InterFace – Week 3

This is a weekly series written by Emma Dellopoulos, chronicling her work with an interactive workshop between Elizabeth Tate Alternative High School in Iowa City and Hammond High School in Hammond, Indiana. 

After a brief break- I’m back to blogging! InterFace is now entering its fourth week.

We’ve all clamored over communication struggles, been strangled by buffers, encountered 404 errors of all kinds, and heard the phrase “how is this even educational?” a few too many times.

Last week, the kids wrote Twitter stories; this essentially became microfiction in the form of Tweets. Most students found themselves connecting to the work more than classic exercises and texts, but others wondered about the efficacy of writing tweets over writing traditional stories.

I didn’t really know how to respond at the time, so I mostly just gave side-eye.

If I were smarter or more quick-witted, I would have said something much more salient. In reality, I came up with this exercise because it sounded cool to me. I thought it would be a more fun way to write a story using Twitter than it would be for our students to sit down and write about their ~*feelings*~ or some other schmaltzy subject.

And looking at the results, it was so much cooler.

I’ll admit, not all the stories were gems. Some weren’t much more than a sub-par list of memes that both mystified me and made me feel like I needed to take a really, really hot shower. Others were an attempt at being a bada** that tripped over itself and feel 100% flat. In contrast, there was an overwhelming amount of great work from kids who really took the prompt and ran with it. Emotionally ridden breakup stories, stories about inanimate objects, emotionally ridden breakup stories about inanimate objects, apocalypse diaries, and mystery adventures led by Cheech-and-Chong–style wizards are just some of the examples.

While doing this, I’ve found something out that should have been glaringly obvious from the start. I think in the past I’ve been told this, but it’s just one of those things that has to be learned the hard way. Students WILL reflect the mood and tone of their teachers. I didn’t think that my bad moods and my frustrations would translate into the classroom, as long as I didn’t mention administrative problems explicitly. I didn’t know that the inherent tone of my voice or the nuanced way I approached questions asked of me could truly influence the work of my students.

Knowing that now, I have to hold on to the glimmer and gleam of this project. It may sound like I’m patting myself on the back, but I feel like that’s what I have to do to keep this thing going. I have to keep reminding myself that this project is really, really cool. In my daily notes my mantra has to be “if I got the chance to do this in high school, I would have been stoked.”

If I would have been stoked then, I can be stoked now. I can then transmit that energy into my students, and hopefully they’ll be excited about it, too.

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