M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S

Service Learning Project, Spring 2006

What It Is

Each of the teams we created during the second week of classes will be responsible for working with Joyce Harvard Smith, the Volunteer Services Coordinator, and myself in choosing a local community group with which to do a total of 5 hours of community service. Try for service that your team can do together and which puts you in direct contact with local community members.

Each group member must keep a personal log/journal of their experiences in the community service portion of the service learning project. You should record the days/times of your service, your observations of the people you interact with in the course of your service, and your reflections on what perspectives on the community is opened up by such service (along with comparisons to your prior perspectives). This journal will be turned in at the end of the semester.

At the end of the semester, each team will give a 30-minute presentation (including discussion/question-and-answer time) on what they learned about the local community, both individually and collectively, in the course of the community service portion of the project, and link it to their learning in other aspects of the course. This will be each class member's second oral presentation (with everyone speaking for at least five minutes, as in the Discussion Leading Project), thus satisfying the Speaking Intensive requirements of Part 11 of the CCC.

What For

This course asks you to observe, analyze, and reflect upon American Identities on a number of levels: 1) transnational/national/regional/historical through the course readings and in-class discussions and activities; 2) personal/communal through the Identification Project; 3) as Fredonia students/community members through the Discussion Leading Project and the Service Learning Project; and 4) local through the Service Learning Project. The goal is to allow you to consider the meanings, significance, and stakes of American Identities, past and present, in a more flexible and comparative way than otherwise possible.

How To

Each team's main goals are to 1) convey a vivid sense of your individual experiences while doing the community service along with a thoughtful set of individual and collective reflections on what those experiences reveal about local American identities; and to 2) connect your experiences and reflections with authors, texts, passages, issues, or debates from the assigned readings along with your learning in the Identification and Discussion Leading Projects. You should be creative about how you attempt to meet these goals, keeping in mind that each team member must speak for a total of five minutes during the 30-minute presentation and that you should plan to leave time or questions and discussions after your presentation.

At least one week before your presentation is slated to begin, your team must meet with me for feedback and advice on your ideas and plans. This means that your team must meet even earlier than that to generate some preliminary and not-so-preliminary plans. When your team meets with me, you all should have already completed your journals, developed a good sense of your goals for the presentation/discussion, brainstormed options for the methods to reach those goals, and generated questions that you need answered in order to firm up your plans on your goals and methods. You may meet with me as many times as you like before your teaching session, but that first meeting must take place at least a week before the day your team is scheduled for, so be sure to meet early as a team and make use of email and/or the course Blackboard site to exchange ideas and plans before that.

Grading Criteria

Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of factors: my overall assessment of your team's participation in community service and commitment to working collaboratively; the quality of the individual and team preparation for the presentation; the quality of the individual and team contributions to the presentation; and my overall assessment of your individual contributions to the team's efforts and success in the service learning project.


One way to think about how to approach this oral presentation is to consider, both individually and as a team, what kinds of knowledge, images, and assumptions you had about the local community before beginning the project. What were your expectations about the people you'd interact with in the course of doing your community service? Then consider your experiences, individually and collectively, during your community service. In what ways were your expectations fulfilled? challenged? Did your experiences make you rethink any of the prior knowledge or beliefs you had (or thought you had) about the local community? Finally, were there any particular course materials that shed light on your service learning, or anything you learned in the course of doing the community service that made you look at the course materials differently? Sharing your reflections on these questions is a great way to begin brainstorming for the presentation.

In the presentation itself, you should consider how to structure it to convey the similarities and the differences in your observations and conclusions, your perceptions and reflections, of the meaning of the community service, of its impact on your understanding of local American identities, and of its connections to course materials.

When we meet in late April we can get into this in more detail. Please come with the brainstorming within the group already completed!

M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S

AMST/ENGL 296: American Identities, Spring 2006
Created: 2/14/06 10:50 am
Last modified: 4/3/06 12:24 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia