My students are reading Shakespeare’s Richard III. This is a rather difficult piece of literature, what with all of the incumbent history combined with the density of reading middle English Shakespearean prose for only the second time in their life. As such, we are reading and deconstructing the text in class; no take home reading, unless to re-read sections in order to heighten their understanding.
This, in turn, leaves my students with less homework to do (yeah!), but also takes up more class time that I, as most teachers, would desperately love to be using for the many other things I would like to cover.
One of these particular subjects that my students are in need of is practicing revising their written work. We have written several essays thus far this year and most tend to read as only 2nd or 3rd drafts. With this in mind, I hit upon an idea; as I am not assigning them homework, perhaps I could assign them some relatively easy writing project that would accumulate over the course of reading the play that would provide us the fodder for practicing revision later down the road. Thus was born the idea that for each scene of the play we read, students will compose a minimum half page piece of “fan fiction”, a roughly parallel fictional account of what happened in the scene. By the end of the play, students will have several pages of text which were hopefully not too painful to have written and will provide them work to then revise.
This was the plan. But then my brain started thinking (or over thinking, as the case usually is with us teachers!); first I wanted to encourage them to be creative in their writing, rather than stale. Perhaps a bonus, a reward, a prize for the most inventive/creative/etc. Then I thought, why should they be limited to writing, perhaps some of them would like to act it out, or create a stop-motion with Legos as you may have seen on the internet, or perhaps a stick figure animation, or Animoto or the like. Wow! This could be really cool!
And there it is, the moment when the curriculum was just supplanted by the very technology that is supposed to be supporting it. By imagining what the technology would allow me to do, I completely lost sight of what the whole point of the exercise was supposed to do, namely, to produce writing that we could later practice revising. I, for one, certainly would love to see a flurry of creative works in various and sundry forms from my students recreating the scenes of Richard III, but that is not what the curriculum demands for this particular need. Thus, my students will be writing a short piece of “fan fiction” for each scene, so we can revise it later. Perhaps not as sexy as Lego Richard III, but that’s okay, because while Lego Richard III is fun, what my students need is practice revising their writing.
Be careful out there to not be swayed by the capabilities of the technology. Remember, it is a tool to support the learning and your curriculum, nothing more.