Annotations Partners Assignment/ Backwards Design

The objective learning outcome for the annotation assignment is that students can analyze a poem and feel that they can confidently and effectively write a short essay arguing for or against it’s worthiness and universality. It is developing the skills to be a critic themselves, and welcoming the thought that there are many different ideas and that friendly debate is a skill.

It is important that students are able to apply the methods of analysis that we have previous used in class to discuss a poem analytically and independently after a shared discussion of ideas. Then, it is important that they should take a stance. Is this poem a worthy piece of art or isn’t it? It’s important that students understand that they are worthy to judge the poem, to make a statement that it is good or bad, and then explain their reasoning. It is also important to present the argument in a way that acknowledges both the positive and negative aspects, before delivering the verdict.

Students will use definitions such as theme, figurative language, metaphor, paradox, and allegory, which they have already become familiar with or refreshed about in the course as we examined a few poems together, perhaps 3, dissected them, and discussed their universality and/or relativism. It would have become apparent at that time that either standpoint is an acceptable one, it is the reasoning and explanation that defends the standpoint where original thinking is applied.

The annotation portion of the assignment is that every member in the class would point out something of interest to them in the poem and describe how it is a use of language that adds greater meaning to the poem. (This way students can pick the same word or phrase, because they would still give a different reason about it’s greater meaning and importance to the poem in it’s entirety.)

After annotations, which is the collaborative brainstorming phase of the activity, the students will develop a thesis which states that this is or isn’t a relatable and useful poem in it’s universality. Does it span time and place? Is it important? Is it artistically pleasing? Why or why not? If it’s not, why is the poem relative to a certain time and place, and how does this potentially undermine it’s potential to be important and universal.

If your argument is yes, it is a universal poem, then you must devote at least one sentence to the other point of view. It could be a part of the conclusion. For instance: “While Still I Rise is a universal piece of artwork because … , however, …” If your argument is no, you must still acknowledge the other point of view somewhere in your argument.

Students should give at least 4 examples from the poem as a part of their argument and may use ideas from the annotations page but must write the essay in their own words.

At the end of the activity students would have written a short essay detailing an argument about a poem’s universality, would be able to apply the skills in the future when coming across a poem, while also being able to acknowledge the accepted opinion or another point of view about this poem that is in existence already. The annotation portion of the assignment would have opened up more ideas that people may not have thought of before, and writing the essay after witnessing the annotations would be good practice in paraphrasing and sharing ideas, as well as developing an idea into your own, because no one would want to copy another students idea verbatim. Enduring understanding of the students is that they have the confidence to apply these methods in the future themselves and are able to share their own ideas in a discussion of poetry, while also accepting the ideas of others about a particular poem.

Effects of Content Delivery Media on Student Engagement and Learning Outcomes

The Journal of Effective Teaching offered this article about content delivery and it’s effects on student engagement and learning outcomes which I found interesting to review after our last discussion.  Student engagement in this article is defined as “the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to student outcomes” (6) and purposeful observations and statistics are collected to compare a class taught by the same instructor using the same curriculum and activities, with the only difference being lecture with white board or chalk board method or power-point presentation method (as supplemental to the lecture.)

The students in each class consented to observation in the classroom and of their graded assignments and tests as a part of the research.  Behaviors that were observed :

Students participating in content-related tasks assigned only to them, participating in content tasks assigned to the group, participation in content tasks assigned to the entire class.  Students active listening to instructor and note-taking.  Students with eyes closed, head down on desk.  Students interacting with instructor such as asking a question.  Did the student ask a question that would be answered yes or no, or a question requiring explanation.  Do students answer questions that have a yes or no answer or answer questions that require explanations.  Did students answer questions without being called on by an instructor, did students leave the room, were students talking with the peers, were students engaged in media technology (phones/computers) having nothing to do with the class.

With the use of statistical and data driven charts the result of the experiment was that student engagement and performance was generally the same whether the teacher used a blackboard during lecture or power-point with pictures.

A lot of factors are involved in the measurement of student engagement such as course content, the instructor, and the environment but teaching and delivery methods do contribute greatly to success in learning outcomes.  Further research studies demonstrate that lecture alone, without power point or black board writing is not effective.  A hybrid method of both black board writing and power point works the best according to other research studies, but those results were not remarkably different than the blackboard alone or power point alone of this experiment, both of which proved to be equally as effective as a tool during lecture and for preparation of assignments when used by the same instructor.

Learning with the “Flipped” Classroom

How do you foster Deeper Disciplinary Learning with the “Flipped” Classroom? (Journal: New Directions for Teaching and Learning) by Angela Bauer and Aeron Haynie

In the humanities, we have long been engaging in performing low-tech versions of the “flipped” classroom.  The flipped classroom is when classroom content is mostly covered outside of the classroom and the classroom is used for engaging and experimenting with the material.  Students learn better at their own pace, which strengthens the argument that the classroom should be used for coaching and activities, and reading and lecture should be done in other ways.

This article does explain that a combination of face to face involvement and classroom time is best for engaging students.  Some ideas are presented about how to give an online lecture, and the article suggests engaging students with quizzes or reading questions, and electronic discussions so that students come to class having already read and engaged with the material.  The classroom is then used for “behind the scenes work.”

