Monday, November 5, 2012

English instructor meets students where they're at

Brenna Clarke Gray (middle) helps you make real-life connections in the study of literature.  
David Denofreo photo
Do you have bad memories of high school English class? So much that you're dreading taking English at college? Have no fear, because Douglas English instructor Brenna Clarke Gray speaks your language. A lover of new technologies and different ways of learning, Brenna will help you find your way into the study of literature at a level you can appreciate. 

A text is a text is a text 

“I like to start the semester with TV shows or graphic novels or films," she says. "I find the same student who is super nervous about discussing a theme when it’s in something scary like a poem or a novel can talk about it fluently when they’ve seen it in a TV show or read it in a graphic novel. If students can recognize something in one kind of text, they are totally capable of doing it in another.” 

Email is so 2000 

“For our students, email is how you get in touch with Mom and Dad, how you get info from your bank and stuff. I find Facebook and Twitter are about meeting students where they’re at. Rather than sitting here waiting for them to reach out by email, they might send me a quick tweet that says, ‘Hey, I’m confused about this reading.’” 

Beyond the classroom 

“I set up course groups on Facebook, which means students have a common place they can go to discuss course issues. The best is when they say, ‘I just saw a funny video on Youtube and it reminded me of this main character we’re talking about.’ Making those real life connections is what the study of literature is all about.” 

Brenna assigns her students to post articles on Wikipedia. Find out how it makes them more conscious writers in a story we published last year.

Read more inspiring stories about our students and instructors in our new viewbook.