Prof Birkenstock made up this awesome writing exercise where students have to produce a short piece of writing with no errors in it. The idea is that they get a topic and a word requirement (say, 200), and then they have to use all available resources – Mr Spellcheck, their fellow students, and as a last resort, their brains – to make sure it is perfect before they hand it in. If there are mistakes, then they have to fix the mistakes, and write a further 50 words. In my class, if it is right first time, they get an A+, but the grade goes down for every subsequent showing.
As an exercise, it is awesome because it is a) sadistic and b) forces students to pay attention to expression, and encourages them to edit collaboratively. b) is the actual pedagogical part.
Today students were lining up to have their work checked over and one of them was all “This makes me nervous,” and I was all “Why?” And someone else pipes up “That pink pen of yours has the power to alter my GPA; that’s why.”
The other day 2 of my more regular students were not in class, and their pal, whom we shall call Dan #3, was a little late. As he sat down we had the following conversation:
Dan #3: Dans #1 and #2 are probably not going to make it to class.
Me: Enlighten me.
Dan #3: They were in a car accident.
Me: Are they okay?
Dan #3: They looked okay when I drove past.
Dan #3: I drove past them on my way here. They were, like waiting for a tow truck, I guess.
Me: You didn’t stop?
Dan #3: I didn’t want to be late to class.