Another busy day at the UNC Charlotte NWP Summer Institute. One thread that I noticed throughout the day was the importance of creating space for and engaging in (professional) conversations.
We began the day with a conversation about assessment. Lacy led us to consider the different words we associate with assessment and the kinds of conversations that would be necessary to undertake collaborative assessment.
In Steve and Lil’s demo, we considered different ways of entering professional conversations. Steve gave us a demonstration of Twitter and some time to explore various Twitter chats. (Sidebar: All the writing yesterday, plus working through lunch and the drive down from Durham had left me a little fried, so it was fun to have time to play around with something with which I’m familiar today. (Hold the jokes about my Twitter addiction ;)) Steve also gave us a quick introduction to following blogs using RSS. He created a Google Doc with resources related to accessing professional conversations using social media.
Lil then distributed a variety of professional journals. We each took a journal and used it to answer the following questions:
- What conversations are happening in this journal?
- How do the topics in this issue of the journal intersect with my inquiry?
- Who are the key scholars, researchers, theorists who are taken up in this journal?
- What ideas can I take away from this journal?
We also explored journal access through the UNC Charlotte library and databases like JSTOR and Google Scholar. The juxtapositions of social media research and journals brought up some interesting issues related to gatekeeping and access in our debriefing of the demo. (Sidebar: I think this presentation from the UNC School of Information Studies called Scholars’ Blogs or Scholarly Blogs? is interesting to flip through. I’d also like to plug Hack(ing) School(ing) as an interesting way to continue professional conversations. It’s also a great chance for publication.)
In the afternoon, Rashid Williams, a teacher and former SI participant, visited the Institute for a demo lesson that led us to consider the notion of the American Dream and the Affordable Care Act. We began by discussing the meaning of the term the “American Dream” and to what extent we believed the government should be responsible for preserving the American Dream.
Then we considered a specific law, the Affordable Care Act, and whether this particular law furthered the American Dream or not. We watched a video produced by the Obama administration about the Act then read broke into groups to read sections of this article from USA Today with different perspectives on the Act. Each of the groups then reassembled so that one person representing each perspective was in the group. We took turns writing about our perspectives and then after a set amount of time passed our paper along to the next person in the group. By the end of the activity, perspectives of all the group members were represented on each person’s paper. (Sidebar: This was a great activity, and I’m looking forward to trying it out in my history classes.) This activity provided a way to address a potentially highly emotionally charged issue in a productive way and allowed participants to consider the issue from various points of view.