Years ago Cathy Day passed on to me a great idea for an intro to fiction writing course. She had students create a town where all their stories would take place and each student was required to contribute a person and place that would then become public property for other students to use. It’s great because students really have to push themselves to define these things clearly so others can see and use them, and there is a built-in way to get them thinking more about character backgrounds, landscapes, and interactions. I tried it back when Wright State was on quarters, and while it worked reasonably well, I’m bringing it back now on semesters in hopes more time will make it even better.
Cathy has a great blog that focuses a lot on teaching and that I’ve found very helpful in thinking about my own courses. She’s a big one on literary citizenship and this semester I’d like to require students to engage in the literary world once a week as part of the course, just like she does. They can do a variety of things such as commenting on a favorite author’s Facebook page, tweeting or blogging about a less known book to get it some attention, attending a reading, or any variety of cool things they can come up with. I’m just trying to figure out now how I can track this and keep tabs without it taking tons of time each week.
Thanks, Cathy, for the great ideas. I hope to steal from you for years to come.