December 12, 2005

What we learned this semester

On the last day of class, I handed out index cards for our last collaborative piece of writing. I told my first year students to write something they learned this semester, in any class or in the residence hall. Then we shuffled the cards together and read them aloud. Here is what one class came up with:

I learned that inner molecular forces determine the physical properties of a compound.

I learned that plants have hormones.

I learned that Snowstorm City does indeed have worse weather than any other place I have ever been.

I learned that ingesting nutmeg can make a person trip.

Parenchyma cells are highly vacuolate.

Shopping carts are fun.

Looking at bad situations with humor is the only way to not go crazy.

Nyquil is a wonderful drug.

I learned that I like to write.

I learned that I could be very different from people I lived with and still get along with them.

Orange juice goes bad in the fridge.

Sleep is both a precious and scarce resource.

I learned to put up with people, like my roommate.

I learned that I really care about chemistry.

I learned that you can get written up for hitting on an RA while inebriated.

I learned that people aren’t always as mature as they seem. I also learned that in a time of need, unexpected people come through for me.

I learned that I still don’t enjoy writing but I think I am better at it.

I learned that Christianity was a cult in the Roman Empire before Constantine made it the official religion.

I learned that it is sometimes too much effort to sleep or bathe.

I learned how to write geometric isomers.

One thing I learned this semester is that I have to work harder next semester.

I learned a lot. Mainly how very different and unique people can be.

Freewriting is a good way to get ideas onto paper so that I can then organize them.

I learned not to let garbage sit in my room for three weeks.

I learned to write faster.

When one person in a community gets sick, everyone gets sick.

The endosperm is a 3n triploid.

Trees are amazing.

Timing is everything.

I learned that I really enjoy all aspects of science.

I learned that I can write poetry.

Water secretion by the hydathodes is called guttation.

I learned that it was possible for me to read my own writing aloud to a large group of people without passing out.

The sheer amount of writing we did this semester changed my way of thinking about writing. It takes me less time to write papers now because I know that I just have to do it.

I learned to believe in myself.

I learned to appreciate sleep.


RageyOne said...

Shopping carts are fun.

Hmmm...interesting comment.

I like that idea of yours. I may do that with my students next semester. It would be interesting to see what they write and to read them collectively.

Jesse said...

Ahhh, the joys of college....

A good chunk of those bring back good (and still quite fresh) memories.

School was way more fun than this working business....

Ianqui said...

I learned that people aren’t always as mature as they seem.

Yeah, seriously. It's good that the student learn this lesson early.

Anonymous said...

I learned that orange juice lesson in college, too

EmmaNadine said...

I learned to believe in myself.

I wish everyone could learn this.

lostinthemiddle said...


But you know what?

I NEVER learned "The endosperm is a 3n triploid."

I feel a lack.

Coffee-Drinking Woman said...

Heh. That's great. I feel a made-up meme coming on: 10 (or 20, or 37, whatever!) things I learned this semester.

Deb said...

It's neat that a number of them said positive things about their development as writers! It's a testament to you, Jo(e), I'm sure.

Sarah Sometimes said...

I learned that there is a lot to learn in the world.

Anonymous said...

I did not know that about nutmeg.

academic coach said...

amazing how this list captures something about the spirit of being a college freshman. It took me back to those - wow! not-living-at-home days.

ccw said...

What a great and varied list! Thanks for sharing; this brought a smile to my face.

J.K.F. said...

college freshmen are so brilliant and goofy all at the same time. In some ways, I never got over that stage.

What Now? said...

I love this idea; I'm going to borrow it the next time I'm teaching freshmen. Thanks!

Do you have students do this kind of index-card/collective writing lesson often during the semester? What kinds of things do you ask them to write?

BrightStar (B*) said...

your ideas are brilliant.

halloweenlover said...

I have two favorites:

1. I learned not to let garbage sit in my room for three weeks.

2. I learned that you can get written up for hitting on an RA while inebriated.

This is an excellent exercise. Your students are just too funny.

jo(e) said...

What Now?: The index cards work well for writing collaborative poetry. Just pick a topic, have everyone write a line, then shuffle the cards and read them.

Tara Kuther said...

Very cool -- some of these kill me.

I just recently learned the orange juice thing.

wolfa said...

Who can resist orange juice long enough for it to go bad?

I've often had fresh apple juice go bad, but it can do that in two days.

Rana said...

Like the other people here, I love how these comments capture the essence of first-year life.

Brilliant and goofy -- yep!

(I think I'm getting excited about the idea of teaching freshmen again this January.)

Dr. Virago said...

What a wonderful idea! I don't teach freshmen (in fact, sadly, I don't think I've yet met a freshman on my campus!) but I think this could work with my juniors and seniors, too, with different results.

I think this is the first time I've commented here. I love your blog and I'm honored to be on your blogroll. Someday I will get around to updating mine!

Running2Ks said...

And oranges go bad when they sit in a lunchbox you forgot about and found a year later. They turn black and smell like death.

I like gaining knowledge here :)

BotanicalGirl said...

A bunch of them must have been taking an intro botany class:

learned that plants have hormones

Parenchyma cells are highly vacuolate

The endosperm is a 3n triploid.

Water secretion by the hydathodes is called guttation.

All stuff from 101 botany. Not sure why they decided to share with you. Maybe the final was directly before or after. Hee.

Amusing stuff about college life as well.

Cats & Dogma said...

I once had this idea to complie some kind of book called Just Learning where all sorts of people would write up a piece about something they had just learned--famous people, smart people regular people, talking about just these sorts of things. It reminds me that we don't just learn in school, and that we don't just learn about what we're studying.

What a great assignment you've got here.

jo(e) said...

Botanical Girl: My writing course is integrated with a botany course. For their last assignment, they have to choose a plant to write about. I have learned lots of botany reading their papers ....

nancy said...

Now reading that was fun!

see-through faith said...


and I learned a lot about you from what they wrote :)

Julie said...

What a great post. Guttation. Have to remember that.

Diane M. Roth said...

what a GREAT list!!!!!

sexy said...