Today I am beseiged with drafts about the film District 9. The students are struggling not to make the papers merely summaries of the plot, and some, several not the ones I would have expected, have come up with inventive and interesting interpretations of the camera movement and techniques of the film to help argue their claims.
However, some of the better students, more traditional in their training and thinking, are having trouble getting their minds around this film, which appeals more to the guy mentality of some of the weaker students, with its violence and action. That is often the way it is with film papers. Some people who haven't done particularly well in the rest of the class, writing about literature, suddenly begin to shine. I like to do that, and the students for the most part have responded by really liking the film and the whole idea of the assignment.
Today there was a bit of an incident in the class around the issue of a weak peer review group, composed mostly of the dregs of the class, people who don't do the work.
There is one very responsible student in the group, and I wanted him to remain there, anchoring a new, improved group. But the rest of the students refused to budge, since they liked their groups and found them helpful. I should have insisted, but I backed down, upsetting the responsible student, who thought I was discriminating against him because of his race, dooming him to remain with the irresponsible students. I was of course horrified when he told me that, and apologized, but it is a problem I don't particularly know how to solve. These sorts of groups do crop up. How have those of you who teach addressed this issue?