In previous posts, I often used the Burkean Parlor metaphor to describe an ideal and conversational relationship between students and scholarly sources. This post explains a simple way to dramatize that metaphor. That is, this post hopes to outline a simple strategy that helps students relate a metaphorical and delayed correspondence with sources to an actual and real-time conversation with peers. By utilizing the “flipped classroom” strategy, I found that a simple class conversation becomes a tool to reinforce information literacy. In addition, I found that usual annoyances, such neglected homework and disengagement, can be turned into a “teaching moment.”
In my Rhetorical Genre Analysis Unit, for example, students were asked to read articles, watch videos, and interact with sources (many of which are posted on the English 111 Library Guide) before they came to class. Class time, freed from the time constraints of a lecture, gave students the opportunity to thoroughly analyze different genres and hold uninterrupted conversations.
While discussing texts of differing genres in groups, students were asked to write up a small analysis by applying the rhetorical strategies they were supposed to go over at home. As groups began to co-analyze and co-write, it quickly became apparent to students which of their peers were not able to contribute to the conversation due to lack of prior learning.
To debrief, I made the connection between group dynamics and information literacy explicit. After a series of meta-questions on the writing activity, students agreed that a student who has the prior knowledge necessary to contribute to a conversation in class is very much like an essay that synthesizes appropriate sources to make a new argument.
Through this brief discussion about the “flipped classroom,” students realized that assigned readings and homework become the “sources” needed to have a productive activity in class. Being explicit about this helps students make the connection between their class activities with peers and their own writing process. One of my students came up with the ingenious phrase to summarize information literacy in both class discussions and formal writing: “If you don’t do your homework, people will send you to school.” While I am not sure if this completely makes sense, I couldn’t agree more.