A few months ago, my friend Max and another friend of his launched a site called longform.org.
I noted each site in the cache of my mind as something that could be useful in class.
I like the cache because it’s a place where ideas can marinate. (Pardon the mixed metaphor.)
My G11 students are completing a benchmark project right now. It’s one of those pieces where they have a bunch to work on, and we hand over class time to that collaboration. Doing only that can be monotonous.
To break the monotony this week, we’re playing with longform.org and reframeit.com.
Last week, I ask each team of kids (they sit in tables of four) to head to longform an find a piece of journalism they thought would hold the class’ attention and produce thoughtful conversation.
The directions were simple:
- Work with your team to come to unanimous approval of the article you’d like to lead discussion on.
- Tell me.
- Using reframeit.com, read the article and draft discussion points and questions.
- Prepare to lead discussion for 35 minutes of one class period.
The discussions and debates about which articles to select were as interesting as the comments that started showing up in the digital margins. One team of all girls made it halfway through an article they agreed was highly interesting, but too mature for some of their classmates. I’d made the same judgment when they told me what they’d selected, but they needed to come to that conclusion on their own. Choice means realizing when you’ve made a bad one. They shifted and all is well.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll have a shared reading experience of some amazingly diverse and high-quality long-form journalism. The students will collaborate on how they interpret and question what they’re reading. The class will build their abilities to converse about a given text and build comprehension, analysis and intertextual reading.
My role will be that of a reader and thinker.
When I showed the class reframeit.com the first time, all I did was give them time to play and told them we’d be sharing our first impressions at the end of play time. Several times, their evaluation danced around the idea that they could see it as possibly useful if they had a clear purpose for using it. Its existence wasn’t inherently useful.
That’s what cache marinading is for.