as Social Justice
Word Cloud generated by student and instructor responses to the “Introduce Yourselves Activity.”
Classes 1 & 2
On the first day of class we had a few explicit goals. Students needed an introduction to class content so they could make an informed decision about whether they should stay enrolled in the class and if it would be productive for them to do so. As an entry point, we discussed a phrase Professor Kandice Chuh uses “the people in our classroom who are students” to destabilize the way “student” as an identifier obscures other identities and responsibilities people have outside of school. Working students, commuting students, students who are parents and care-takers have the differences in their educational experience flattened.
Audre Lorde also helps us think about this when she explains in her essay “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” that “it is not our differences which separate women, but our reluctance to recognize those differences and to deal effectively with the distortions which have resulted from ignoring and misnaming those differences.” The same can be applied to the narratives built around students, both in personal ways, as in how a teacher creates a syllabus, and structural.
This ushers in our second goal, to give students some time to identify their interests, training, and experiences, and share with the class so that they could meaningfully self-organize into groups for their team-taught projects. To achieve this goal all of us (instructors included) participated in the Introduce Yourselves activity.
After a brief break, we introduced and transitioned into our group project time. Around the room we set up large adhesive chart paper. Each chart paper listed the group number and had spaces so students could fill out some information. We asked for the names of their group participants (when they had been decided upon), their self-defined roles, and gave them room to begin brainstorming their projects. After explaining the expectations of group project time and answering any questions, the instructors left the room. This was essential so students could be self-directed in their organization without the feeling of surveillance or evaluation.
Instructors returned at the end of class so each group could present their participants and their broad topic. Of course, there would be some drift in groups and shifts in the initially conceived projects as feasibility was tested and people revealed their individual strengths and possible contributions.
Our goal was that by the end of the second class, students would have their permanent group to work with throughout the semester, knowing there were limited classes and class time made this very important. Giving class time to work on the project allowed students to shift a log of their exploratory, front-end work to in-person meetings. If not, the necessary work to get started and begin collaboration would have been stretched over a wider expanse of time and over student’s many other commitments. In this chapter you will find a copy of our agenda and activities.
Supplies: large tent cards; stickers: green, yellow, red; colorful markers
2:00-2:20 Roll, adjustments, announcements, syllabus, questions
- Students, faculty, and assisting instructor introduce themselves
- Make table tents with names (doesn’t have to be the one on the roster) and pronouns (Discuss: Red, Yellow, Green dots for participation, access, awareness available for each class.)
- “The people in our classrooms who are students.” —Prof Kandice Chuh
- Review basic structure of class, requirements, deadlines, HASTAC Group (public assignments, audience, etc). 15 minutes
- Register on HASTAC.org. Decide if you want to use a pseudonym. If you do, make sure to choose an “intellectual” rather than a silly name since your posts--the co-authored group post or any you do on your own--can be cited on your CV under “Digital Scholarship” or “Online Scholarship” or “Open Access Scholarship” with full bibliographic citation. If you choose a silly or violent name, that undermines the seriousness of your work.
2:20-2:40 Introduce Yourselves Activity
- Fill out the Introduce Yourselves Questionnaire. We will then pair off and interview one another, learning our partners name, pronouns, and a bit about them. We will reconvene as a class and each person will introduce their partner to the class, sharing their name, pronouns, one piece of information you learned about them, and their group interests.
2:50-3:30 Student Design Syllabus Activity
3:30-4:00 Groups assemble for 5 minutes; adjustments made; the “pitch” made to class for feedback
- Some Feedback Areas:
- (1) Topic: too big, too small, well defined?
- (2) Group: right members for each component?
- (3) Responsibilities: these should be shared and collaborative, you may want to consider the HASTAC concept of “collaboration by difference” “collaboration by difference,” includes ways to include and prioritize non-expert voices, how to include end-users in the design, and how to appreciate the insights of those with radically different points of view. It is a way to avoid the common pitfalls of collaboration by “groupthink.”
Introduce Yourselves Activity
An Exercise for the First Day of Class |Designed by Cathy N. Davidson
Intended for a small seminar that requires collaborative group work.
No one likes group work and yet just about everything in the world beyond school requires collaborative skills. One problem is that, in school, we throw people into groups without regard for what they bring. Jobs do a better job of assigning tasks, hopefully according to ability.
For the next five minutes, please fill out this questionnaire in a way you want the rest of the class to know and understand you. Be as open or as discreet as serves you best. There is no requirement for self-revelation and no stigma for revelation. It’s your choice. Make sure your writing is readable as you next will hand this to a partner who will ask follow-up questions for two minutes and then will introduce you to the class using your sheet. This information will be invaluable for future collaborative work. We’ll be transcribing this to a class google doc. to guide collaboration the rest of the class.
Name & Pronouns:
One Fun Fact:
One defining feature about you (could be something you are proud of, something that defines you and fuels your work): ____________________________________________________________
What else? (anything you wish to add):
Each student will have a function in a Group that will be responsible for one/two [depending on class sizes—to be revised later] class periods. (See syllabus for further explanation). You may use this as the basis for our Conference workshop as well as for your final project if you wish.
