Week 2: Identity in Storytelling

We made it to our second week, and it was equally as great as the first. We started class off by listening to each student's audio diary. Their homework was to record an audio diary, less than 60 seconds long, that told us something about them. They ended up being AMAZING. Here's three: 

The reason the audio diaries were so amazing, especially the three posted above, is that in less than 60 seconds they told an incredibly well-crafted story. In Audio Diary 1, you don't know what's happening until the end. Same with Audio Diary 3. They created suspense and made you laugh in 15 seconds in a way I thought was truly incredible. 

After talking about our audio diaries, we checked in with the room to see how everyone felt about the course so far. They were excited, and didn't have many questions. We recapped the Making Waves stories they listened to for homework. Mariah's story "Educating Beyond Stereotypes" and Sarah's story "The Blame Game" came up as favorites. Michaela and I were like, "same." Then we talked about this week's guiding question: "What identities mean the most to us? How do our identities shape the way we see the world, and the way the world sees us?" This classic guiding question has been in the syllabus since the first semester of Making Waves, and it's one we refer back to often. This led into a conversation about their feature story idea brainstorm they did for homework. 

Then we moved on to another longtime staple of the Making Waves curriculum, and one of my favorite listening sessions of the year: the This Is Radio interview with Glynn Washington. It's the BEST. He just says exactly everything that we want the students to know. This is the one where he talks about storytelling as vicarious life living (plus 20 other golden quotes). We watched his interview, then talked about it. 

We had a conversation about identity in storytelling, starting with "what is identity" and then moving into the role of identity in storytelling. That conversation led us into This I Believe. We explained the history of This I Believe, explained their first project (a This I Believe essay), then listened to a favorite TIB story (Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude). Then we did an activity from the This I Believe High School Curriculum where they all had to come up with a shared belief, then tell a story about why they held that belief. It was awesome. 

Their homework this week is to read the first chapter of Out on the Wire and narrow down their feature story ideas, and to listen to two TIB essays and write a first draft of their TIB essay. Next week, they get to do a great get to know you activity, and peer edit personal essays. (We're doing peer edits keeping in mind this episode of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast Revisionist History, where he talks about how class activities that involve peer to peer learning without detailed instruction from the teacher advantages privileged kids and disadvantages less privileged kids. So we thought hard about this, and think we're doing it right.)