September 10, 2018: Learning Through Conversation

Learning Through Conversation by Dabiel Ginsberg (journal: Hybrid Pedagogy)

This article begins with a quote by Martin Kutnowski (whom I looked up and determined to be a teacher of music):

“My teaching portfolio speaks of challenges and failures alongside successes, all woven into a narrative organically establishing who I am and why I do what I do.”

Daniel Ginsberg relays his experience as a teacher and researcher of linguistics and anthropology.  He states that ” If education is what happens in classrooms, learning is a much older and more fundamental phenomenon…”  He states that all of learning is in fact participatory and questions how we may present ideas of a discipline as ‘ “motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable… completely alien to [their] existential experience?” ‘

Using his vast research, Ginsberg attempted to create a course where the students would be full participants in sociolinguistics.  The were to work together closely in groups and create their own research questions collaboratively, investigate and research, and then present their findings to their peers.  This was a conversational approach to learning.

However, the feedback that he receives at the end of this endeavor from he students was largely unfavorable.  Students did not think that course requirements were explained clearly, they felt he did not offer enough information and instead expected them to have a graduate level understanding of the material.  One student states, “he thinks he’s leading the discussion but really just wants us to agree with him.  After a while I stopped trying.”  Ginsberg reflects that he directed his students to accept an environment of “uncertain and incomplete understanding” but then he did not allow them the space to do so, by frequently interrupting the classroom dialogue.

Another student asserts, “Worst class I’ve ever taken. I learned nothing this semester,”  and Ginsberg reflects that the student had worked collaboratively, written amazing papers by channeling their individual curiosity into research questions, while also researching theories that were relevant, and collected and analyzed data all resulting in phenomenal papers.  He states rhetorically to himself, “… now wait a minute.  You learned nothing? I read all your final papers, and they were good.

(Personally, I was astounded at what harsh critics these students were, … but felt educated by Ginsberg sharing this.  I suppose we will have to become accustomed to hearing a lot of this.  I think it’s rare anyone gives a good review about anyone, it’s just not “constructive”, I suppose.)

In writing this essay Ginsberg realizes that the same principle of learning a subject applies to learning how to be a better teacher.  That no one can give you the answers, the answers will need to be discovered through the experience and conversation.  Therefore, feedback from the students was essential regardless of how negative it was or ill-informed (they did not see his greater vision and implementation as the teacher and expert on the subject.)

What Ginsberg had desired to communicate to his students was a new philosophy about education and learning and that it wasn’t to be an exercise of simply fulfilling duties and requirements “but a process of becoming” and “a developing understanding that knowledge is a human creation, and that anybody can be the one to add to it.”

It was almost too much for the linguistic extraordinaire to accept that he had failed to communicate this to his students, however, he gave the feedback careful consideration and reflected upon that conversation, about how he taught a class about conversation.  The students were empowered and mastered skills, but Ginsberg realized he had failed to explain during the process how this was happening.  So the students did not realize it had happened and they may not know how to use the method for themselves.

The article ends with a poignant quote by Ginsberg :

“I’m through with trying to empower people by telling them what to do.  I resolve instead to be a better listener.”


September 3, 2018 : Experiential Learning

How Do You Use Experiential Learning to Bridge the Classroom and the Real World? by Victoria Simpson Beck, Stephanie K. Boys, Hannah J. Haas, and Karen N. King

Public administration, social work, and criminal justice disciplines have an established history and requirement in the study of the discipline of experiential learning.  This article explains case study methods as important in relation to the public administration discipline because it provides real life scenarios that then the student interacts with using theories and critical thinking skills, much like what would be actually necessary in the field of work.  The students are thrown off guard a bit because there isn’t an answer given and it seems that more data would be necessary to solve these problems they are presented with, however, this realistically reflects the challenges of day to day activities in this field and so it is a necessary experience in preparation.  Social work as a discipline and study requires a field study practicum that is in conjunction with student theory learning in the classroom.  It is important that the students of social work discourse are in contact with agencies and the people in their community.  Criminal justice internships were shown as an example of the complexity between how much classroom learning and how much field experience is necessary for a discipline and the importance in deciding these parameters.  Liberal arts is then addressed as an emerging discipline for field work, and practical and applicable learning.  The article asserts that experiential learning in liberal arts fields has been in existence, such as student teaching and assistant teaching, but not as widely required in the education as it is becoming now.  Further, students are being drawn once again to the field of liberal arts education when they see and will experience it’s practical implementation as a part of the degree.

Most interesting about this article was the lack of research about field experience that each discipline seemed to bemoan.  Practical experiential experience is meant to “integrate theories and knowledge into competent practice” however often the resources for this endeavor are thin, and guidelines are not thoroughly studied or clear.  The centralizing idea here is that a bridge needs to be made from the classroom to the real world.  It’s important to recognize diversity of agencies and environments and field work supervisors, however it’s important to establish outcomes, methodologies, and practical applications for activities, meetings, shadowing, performing, and reflections, and also to perhaps establish a universal assessment process using research that displays what was of important in the field across diverse environments without compromising the value of individual identity being developed and cultivated within the new professional.  In other words, this is an intricately complicated endeavor.