Short Story #31: The Ash Tree by M.R. James

Title: The Ash Tree

Author: M.R. James

Short Story #31 out of 365

Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/24/2014
SourceAlfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.  The short story can also be found here for free on this site.  You can also listen to an old time radio production at this site.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

The narrator introduces us to his predeliction for old buildings in England's countryside.  He focuses on one building in Castringham Hall in Suffolk, England.  He proceeds to tell us of its curious history that started in 1690 when the owner and mayor of the town accused a local woman of being a witch.  She was hung and burried.  Later on, the mayor, Sir Matthew Fell dies a horrid death where his servants find him in his room dead and blackened with the window open.  No one is quite sure what happens but many suspect poison.  His son takes over the estate and continues his life with no incident.  His son, Sir Richard inherits the house at that point and after some time, moves into the bedroom that Sir Matthew had died it (it had been essentially closed since his death).  He begins to hear things at night and decides to cut down the ash tree right outside his bedroom window--the same ash tree that his grandfather had reservations about.  However, the night before the tree-cutting is supposed to occur, he is murdered in a similar fashion to his grandfather.  Villagers come to the house and set to cutting down the tree.  When they begin to cut into it, they hear a pitched scream which raises their concern.  Eventually, one man climbs up the tree to look down a hollow in the tree and is so shocked, he falls off his ladder and drops his lantern setting the area afire.  The tree catches fire but not before people realize the little creatures inside (people had seen them from afar but were never quite sure what they were) were giant spiders.  They also discover these spiders had fed off the body of the woman who was accused of being a witch earlier in the story.  

Reflection

Overall, it was a well written story.  M.R. James is good with horror and I've read 1-2 other stories by him.  I feel like the spiders--though well set up overall--felt a bit weak and insubstantial.  I also would have preferred the narrator to have some more central role to the story.  The actual characters the story focuses on don't really come to life in any real capacity.  
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Tales of Running: The 2014 Line-Up, or OMG, Are You Insane?

I started signing up for my 2014 races.  This list only goes up to July as many of the later summer and fall races are as yet not available for sign up or haven't confirmed a date.  As I mentioned elsewhere, I want to run 4-6 marathons this year and get myself ready for doing a double-marathon next year.  I'm also looking to get under the 2 hour mark for my half-marathon and the 4 hour mark for the marathon (though that one I think is a bit of a reach).  That's a lot to ask for in a single year but I'm up for the challenge given how well last year went.  


This is the time to beat!
I need to shave 35 minutes off.
Gulp
If you're a runner, feel free to join up with me for any of these races--I always appreciate the company!

Old Fashioned 10 Miler and Fast 5K (OFTM)

11:00AM on February 16, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: 10 MILES
35 Neponset Ave Foxboro, MA 
http://www.wampanoagroadrunners.org/oftm.html


The 4th Annual Black Cat 10 & 20 Miler

9:00AM on March 1, 2014 (Saturday)
Distance: 20 MILES
Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, MA
http://www.blackcatroadrace.com/


The Eastern States 20 Mile and Run for the Border Half Marathon

Mar 30, 2014
Distance: 20 MILES
Portsmouth, NH
http://www.easternstates20mile.com

Fools Dual Half Marathon (5K and Half-Marathon)

April 6, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: HALF-MARATHON
OMaley Middle School, 32 Cherry Street , Gloucester, MA
http://www.yukanrun.com/Fools-Dual.html

Earth Rock Run

April 27, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: MARATHON
North Andover, Massachusetts
http://earthrockrun.com/

Wallis Sands Half Marathon

May 04, 2014
Distnace: HALF-MARATHON
Wallis Sands State Park, Rye, NH
http://www.wallissandshalfmarathon.com/index

Granite State Marathon

May 13, 2014
Distance: MARATHON
Mine Falls Park, Nashua, NH
http://www.newenglandchallenge.org/granite.html

2014 Twin Lobster Half Marathon Challenge 

Jun 01, 2014
Distance: HALF-MARATHON
Gloucester High School, Gloucester, MA 01930
http://www.yukanrun.com/Twin-Lobster.html

Mad Marathon

July 6, 2014
Distance: Marathon
Mad River Valley, Vermont
http://www.madmarathon.com/MMarathon.html






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Short Story #30: Pieces of Silver by Brett Halliday

Title: Pieces of Silver

Author: Brett Halliday

Short Story #30 out of 365

Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/22/2014
SourceAlfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

