Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Creative writing & technology, I did it

Interesting to experience the trajectory of critique. We writers ourselves know about it from personal experience of workshopping our writing and getting feedback, or getting rejections on submitted work (if we are so fortunate as to get feedback instead of the routine 'no thanks' slip).

Here's the pattern:
Oh, no! Wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong. Sulk a little. Time. Weelll, maybeeeee... okay I guess I could consider it. Oh well, grumble, how the hell can I... oh! (light bulb) I can think of a way! And then (later), hey, it works!

And our scene, dialogue, chapter opening or whatever (in this case, next teaching session) is, by incorporating the critique IN OUR OWN WAY, indeed improved. Exhilarating, actually.

So here's what I did. Instead of a verbal reprise to the class at the start of the session, and reminder of the overall 'map' of the course, I used the Interactive White Board (known as IWB) flip chart, and had the students call out and direct me on the Hero's Journey. This way they were reprising themselves - Hero, Ordinary World, Threshold, Mentor (a few prompts from me of the 'what else' sort), etc.

This map of the journey goes along Aristotle's incline of dramatic tension (3-act play) which they have seen throughout the course. (It's in Creative Writing: the Matrix, and lots of other places.) I quickly ran out of space so, presto, a click of the light-pen and on the map went to the next clean page, and then a third. Okay, it could have been a normal white board or flip chart, but now we are in 21st c technology mode.

So the students took me on the journey, we did it together. Much better than just verbally reminding them. Better too than standing up front and putting them on the spot by straight out asking them to recount. And being electronic, no waste of flipchart paper or need to erase felt-tip marker.

Also, at the end, I projected the college's website to (a) show up-coming creative writing courses, (b) show how easy online course evaluation is.

Thank you to the comments in support on last week's moan. And may I add woof-woof. (Think dog, old, tricks, yes you can.)


Anonymous said...

Susan - I'm impressed! Well done you! On a slightly different note: how do you handle it when you've got both 'returners' and newbies in the same class? My class starting again on Monday has a real mixture: complete newbies (new to me, possibly new to writing), one who's been with me for 18 months, some who've done 1 term AND some who came for 1 class, before it got cancelled in January! Aaagh! Do you just repeat as necessary? Trying to accommodate everyone is going to be a nightmare!
thanks Helen

Susan Lee said...

Thanks for this, and yes, good question for next week! SLK