What (sub)field would you most like to focus on for your group presentation? List 3–4 top choices:
Student-Design Syllabus Activity
Supplies: large adhesive chart paper, colorful markers, pencils
Student-Designed Groups: Instructors explain the activity before leaving the students alone. Students will have 20 minutes to organize themselves into groups. These groups should have about four people in each. Each group will co-plan and co-facilitate one of our classes. Groups can be organized by field/ discipline, keywords, or method. They can also be arranged by an interest in a certain part of a course such as syllabus creation, curriculum revisioning, analysis of standard textbooks, etc. Each Group member has a designated responsibility; later in the course, we will work on peer evaluation (no one fails; but credit only for performing one’s responsibilities). Students are welcome to move around the room but should remain committed to the space’s physical accessibility and the needs of their classmates.
Group must (roughly) figure out in 20 minutes: (1) their group members (2) their topics (3) their designated responsibilities (4) the date of their group-class
Background: What does it mean to “introduce” a field? This course is intended for any graduate student in the humanities or social sciences who is thinking seriously about the deepest “why” and “how” questions about their discipline and how those apply to their own research and teaching. What big ideas can you tackle in your Group, in your class, that will help us all understand the assumptions of fields, methods, and transformative learning to support diversity, inclusion, and a more equitable form of higher education. Our aim is to work toward “research with a transformative activist agenda” and teaching and mentoring as a “collaborative learning community project.”
Instructors Return: (10 min.)
- Review work done by each Group
- Assignment for next class
“Don’t you realize that every time you don’t answer a question, you’re learning something? You’re learning how to make do with what you got, and you’re learning how not to ask for a raise…you’re learning how to take it. That’s not good . . . So, from now on, whenever I ask a question, everybody’s got to put their hand up. I don’t care whether you know the answer or not. You have to put your hand up…I’m going to call on you and if you don’t know the answer, I want you to say nice and clear: ‘I don’t know the answer to that, Professor Delany, but I would like to hear what that person has to say. And we’ll pass it on.’ . . .I don’t care whether you know or not…You need to teach people they are important enough to say what they have to say.” Samuel Delany from The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman
2:00-2:10 Roll, adjustments, announcements, syllabus, questions
2:10-2:30 Participatory Exercise— Entry Tickets
2:30-3:15 Overview of Transformative Learning, progressive education, transformative learning, active learning, culturally-relevant pedagogy, student-centered learning
- Vianna, E., Hougaard, N. & Stetsenko, A. (2014). “The Dialectics of Collective and Individual Transformation: Transformative Activist Research in a Collaborative Learning Community Project.” In A. Blunden Ed.), Collaborative Projects: An Interdisciplinary Study [ebookcentral.proquest.com]. Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers.
- Eduardo Vianna’s Slides & Lecture
3:15-3:30 Overview of progressive pedagogy as social justice; culturally-relevant pedagogies (continues next class).
- Texts: Cathy N. Davidson, Introduction, The New Education (1-15)
- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress [academictrap.files.wordpress.com], Introduction” and “Engaged Pedagogy” (pp. 1-11)
- Selections from Sarah Ahmed, “Conclusion: A Killjoy Survival Kit” and “A Killjoy Manifesto” from Living a Feminist Life [static1.squarespace.com]
3:30–4:00 Student Groups from last class assemble for 5 minutes. Groups can tweak and make adjustments to their project, then they will present their “pitch” to class for feedback. Some Feedback Areas:
(1) Topic: is it too big, too small, and/or well-defined?
(2) Group: does it have the right members for each component?
(3) Responsibilities: should be shared and collaborative. Should employ the HASTAC concept of “collaboration by difference”: what we know about groups created from difference rather than duplication— collaboration by difference “requires the coming together of many people with very different kinds of expertise. Sometimes, though, collaboration is about sharing the same goals, standards, ideals, and sense of responsibility.”
- Cathy N. Davidson, Introduction, The New Education (1-15)
- Vianna, E., Hougaard, N. & Stetsenko, A. (2014). “The Dialectics of Collective and Individual Transformation: Transformative Activist Research in a Collaborative Learning Community Project.” In A. Blunden Ed.), Collaborative Projects: An Interdisciplinary Study. Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers.
- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, Introduction” and “Engaged Pedagogy” (pp. 1-11)
- Selections from Sarah Ahmed, “Conclusion: A Killjoy Survival Kit” and “A Killjoy Manifesto” from Living a Feminist Life
Active Learning/Radical Pedagogy Activity Method: Entry Ticket/Resource Crowdsourcing
- Entry Tickets: Collaborative Resource Building.
- “What are the three most meaningful, relevant texts in your life?” (i.e., Imagine: the “house of learning is burning . . . what three texts would you grab as you fled the house? What would you fight to preserve, to keep, to sustain you, to pass on?”)
Entry Ticket: “From this week’s reading, copy out one sentence, idea, or concept that “stuck” for you (you loved it, hated, are confused by it, are still thinking it over). Write legibly enough that you can read it to the class without explanation.”
Modeling Entry Tickets: What is the purpose of entry tickets and how does it invite students into our classroom environment as active learners?
Purposes— Entry tickets act as a warm up as everyone settles into the classroom. This week, our entry ticket shows that we do not all read the “same” texts. Entry tickets can guide conversation in interesting non-dogmatic ways, act as a great memory/review aid, and contribute to collaborative resource building. What else?