I really like the idea of giving students the opportunity to explore as many different points of view as possible, so I would like to set up units of study with another teacher so that our students can have chats with students from other parts of the country or other countries, about the same literary work. This would hopefully allow students to have dialogues about literature and perhaps get a glimpse of the themes and ideas from another cultural perspective. For instance, in the U.S., most students would agree that stories seem to focus first on love as a precursor to marriage. However, I once interviewed a young woman from India, who was going to have an arranged marriage, who believed that love developed after marriage. It would be interesting for students to consider the idea that other cultures might view something as universal as love, and other themes from literature, in very different ways.
Another activity I would like to integrate is the use of sites such as Twitter to have students keep a running stream of thoughts from a character’s perspective. Again, this allows the student to step outside of their own ideas and challenge themselves to think about life from a different viewpoint. Activities such as this might foster more acceptance of differences and human connectedness. I also might integrate a tool like Twitter with a story like the one used in the WebQuest “Lose Now, Pay Later.” Students could practice descriptive writing by Tweeting as if they were trying a new flavor of Swoodie.
One of the most fascinating social experiments currently happening in technological circles is social networking sites such as Facebook. An activity I might have students do is to keep track of their friends’ status updates, anonymously of course, and write a creative non-fiction piece investigating the practice of sharing one’s thoughts and actions so publically. For example, I once wrote an autobiographical essay about my expected role of woman as mother, and incorporated status updates from friends in regard to their pregnancies, their children, and generally their thoughts on motherhood. Students could employ a similar method to explore social issues related to being a teenager, such as peer pressure.
Finally, in keeping with the theme of self and other exploration, I would like to use WebQuests as a tool for allowing students to explore various types of media alongside their exploration of themes and other perspectives. A text like Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club could be used in conjunction with a WebQuest that would allow the student to find out information related to Chinese culture. Students could be asked to explore their thoughts on events such as 9/11, and investigate the topic from different literary perspectives and the evolution of views over time.