Weekly Teaching Note
Oct 19 2011
Glogster and Audio Essays

Here’s a link to an online tool called “Glogster” (http://edu.glogster.com/ ). I use this tool as part of a writing assignment that challenges students to find their writing voices through a “no-writing” writing assignment. The students must use heavy description and narration to pull this one off, because in this case, the audience will listen to (not read) the essay. Of course, all “drafts” are audio drafts, and they’re shared with others in the class—as listeners who provide audio feedback to their trio of writers. Once they’ve received audio feedback, they then must incorporate active listening (using their peers’ comments and critiques) to improve their essay. They must submit their final draft to the instructor (in both written form and in a polished audio form). This exercise causes students to become attuned to their own voices, literally—as well as to make the connection between the writer’s voice and the necessity to become comfortable with having new thoughts and ideas that no one else has possibly thought of before.

To assist with this process, I ask students to decide on an item of technology (new or old) that they’d be seriously lost without, and after great deliberation, they’re required to design and voice their thoughts in descriptive statements and phrases, to create an audio essay of the item, as well as their relationship to it. Theonly limitation of this assignment is that they cannot call the item by itsname. Instead, they have to create a nickname for it. That nickname is the title of the audio essay.

For example, students who have described their relationships to their smart phones have titled their essays thusly: “Noki-Doki” (reminiscent of the Nokia phone); “i2-phone-home” (for an essay about a text-driven student’s addictive relationship to texting on his iPhone, and his parents’ surprise when he stopped texting for a day, using the phone for real conversation, for a change). In another essay entitled “Cupped, Not Sipped” (which focused on a student’s relationship with a favorite coffee cup, and his real love of COLD coffee beverages), the student revealed his vast knowledge of Starbucks coffee and his significant relationships created with others through “the fruit of the bean.”

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

LaNita Kirby, Dept. of English
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
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