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The Sounds of Contemporary Lit

I am excited to work more explicitly with sound in preparation for Shawnee, Ohio.Т  In my teaching, I largely ignore sound as a strategy in creative writing. I was actually worried that students would think our introductory assignment too bizarre. I was wrong.

You all know I am a fan of using Google Slides to collaborate. I thought this would be a great way for students to write, add sounds to their writing, and share their comments on one another’sТ writing. I named it “Sounds ofТ ContemporaryТ Lit.”

I didn’t anticipate the snowball effect of sharing our favorite sounds. I started with an example of my own writing about trains. Students immediately chimed in with their own memories and associations with sounds.


One student lamented, “Ms. Swensen, you stole my favorite sound.”

“No worries,” I replied. “You can write about the same sound. I don’t own it.”

“No,” she replied, “you stole my associations and words, too.”

In our writing workshop that first day, students were buzzing with excitementТ about ideas sounds to write about: from the thump-thump-thump of mysterious copper pipes in the basement to campfires and the sounds of the kitchen that cannot be fully extracted from their olfactory resonances. Our classroom itself became one of my new favorite sounds: a collaborative, creative cacophony.

After polishing our work, I modeled feedback on others’ work in an effort to deepen my students’ “good jobs” and “I like its.” They found ways to compliment each others writing and share their own sound experiences in the process. What I thought might take 3o minutes morphed into 60 minutes of writing, sharing, collaboration (many students helped each other with adding live links, formatting images, etc), and community building. Т In the end, that’s the best “sound of contemporary lit”: community building.



1 Comment »

  1. Kim, I love how your student zeroed in on the idea of how we feel sounds BELONG to us! Great activity blending visual and audio with words.


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