All my activity in Zoom is quietly supervised by Empress Agatha, whom I wish to thank for her support and patience.
Since I first learnt about Focused Free Writing exercises, I have been introducing them in my common in-class activity. At present, I find at least a weekly chance to introduce an FFW exercise in a Zoom class. FFW is gradually replacing the impromptu questions I used to give my students to incite their participation.
When covering the Milgram experiments on obedience to authority in social psychology, I used to show a short video from the original records of those experiments and then invite a round of comments or questions. This would be received by the class as a brief break to stretch legs and let expression free. Yet, in comparison to a FFW exercise, it would be too diffuse and unproductive.
This is the FFW exercise I do now for the Milgram experiments on obedience:
– I give a general description of the Milgram experiments, their context, basic rationale and design.
– I introduce the video: “I will now show you a short video from the original recordings of the experiments. While you watch the video and for a couple of minutes afterwards, I would like you to write two or three lines answering these questions: (1) How and why can the behavior of the ‘teacher’ be considered compliance? And (2) How and why would the ‘teacher’ resist instructions? This is a Focused Free Writing exercise, so please write, either on paper or with a word processor, your proposed answers to these questions”. I give these indications both verbally and in the Zoom chat.
– After watching the video, I leave a couple of minutes for students to write.
– I then open a round for students to orally share with the whole class one of the statements they wrote; these become the basis for a focused discussion.