Stretch All videos

Stretch All videos


[music] Maria: Stretch is similar to first-year writing
classes in that traditionally it was a one-semester
course and in one semester you had to learn all your
basic reading, critical thinking and comprehension skills within 15 weeks.
What Stretch allows students to do is to refine those skills and work
more detail and more expanded over the course of two semesters. Beatriz: The Stretch program is a program that
addresses multi-culturalism and diversity and that allows different departments such as Asian
American Studies and Pan African Studies, the English department, Chicano Studies.
Central American Studies, Queer Studies…
to pour content that is specific to the issues that or to the area of studies that each of the
departments explores. Maria: Stretch is…I’m going to say an outgrowth of remedial writing and not a replacement
for. The difference now with the Stretch program is that
previously students did not receive college credit
for all the work that they did, and now they receive anywhere from six to eight units that apply towards graduation. Ian: I don’t see it so much as a replacement,
but as a different way of thinking about writing and
composition that we’re sort of getting rid of the idea
of remediation, or that students are remedial, and recognizing
that students bring all kinds of skills and
talents and interests and abilities, including
writing and linguistic programs and how they can use these, show off what
they do well, also build on their skills, get the support they need. And so I think
rather than thinking of of students as coming with a deficit, we think
of them as coming already with ideas and skills
that they can refine and use and build upon. [music] Tom: We hope to blend rhetorical studies with our understanding of
socio-economic, cultural, and historical processes that
have influenced… influenced our culture, and
that’s the way we look at it, so when we teach Stretch, we are not deviating from from the rhetorical
processes themselves. What we do is we would bring in cultural materials to demonstrate or to manifest areas, various areas of the rhetorical
process itself. Renee: Another thing that I think is important
to Chicano studies is that we teach content, so the idea is that we teach students
something about their culture in those classes, and even foreign, you
know, non-Chicanos or non-Latinos…that’s still
a part of like this identity…kind of the the politics of identity,
so that’s what I’ve always done is I’ve always sort of like thought about
the content that I’m teaching alongside the writing, right. The technical
parts of writing, developing a thesis statement, using
commas, blah-blah-blah, so content has always been
like really important to our department. Ian: I think it’s thinking about the ways
in which gender and sexuality are constructed
rhetorically, in language, visually and also the
intersections among gender sexuality, race, class,
age, and other categories of identity, so it’s, you know, there’s a commitment to diversity, and to me, these things are all informed
by rhetoric, because you can’t really have
cultural identity without thinking about representations of culture and identity,
responses to culture and identity, writing about culture and identity, so I don’t really see a separation
between the rhetoric and the cultural studies focus of our courses, but that we’re
really looking at how one informs and is constructed by the other. Karina: Stretch composition courses in Central
American Studies are designed to help students develop critical
thinking, writing, and reading skills, however grammar is not taught in isolation. We practice the rules according to the
material that we read, so in our program, students learn to
write, while at the same time they acquire a
better understanding of the complexities, historical complexities, of the Central
American region and culture, as well as the different ethnicities that represent Central America and the
different world views within that community. Andrea: I would say the progressions
and the way in which they allow us as instructors to scaffold
our curriculum really well, and also the way that the smaller exercises lead up
to larger essays help the student see this overall cohesion to the course, and to
really build upon these skills that they learned throughout the semester. Maria: The approach that Asian American Studies
takes to first-year writing is very similar in curriculum and
structure as the English department, Pan African Studies, Queer Studies, Central
American Studies, Chicano/Chicana Studies. The only approach that might be different is some
the text that we use focus on Asian American issues or Asian
themes. Maria: Progressions are a series, there’s three progressions, 1, 2 and 3. Within
each progression, there’s a series of three writing assignments,
and those writing assignments can culminate either in an essay, a
traditional essay, or it can be carried over. Some teachers
might do it the first semester, but carried over to the second semester, become the material for project medium,
project space, and project text, so that the work we ask
students to do in progressions 1, 2 and 3, is producing material that they can use to
create larger, complete larger assignments like project
space, project medium, and project text. [music] Linda: Since it’s the first actual project, I would say that we’re doing in this semester, I do more focus on actually summarizing what is being
read, because what I really want them to do
is get the content and start understanding that so much of what they’re used to doing is skimming,
like they’ll read something and then, two seconds later, they’re like “I’m done”
and then you ask them what it’s about and they’re not really sure, so I really like to focus on the actual
summary, so tell me exactly what was it about, were there any main people in the story,
or in the article, anything that stands out to you, anything
you think is important. Margeaux: Normally what I want the students
to sort of really glean from this idea of summary is,
well, how are you understanding it in, understanding and summarizing a text,
right, you’re learning to sort of understand, what you’re
understanding from the text, but at the same time, you’re also learning to sort of think about the topic itself, so in that way, you’re sort of doing
invention, right, because you’re responding to the text
in a certain way. It’s not just summarizing what the writer said, but also summarizing what you, as a student, is learning from the text.
Tom: We do focus on invention but we always use passages from cultural areas over our discipline. Um, for example, we have
used Cornel West’…some of his works that he has been well known for, and we use passages from some of those books to give the
students a sense of an understanding of the issues that
confront a particular race of people, but at the
same time, we want them to be able to summarize what is it that they’re reading, so in a
sense to have that personal relationship with the content and the process, as well. Andrea: Critical reading is a really essential
component for progression one, and the way that I introduce critical
reading is to have the students read different genres, so teaching them some basic skills of
critical reading, but then also showing them how those skills can function
in different genres I found really helps them grasp exactly what critical reading is and how
to conduct it on their own. Tom: We’ll use Alice Walker, for example, and narratives
which have been very poignant in terms of
teaching students how history intersects with culture
and writing. Margeaux: One of the best ways
to sort of really interact with the text is just sort
of marking the places that you first connect with. I don’t want them to stress out about
“oh, you have to do this, you have to do that,” but rather try to connect with the text. I think that’s the best way
to really learn how to critically read. Mark the things that you don’t
understand, mark the things that maybe seems important for you, but at
this point in time, you’re not sure, right, why it’s, you know, why
does it seem important. And I give them a chance to sort of
just immerse themselves. Get into conversation with the text.
In the classroom, we talk about their different ideas, their different questions,
and I think that’s the best way to really engage
them in critical reading is to sort of asking questions of the text. Every semester I always
use different text. I’ll, you know, sometimes I’ll use critical, like
theoretical text, if I have to but there are times when
I’ll just use, you know, like regular novels like this semester we used Jessica Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters” which is a very, very hard text. It’s
post-modern and it’s set in Manila, Philippines,
so it’s, you know, it’s a different time and place; it’s
said during the martial… when the Philippines was under martial law,
so it was a hard read, but what was great about it was the
students sort of really had to dig really deep to create some sort
of understanding, and I think that all the questions
we asked of the text is what really engaged them in this notion of critical
reading. [music] One of the most important things for
me about those letters is for the students to understand this notion of audience awareness.
The notion that when every, depending on who your audience is,
your writing changes, your voice changes, so one of the things we do is we do a
rhetorical exercise that makes them understand how different people adjust to different audiences, and
we do exercises where they realize that they change their voice whenever they’re addressing a
different audience, that when they get to the letters, they see those changes, and hopefully
that will sort of get reiterated once they move
onto their essay. Renee: That’s why the common reading make
sort of a beautiful kind of like pairing right, with what’s going on in Stretch, and
I’m not sure if that was intentional when you guys were developing it. But I did actually use the letter to the writer, They were just…they exploded.
