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Author Archives: Christina Katopodis

TLH Office Hours Recap: Ungrading

On Tuesday, September 14th, we held virtual TLH Open Office Hours with the Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows. We had 11 participants, who shared their experiences with grading and ungrading (alternative forms of assessment).

Some of the challenges discussed included the tedium of grading in Blackboard; helping students understand how scaffolding works (and that missed assignments can snowball into weaker bigger-stakes assignments); guiding student decisions in co-created assessments; and, more generally, increasing student engagement and self-motivation.

Faculty also shared useful tips and strategies, such as:

  • talking students through HOW and WHY a given type of assessment or type of assignment works can help them understand the mechanics and gain a grasp of how syllabi and even institutions function–learn the unspoken rules and how to navigate them, an especially important skill for those who feel underprepared for college;
  • using group work (and peer review) to help extroverted students manage their speaking-time and help shier students open up (e.g., put all of the “extroverts” in one group and all the “introverts” in a different group);
  • asking students to set goals and learning outcomes for themselves at the beginning of the semester and, later, asking them to self-assess how close they came to achieving those goals (individual and/or collective) by the end of the semester;
  • making connections between the course content and students lives (e.g., ask students what they are most curious about).

I also presented a brief slide deck with some examples of ungrading, which you can view here.

[The cover of the book, Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead), edited by Susan D. Blum, appears in the foreground, standing on top of a pile of more copies of the book, in front of a vase of flowers and a window with a view of a red brick building in the background.]

Resources

Mellon TLH Faculty Fellow Michael L. J. Greer kindly shared some further resources with me after the workshop:

  1. an article about self-grading that she used as inspiration for her own ungrading methods (he students do a self-assessment which counts for 15% of their final grade) https://www.hsmitchellbuck.com/2019/08/14/adventures-in-ungrading/
  2. a resource on alternative grading that has been circulating in graduate student circles: https://docs.google.com/document/d/149qAwct6amhY1YnDIxjDKw_6w0AkfpV8hMg515LPRzU/edit

If you’d like to dive in further this semester, there is an #Ungrading Edcamp happening this November 4-6, 2021 (registration is free and the agenda will be informed by what participants are most interested in, so sign up and add your thoughts here).

For further reading, see:

Toni Cade Bambara’s Pedagogical Practices for Learner-Centered Communities

This post was written by Contributing Author Sonia Adams, a PhD candidate at St. John’s University who organized an event in TLH’s Spring 2021 series on active learning.

Toni Cade Bambara has greatly impacted my work as an educator and curriculum developer. I admire her commitment to literacy education, creativity, multiculturalism, and social justice. During my undergraduate studies in English, I was fortunate to take literature classes and seminars that exposed me to writers of color from the United States and abroad. However, I noticed a trajectory within many of the required, standardized, and special topic English courses, which privileged White male authors and texts. The western literary canon perpetuates an aesthetic that Bambara referred to as the “Anglo-Saxon tradition” that limited entryway for women and ethnic writers to enter the English curriculum (Bambara, “Summer 1968 SEEK Report). Although there were some gains made in late 1960s and early 1970s in making the curriculum more inclusive, there were some women and ethnic authors who served as ‘minority representatives. In other words, their writings were deemed the standard for the racial, gender, and/or cultural group which they derived from. Bambara foresaw the implications of white patriarchal privileging and minority representation and sought to challenge them as an English Professor, writer, editor, and activist.  Continue reading

A Free Printable Bookmark from the “Philosophy for Children Workshop: Anti-Racist Conversations at Any Age”

At the Philosophy for Children Workshop on Thursday, April 22, Prof. Cheri Carr (LaGuardia Community College) with her students Jesus Benitez and David Ortiz, talked about how inclusive thinking begins with how we treat our children. Between ages 2-5, children internalize racial bias and display attitudes similar to adults. By age 12, many children become set in their beliefs. Caring and invested educators and parents can unintentionally perpetuate anti-Black racism by promoting a colorblind approach to race stemming from their discomfort navigating conversations on race. Not talking about race reinforces racism in young children; talking about it encourages the development of positive attitudes and skills needed to advocate for racial justice. Continue reading

Peace-building through awareness and improvisation

This post was written by Contributing Authors Heather Huggins and Aviva Geismar, collaborating professors at Queensborough Community College. 

peace-building through awareness and improvisation 

Part 1 

Friday, March 12, 2021 at 10:30 am 

Our program was a celebration of a participatory action research methodology known as Social Presencing Theater, a body-based approach for sensing and enacting change. It was also an invitation to engage with QCC’s student and alumni practice group, which began in April 2018.  

