Category Archives: Events & Notes

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Accessibility in the Classroom – Insights and Questions from TLH Faculty Fellows

On September 28, our Fall Cohort of TLH Faculty Fellows convened for the first meeting of the semester to plan public events and contributions to knowledge. I also led a discussion about accessibility in the classroom by talking about why it’s important, what the institutional process is like (i.e. students request services through their campus disability services office, which acts as a liaison between student and teacher) and how that may or may not be effective. According to the National Center for Education statistics, nearly half of students with disabilities end up dropping out before they finish (link opens in a new window). According to one study, stronger self-advocates were more likely to complete their degrees (link opens in a new window), but that puts the onus on students to advocate for their needs semester after semester, which can become a barrier to success.

We started the discussion by first polling our fellows on their knowledge of accessibility accommodations, current experiences teaching disabled students in their courses, and types of accommodation requests.

The fellows rated themselves as generally having average experience with accessibility issues and no-one considered themselves to have very limited knowledge or to be very knowledgeable.

Question 1 results (image link opens to interactive chart)

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TLH Office Hours Recap: Accessible Course Design and Hybrid Teaching

On August 31, 2021, TLH held the first office hour session with 9 of our faculty fellows. We kicked off the session with a short, high-level presentation about accessible course design which was followed by a discussion about challenges that professors have encountered while teaching online during the past year, with making their course materials accessible on short notice, providing other accommodations to students, and with technology platforms that are not always accessible or user friendly. During the discussion, faculty fellows shared some of the tools and techniques that have worked well for them and bringing up questions that also informed the topic. Overall, it was a productive hour and we really enjoyed the knowledge-sharing! We added 3 more slides to our presentation with some of the resources. 

Stay tuned for our next TLH Office Hourse, on September 14 at 4 pm. TLH Executive Director, Christina Katopodis will lead a discussion on ungrading and peer review.

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

Student Self Portrait Artworks created by LaGuardia Community College students in the workshop Seeing Each Other: Identity Self-Portraits

Professor Dahlia Elsayed and Professor Liena Vayzman
April 13 and 20, 2021

Kyana Neil

This is a representation of my activist side and my normal side. By bringing art and social justice together, I decided I wanted to remake a famous painting by Norman Rockwell. My head is served on a silver platter, hard to ignore, but I have very vibrant 60s/70s influenced makeup on. I’m surrounded by people laughing and talking, but all of the white people surrounding me have copied my makeup… and now the laughing seems to be more of a “haha we look just like her.” I tried to connect the “Culture Vulture” experience people of color always go through. Famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Gwen Stefani are infamously known as Culture Vultures… they wear people’s culture like it’s a costume. (From Asian, Native American, Black people, and much more!) And me a person of color, surrounded by white onlookers is having the first-hand experience of only being a “thing to eat, or to take from.”

Kyana Neil self portrait Continue reading

Towards a Critical, Decolonized Pedagogy: An Interactive (Re)Visioning

The field of Library & Information Science is often downplayed within spaces of higher education. Librarians are frequently positioned as somehow different than “teaching faculty,” considered the real scholars and educators, with the Library at the margins. And in a way, it’s true that the cornerstone of information literacy instruction – commonly known as the ‘one-shot’ – is a challenge, different than a semester-long course immersion. Librarians are tasked with offering a single session within which students will do the following: Receive guidance on how to assess sources, identify a scholarly article, accord to the standards of academic writing, properly cite sources, and perhaps, hopefully, become energized by the zest of research. At least, this is what we aim for. Continue reading

Continuity and Change: Reflections on “Women Rewrite America,” a Three-Part Reading and Discussion Series

by Ria Banerjee, Sarah Hoiland, and María Julia Rossi

As educators, we are typically impelled to produce content–course plans, public lectures, writing and speaking in various registers is central to what we routinely do. It is rarer for us to get opportunities to “fill the well,” so to speak, and a TLH grant provided us a forum to develop our understanding of contemporary fiction that is outside our disciplinary subfields but aligns with our interests. After discussion among a core group of five planning faculty (Julia, Ria, and Sarah are the names on record for this group of CUNY friends), we decided on some ideal parameters for our planned event: we wanted to read recent novels by women of color, intentionally working against the Anglophone publishing industry’s bias, and we chose works focused on the US with an eye on global interconnectivity. We wanted to attract participants from a range of work and professional experiences, as having only educators might narrow our conversation. Finally, we wanted to give space to student voices in designing and leading our discussions, again to foster a broad conversation that would not be possible at, say, a disciplinary conference. We settled on three particularly timely novels.  Continue reading

From Page to Stage: Engaging with QCC Writers Live Event

by Raquel Corona and Susan Lago

On May 13, 2021, Raquel Corona and Susan Lago will host a live interactive literary event on Zoom, featuring Queensborough Community College English Department faculty, including Irvin Weathersby Jr. and Manny Martinez, along with three QCC students nominated to read by the English Department Creative Writing Committee. Attendees will actively participate by collaborating on a group poem, posing questions, and meeting with the writers for intimate break-out room sessions. The event will conclude with an open mic where attendees have the opportunity to volunteer to share their own creative work with the audience. In this way, attendees will have the experience of participating in a live literary event that invites the audience to engage directly with writers of various levels of experience to ask questions about their process or what inspires their creative work. Attendees will gather an understanding of the interactive nature between literature and audience in a venue that takes literature out of the classroom and places it in a collaborative virtual space. Continue reading

The Practice of Publishing: An Evening with Morgan Jerkins

by Emily Raboteau

This event was sponsored by a grant from Transformative Learning in the Humanities at the City University of New York and designed for emerging creative writers interested in learning more about the business of publication. It was conducted as a conversation between myself and author / editor Morgan Jerkins about her own path to publication, insight as an editor, use of social media as a networking tool, overview of the publishing landscape and tips on querying literary agents fo representation. The audience consisted of MFA students from CUNY and was open to the public. Continue reading

“The Power of Reading and Writing: How English Courses Paved Career Paths,” a TLH Alumni Talk event

This blog was written by Contributing Authors Ilse Schrynemakers and Beth Counihan, collaborating professors at Queensborough Community College.

An alumni talk, “The Power of Reading and Writing: How English Courses Paved Career Paths” was hosted by Drs. Ilse Schrynemakers and Beth Counihan (English department, Queensborough Community College).  Over 30 attendees listened to the stories of courage, determination, and success from the QCC alumni panelists. A general overview of the challenges faced by current undergraduates during this pandemic, and the need for connection with those “who have been in their shoes,” began the talk. This was followed by the host conveying various panelists’ anecdotes about life and work. These anecdotes—such as once working as an au pair in France–were a way to break the ice as well as underscore that not all career paths go in a straight line.  In fact, sources of inspiration are all around us. Continue reading

Voicing Poverty Workshop and Information Session with TLH

by Jamie Warren and Mahatapa Palit

In this workshop, we began by inviting participants to turn their external scholarly gaze, at least for a moment, inward. Starting from the premise that, if our goal is to increase critical thought and knowledge among our students, we must first come to understand ourselves, we emphasized the necessity of engaging in the often discomforting analysis of our language, and our assumptions, our position, and perhaps most importantly what we mean we say words such as “I”, or “we.” What images of others do such utterances implicitly conjure for the mind? Who, exactly, inhabits the linguistic space, “You” or “them”? Moreover, how can this rather abstract process of self cataloging help us in our goal of bringing new knowledge on poverty to the center of our pedagogy? Continue reading