I mean they just were just telling her, you know, writing
to her, because she was a real person and we got to see YouTube videos of her
doing various kinds of interviews, and so for her, she was real. She wasn’t
just kind of imaginary, sort of dead person, right, or dead writer. She was there,
she was alive, and she… what was really wonderful about her,
what’s really wonderful about her, is she’s also an English teacher, so we actually looked at this,
this really old video of her giving advice to first-year writers, and so that made her even better, even more attractive, because
they felt like they could write to her and get advice with their
own writing. [music] Aimee: The histories that we know are
through letters, so I introduce the importance of letters
to black people throughout history and then show them. I give them examples and then talk
about the importance of letter writing not only for themselves but their
future, because every time they send a resume
out or every time they send a you know, a packet of information for a scholarship, they’re
gonna have to know how to write a letter, so I really give that historical aspect in terms of how
important it’s been to African people in the past, but then also show how important it is to
their future. Linda: We do do letters to friends and families. I’ve had a couple students actually
write letters to their boyfriends or to their grandmas, which is still family, but the boyfriend ones
are always interesting, but basically, the way I approach it is to have them
again read over specific, you know whatever
readings we have, for that class, and then again take out what are the main points here
because again I really want them to focus on understanding and starting to kinda plant little seeds for
critical thinking and all that kinda stuff, so even in these very, kind of informal pieces of writing,
have them really think, well what is the message that you’re really
trying to convey to your mom. So let’s say they’re writing a letter
that says “Hey mom, I’m in my first semester, I live
at the dorms and it really sucks. I’m in this class and
I’ve been reading about Central Americans and different
ethnicities.” So then, aside from just stopping
there, you know, just what’s important
about that for your mom to know. So then they start discussing, well, for example, we’re Central American
and I never knew that there was this ethnicity and this ethnicity and
this ethnicity and so that kinda gets them thinking more
than just “Dear Mom, I’m away, I’m in this class, I hate it
blah-blah-blah.” You know and then you just kind of
get them to really again focus on the interesting, the
important points of the readings and convey that in an informal manner.
[music] Tom: Peer review for some of our students
is a challenge. The reason is they haven’t done
something like this before, basically what you are asking them to do is to
critique each other’s work, and you have to
give them the the skills of critiquing in order for
them to do a good job of it.
Linda: We do peer review in the classes. I have the sheet that’s pre-made, so essentially I give it to each one and then have them exchange their
papers and then have them go through and literally answer each question on the sheet, according to whatever the
other person has written. Then by the end of the second semester, they’ve pretty much got it and they
get really good at peer review because they have to use the sheet every time,
and so I think it works out pretty nicely.
Margeaux: So the way into this peer review is that, you know, you’re being
responsible for your own learning, right, that you are joining this
community of scholars and that you guys are supposed to be hearing each other’s
voices and being responsible for responding to each other, and so for me peer review is…I tell the
students, “you know you have this guide sheet, but at the same time you have your own
instinct about what’s good writing or not, what’s something you’re understanding or not, so you know, I introduce peer review as a
chance for them to sort of be able to express their own agency as students. Aimee: The first time they do it they’re
very hesitant because they don’t want to hurt their fellow classmates’ feelings. We let them know that that’s actually
part of this critique of love that we call it. The better at the things that they offer
them, that are going to help the student, then that is what’s important and that’s what they should try to do.