The narrator is speaking to an insurance man explaining to him about the disappearance of Thurston, an American who had visit him the Isthmus of Tejhauntepec.  He explains to the agent that he, the narrator, was part of his crew and knows as much as there is to know about Thurston's disappearance.  He then relates the story of how Thurston appeared and was arrogant and condescending to the narrator and other Mexicans.  He met another "gringo" in the area, Mr. Simpson, who had lived there for 20 years and was well accepted by the locals.  Thurston pressures Simpson and a crew to take him up river during siesta rather than waiting because he's looking for reported oil seepage in hopes of discovering an oil.  He works the crew brutally hard, insulting them the whole time to the point at which they are ready to mutiny.  Thurston carries a gun which outranks their weapons.  When they arrive near Simpson's home, he takes a clear interest in Simpson's 16 year old daughter, Lolita.  This troubles all of the Mexicans and Simpson who tells him to go on his way.  Simpson sets up camp a little bit away from Simpson's home, hoping to seduce the daughter.  At night, Simpson throws a party wherein he invites Lolita's fiance and his tribe.  They have a long party that Thurston shows up at, uninvited.  He watches as Lolita dances the fluencita, a dance of love and seduction for her fiance.  At the height of the dance, American silver dollars are thrown onto the ground in front of her.  Everyone is in shock as this is a sign of disrespect.  They look to see Thurston leaving.  The next morning Thurston takes off with the crew (Simpson was only going as far as his house).  Along the way, they meet some Mexicans who ask if Thurston was looking for the oil.  He leaves with them and the crew come back.  Here, the narrator explains to the insurance agent that they were men from the tribe of Lolita's fiance and they in all likelihood killed him by staking him to the ground, pouring honey on him and letting ants devour him.  The kicker comes in the last sentence when we learn that it was Simpson who threw the coins on the ground at the right time, setting up Thurston.  

Reflection

I liked this story.  The ending surprised me.  It was obvious that Thurston was going to die but that Simpson threw in the coins-a well-played surprise.  However, it was the style that really captured me.  The entire story is presented as a one-way dialogue between the narrator and the insurance agent but we never hear the insurance agent, only the narrator's response to his questions.  This quality of "dialogue" in the writing makes the story feel more natural in terms of how the story is told and gives it a certain rhythm.  It was the type of story that you could definitely "hear" more than read.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #29: The Hated by Frederik Pohl

Title: The Hated 

Author: Frederik Pohl

Short Story #29 out of 365

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/21/2014
Source:   Published in Galaxy Science Fiction January 1958, available at the Gutenberg Project site as well as a free ebook on Amazon.
Cover - Galaxy Science Fiction - January 1958


Summary

Byron was among a handful of six people who visited Mars.  But what they don't tell you about going to Mars is that you have to be programmed to not kill your team because you are crammed together for nine months in a very small space.  When you return to Earth, you are sectioned to different parts of the country so that you don't encounter one another.  Byron is at a bar across the river in New Jersey where he's telling this woman about his adventures as an astronaut when he hears a sneeze that he recognizes and looks for another crew member in the bar.  He breaks a bottle and starts to attack the other crew member when he awakes with a doctor nearby.  Byron remembers that he is being re-trained to enter society in a way that won't have him trying to kill his teammates.  The doctor explains that he's making great progress according to his records and Byron agrees.  However, Byron reveals in the last sentence that he's dying to get out of the office so he can go kill his former teammates.

Reflection

This is definitely a fun story to read and to reflect on.  I haven't read much of Pohl but this certainly grabbed my interest.  It had a bit flavor of noir to it with the protagonist's voice and attitude and some elements of Philip K. Dick with the programming and system of avoidance.  It's a short story but even more so, it moves at a clipped pace--it's also fun to read aloud.  




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Short Story #28: The Valor of Cappen Varra by Poul William Anderson

Title: The Valor of Cappen Varra 

Author: Poul William Anderson

Short Story #28 out of 365

Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/20/2014
Fantastic Universe, January 1957
Source:  This story was published in Fantastic Universe January 1957 but can also be found as a free ebook on Amazon.


Summary

Cappen Varra is a minstrel of the south attempting to make a fortune by going to the north and offering services to the kings in the north.  Unfortunately, the plan doesn't quite work out.  One king is fond of him but has not offered him any real profit.  While at sea, they are hit by a terrible storm.  In dire need of fire, they see a red light from an island.  They send Cappen off to the island to retrieve it but the local islands are covered with trolls.  Cappen is no brave soldier so he's absolutely terrified.  His only hope is that he has a charm from a wizard that will protect him against harmful magic and that supposedly, trolls cannot do harm to someone who does not fear them.  He finds the source of the red light--a cave fire for a troll-wife (which is just  another term for a female troll).  The troll also has a female captive whom Cappen takes a liking to.  The troll-wife believes she will feast on Cappen but he challenges her and ultimately, loses through Cappen's superior wits.  He takes the woman, whom he realizes is the daughter of the king he currently is employed by and returns to the ship.  It's at this point that the woman explains that his magic charm couldn't work because the troll was not magical.  Also upon returning the daughter to the king, the king promises Cappen the kingdom and his daughter's hand in marriage.  Early the next morning, Cappen runs away.


