An Update on the Mini-mini Modules

The session at CATE went well.  Some in the group were entirely new to ERWC, while others were experienced ERWC teachers who had come to hear more about the updated materials.  Kim Flachmann presented the changes in the updated ERWC curriculum, including the re-designed Assignment Template, the new 12th grade modules, and the new modules for 7th-11th grade.  I introduced the mini-mini modules as a way of seeing the teaching “arc” of the new template.  Carol Jago, author of many books on teaching English including With Rigor for All: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading LiteraturePapers, Papers, Papers: An English Teachers Survival Guide, and Classics in the Classroom: Designing Accessible Literature Lessons, attended the session and said that she was interested in using the mini-mini modules in teaching or in a workshop.  She suggested a slight change in the writing prompt of the first module, however.  She felt that the concept of “advice” narrowed the scope of the writing too much, and in an unproductive way.  I agree.  The revised prompt reads

Lydia Davis’s stories are often about relationships between couples or between humans and their pets. In these two stories, what difficulties arise in relationships between two individuals? Write an essay in which you explore the problems of relationships as presented in these stories. Define the problems and the implied solutions, supporting your ideas with quotations from the stories and examples from your own experience.

Carol was on the original ERWC taskforce, and has made many contributions to the development of ERWC.   You can read more about her work on her official website.

Here is a link to a revised draft of the assignment (still two pages).

After more feedback from others, I added more detail to the “Writing Rhetorically” section.  This is a three-page version.

2 thoughts on “An Update on the Mini-mini Modules

  1. Greetings Dr. Edlund,

    Has there been much time devoted to exploring why the mini-modules and mini-mini modules were so successful? I’m wondering if there is any data suggesting that students (and people in general) have shorter attention spans due to an increase in dependence on technology and how this might affect ERWC modules.

    I also wonder if the human brain is as capable of applied concentration as ever, but we as a society have created an allowance for sub-par attention spans because of technology’s seeming crippling affect on concentration. If this allowance is the case and human brains are not being slowly rewired by technology, then how should ERWC and education in general progress? Seems we ought not capitulate to demands for shorter, brighter, shinier pedagogy, however, as educators we should also be realistic about the direction of society and future students.

    This is in no way an attack on the mini-module or the mini-mini module – I think both sound very helpful and productive. However, these modules do inspire some questions on larger issues.

  2. Well, “successful” in this case means that this group of teachers liked them. There has been no study of their effectiveness with students. I created them mostly as an exercise in showing teachers the “arc” of a module.

    I do think that our devices have decreased our attention spans and our capacity for sustained reading of long texts. I am writing this on an iPad. I like writing on this device. However, I also read newspapers and magazines on it, and I am getting tired of that. My eyes get tired, and I never remember where I read anything or how I know it.

    The kindle is better on the eyes, but books are still expensive and the navigation is clunky. I am beginning to miss the world of ink and paper.

    But I digress. I think your point is that a longer module provides a sustained multi-perspectival engagement with a significant text, and that students need that sort of experience more than ever. I agree.

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