The Grade 12 students have been busily working on their King Lear collaborative essays and I’m anticipating some good holiday reading once they’re all handed in by Friday.
Throughout the unit, students were asked to publish two blog posts per week on the class blog portal. Students came up with questions that they had about the play, attempted to answer their own questions, and commented on their classmates’ blog posts. These blog posts, comments, and replies, are now the starting point for their collaborative essays.
For the King Lear collaborative essay, I asked the students to first think of the topic that they were most interested in writing about, and to think about their own opinion and ideas regarding that topic. Then, students went to the class blog portal and noted all of the relevant comments from their peers.
Once the students have stated their topic and their own opinion, and they’ve listed their peers’ key ideas and their own key ideas, then students are ready to arrange their essay around their reasons, their defence of those reasons, and rebuttals to their critics.
Some of the topics they’ve come up with include:
- Who is the hero of “King Lear”?
- Why did Cordelia refuse to give her father the answer he was looking for?
- After being banished by Lear, why does Kent return?
- When does Lear lose his sanity?
- Did Lear give up his kingdom too early?
I’m excited to read these collaborative essays; they’ve really originated with the students and spring from the dialogue that they’ve been having on the class blog portal. The collaborative essay assignment requires the students to think for themselves and to be themselves; it requires students to put their oar in the water and join the 400-year old conversation that has revolved around the Bard.
I like Mr. B-G’s recent comments on teaching students to write:
How do we teach students to write? We teach them to think. We teach them to develop content. We help them understand ideas like elaboration and explication. We provide them with opportunities to stretch their minds and flex their intellectual muscles. We give them opportunities to pump out words and ideas without fear of judgement. We teach them how to think critically and make sense of their musings and meanderings. We show them how to tailor and edit and rethink and resee and rearrange. We empower them to be creators.
This King Lear collaborative essay assignment is so much more interesting for the class than the 5-paragraph essay format; it is free of the shackles of the 5-paragraph essay format that has been suffocating any potential talent. A collaborative essay assignment is… real.
Image by longhorndave