INTRODUCTION: While teaching developmental students, I have noticed that, for a variety of reasons, many of them have experienced some type of failure in the classroom, and, as a result, many have low self-esteem. This is a writing activity I designed which encourages my students to take the first step towards accepting personal responsibility for their self-esteem and for their academic success.
- To provide students with a positive writing experience
- To help students accept responsibility for raising their own self-esteem
- PowerPoint projector and screen
- PowerPoint slide with the word INVISIBLE printed vertically along the left side.
- PowerPoint with the word VISIBLE printed vertically along the left side.
- Pen and Paper
1. Have students form groups of three-four and discuss specific times in a classroom when they felt “invisible” or lost for whatever reason. You may want to illustrate this request with an example of your own.
2. Project on the screen the slide with the word INVISIBLE printed vertically along the left side. Ask each group to make a list of adjectives beginning with the letters of INVISIBLE which describe how they felt in the classroom experiences they have been discussing.
3. Invite groups to share their lists of adjectives with the class.
4. In their same group, have students discuss specific times in a classroom when they felt “visible” for whatever reason. You may want to illustrate this request with an example of your own.
5. Project on the screen a PowerPoint slide with the word VISIBLE printed vertically along the left side. Ask each group to make a list of adjectives beginning with the letters of VISIBLE which described how they felt in the classroom experiences they have been discussing.
6. Invite groups to share their lists of adjectives with the class.
7. Explain the format of a diamond poem to them, showing them how they can introduce an idea and by the end of the poem, the idea has changed. The goal here is to help them realize that if they take control and use personal responsibility they can make positive changes in their lives. To illustrate, offer examples such as the following two student poems:
|Excluded, Ignored, Sad|
|Taking personal responsibility|
|Eager, Independent, Strong|
|Inferior, Not a part, Secluded|
|Becoming a more motivated person|
|Efficient, Stable, Included|
7. Have students stay in groups and produce their own diamond poems.
8. Invite groups to share their poems with the class and discuss the following questions: What does it feels like to move from Invisible to Visible? What are the benefits of moving from Invisible to Visible? What actions can you take to move from Invisible to Visible?
The students really enjoyed this experience because it allowed them to reveal to others what it felt like to be invisible in a classroom situation. Obviously, many of them had had the same experiences. Then brainstorming on the opposite, more positive feeling also made them realize that by making some changes in their attitudes and accepting personal responsibility for their actions, they could reveal their visibility through more positive adjectives. Writing the diamond poems also helped the visual and kinesthetic learners understand how that movement from negative to positive can occur. The act of actually creating a poem, I believe, also helped the students realize their potential for using creativity.
I learned that students like to discuss their personal experience especially when they realize that others share the same problems. I also learned how much they enjoyed coming up with positive adjectives. I realized that by completing these more learner-centered activities, students can often learn more than they do through traditional methods. Next time I will make sure to post their diamond poems on the classroom online discussion board.
–Catherine Lally, Faculty, English/Developmental Writing, Brevard Community College, FL