Thursday, August 28, 2008

Discussion Boards

I use the Turn It In discussion board with my students because I really like the way it threads. Our school's website offers a blog option, but it only allows responses to the main topic so students cannot easily show that they are responding to each other and not just my topic. I thought about setting up a class blog, but then the replies get threaded off individual pages. I have heard that threading is passe, but I still really value it for my classes. I have watched the depth of these discussions over the past three years, and I just cannot replicate them in another forum. The students are reading each others' ideas and thoughtfully reflecting and responding on them. This was brought home to me by a student who told me yesterday (just the third day of school) that this discussion board work was really neat and he really liked it.

Here is an excerpt. If you are familiar with my essential question ideas for this world lit course, this post was the way I got them started thinking about it. Their thoughts about thinking in general plus the personal way they apporach each other was more than I could have hoped for.

Topic #1: Why Do You Think? (And Do You?)
starts: August 25, 2008 at 12:01 AM ends: August 30, 2009 at 11:59 PM
Created by Susanne Nobles

"We've learned to speak and think in the epistemology of television, which is essentially filled with thought-terminating clich├ęs ... There is a kind of war against self-reflection, self-criticism, and real introspection" (Whitehead).

I believe literature of all kinds, and specifically world literature, can create a culture of intellect and thought. Yet reading world literature requires “two competing [tasks]: an invitation to identify (‘This text is about you!’) and a warning against overidentifying (‘This text was never about you!’) … Far from being an excuse for passive reading, ‘This was never about you!’ calls students to attend to a material world that is not their own, which means caring enough ‘to learn it’ … Can Westerners’ confrontation of a foreign text result in genuine identification …?” (Eck 579, 582).

When was the last time you really thought about something? Be honest … what does real thought look and feel like? Okay, when was the last time you did that?

Response #6:
I actually am a fairly reflective person and fall into deep thought on a fairly regular basis. I'd say that the last time I fell into deep thought had to be over this past weekend when I was dealing with a difficult decision that I had to make. I also find myself thinking more and more about college and what I want to do where I want to go, and how those decisions will affect me during college and later on in life. I guess I never really stop thinking about that subject because I find my self often drifting off into my own little world of self reflection on the topic. I never really think about the same thing, but often times I get into deep existential and philosophical discussions with my life where I ponder things untill my head begins to swirl, and I begin to lose grasp on the topic that I am trying to understand. I usually get into real thought when I am not distracted by anything else, however I can keep on the same subject for several days "pausing" my thinking until the distractions are over. Usually it involves picking my brain appart, presenting counter points and arguments to points that I am trying to make, and it ends with analyzing why I am thinking and acting in a certain way and what the consequences of behaving like that are. It's actually all pretty exhausting. So yeah I guess I would still have to stand with saying that the last time I did that was this past weekend, because It definitely fit the description of what I just put down.

Reply #6.1 to Response #6:
I know the same feeling, and I know we have talked about some of those issues between ourselves, specifically last year. And I think that the feeling that you are losing yourself in the moment is all the more of a testimony to how deep your thinking. I feel that the harder and longer you ponder something, the more questions begin to form, and the harder you have to think. This might be why so many of us avoid hard reflecting, because we find it is to much work.

1 comment:

  1. I see how the threaded forum encourages discussion, a back and forth that isn't as fluid as responding on the blogs. I may try it later this year. I love your students' thoughts:)