[music] Linda: Because we’ve been kinda building up
to this point we’ve been reading different articles, we have written letters that kind of help explain in an informal way
what the articles are about. By the time we get to the essay they
have different perspectives that they’ve used to look
at these articles, and so the essay just kind of freely
flows from that. Essentially we just take what you’ve
learned from the letters, take the things that you
learn from the summary, and now you’re going to write a little essay about what the meaning of these articles are
or what you got from these articles, so I think the progressions really help just easily get to the essay. This has
been my experience. Aimee: It was an opportunity for us to really
apply the African-centered approach that we use, because African people have always
used images to speak, whether it be hieroglyphics from ancient
Egypt which I introduce my students to, or whether be adinkra symbols in West
Africa that they were also introduced to, they got
to really understand how symbols are very important to African life and history, so we discussed
that first and then I showed them some images, anywhere from the lynching picture of Emmett Till to the
1968 black power salute at the
Mexico Olympics, and I show them different images of black
people throughout history and ask them to analyze it and discuss how that
represents or is a snapshot of the history of black people, and then
they were allowed to bring in their own images that support themselves and represent who
they are and also images that represent black people that they felt were also
representative and spoke volumes through the images. Linda: One of the things that we do is bring
a visual object into class and then based on that visual object we’re going to
analyze the object and what it means to you, and then
write based on that, so that’s a really fun project because what we do in Central
American Studies is ask them to bring an object that relates to their identity in some way, and a
lot of the times it ends up, the object ends up having a lot of meaning
in terms of race, in terms of ethnicity, which is all tied into their identity. So for example one of the things that a student brought in, which I’ll show you, this is not the actual thing that she
brought in, but she brought in an apron, and the apron represented for her her grandmother, and so it represented
her history, she said, it represented kind of the foods, it brought very
familial aspects into the picture, her culture, her family, and then the way it was decorated
she felt really represented her nationality. [music] Ian: In my second progression in my queer studies stretch course, we
looked at visual representations of queer
people, so we thought about the way queerness
is constructed, we looked at the documentary from “The Celluloid
Closet” to see history of Hollywood representations of queer people. We thought about linguistic
constructions of queer people. We did analysis both of visual
constructions and linguistic constructions, and so to me that’s also thinking about
rhetoric at the same time that we thinking about
culture representation. Shannon: Another assignment that
we did was a little write-up,
it was like creative writing on a picture we chose of our choice from the internet. The one I chose is of two lovers in the snow in a snowy forest, they embrace each other cautiously,
because they seem to be very careful about their relationship. They don’t want to be caught, it seems. This was a story I wrote from what I felt, from the picture of what I chose. [music] Aimee: With the ethnography I had
the students first understand the part of oral
tradition with an African life and culture and explained how important
that is for the stories to be…for
interviews and observations to be part of that, because there’s a lot of things
we haven’t documented that we could have or should have or need to. So I introduce the importance of
ethnography and the oral tradition and observation to the students first, and then I let them go and observe
different place and within that I actually added a piece with interviews,
so they were supposed to go to this particular place, observe and ask them
five questions…five people, five questions, and my students said that was the one
project they loved the best that semester because it got them out of their
comfort zone and forced them have to talk to people that they would have never otherwise
talked about. Margeaux: What i think is really important
about the enthnography exercise is that when
you’re talking about visual text you want it to be based on something real and when they do the ethnographic exercises they go out there and observe
whatever it was, whatever concept it was that they originally had, like for example
with the exercise on this theme of community if they were looking at some social
political issue, they had to go out there and look for
that space where they’re going to be able to
observe how those interactions between people created the
social political tension. So I think that’s what’s important
about the ethnographic studies is sort of basing it on something real-world. [music] Ian: It’s been a little bit difficult for
me and my students sometimes to think about how to use all of these progression
exercises into the culminating essay for progression two. So what I’ve done in the past is I’ve tried
a number of different things. In one case I gave students the option,
I said either develop your ethnography into the longer essay for progression two, or analyze the image that you talked
about in the first exercise, make that analysis
the longer version or even develop the creative writing piece. Margeaux: While it’s probably more
descriptive than argumentative, I’ve always just told my
students that whatever it is that they write isn’t argumentative essay, because even
if it falls within the descriptive genre, they have an argument. There’s an
underlying argument in everything that they wrote, so you should always just think that whatever
it is that you’re writing is some sort of argumentative piece. [music] Aimee: The students are going to have to,
throughout the course of their academic career, definitely gonna have to
write argumentative essays. They’re going to have to take an approach, they’re going
to have to pick a topic, take an approach and argue, whether it be in a debate class, whether
be an English class or history class, they’re gonna have to interpret something
in some particular way. So I let the students choose their own topics
and then guided them, took them to the library, so that they
could learn how to gain, get sources, which was pivotal for first-year students who’ve
never really been to the library before. So teaching them how to get sources
and resources was the first step and then of course
guiding them through the process, having them do a paper proposal was a great way to start with that, and
giving them feedback, and then having them have rough drafts, and being able to peer-edit those. It was
very easy to introduce it to them especially if I let them pick a topic
they liked rather than assigning a topic to them,
because then they were more passionate and they cared more about the paper. [music] Jeff: For this I have students watch two
documentaries. One is “Food Inc.” and one is “Bowling
for Columbine” and what I do is I let them do what
they will with it and they have created conversations between them and their
parents talking about what food they eat or, you know, they’ve put themselves in the
position of, you know, Michael Moore and Charlton Heston from
the film and “Bowling for Columbine” so they take license with it, and I let
them go free. I don’t try to, you know, enforce anything other than be
creative use this is a way of kind of understanding the material better.
