Teaching: Examples of Student Work

Included here are examples of student projects created in selected courses I have taught.

At Agnes Scott College, DIGITAL LITERACIES is a course within the Department of Education’s Minor in Educational Studies that offers students an opportunity to explore an issue of social justice important to the field of education. The course topics change each semester, emphasizing current trends and concerns. Topics have included the consequences of over-relying on standardized testing and bullying, for example. Students process the information they are studying by creating a series of assignments that require them to acquire and/or hone their digital skill set: creating podcasts, visual presentations, web pages, and simple videos. The culminating course project invites students to synthesize their learning about the class topic by producing a short public service announcement (PSA), specifically targeted to middle and high school students.

In a semester in which we explored the phenomenon of bullying, especially cyberbullying, Seung Yoon Kim produced an affecting PSA that offers viewers a call to action.


Screenshot of the PowerPoint outline of slides for Patel's presentation about David Wiesner

Screenshot of the PowerPoint outline of slides for Patel’s presentation about David Wiesner

LITERATURE FOR CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS is a cross-listed course in the departments of education and English at Agnes Scott College. It offers students a survey of picture books and young adult novels, as well as provides a brief introduction to literary theory. In addition to discussing and writing about the texts they are reading, students choose one Caldecott Award winner to research for an illustrated presentation that uses advanced features of PowerPoint. They are instructed to produce an informative introduction to the author, her or his work, and the award, to demonstrate an advanced level of research about the author, and to create a slide show in “browse at kiosk” mode, which means that the presentation “runs” on its own (slides advance automatically, etc.). Most students in the course are familiar with PowerPoint, but they are not familiar with the more advanced features of the program, so the assignment increases their technology skill set as it invites them to teach their classmates about an important children’s author.

Megha Patel chose to investigate the work of David Wiesner, who has won the Caldecott Medal more than once and has illustrated more than 20 books for children. Click on the image at the right to see a full-size image of the outline Patel developed for her project, which included images, sound, and animations.

RADICAL PEDAGOGIES is an upper-level course that explores the tenets of social justice education and that asks students in the course to consider the aims of education in a pluralistic society. The students in the course select the primary course topics and develop a group project that invites others into a “democratic dialogue” about an issue related to the selected topic(s).

Students in EDU 415: Radical Pedagogies discuss their filmed scenes with a 10th-grade English class in rural Georgia (via Skype).

Students in EDU 415: Radical Pedagogies discuss their filmed scenes with a 10th-grade English class in rural Georgia (via Skype).

In spring 2012, the students in the course selected “gay rights” as a topic for exploration and, throughout the course of the semester, created short “forum plays,” short interactive dramas that highlight an issue for discussion. Forum plays are promoted as a strategy for dialogue by Augusto Boal in his Theatre of the Oppressed work. The students developed two scripts, which they rehearsed and recorded. Then they connected with a 10th-grade high school class in rural Georgia via Skype to watch the plays “together” and to discuss the issues presented in the dramas.

In their short drama, “Cutting Ties,” students in EDU 415: Radical Pedagogies, act out a scene designed to elicit a conversation with high school students about the homophobia portrayed in the scenario.

In “Roommates’ Dilemma,” the students portray a scene about discrimination involving a college roommate who has recently “come out.” The scene was developed through a semester-long process of script-building that began with the students in the course sharing personal stories related to issues of “gay rights.”

DRAMA & CRITICAL LITERACY is a graduate course that focuses on the integration of drama-based strategies into classrooms, across grade levels. It includes a specific focus on critical literacy/critical theory and asks the students in the course to consider the roles theatre structures might play in assisting their own students to comprehend course concepts and to critically examine texts and information. Many of the students in the course are elementary school teachers. 

Maria Eby, first grade teacher in Raleigh, NC: For the culminating assignment for the course, Ms. Eby developed a solo drama project that asked her students to learn more about the ecosystem, especially the role of plants, by having them “talk back” to the beanstalk from the story “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Segments of her lesson were captured by John Merrow of Learning Matters TV. The link above takes us to a clip from the story he developed.

Image of the

Image of the “Teaching Self,” as composed by MAT student Dorsett Clark

UNDERSTANDING LEARNERS is a “foundations of education” course, the first class in the pedagogy sequence for students in the Master of Arts in Teaching at Agnes Scott College. The scope of the course is wide, but a general aim is to ask the pre-service teachers to begin to sketch an image of themselves as pedagogues and to frame that image with themes from the course, which include culturally relevant pedagogy, social constructivism, and critical theory, among others.

One assignment in the course asks students to represent aspects of their “teaching selves” by framing an image (a “self-portrait,” broadly defined) with ideas from the course that they find especially resonant.  Each student composes the image and chooses quotations from course texts as a literal “frame” (the artifact includes the language of the quotation around the image that has been created).

See the image at the right for an example of one student’s interpretation of the assignment.

WRITING TEACHERS’ WORKSHOP is a graduate-level pedagogy course for students in the Master of Arts in Teaching English program at Agnes Scott College. Students in the course are preparing to student teach in a middle or high school classroom, and the course focuses on writing pedagogy, specifically the writing process and the importance of designing writing instruction from the perspective of someone integrally familiar with what it feels like to “be a writer.”

Students in the course are responsible for summarizing each week’s three-hour class session by developing “Recorder’s Notes.” The students may choose any written mode for presenting their notes. As part of the class ritual, each session begins with a reading of the notes, as a strategy for reviewing the main ideas from the previous meeting.

Donna Wroble chose to create a class newsletter for her notes.

Erin Eidson wrote a short film script that captured much of the actual language of the session.

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