This semester the inaugural “Mapping the Futures” course co-taught by Professors Cathy Davidson and William Kelly, linked our undergraduate courses throughout CUNY to our pedagogical graduate class. This course epitomized the essence of student-centered learning from the first day of class when Professors Davidson and Kelly introduced themselves and left the classroom to let the graduate students determine the course syllabus and the units they’d cover. Three to four students voted on the unit they’d like to teach and voila, our course was in motion. Each group collaborated and designed lessons, activities and assignments geared to inform and generate innovative and exciting teaching strategies, practices and approaches. Each week all students in the seminar would implement one or more of the methods taught in the undergraduate course they were teaching and return to class the following week to a recap.
The central theme of this course was mapping and it provided a framework for our own learning of digital tools and implementing digital tools and mapping techniques in our own classrooms to enhance our students’ learning experiences. Let me be honest–I have always envied those who were able to create a course website, incorporate blogging into the coursework, created e-journals and e-books as final project for their own classes, but due to a lack of digital talents (or patience), I found myself, in the past, frustrated quickly and thus tried to make traditional teaching tools more exciting (I didn’t even want to be bother with Blackboard and I needed step by step instructions on how to imbed a hyperlink, for which as you will see, I have become obsessed with). While participating in this course I was gifted with a chance to learn or at least build some fundamental digital skills which emerged throughout this semester, in both the grad and undergrad courses, through the Digital Fellows’ C-Box site via WordPress, in classroom presentations, in our forum, in my lessons, in our interactive CUNY Map and in our final e-journal project. In order to implement these digital forms and expect my students to use them, I had to understand them, which required I engage in the exacting spirit of student-centered learning.
I have come to realize that the best teachers, instructors, professors or facilitators are the ones with ideas who are excited about watching these ideas transform their classrooms and their students intellectual and innovative capabilities. The twelve students enrolled in this class, each studying and researching a specific field, burst with passion and exciting teaching ideas that one could not help but swell with new ideas, totally inspired by their assigned texts, lessons, strategies, course design and suggested techniques. What I took away with me each week, lived on in my own classrooms and supported every practice I tried this semester, and will continue to emerge in the future courses I teach. If I could every propose new course to teach at CUNY this would be my ideal curriculum and syllabus.
Kingsborough Community College begins their spring semester a month later than other CUNY campuses, so I had the benefit of planning a few experiments in advance and seeing them through to the end of the semester. One assessment form I preplanned was a rubric. Unit one focused on Formative Assessment and so, in my Freshman Comp courses I implemented a rubric for our ongoing Media Mapping Project. I gave the rubric with the assignment and used it each time I graded their presentations. I wanted to see how a clear scale, using student-friendly and appropriate language and score-sets would help my students understand the goals we wanted to address and help me measure students’ performances objectively. In general this assignment was built to scaffold and strengthen students’ research skills, so it was great having an objective criteria to remind me of that. Read More
Group two focused on Student-Centered Pedagogy. For this unit I incorporated our English 24 online forum and posted a Quickfire Research Prompt (to the left), I negotiated reading strategies (to the right) with my classes and I tried a collaborative play where students took on the part of the opposing characters of the readings (Heda Margolius Kovaly and Karl Marx) and constructed a dialogue between two opposing perspectives. Each member had an interpreter who was assigned the task of interpreting what each character meant and tried to clarify their meanings and each student had a specific job to accomplish (recorder, researcher, reporter and time keeper). Read more
For the Life Barriers and Ethics unit, we discussed some startling statistics that inspired me to think bigger about my role in each student’s life. While I implemented a conference with each student in class, to accommodate their hectic work and life schedules, I also thought about how to make their time at Kingsorough, not only an intellectual adventure, but a professional opportunity as well. While the Futures Initiative offered my current students a wonderful mentoring opportunity, I wondered how degree related or academically enriching employment on campus could be to help bridge some financial and scheduling gaps our students are inclined to face while juggling life demands. This class was especially meaningful as it paved a new way of thinking about my position in their lives and what I could do to to bring meaningful and desirable opportunities to them. Read more
The last group Meta-Movement and Embodiment veered our attention towards contemplative focus and classroom design. I worked through two sister activities over two days (Mindful Quote Meditation and on the next day a Speed Date Debate with the arguments they constructed using the quote they meditated on the day before). These were exciting classes and really helped regenerate our minds in the very middle of a semester. Read more.
Sentence Map: English 24 Students Speak Up
One of my colleagues who graduated from The Graduate Center said he’d always wished there was a pedagogy course for Teaching Fellows. “Mapping the Futures” instinctively designed and exploratory nature undoubtedly surpassed my expectations and I’m sure would exceed anyone’s presuppositions. So much can happen when you have the necessary support (shout out and a BIG THANK YOU to Katina, Shawn, Kalle, Michael, Lisa and all the Digital Research Fellows who held us and taught us when we needed your digital expertise and guidance). This semester has been exciting, spontaneous and inspiring, which is exactly the kind of energy that gets me stoked to teach each time I enter the classroom.
E-Journal (e-Journal of Academic Freshman English Studies) a website devoted to collecting research papers and research projects on various topics written by current Kingsborough Freshman Scholars enrolled in Freshman Comp sections 26 and 36 (spring 2015)