Year Five, Day One

Today, my fifth year of graduate school began.

I’ve wanted to teach for almost my entire life, and getting the opportunity to do so each semester is something that, as challenging as it might be at times, I find endlessly rewarding. And one of my favorite (read: super nerdy) things to do is to read through various teaching blogs and websites to gather ideas for class activities, assignments, and developing better pedagogy. Inspired by the many sites I visited in preparation for this semester, I decided to start my own teaching blog. I think this is a good decision for a couple of reasons. First, ideally, teaching ideas that I mention here will hopefully help others just as I’ve been helped by reading through other folks’ blogs. Additionally, this will assist me in keeping track of what I’ve done in the classroom, what works well, and what needs tweaking. In my undergrad education courses, we were taught to reflect on our teaching regularly, and I feel like I haven’t done that nearly enough in my college teaching.

Today was the first day of Digital Media Composing, which is a class that I’m teaching for the very first time. Given my primary research areas of Television Studies and Film Studies, I decided to focus the class around the ways in which digital media has changed television. And as the title of the course suggests, the students will have to create several digital compositions throughout the semester that reflect their understanding of the course material and that demonstrate their abilities to communicate in a variety of digital formats.

Inspired by this post, I wanted to do a bit more than simply go over the syllabus on the first day. So we started with a sort of hybrid Bingo/Scavenger Hunt activity, the idea for which I got from a poster on the Teaching Media Facebook group. I filled each box with things like “has a Netflix account,” “has livetweeted a TV show,” and “has listened to a podcast about a TV show.” Students then had to talk to each other and find people who had done these things (with no repeats!) in hopes of getting Bingo. I had them do this for about ten minutes, and afterwards, we talked about what things stood out to them, what things they had trouble finding someone for, etc. And though I don’t think this was a groundbreaking activity, I do think it gave them an idea of what the class might be about and it got them to talk to each other.

We did spend *some* time going over the syllabus. However, rather than just me reading it to them, I had them read it to themselves, then I had them talk to each other, then I had them ask any questions they had about the syllabus, and THEN I went over some key points. To me, this activity was important because it modeled the types of small group activities that I’m likely to incorporate throughout the semester, especially since I know that some students might be reluctant to speak out in large group discussion, but might feel more comfortable speaking to each other in smaller groups.

There were some other things we did in the class, such as large group introductions (name, area of study, and favorite *new* TV show from this year), going over the first homework assignment, walking through the new LMS, and getting signed up for some of the digital services and tools that will be used in the course, but those two paragraphs above stood out to me as the most significant moments.

Of course, after class, I realized there were still a few things that I forgot to point out. I think that’s probably always the case. Next time 🙂

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