Reflection

A fun and light-hearted story compared to some of the others I've read this past month.  It is amusing to see a story like this--that is, fantasy--published in a science-fiction magazine but given both were just emerging genres and there is overlap (Anderson is more well known for his science fiction), it's to be expected. 

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #27: The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl

Title:  The Sound Machine 

Author:  Roald Dahl

Short Story #27 out of 365

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/18/2014
Source:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

Klausen is working on a machine when his doctor stops by to check on him and inquires as to what he is doing.  Klausen is building a machine that will allow him to hear the sounds that are at frequencies that the human ear generally can't hear.  With clear hints of mental instability, he believes he must find a way to hear these things.  The doctor leaves him to his work though not without some clear concern.  Klausen continues to work on his device until he believes it's ready.  He brings it out of his workshop (a shed in his backyard) and turns it on to listen.  He hears nothing but then all of a sudden hears a loud cry.  He soon connects it to his neighbor who is cutting flowers.  He asks her to cut one more, though he approach does not put the neighbor at ease.  He deduces that the plant life is screaming when cut.  This leads him to another experiment early the next morning.  He ventures over to the park with his machine and an ax.  He cuts into the tree and hears such a wail that it sets his nerves a rattling.  He calls the doctor (at 6:30am) and demands he come check it out.  He puts the earphones on the doctor and takes another slice at the tree.  As he does it, the ground shakes a bit and a large branch comes cascading down.  He and the doctor are not hurt but the machine is destroyed.  Klausen tries to get the doctor to admit that he heard the tree cry before it happen but he refuses to do so (whether because he doesn't want to admit it or because he didn't actually here it is not clear.  He insists that the doctor stitch up the wound in the tree and when the doctor explains that he can't, then Klausen requests he put iodine on it.  After putting the iodine on it, they leave with Klausen clearly committed to trying this again.

Reflection

This was an intriguing story.  It had that darkness that permeates many of Dahl's work which I've come to enjoy.  The environmental theme was also interesting to see played with and the idea of what if we are doing harm but are literally deaf to the harm we are causing to the plant life around us.  That the doctor did not hear it may play into the idea that Klausen is crazy or it may be that rational minds refuse to follow down that path that Klausen has gone because only madness can come of it.  After all, if we knew even the plant life had some sense of life, would it change our relationship with the world any more (alas, this is doubtful if we look at our relationship with animal life). 

Finally, the most curious element of the story happens in the second paragraph.  When we are first introduced to Klausner, he is working in his shed on the device.  The device is compared to "the shape of a child's coffin."  This wording at least initially seemed to indicate something morbid and evil would occur.  One could certainly argue that it did--the discovering of the massive silent slayings of plant life over the millennia.  Yet, that it also makes one wonder about Klausner himself and what led him down this path of obsession with things that cannot be heard.
 
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #26: The Cocoon by John B. L. Goodwin

Title: The Cocoon

Author: John B. L. Goodwin

Short Story #26 out of 365

Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read:  1/19/2014
Source:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

Denny has followed in his father's footsteps and collects trophies from his explorations in the local wildlife.  His interest is on butterflies and moths and he continues to find interesting specimens in a vain effort to impress his father.  He stumbles upon one find that he has never seen before and it becomes an all-consuming interest of his throughout the fall, winter, and spring until the creature hatches from its cocoon.  With no container to hold the creature in, Denny decides to gas it so it can then mount it on his wall of insects.  After he does this, strange events occur.  The dead moth wreaks of some repulsive smell and the night time is filled with strange sounds.  With each passing night, Denny becomes increasingly worn out and visibly ill.  Finally, one morning the servant finds Denny dead on the floor in an almost cocoon like state.

Reflection

Goodwin made the process of caterpillar to moth/butterfly absolutely fascinating and haunting.  His ability to capture the process and reveal nature in several ways is well done in this story.  Goodwin also plays with hints about the deeper nature of issues within the story such as a passing comment from Denny's dad that their mother is no longer legally able to contact him.  

