Before Feb. 13th
From the class design and curriculum, the first few weeks is the period for students to get familiar with the area of this class and what kind of performance they are expected to have in this class. In my opinion as a mentor, the first few weeks set the tone of this class for the whole semester.
—Provide enough information of the area. This first-year composition class is to help students gain their own identities as researcher; to be more specific, this class helps students feel as a member of the academic community and help them get familiar with the sources that they can use for academic purpose.
—Learn by doing. The class space and workshop space help students live in an academic life that is required in the university. We talk, discuss, explore, and try to answer each other’s question; Yes/No is not that important any more. 10-student group and 5-student group is one way to create safe zone for students to communicate.
—Use what you have already. This class requires students to apply what they know and what they are good at in the academic study and university life, like tweeter, Tumblr, blogging, etc.
From what I observed from students, I notice that students are at different levels, even they all come from EOP program and attended Summer Bridge one year ago.
—Some students come to class with detailed notes, while some students don’t. Even though the norm of the group is set up, some students don’t stay with the norm. According to their answers, the reason is that they are confused about the norm they set up, like what is applied, what should not be in the norm, how people measured the way.
—Some students are eager to share their ideas and get feedback, while some students don’t do. In the five-student group, some students can talk a lot about the reading or video, while some students stay quiet for a long time until mentor asks for opinion. Maybe the culture background, personality and education background are the reasons. I think there is unfair happening in the conversation, some talks more and some rarely speak out. So, this leads me to the next thinking about participation.
—As the curriculum designed, there are always ways to participate. However, in certain period of time, it is true that not every student is participating. As a mentor, I feel guilty that I cannot get all the students into the conversation. Blogging and tweeter sound more like speaking out rather than communicating.
For my syllabus, I like this kind of beginning and I understand this requires certain class management. However, I hope my syllabus can be more flow without breakpoints.
It is very clear to see students’ struggle and change through the first few weeks. As I believe, we can see students’ change through the semester, and the length of time students spend varies. The following three things can tell the information about students’ change:
—Assignment sequence: know it—revise—do more/do same/do less. In the first few weeks, they are trying to know instructor’s requirements and expectation to shape their behavior and performance to achieve certain goal in the class. I can tell this from Tumblr posts. One thing worth mentioning is that review board members telling other students’ good performance to students in our group, and there is a big change in the next week blog.
—Self-initiate study. There are different ways to process the same goal; in the university, students try to find the place for them to stay and it need take a certain amount of time. As a future instructor, I should understand it. With this group of students, I can see the process they figure it out. AS the figure showed above, some of them can get it at the very beginning, and some of them need more time. This makes me think more about how to place FYC and where the bottom line we should place.