In my online “American Literature” class, I recorded several video and audio lectures, which students listened to and responded to via their blogs. By the middle of the term, I started scaling back my audio lectures, in part because the students didn’t need to hear my voice anymore — they were interpreting the works on their blogs. I started asking them to post their own audio interpretation of poems and passages. I’ve been doing that for several years not, but this time, after the students did their first oral interpretation, I asked them to interpret another short poem, and also demonstrate their ability to use scholarly works to analyze it further.
My student Danielle Sidoti absolutely nailed all parts of the assignment. She opened with a brief description of her goals, she read the poem in an engaging, expressive voice, and she followed up with thoughtful analysis, citing recent scholarship and opening the floor for further discussion. (Again, this is an online class; my students are using SoundCloud, YouTube, their Seton Hill WordPress blogs, and/or the file distribution system in our course management system, Canvas.)
I’ve created a follow-up assignment that asks students to listen to three peer oral presentations, and respond online.
Here is how Danielle introduced her project on her blog:
For my Oral Presentation, I used the poem, “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy. Written in 1982, this poem tackles the gender expectations of women, and how detrimental they can be upon a young girl. The strongest expectation in this poem is the expectation of a girl to be pretty and skinny. Why we still have this expectation today, I am not sure, especially with thousands upon thousands of girls suffering from eating disorders every day.