|A couple of the notebooks that I gave to the Fellows|
On the first day of class this summer, I gave the AALCI Fellows notebooks as well as parameters on how we might respond. Mostly, we are dedicating 3-sentence responses to our main readings. So far so good.
I have a couple of the Fellows read from their notebooks at the beginning of discussions, during the middle, and then for our closing thoughts. Limiting folks to 3 sentences helps with creativity. Having a limit allows folks to push themselves to fit the key points into that small space.
I give folks the latitude to write in whatever form or mode that they think is appropriate. Some choose conventional prose. At least one has presented raps. Another uses phrasings that might appear in poems. Someone else provided a list. Another student responded to a poem with a short letter to the poet.
I rarely assign journals in classes that I teach, mostly because the enrollment sizes prevent me from giving adequate attention to all the journals. Also, students are reluctant to share journal entries, and I've learned that they often do not review their own writings.
This ongoing notebook activity for the summer allows me to move in new territory. I avoided referring to the small books as "journals" and "diaries," because I thought that might influence the students in undesirable ways. For now, I want them to be public writers, not just private writers.
I'm hoping that they view the notebooks as sketch books and as conversation starters. Later in June, we'll visit an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum featuring excerpts from the notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat. So we'll have a chance to write in our notebooks about an artist's notebooks.
• AALCI 2015