However, it's the ways in which Goodwin depicts Denny--both as a boy exploring his own agency and as a representative human in using the environment as play things that is most fascinating.  This sentence I found most compelling:  "Armed with his forceps and his omnipotence, Denny explored each living leaf and twig."  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #25: Evening Primrose by John Collier

Title:  Evening Primrose

Author:  John Collier

Short Story #25 out of 365

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/17/2014
Source Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.  You can find the short story on Archive.org here or you can find it as a radio episode for Escape here.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

The narrator, a self-proclaimed poet who has abandoned society sets off to live in a department store and survive by scurrying in the dark of the stores through the night, avoiding the night watchman.  He quickly discovers that there is an entire civilization of people who live in such stores--small clans at each store throughout the city.  He slowly becomes part of this group as he learns their ways and learns to camoflauge himself against the night watchman.  He also slowly become enfatuated with a servant to the clan's leader.  He slowly befriends her and courts her even through the rest of the group cares little for her.  When he finally confesses his love for her, she rejects him telling him that she's in love with the night watchman and plans to reveal herself soon to him.  In despair, he shares the story in confidence with another of the clan, who promptly tells the leader.  That night, the servant is put out to be taken by the Dark Men--foul creatures from the funeral home who turn problematic people of this department-store world into department store models.  The story ends with his last entry saying he is going to get the watchman to help save the servant.  

Reflection

I liked this story.  I've seen different versions of it and it reminds me simultaneously of the movie Mannequin and of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere series.  Though he does it with just slight remarks, Collier does provide a keen sense of this underworld.  The use of journal entries is always something I enjoy as it often makes on experience time differently within the story than the traditional third-person story or even just a first person account.  


For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #24: Lady's Man by Ruth Chatterton

Title: Lady's Man

Author: Ruth Chatterton

Short Story #24 out of 365

Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/16/2014
Source:   Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.
Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

Upon visiting Noel Coward's house for a weekend away, Ruth finds at the end of the night, she is sent to stay in a guest room on the first floor.  Noel acts a bit strange in offering it to her because it is a very nicely set up room.  During the course of the night, she hears voices and the door even opens and someone or something comes in.  She's quite puzzled and a little bit scared by this but eventually falls back asleep to wake up at noon.  When meets with the others in Noel's house, she makes inquiries about it, only to find that Noel knew it was haunted but was curious by the haunting as it has only gone after women and not men.  He relates teh stories of three other people, two whom he names and one he doesn't.  Afterwards, she's begins to insist that is not something supernatural but another woman at the party confronts her saying that it must be and Ruth is only fooling herself.  When Ruth pushes the conversation, it's revealed that this woman was the third woman Noel was talking about.

Reflection

The story felt a bit flat.  There was some suspense and it seems a bit hard to register if this was true or not since it was dealing with a real person (Noel Coward).  That might have been actually enjoyable as it could create tension but the punchline focused more on discovering the third woman than it did on finding out more about the supernatural occurrence.  
 
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #23: The Whole Town's Sleeping by Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Whole Town's Sleeping

Author: Ray Bradbury

Short Story #23 out of 365

Rating: 2  (out of 5 stars)


Date Read:  1/15/2014
Source:   Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.  I could not find the full text, but here is a radio transcript and here is the radio broadcast of it.


Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur

Summary

Lavinia sits on her porch waiting for her friend to go meet with another friend to go to see a movie that night (Welcome Danger!).  When her friend shows up, the neighbor warns them about going out but they assure her that they are ok and won't encounter "The Lonely One," the nickname for a person who has been killing women.  The town is set up with a ravine near it so they must cross the ravine to actually get to town.  Upon doing into the ravine, they encounter the dead body of a girl that went missing.  They report it to the police and then, in an attempt to forget about it, they meet up with their friend to go see the movie.  They eventually get there but the movie night is cut short because the police have requested an early curfew given the recent murder.  The women leave the theater and eventually, begin walking home.  However, Lavinia lives across the ravine and so her two friends try to convince her to stay with them for the night or to call for help.  She refuses believing she is ok and there is nothing to worry about.  When she is on her own, she does start to become a little more jumpy at sounds.  Someone approaches her and she thinks it's the Lonely One but it turns out to be a local office.  As she descends into the ravine, she begins to hear someone walking and even think she sees someone.  She becomes scared enough she begins to sprint as fast as she can.  She gets to her home and opens the door.  Slamming the door behind her, she looks to see who was following her outside.  There is no one, but then someone clears his throat behind her.   

