The theme of the course is “Re-thinking Stereotypes and ‘The Single Story.’” Our framing pieces for the course will be Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,”” Kevin Sullivan and Linda Davidson’s Washington Post piece “Refuge” and a collection of military narratives from StoryCorp. Collectively these pieces will begin a term-long conversation about the danger of telling/believing in “single stories” of a group of people and the empowerment that can come when detailed, nuanced understandings of groups of people which surpass “single stories” are told.
Each student will choose a specific group of people they are somehow connected with to focus on this term. In the first half of the term they will research/write about the stereotypes and single story that has been created for their chosen group. In the second half of the term they will do research within the group in order to write a piece that challenges the single story of the group by telling a detailed, nuanced version of how the group sees and understands themselves.
Each student will create an ePortfolio that they will work on over the course of the term. This ePortoflio will house all their work for the term and allow them to reflect upon this work and become increasingly aware of their metacognative practices. In this version of the course students will have more in-class time to work on their ePortfolios, which I’m hoping will increase the amount of one-on-one time I have to spend with students who need a bit of extra help using the WordPress platform and/or understanding the process of metacognition.
This term I will have the opportunity to have a course embedded tutor, Allie Crawford, in the class to provide extra support and feedback to students as well as to provide peer-created examples of the course assignments to discuss with students as they work on their own drafts. Allie will also be helping me tweak and revise assignments to be more clear and meaningful to students as we journey through the course. I’m especially hoping she can help me rework the Media Analysis assignment which has seemed to be a trouble point for students since I created this iteration of the course.
As always I’m greatly looking forward to seeing which groups students choose to focus on and to learning information about each of these groups that will help me challenge my own ideas and beliefs about the world and its inhabitants. I’m also looking forward to seeing how having a course embedded tutor supports the work of students in this class and helps me grow as a teacher.
Having Allie working as a course-embedded tutor certainly enhanced this course and gave students more opportunities and options for support and feedback than I alone could offer. Her coaching helped many of the students in the class deepen their learning and strengthen their academic writing and critical thinking skills.
Students chose a range of interesting groups to focus on, including some I’d not had students consider in earlier sections of this version of the course such as perfectionists, American Catholics, sorority women, and bow hunters. The range of chosen groups led to interesting discussions that were seeped in critical thinking and engaging in diverse values. This was probably the most successful section of this version of the course in terms of in-class discussions and peer engagement. I also saw significantly more depth in the critical thinking students engage in throughout the term.
While the course, overall, went more smoothly and seemed more effective than the previous iterations of this version of the course, I’m still not fully satisfied with the delivery of the course. Even with Allie’s help with revising some of the assignments and helping students more effectively engage with them, this version of the course still doesn’t work quite the way I’d like it to and isn’t as effective as I thought it might be when I first developed the curriculum. As a result I’ve decided that this is the last section of this version of the course I will teach. I’ll spend the summer planning a new version of WR121, to begin teaching in the 17/18 academic year. Since we will be rolling out new outcomes for this course next year, it seems perfect timing to develop new curriculum.