[music] Tom: I like to use argumentation because
that is a skill that they’re going to be using quite a bit in many of the other
classes. You know, when you are going for a
particular position regardless of whether it’s history or
sociology or psychology, we need to be able to give them that
understanding that you don’t just take a position, you know,
you have to be able to defend it and acknowledge that there are
other views that are different from those that you
have taken. [music] Ian: I do have formal lessons that I’ve changed
quite a bit in terms of the way I use research, and I’ve been influenced a lot by Rebecca Moore Howard and her
work on the citation project as well as my own experience teaching Stretch. And originally I really
wanted my students to use peer-reviewed articles that they have found
on their own and incorporate those articles in a
sophisticated way into their arguments and I found that was very difficult for
students to do successfully and the results were not very good. And sometimes students were not able to understand
the articles holistically, so they might take little quotes from the article that really ran
against the grain of the article as a whole. And Rebecca Moore Howard calls this quote
mining, where students sort of focus on little
bits and pieces from the secondary sources and then really instead of thinking of the argument as a whole, and her research
has also shown that a very high percentage of quotations from
secondary sources come from the first page, which also suggests that students may not
be reading the complete article, so when I found that wasn’t working, what I then did is I worked with my
students on secondary sources in class so we all
read the secondary sources together, and then I invited my students to use
those secondary sources in the papers and at the beginning I was reluctant
to do that because I thought this doesn’t encourage students to
do their own independent research, but I found the results were far
superior, because we talked about the articles together in class. We also talked
about successful ways of using outside resources following they-say-I-say, and they were able
to do a much better job of using the outside resources, so it comes
at a cost. Students were not going to the
library looking at their own secondary sources and figuring out how to use them, but I think that they were
using the sources that I gave them, that we talked
about together, much more effectively. [music] Tom: Of how valuable this Stretch course has
been to them and the reflective essay tends to, you know, more or less crystallize that
feeling also. Margeaux: I think the informal essay or the reflective essay that we include in
the portfolio is great because it gives the students a chance to just
express what they think about their own
writing or maybe how they feel they’ve learned,
what the value of their work has been, and at the same
time also give feedback on the class, the writing class and I
always enjoy sort of reading you know, when students are more candid,
when they’re not afraid to say, “Oh, I enjoyed this professor but I did
have a hard time understanding this,” because it doesn’t just
help the student but it helps me as an instructor too, on what I should
be doing to help the student out. [music] Ian: What I really like about the portfolio
is, and we got this idea from visual artists’ portfolios, is giving students some agency, so that they
have some say in how their grade is determined, that it also encourages
risk-taking, because you’re…what I tell my students is
at the end of the semester, you’ve got to choose some of your work to include in the
portfolio, so in other words, you can leave something out
if something didn’t work, or if you’re tired of something, you don’t
want to work on it anymore, so it encourages students to take
risks in their writing, because they know that if something fails, it’s not
necessarily going to count against them in their grade. So they do get, my students
get the choice of leaving something out of the
portfolio. I mean artists’ portfolios are supposed to provide the artist with the opportunity
to represent their best work and so that’s what I want my students to do,
and I think the other thing that’s important about the portfolio assignment is
that the student gets to choose…decide which
is their best work and also helps them to think about evaluation
criteria and gets them to reflect on their own work,
in other words, I resist telling students “well I think you
should put this in your portfolio,” but rather encouraging students to
reflect on what criteria they would use and how they will decide what to put in their
final portfolio. Mandy: The portfolio is very important because
it’s a compilation of all the student’s work
over the entire semester. We focus on the preface and the
reflective letter as a way to develop a metacognitive awareness
of the student’s writing, but also to consider the audience who will be reading
these portfolios. I also have my students pick two of their
best essays out of the whole semester and that way they’re able to showcase their
work and get a grade for the class. Andrea: I tell students, you know, whenever
you’re taking a course that is in the humanities or even in the arts that the portfolio is a
really… plays a really important role because
it’s not the same as taking a cumulative or
comprehensive exam and just spitting out information, this is what I learned.
