When You Find Out Your Living Document is Dead and You’re Okay with It

Earlier this semester I wrote about how I had decided to remove the textbook from my required reading list and instead compile a living document of course concepts on my class’s Canvas page. In that essay, I addressed some complications I’d foreseen with this space, and it turns out I was right.

For many reasons, I’m going back to including the glossary of terms when I teach this class again. It proved to be too valuable a tool to have the flexibility of students learning concepts outside of the classroom so they could learn how to apply the concepts for interpretation and analysis in the classroom.

I had almost forgotten about this document altogether, to be honest. A few weeks ago, I sheepishly click on the link, now buried at the bottom of the class homepage to find it hadn’t bene edited since the second week of the semester. This kind of failure is what I love about teaching. To try something, fail, and learn from it. Especially something that is low stakes and didn’t hurt my students’ learning.

In fact, it’s that point in the semester where I’m seeing payoff, so I’m enjoying revisiting my failures. While grading this past weekend, I wrote ‘wow’ and ‘FANTASTIC’ more times than I can count. My students haven’t just learned, but they’ve exceeded my plans for them and they’re surprising themselves with the work that they’re doing.

Most exciting are some digital project my students are working on. One student recently turned in a short story written in one sentence and is read via the Star Wars scroll at a pace that’s *just* too fast for a reader. His project pointed to the ways readers interact with a text and what’s possible when the artist decides to start playing with the way an audience reads. Another exciting project on the horizon is a project where a student is coding music in response to readings.

My students are thriving, even if the living document is not.