expect it to be an enlightening experience.