You’re showing how you’ve evolved as a writer, how
you’ve grown, this is a representation of your best work, and when you approach it in that way, the
students really understand just how important the portfolio is, and I find that they’re eager to show off
what they’ve learned and they want the readers to see that
they’ve developed in certain ways. Maria: Because of the projects in the Stretch
curriculum, many of those project assignments do
ask students to move away from inside of the classroom. Students are
asked to do ethnographies, to speak with other people, in project
space students are asked to go out and to analyze public spaces and sometimes personal spaces when
they’re within their own home and the places that they work. So they’re definitely no longer just
reading essays in a classroom or watching a video and writing about it, but
they are required to go out and gather their own research, their own
observations, and to speak with other people who may
not even be in the class, and so definitely it breaks that classroom wall down…they have to move outside of it.
[music] Aimee: So for our project, web and media, I introduced how black
people have used blogs, how they’ve made films, how
they’ve used web sites and what’s the purpose and function behind that,
historically and presently, I introduce the students to some black
filmmakers, I introduce the students to some famous black bloggers, both here
and throughout the diaspora just to kind of get them in the mood to
understand the purpose and function of what people have done before and presently,
and then I actually let my students choose the media. So they could actually do blogs, they
could create web sites, they can make magazines, or they can make films. And the projects turned
out better than I could have ever imagined and I’m really happy that I
allowed them the different forms of media, and what force me to have to…I had to go
to learn how to create all these forms of media so that I could help my students create
these, because I wasn’t gonna allow them to try if I didn’t try also. So I actually allowed
them to do different forms and it ended up being fantastic. Their
creativity is amazing. Maria: Technology has definitely changed the
way we have taught composition in Asian American Studies. Now we can analyze films, YouTube video
clips, Facebook accounts, Twitter messages. Writing and text has gone beyond the traditional
textbook or the novel or the poem, and what is happening in the
classrooms now is that students are learning that that also includes a writing assignment.
One of the assignments is to produce a dialogue, which in essence is a script
and so students instead of writing an essay on an
issue will write a script or dialogue on an issue with two or three characters and they end up taping that and making
films and showing that text can be produced through a technology form like filming and
then given to an audience in an age where technology is
shaping the way we think, giving us different formats in which
to think and which to learn. I think that’s added to the
experience, and in stretch we acknowledge that in project web or project medium; do a web page or a
blog, you don’t necessarily have to write an essay as being the only way to learn how to write. [music] Jonathan: In my class what they did this semester,
they actually create a newsletter about project space and what they did that
was really unique in my class is they went out there in the community. As you know project space is an A
and a B portion proposal. The A portion they talk about the community and actually what they did in groups, they
actually went out to the community and they interviewed people on how to utilize private
and public space, that was really beneficial for them.
