Helping Students Engage with Complex Texts and Ideas

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Délice Williams led us in a wonderfully thought-provoking discussion about engaging with complexity in the classroom. Specifically, we considered how we (and how we might) help students to do this work with us. The full retreat notes – a list of texts and a list of practices – are below.

Teaching Complexity Retreat Notes

There were some patterns among the texts and practices, however, that might be useful to articulate as we work to build and revise our courses.

Patterns among texts:

  • Texts that engage identity, diversity, and difference (about race, gender, history, war, class, and intricate combinations)
  • Texts that discuss writing (about genre/mutt genre, digital writing, writing ability)
  • Texts that highlight students (about students, chosen by students, written by students)

Patterns among practices:

  • Articulating assumptions
  • Class debate and large-group discussion
  • Textual analysis (their own texts, peer texts, visually-based texts, verbal texts)
  • Writing (summarizing, responding, analyzing, reflecting)

The practices seem like those common and key to the classroom. These categories of texts (as well as those specific ones listed in the notes) may be useful launching points for engaging students in these practices.

 

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