by Amy Sedivy
Moving to remote learning was a challenge in so many ways. For my literature classes, would we read Beowulf aloud over Zoom? Would we discuss Homegoing in small break-out groups or all together on the main screen? How would we deal with the random dog or cat that so easily disrupted any point I was trying to make? (We always stopped to admire the animal.)
My creative writing class and I tossed around ideas. Students had been spending two or three weeks in class, writing stories. The idea of not seeing each other for that length of time made us all unhappy, but the idea of tuning in to Zoom and silently writing just sounded weird. So, I suggested a weekly flash fiction. On Fridays, I posted a prompt. They had time to work on it during the following week and our class Zoom-met on Thursday. Everyone posted their stories on Google Classroom. We chatted briefly about the challenges of that week’s prompt and then we all stayed online and read each other’s stories, writing our comments at the end of each story. We commented aloud occasionally – “Vivi, you managed not to kill anyone off this time!” and “Peter, how did you get the idea to use the floating garbage patch?”
The camaraderie returned slowly over the weeks and it almost started to feel like our regular class meetings again. We were reluctant to sign off at the end of class and reluctant to end the semester. Several of the students asked if we could keep going! So this summer, I will continue posting prompts and we will continue to meet once a week.
We put together a book of all the flash fiction, calling it Tales from the Plague. A PDF is available for you to read. Note that these are all drafts and not particularly edited for grammar or typos. But they are enjoyable and wide-ranging! The book is arranged by prompt, allowing you to read all the diverse contributions for each week’s prompt. From time travel, to talking to a famous monument, to contemplating ‘the end,’ the writers’ imaginations take you all over the world and beyond. Email Jennifer@thewaverlyschool.org and she will forward the PDF!