Cognito Incognitus Paranormal Magazine Volume 1, Issue 2 - Page 2

Dear Readers, Is the truth really out there? This is the seminal question that was flashed across the screen during the credits of every episode of the X-Files. While investing a good part of one of my summer vacations into this show, it finally hit me that I needed to incorporate this subject matter into my classes. Eight full seasons of seeing that seminal question. It is mysterious, contemporary and surprisingly relevant at this point in time. I set down and compiled a list; relaying topics from my own interest in the subject and some that were suggested by my favorite show, everything from the conspiracies relating to assassinations of key political figures in our government to Bigfoot and the Mothman. I knew that students would instantly gravitate toward the ominous nature of the subjects covered in this list. I only hoped that marrying MLA Format with conspiracy theories would help students be invested in this process while also learning skills they needed for college. Would it work? Thankfully, it did. I began this research project with my students three years ago during my second year of teaching. Rough patches aside, students really seemed to be invested in the task of researching topics that seemed so unorthodox to them. MLA research and writing suddenly became interesting if it involved aliens and the Jersey Devil. I remember thinking after the initial class of researchers; I need to make this bigger, more relevant. So, with the next batch of students, I added a presentation requirement to the project. This seemed to be the next logical step in making sure students are invested in this project. I thought about students giving synopses of their topics with elegantly structured arguments revealing their evidence and claims to the audience. Now students could incorporate evidence like images and videos, all the while sharing their research with their peers. Students were engaged in this process. Upon observations of my first set of presentations, students were eager and willing to share their research with others while the audience was eager and willing to question the presenter and think critically about the evidence being presented. At this point, I knew that this idea was an effective way to present a rather boring concept in a new light. MLA research and writing suddenly became interesting if it involved aliens and demonic possession. After continuing with this format for two years, I felt like it was time to change things again. Could I add another component to this project without students feeling burned out in relation to their topics? This brings us to the present day. I am thinking about my students working on this additional component. They have completed their MLA Format research papers. They have delivered their presentations to an audience and confidently fielded questions from them. Now, they are piecing together a digital publication to share with the rest of the world. What better way to make sure others see and hear the research and evidence of my students? As I hear the ideas that are being expressed by my students, one thing is clear: creativity and self-directed learning is at home with this assignment and its aliens, Bigfoots and Loch Ness Monsters. Good Stuff! John Spillman Superintendent Spillville City Schools