M A I N * L I N K S

SUNY Fredonia
Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 341: Harlem Renaissance
Spring 2009
Section 1: TTh 9:30-10:50 am, Grissom A122
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-4, TTh 4-5, W 1-3, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: simon@fredonia.edu (during working hours); brucesimon18@yahoo.com (evenings and weekends)
Web Site: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
Course ANGEL Site: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/frames.aspx

Group Discussion Leading Project, Spring 2009

What It Is

Each of the teams we created early in the semester will be responsible for choosing a date and set of readings on which to lead class for roughly 30-60 minutes with a presentation of scholarly research each of the team members has done that helps the class gain new perspectives on the readings for that day and a guided discussion of the implications of those perspectives on the class's interpretations of the readings for that day.

By the second Monday after the conclusion of your discussion-leading day, each team member must email me a summary of the research they did, a list of works consulted, and a reflection on their contribution to the team's success and what they learned in the research and discussion-leading process.

What For

It's a truism that you don't really learn something until you try to teach it to someone else, but there is nevertheless a good deal of truth to this cliche. Being responsible for teaching anything makes you pay a lot more attention when you're learning it, since you'll be in the position of setting goals for the 30-60 minutes of class time that you'll be presenting your research and leading the ensuing discussion. And because this particular project is not just an individual endeavor but something you have to work on with others to make it work, there's an added dimension of cooperative learning and decision-making in the mix, as well. Given that you all are relative newcomers to the Harlem Renaissance, I thought each group would better understand where the class's sources of confusion or frustration might be than I might be able to, as well as how to communicate the key ideas and issues, perhaps even better than I would (given that all this was new to me over a decade ago and how easy it is to forget how difficult something is to learn once you've learned it!). Hence, you all have the opportunity to "peer teach" in a way that could well be more effective than my own teaching. At the very least, you all will be exposed to a variety of teaching styles over the course of the semester, and, when teaching, have the opportunity to draw on what you feel are the most effective and appropriate teaching strategies for the material you all will be wrestling with.

How To

Each team's main goals are 1) to present research that you feel opens up new perspectives on the readings for that day, and 2) to help your classmates explore those perspectives through guided discussion. Ultimately it is up to your team to decide how best to proceed--what you want your peers to consider and learn, what topics/texts/contexts/concepts/methodologies/debates you want to emphasize, what mix of discussion-oriented activities you want to use (guided discussion, small-group work, debate, game, etc.) to reach the goals you set and the overarching goals required by the assignment, how you divide the presenting and discussion-leading work among yourselves during the class meeting you'll be leading--after planning with each other and consulting with me.

Each team should meet with me at least once before their discussion-leading day comes around. We could either have a brainstorming session in which I give you an overview of how I see the readings fitting together and we brainstorm research and discussion topics together (in which case we should meet early enough for you to do the research and follow-up planning), or a feedback/consultation meeting in which I respond to what you've already come up vis a vis research, presentations, and discussion activities.

Beyond that, I don't want to limit the creativity of your team's approach to running a portion of a class period by laying out a step-by-step approach on this page. So much is dependent on your individual interests and interpretations, your beliefs about the most effective modes of researching and discussion-leading, the way the people in your team interact with each other, and the process by which you narrow down the many possible options down to your top one to three, that it's probably impossible to create such a list, anyway. But what I can do is offer some examples of kinds of things you might consider doing when running--or getting ready to run--a portion of the class period.

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 research, discussion questions, teaching effectiveness, and commitment to working collaboratively; the honesty and thoughtfulness of your emails to me; and my overall assessment of your individual contributions to the team's efforts and success.

M A I N * L I N K S

ENGL 341: Harlem Renaissance, Spring 2009
Created: 2/16/09 4:27 pm
Last modified: 2/16/09 6:22 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
Check out the Spring 2003 version of this course!