Andrea: I like to have my students do field work but before I set them out to do that we look at
models. For instance, I use David Foster Wallace’s “Ticket
to the Fair” where he went to the Illinois State Fair
for three days and kept a running diary, but we also watch a mini-documentary from the PBS Frontline series called
“Close to Home,” where the producers observed a hair salon in the upper east side of Manhattan for a
week, so they can see the different ways in which an
ethnography in fieldwork should function and that it’s not merely about
describing a space but making observations and analyzing what those
observations are. Beatriz: But at this point,
even though they don’t notice it they’re addressing issues that theories such as the loose discuss
for example, in terms of space, the diagramming of space, or Foucault discusses in terms of discipline and how space forces us to behave in certain ways, and so for us it’s wonderful that we have a program that
allows us to apply all these ideas to the different context and the content that each one of the
departments pours into the stretch program. [music] Karina: I enjoy all of the projects, I think
that’s one of the beauties in the stretch program that we have the
time to dedicate to each of them. However the project text is one of my
favorites. In our program we designed it so
that it’s at the end. Students at that point are more
comfortable with the material that they are reading; they’re able to process, to think more
critically about the themes presented to them, but one of the things I like in
this project it’s that, other than taking a very traditional
literary approach to reading the text, we do a more interdisciplinary…approach. and that means students first
get to read the texts, and for example this year we are reading Manlio Argueta’s “One Day of Life,” in
the past they have read “Tattooed Soldier” by Hector Tovar, and after they read they’ve really
get into discussion of the text that they choose the topics that they want and its kind of getting
personal with all of those issues they have the authority to take
on one theme and do their research and it kind of
takes on a life of its own and it’s beautiful
to see that the students take the text as a point
of departure to explain those larger issues and then like you saw in the morning to really think about the dynamics that go
beyond that text, beyond the country and more about how is it interacting
with other politics, whether it be gender, culture
politics, historical processes and the research it’s a great part
of that too so again project text is one of those that
we leave at the end because it allows the students to incorporate the different skills that
they have learned, the critical thinking, the research part, and then the writing
also culminates with the reading Renee: One thing that we did read in the second semester was
“Nobody’s Son” by Jose Albertos Urrea and it’s a kind of like personal narrative and he… but then it’s also contextualized within, you know it’s a personal narrative,
but it’s a context about him growing up in this you know, multi-ethnic family his mother is Anglo-American, his
father is Mexican-American and growing up in El Paso in a working-class community,
and so there’s like this bigger context for that life story. So that was one of the texts that we
read and students again love that book,
because it was so it was personal, but then it was also really you know, deeply contextual about all the
politics of what’s going on in the border. [music] Jeff: I introduce students both to the library with a librarian and we have a library
day, which I feel is a great way of getting them
introduced and in touch with how our library
works. Our library has changed so much in such a short amount of time, so it’s
always good to, you know, continue to kind of update yourself anf your students on what’s
going on because things change from semester to semester. Tom: Basically what I do is… I call it the incremental version of research, that is once I start
progression two, students begin to engage in research. You know it may be very minor in terms of well okay, what have other people said
about Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and I would ask them specifically to
look for those texts or research materials that tend to
validate their position, maybe five of them or four of them, and look
for positions, I mean research materials
that challenge their position, so I do this on those basis, and then by the time they
get to progression three where we are in full argumentative mode, they understand the process of research itself. In addition to that I send them to the
library to get assistance with our librarians who have classes and help students to select materials that are relevant to their topics and I even give them a day off just to do
that and then they come back the next week with reports on what they found, and how useful
they were, so in a sense it becomes a hands-on rather
than just allow the students to go there collect books, and give you a bibliography
that really makes no sense. The process for me is gradual.
Renee: One in the big things, we actually use the library quite a bit, and so we do Jenny’s library orientation,
where she gives students like the whole process to, you know, finding text, you know, figuring out which
ones you want to read, which ones you don’t. I also talk to the
students again, this is sort of stuff that I learned when I was at Michigan, that it was important to always sort of see yourself as a writer, so what I often do is I tell students
stories about my own research, and the perils and pitfalls of
doing research as in the real world, right, and that it’s not always
about just staying in the library, it sometimes, especially with my research,
it’s like going out and talking to people and sort of figuring out, and so suddenly, like, students get really
excited about “Oh my gosh, I can include an interview with my, you know, grandfather?” and I say yes, i think that’s like legitimate.
