I'm finishing up grading, especially the final project for the majors class I taught this semester. It's sort of a flakey project, one I borrowed from the profs who designed the course, and one I'm ambivalent about. But on the positive side, it's fascinating, and reading these doesn't bore me to tears.
The basic idea is that the students put together a collection that represents themselves and then uses the terms and concepts of textual study to talk about how the collection works as a collection. So, right now, I have some pretty cool things in my office. A few of them are mine, and would be in my collection were I to do this project
A light sabre. Way cool.
A collection of Beatles trading cards.
Baby Pictures. LOTS!
A Pop-Up Book
Little magnet of an American Indian symbol: a bear idol
Several diplomas and graduation caps
More Bibles than I can shake a stick at (I have three in the office myself, but the students included several as well.)
A My Pony doll/toy thing.
A Matchbox car.
Concert ticket stubs. For bands I've never heard of. I feel OLD.
Rolling chair. My office chair, like most of the furniture in my office, comes from the 50s. It's wood, and has some creaks, but is surprisingly comfortable, and since I own WD-40, well lubricated. I could have chair races. Seriously.
An empty Birth Control Pill package. (Okay, seriously, could we save some packaging on these things!?!?!)
Reading these projects makes me realize that certain things really stand out for my students, especially things they were involved in through high school (most students in this class are first and second year students).
Sports. Male and female students talk about having played sports and such. Sometimes they talk about how their coaches got arrested. Or how miserable they were. Or how they feel like failures. Or how they learned to work with other people.
Band. This one time at band camp... not quite, but people who play in high school bands seem to take a lot away from the experience, and most of it seems positive.
Travel. My students come from deeply disparate backgrounds. Some have traveled tons, others haven't been to the state capital. Some have traveled as tourists, some as missionaries, and some as soldiers.
Money. Again with the disparate backgrounds. The students who are poor are, well, poor. Some worry about getting dinner regularly. Others worry about the latest ipod or something. Tenured Radical has recently posted about becoming more aware of basic hunger amongst her students. I don't usually think about my students being hungry, because so many of them display consumer ability so broadly, but I'm not seeing as well as I should.