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Will't please you sit, and look at her?

Will't please you sit, and look at her?

by Caley Ehnes -
Number of replies: 3

Hi all, a quick intro. I am an English Instructor at the College of the Rockies. This will be my first semester teaching English Literature online.

I have a few discussion prompts related to one week's content and would love feedback. This prompt is more of an introduction post designed to get students thinking about the main concepts of the week. In this case, the main concept is the dramatic monologue and the power of speech. 

My main challenge is always encouraging interactions between students. My other prompt for the week will ask students to pose a question and to respond to one of their peers' questions.

Discussion prompt:

The silent auditor is a major feature of the dramatic monologue. This forum asks you to think about the auditor. Please compose a brief response (50-100 words) for each prompt in the threads I started for you. Feel free to respond to one another and to build on each other's observations.

Prompt #1: Describe your experiences listening to the poem? How did you feel? What stood out to you as you listened?

Prompt #2: Imagine you are the silent auditor of the poem (i.e. the count's representative). What do you think he is thinking/feeling as he hears the Duke's speech? 

The poem, if you are wondering, is the wonderful "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning (link:

In reply to Caley Ehnes

Re: Will't please you sit, and look at her?

by Elena Felgar -

Hi Caley,

I hear you on the issue of how to encourage interactive discussion between participants! I am also trying to figure that out. 

I love your prompt #2. I think it can help to capture their imagination and ask people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. One suggestion I have for the first prompt is to perhaps add a few more prompts about what you’d like for them to consider from their experience of the poem. For example, what images may have come to mind? What colors or similarities to other images they have seen before? What smells or sensations did they experience? Any sounds? This may help them to connect more deeply to the experience of the poem. 

Another option could be to ask “If you could ask the author anything about the poem, what would it be?”

As far as discussion between participants, I wonder if asking them to write another discussion prompt in response to another person’s post? (Eg what are you wondering about? What is unclear to you? )

In reply to Elena Felgar

Re: Will't please you sit, and look at her?

by Caley Ehnes -

Thanks for the feedback! 

I was going to ask similar questions in the second forum of this week, but I think incorporating them earlier (as per your suggestion) will help scaffold the learning outcomes. 

I will also think about getting students to ask questions in response to their peers's posts. I am feeling somewhat more confident about writing discussion prompts this semester, and I imagine I will be coming back to this class as a resource as the term progresses.

In reply to Caley Ehnes

Re: Will't please you sit, and look at her?

by Khairunnisa Ali -

Hello Caley,

Well if your students are like me in these one week courses, I find it sometimes easier to get going earlier in the week, when looking over things (of course, it depends what else is on my(their) plate).  So, I do like the suggestions made already, especially for #1. 

In looking at the questions for use to consider:

Guiding questions:

  • Does this discussion prompt compel you to participate? (Feel free to jump into the role of participant! 
  • **** I am going to assume I know what the silent auditor is, at this point in the course. #2 is more interesting to reply to, so is #1 really needed, maybe they can somehow be captured in one?
  • Are you clear how to contribute to the discussion?
  • *** You are clear in how to contribute, if you want some creativity, make note of that flexibility in how they respond. 
  • Would you feel motivated to continue to engage in this discussion after your initial reply?
  • ****I think if #1 was following what Elena suggested, it would make it more fun to engage and reply and might depend on other responses. It's a tricky thing..I think your plan for them asking a question will more naturally lead to conversation and is something for me to think more about myself, when creating these discussions. 
  • Do you have any other creative ideas about how this prompt could have been approached differently?
  • ***** Could they create a response that is a dramatic monologue to the poem and/or concept? Not sure, maybe it's too early to ask of them. But maybe it's not. Sometimes, I have found just trying something to see if it results in something unexpected or not is the best way to test out.  And maybe explicitly say you are not marking for that but that you want to let them have fun and open their creativity in the communication?  Maybe a video or visual response could be options, to see what they produce?