[music] Anne: SI is really fun. I run SI, so students who are in 113 will see my
name, Anne Kellenberger, as the teacher on record on their classes, but happily for them, they will
get access to other folks in the classroom. We have
wonderful SI leaders, who are advanced students, who come
recommended by teachers for their writing and their
leadership skills, and in SI they develop activities and other
kind of hands-on learning methods to help students continue, expand, repeat, maybe reinforce some of the ideas
or requirements or readings in their 113 classes. So for instance, if
a student has got a new prompt, they can
spend the time in SI brainstorming. Often students do their very first in-class
presentations in 113, so SI becomes a great place to
rehearse that, so it’s kind of mentoring experience for the 113 students, and a fabulous also
experience for the SI leaders to get to be mentors to students. [music] Cheryl: The freshman common reading is a program
that well, I started about seven years ago and it’s modeled after similar programs
in place at campuses all over the country now. Each
year a 100-percent volunteer committee composed
of faculty and staff and students, including
both freshmen and ex-freshmen, which are sophomores
juniors, seniors and the occasional graduate who just likes doing the
committee. We meet, we read, we take nominations for the titles and then vote twice, once to pick finalists
usually five finalists, and then a second time in January to pick the winning title for
the coming fall, and the idea of the freshmen common
reading is to welcome new freshmen in the fall with an
intellectual experience that they can all share.
Of course they don’t all read the book, it’s not required
in all their classes, but that’s the goal. Some universities will
ask their freshmen to read the common reading on their own at home
in the summer before freshman year, but that didn’t seem like the best model for
Northridge. It’s a lot more fun to work on the book
here, and especially to have students reading it as they
approach freshman convocation, which is usually the third week, second
or third week of the fall and has almost always, at CSUN,
featured the common reading author as the keynote
speaker. A key thing for faculty to consider is
how they can help students, not just in terms of course content,
which obviously matters, we’re here to teach and it’s an intellectual experience
that the University provides, but faculty also should be aware that
there’s an emotional set of issues that freshmen are dealing with, partly it’s
being in an unfamiliar place, partly it’s dealing for the first time
for many have them with expectations that they’re going to behave as adults behave, and that’s difficult,
that’s not a natural, instantaneous transformation
that happens to somebody just because they got a high school
diploma and set foot on a college campus, so that faculty, I mean it’s really asking a lot of
faculty not only to teach subject matter, but also to teach
students, I mean that’s one way to think of it, you’re teaching your subject matter
but you’re working with students to help them gain confidence and maybe some direction in why they’re here,
because not everyone comes to college knowing what they want to do, and even those who do believe they know, “Oh my major is business,” that can change and very often does change.
[music] Margeaux: It’s one of the things that I actually
like to start off…I always sort of create this balance in my classwork,
this one day we’re focusing on the mechanical aspects of writing and then we have a day where we’re
focusing on the topics and the issues. I think that it’s important. It is a
writing class, and while you want to engage in conversation
about the topics, you also have to remember that they need
to learn all the writerly aspects, such as transitions and topic sentences or building a paragraph, so I do. I introduce that right off the bat and we
do keep reviewing it throughout the semester. Aimee: I believe the most important aspect
is the community that not only the students build with myself and SI leaders, because
I taught the 113 classes this year, but also what they build with their
fellow classmates. They were able to do projects together, they were able to do
projects separately, they did a lot a group work. When they peer-edited, I always had them
work with someone different, so I think one of the most important aspects
is their opportunity to work and get to know the other students, and help to
build their own community on campus. I feel that’s really important, especially
for first-year students who don’t know anyone when they come on
campus, or maybe know people from high school, but it gets them out of that
comfort zone and it gets them to be comfortable in where they are, and I think
that helps you achieve success for them.

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