Reflection

Though well-told with a good pace to it, this is one of Bradbury's lesser interesting stories.  It's a bit cliche and even misogynistic with some of its efforts (the young women who defy the male-authority of the town are punished, the independent woman being punished for being independent).  Of course, the ravine connected with the town just spelled trouble from the beginning as did the movie they were going to see, since merely going to the movie, the girls "welcomed danger."  Lavinia was likeable as a character at least in modern times where independent women are more appreciated and recognized but I can't help feeling that Bradbury  could have done better by her   
 
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Short Story #22: Death Is a Dream by Robert Arthur

Title:  Death Is a Dream

Author:  Robert Arthur

Short Story #22 out of 365

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)


Date Read: 1/13/2014
Source:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.


Summary

Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert ArthurDavid and his new wife visit his therapist because he's been having nightmares all week.  His therapist puts him under hypnosis to explore the dream that's causing so much trouble.  The dream started the night before he got married to his wife.  He dreams of hearing from his last wife, Louise, who died a year ago.  She has visited him and explained that she faked her death and now, wants money from him.  At this point, Richard, David's repressed schiztophrenic inner "twin" emerges to convince him to do something about Louise because she will keep coming back for money and ruin his new life with his new wife.  David refuses to do anything and so Richard takes over and eventually blinds David to his actions.  At this point, the therapist calls upon David to recognize the dream as guilt and fear about having wished his past wife dead and the dreams are a manifestation of that fear and guilt coming to a boil now that he has just remarried.  It's at this point that the new wife goes to fetch something in one of David's chests that Richard emerges and warns not to open the chest because that's where he stuffed Louise, but the warning is too late and he's left with needing to do away with the evidence.

Reflection

This is a fun story in part because it reminded me so much of Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in that it feels like a slightly modernized version with the presents of the therapist.  Maybe it's because I'm such a fan of Stevenson or just because we're attuned to such plot devices in modern culture, but I knew once Richard was mentioned, it wasn't going to be a dream but that Richard would return to the present scene.  However, Arthur still kept a good narrative flow that pulled the reader in.  
  
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.





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Hybrid Fluxed #01: The Semester of Hybrid Flexible Teaching (And Learning!)

As some may know, I just finished another Master's Degree (that's #3 for those that are counting).  My final project for said degree was to develop a hybrid flexible course for an American Literature I course that I've been teaching for a while now.  

What is Hybrid Flexible Pedagogy?

There are other definitions such as Dr. Brian Betty's work that has influenced my thoughts on understanding hybrid flexible but here's my stab at defining it:

Hybrid flexible pedagogy seeks to maximize the amount of choice (i.e. flexibility) for students within a given course (or even program, ultimately), with regards to class format (online vs. face to face), content (learning resources), and evaluation.  

That's the best definition I can come up with.  So what that has mean for my course is that I've developed a course in which students can take the course entirely face-to-face, entirely online, or move back and forth between the face-to-face course and the online course in any given week. 

I came to create this from y experience with teaching evening classes.  These classes meet once a week and if a student misses a class, they are likely to fall seriously behind.  In my experience, students in evening class often miss class for serious reasons (or at least more often than not).  Often, it's because their life has gone into crisis mode (sometimes small, sometimes really big).  Thus, they hit obstacles in life and missing class only adds to it.  So I thought about what could be done so that they could potentially be caught up to speed by the start of the next class.  That led me down the road of hybrid flexible pedagogy.  

Online and Face-To-Face

The course as it stands now, ready to launch entails students coming to the physical classroom and engaging in different activities around the course content or going online and moving through activities that should be similar to the face-to-face activities.  To make sure for this balance, I have create a series of videos (narrated powerpoints) for students to view.  The full playlist of videos for the course has been put on Youtube.  What I like about this part is that students can attend the face-to-face but also benefit from the online content for reinforcement and further clarification.  

Choices Abound

Coupled with the above format, I have also pushed to develop the resources so that students can choose what readings they want to read for any given week out of a larger selection of readings.  One benefit I have with doing this with American Literature I is that all of the works I want to use are in the public domain.  So rather than assigning a textbook with everyone reading the same text, I have provided 5-10 readings for a given week and have students choose which ones to read (requiring a certain page amount read).  Coupled with this, I have expanded choice in terms of their assignments and what they can write about or the different ways they can do an assignment.  For instance, their final project they have several different choices including a traditional final essay, a Wikipedia entry, making a Librivox recording or even, pitching their own final project.  

Particularly around courses that students have little to no choice in taking, it makes sense to provide them with some opportunities to express their preference and choice.  However, I also thought about how this concept worked perfectly with some of the themes of American Literature and how it is a continually attempt to widen choice and opportunity (a focal point for a good deal of our readings).  

Where Do We Go From Here?
This is a just a brief introduction to what I'm doing.  I plan on writing and reflecting about the experience here on the blog and also providing materials and updates for people that are interested in creating this format as we move forward.

If you would like further information, please contact me, Lance Eaton.






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