Social Presencing Theater (SPT) decolonizes learning by reclaiming the body as an equitable way of knowing and being. SPT centers first-person experience via an improvisational and cyclical process, inviting participants to perceive a larger present. Because SPT is practiced in community, it positions our relational spaces, and the distinct cultures that emerge from them, as worthy of reflection and development. The “theater” in SPT refers to a shared place where something of significance is made visible. Continue reading

Teaching Africana Women’s Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis (Event Reflection)

This post was written by Contributing Author Mariama Khan, an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College.

On March 23, 2021, I participated in the “Transformative Learning in the Humanities” workshop on “Teaching Africana Women’s Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis,” under the theme “Ubuntu Pedagogy in Pandemic Times.” The workshop was chaired by Professor Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol-Banoum, chair,  Africana Studies Department, Lehman College. Her discussion on the Ubuntu Pedagogy framework was followed by my presentation on dome-ndeye and badenya, Wollof and Mandinka concepts on interpersonal and communal solidarity. The two concepts were useful to how I personally responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some Lehman College students also made presentations during the workshop. Continue reading

Voices of the Unheard: Afro Latinx Experiences, March 24, 2021 (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing Author S. Lenise Wallace, a motivational speaker, communication professional and college professor teaching communication courses at CUNY.

Where is “home”? Literally and figuratively? This was a theme that arose from the screening of the documentary Latinegras: The Journey of Self-Love through an Afro Latina Lens directed by Omilani Alarcon. The film screening and panel discussion that followed was moderated by Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and panelists were filmmaker Omilani Alarcon and CUNY professors Drs. Ryan Mann-Hamilton and S. Lenise Wallace.  Continue reading

Exploring Untold Stories: Analyzing Family Primary Sources (Upcoming Event!)

 This post was written by Contributing Author Madeline Ruggiero, Assistant Professor at Queensborough Community College.

  This workshop takes a granular look at a portion of  a book chapter written by the speaker Madeline Rugiero entitled, “Untold Stories: An Introduction to Primary Sources,” to be released later this year in the book, The Community College Library Reference and Instruction, . This session focuses on a student centered assignment created to motivate and engage students to be active learners. Students are asked to locate and analyze family primary sources such as a document, letter, artifact, photo, or oral history/ interview.   Continue reading

Performance as Narrative Medicine: Reflections on Virtual Performances (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing AuthorAlyse Keller, facilitator of the “Performance as Narrative Medicine” workshop held on March 19, 2021. 

For this Performance as Narrative Medicine Workshop participants are led through an active and participatory performance workshop. Narrative medicine, as conceived by Rita Charon at Columbia University, is a theory and practice that emerged as a way to teach physicians and medical professionals, “to practice with empathy, trustworthiness, and sensitivity toward individual patients.” Over time, narrative medicine has evolved in order to bring the “powerful narrative skills of radical listening and creativity from the humanities and the arts to address the needs of all who seek and deliver healthcare.” Merging the central tenets of narrative medicine with the fundamental principles of performance, this workshop allows participants to share, reflect, and heal through the creation and presentation of personal performances of health and illness—specifically as they relate to their experiences with Coronavirus Continue reading

A “Conditions for Change” Reflection (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing Authors Quilan Arnold and Jessica Nicoll, facilitators of the “Conditions for Change: A Pedagogical Cypher” workshop held on March 24, 2021.

“Conditions for Change: A Pedagogical Cypher,” an interactive workshop, engaged faculty and students in structures that support trusting socially just classrooms. As Cathy Davidson writes, “You cannot counter structural inequality with good will. You have to structure equality.” One structure Conditions for Change used is an Africanist socio-political tool: the cypher or bantaba. Embracing the philosophy of the circle – see all and welcome being seen by all – showcases possibilities for non-hierarchical learning systems within academic spaces. Other workshop structures called upon experiences with Bohmian Dialogue Circles, Onye Ozuzu’s Technology of the Circle and Lois Weaver’s Long Table. Continue reading