This section of WR121 is framed by challenging the notion of “The Single Story” and stereotypes. Students in the course will choose a specific group that they either identify as a part of or have a close affiliation with. They will spend the term doing research and writing projects that allow them to more deeply understand the group they chose and challenge the stereotypes those outside the group have of this group. This will allow individual students to gain a more complex understanding of the group they’re focusing on, and give all students in the class an opportunity to learn more about the groups their classmates focus on through in-class discussions, research workshops, and reading and responding to each other’s drafts. This will help to foster genuine diversity in the class and allow students to help each other see beyond the stereotypes of various groups.
I have selected a variety of texts to frame the course for students , including the Washington Post article “Refugee” by Kevin Sullivan and Linda Davidson, stories of those who’ve served in the U.S. military from StoryCorps, as well as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,” posted below.
I think there were aspects of this course that were really effective. Students enjoyed being able to select groups/topics they really cared about to focus on in the course. The variety of groups they chose really diversified the class and enriched the conversations we were able to have, as well as our overall ability to frame the course with the Engage Core Learning Outcome.
The annotated bibliography was successful in helping a larger number of students grasp what it means to deeply critically engage with sources before using them in their own writing and to understand why it’s so important to understand the context from and in which sources are created and published before using them. Several students noted in their Course Goal/CLO Letters that they found the Annotated Bibliography the most useful part of the course and learned the most about research/writing from this assignment.
I also think the Article Assignment worked well, at least conceptually. I had originally planned to have student create ePortfolios this term, and this assignment was designed for that course framework. Because of class cap increases, I had to scrap this plan. While I think that the essence of this assignment is something students really enjoyed and were able to learn a lot about their own writing processes through doing, I don’t think I’d do this assignment again unless we were using ePortfolios. The students who really “got” what this assignment was asking of them and most wanted to challenge themselves as they wrote it were as frustrated as I was that they were not creating an “online newspaper article” in an online environment and were acutely aware of both the limitations this imposed on the project as well as the ways in which it limited their ability to fully embrace the conventions of the genre.
I think the Media Analysis Assignment failed in the class. The failure wasn’t necessarily caused by the assignment itself but rather by the insufficient scaffolding I provided. If I teach this assignment again, I need to be much more intentional in scaffolding the assignment in class. I provided many scaffolding activities and thought I was being clear about how they were connected to the assignment as we did them, but when I was offering teacher feedback on early drafts, it quickly became apparent that students hadn’t been able to access much of the scaffolding, and consequently, their drafts were not fitting for the assignment. While about half the students were able to “turn their drafts around” with further in-class instruction and teacher feedback, the other half of the class was not. And it should have been clear to all students before they began drafting what exactly it was they were working toward in the assignment. So I need to figure out how to more effectively frame/teach this assignment so that students can feel empowered by their writing process as they work on it.