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Introduce Yourselves: Activity for the First Day of Class

Introduce Yourselves: Activity for the First Day of Class

Overview: “Introduce Yourselves,” an Exercise for the First Day of Class

Everything we do in a small seminar class depends on collaboration, even if it is only raising one's hand and contributing to the discussion. When students are required to work together on a project, they typically emit a collective groan because they have all too often experienced bad collaborations where one student does most of the work, and the others shirk their responsibilities, either because they do not know how to collaborate, have other priorities, or simply believe they can. 

In this course, we will be collaborating on many projects, including co-creating a class syllabus and working in project teams to design assignments for the rest of the class and present that work in an engaged manner. 

To ensure the most productive communication, on this first day of class, each person will take 5 minutes to fill out the below form, hand it to a partner, then interview one another in pairs based on the information on the form. Each person will then introduce the other to the class.

Why We Do It: No one likes group work and yet just about everything in the world beyond school requires collaborative skills. In our classrooms, we often throw people into groups without regard for what they bring as individuals to the collaborative project. In the workplace, collaborators are typically assigned specific tasks suited to their skills, with timelines and "deliverables." We will learn how to manage collaboration productively in this course. "Introduce Yourselves" is a first step.

How We Do It: For the next five minutes, please fill out this questionnaire in a way you want the rest of the class to know and understand your contribution to the class. Make sure your handwriting 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.  

Essential Life Skill Students Learn: Whether in job letters, interviews, personal statements, or everyday work and life situations, we are called upon to "introduce ourselves." But we are all complicated and we choose which aspects of ourselves we want known in a given situation. In this assignment, you should be as open or as discreet as serves you best and as fits the purpose of this class. There is no requirement for self-revelation and no stigma for revelation. It’s your choice, and great practice for the rest of your life.

Online Collaboration: We recommend Monica Burns, Task Before Apps. Although this is directed at K-12, there are key points of value for any kind of online (and onsite!) instruction.

Suggestions for Further Reading (Research, Bibliography): We highly recommend "Collaboration" a rich entry to the "Keyword" compendium by Amanda Licastro, Katina Rogers, and Danica Savonick, free for download on Github. The essay includes many practical links, suggestions, and tools to facilitate online and onsite collaboration.

Template for this Exercise: This template can be modified for any class in any subject. This one is designed for a graduate course of under 20 people, with Master's and PhD students from a variety of disciplines and work backgrounds, who are interested in the course topic, "Introduction for Engaged Teaching for Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Science Classroom."

 

“Introduce Yourselves”: An Exercise for the First Day of Class

[Intended for a small seminar that requires collaborative group work.] 

Individual:

Name and pronouns: ___________________________________________________________________

Major/Program/Field: __________________________________________________________________ 

One fun fact: _________________________________________________________________________

One defining feature about you (could be something you are proud of, something that fuels your work): ______________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

What else? (anything you wish to add): ____________________________________________________

 _____________________________________________________________________________________

***

Group:

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? (e.g., English, History, Urban Education, etc.) List 3-4 top choices: 

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________

  2. ______________________________________________________________________________

  3. ______________________________________________________________________________

  4. ______________________________________________________________________________

What cross disciplinary topics would you most like to focus on for your group presentation? List 3-4 (Example 1: Black studies, indigenous studies, feminism, accessibility, other culturally-relevant topics; Example 2: Visual studies, sound studies, digital humanities, ethnography, quantitative social science, case studies, psychometrics, etc.): 

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________

  2. ______________________________________________________________________________

  3. ______________________________________________________________________________

  4. ______________________________________________________________________________

Each Group will be responsible for choosing/limiting a topic, selecting readings, posting those to our class evolving syllabus on the Google Doc, for finding appropriate active learning methods for addressing the readings, and making some kind of presentation. The group also will be required to post a detailed “recap” on HASTAC that includes your syllabus for the class, description of the methods, and visuals (photographs of materials, slide deck, or other media). You will all get a “byline” for this (impressive) post that you can list on your CV as a non-refereed publication but one person will be the posting person and needs to take that responsibility. 

What skills, talents, and/or expertise can you contribute to a group project? (Think of this like qualifications for a future job. Examples: Statistics, digital skills, PowerPoint skills, oral presentation skills, graphic design, photographer for Group recap, professional writer, proofreader/copy editor, responsible poster to post to HASTAC.org within one week of the class presentation.):

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________

  2. ______________________________________________________________________________

  3. ______________________________________________________________________________

  4. ______________________________________________________________________________

What skills, talents, and/or expertise do you most value in others, and hope that they will contribute to any Group you are in? (Not everyone can do everything. What do you most hope someone else in your group can contribute? At HASTAC, we call this "collaboration by difference."):

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________

  2. ______________________________________________________________________________

  3. ______________________________________________________________________________

  4. ______________________________________________________________________________

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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1 comment

Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities (GitHub version) #cureateching has an entire keyword on COLLABORATION! authored by @katinalynn @amandalicastro @DanicaSavonick 

https://github.com/curateteaching/digitalpedagogy/blob/master/keywords/collaboration.md

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