Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Students Center Stage
Another English 103 class - more voices
IMovie - listen to peers - family/elders
Interview with Dr. Bacchus - pg 84
The future is RIGHT NOW in the past.

I do believe that we are living in the time machine of the science fiction imagination. We are at a porthole in the fabric of time. As we live the present, we fly into the future and before we are fully conscious, it has become the past. We can almost feel the whoosh of it as the breeze zips pass our ears.

At one time the "older" generation had time to adjust or adapt in some way. Now, I reach down and touch my watch and realize that I am in the minority in my classroom. No one wears a watch! They do not even think of a pay phone, a record album, or a photograph negative. And, I am only 53. I am already a relic.

As an academic I view this project through the lens of post modernism, race and gender theories, critical theory, and intersectionality. This postmodern tool, the computer/internet, allows me to use my material in more than one way at the same time. I can tell more than one story at the same time using the same material or/and use the same material to tell the story from different points-of-view; and the story can be watched on two screens on the same computer.

My position as facilitator/instructor brings to the project the knowledge gathered from Gardner's multiple intellligences, understanding of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development and the importance of recognizing prior knowledge.

For me it is crucial to include the personal woman. I believe that my identities and my experiences are the foundation of my choice of career and my pedagogy. It is why I am committed to particular theories. My identity as a woman and those experiences related to gender inform my choices. Experiences related to race have shaped me along with others. Therefore, my understanding of intersectionality, and its discriminations is permeated with the trauma of my own collisions at these crossroads. I am, after all, a black woman born in Guyana, living the experience of an immigrant, working in a predominantly white community, an introvert, and now a stroke survivor.  I deal with issues of class, race, gender, age and now, as  a survivor of a stroke, I have a keener understanding of the disabled. I speak with these many experiences and from many borders.

The literacy GOAL: literacy enhancement, connecting communities, centering voices -  telling stories;
students collect oral histories and write essays
The academic WHY: Marginalization, oppression, equality, and the future

National Council of Teachers of English - 21st century literacies
California's simple guide to the Common Core Curriculum

Here are your TABLE OF CHOICES:

web - blog - directors' backgrounds, teacher guide, student guide, and Site Map
or go to multimedia chapters - Introduction, Mexico, Guyana, San Andres, Curacao, Jamaica 
 A Chapter on Guyanese Pioneers
Barbados, Trinidad (coming), Nova Scotia (coming), Canada
or to student visual hands on projects
or student multilingual oral history
or to example of student  essay
or multimedia student blogs to center marginalized voices
or student PowerPoint presentations  on a critical thinking activity to center the Haitian crisis
or student extensions to the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
or student book reviews of Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
or instructions in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, for writing the essay in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese 

OR STAY and read

A bit of history:

The above FB photo and message just arrived a few weeks ago from a former student.  For me, it is a reminder that some things stay with students.  I started the FB page as a space for students to contribute information they felt extended our critical thinking.  Over the last few years, I've continued with the notion that change is happening rapidly and I can't afford to pause to fully digest all.   It was, and continues to be, a loose experiment, but I believe that participant observation has to be open and flexible.
"Design a program that answers one of your academic needs." said the professor.  Denmark Vesey popped up immediately.  In the 1830s in South Carolina Denmark lost his life in the fight for freedom.  He came to mind immediately when the professor sat us down and directed us to each create a computer program that would enhance our particular academic focus.  Computers filled the room.   I was no expert, but I learned that the computer had this multilevel potential.  Almost, immediately I realized that I could create a program that catered to various ages, various abilities, various talents as well as various subject matter.  For example, links could be added allowing a student to explore to geography of a country.

During my 6th grade sojourn as a facilitator/teacher, I had also been asked by a 6th grader why he'd never heard of Denmark Vesey.  The class had a discussion and the students understood the fluidity of the "truth."  They were, after all, living in a depressed neighborhood and had found it necessary to protest the unhealthy state of their cafeteria.

I was able to put the two experiences together.  The internet allowed me to create a multidimensional piece.  I created a story of Denmark to be read heard and represented in art; included were a few links to various subjects; for example there were links to maps so that the students could explore geography.

Here at SBCC, my attempt to center student voices started with Moodle.  In the computer lab we used the Moodle space to discuss the novel.  In the classroom students used the talk show framework to present information; they wrote and performed plays based on their novels; we even had Sula parties; the designed questions based on the book, came in character, cooked food according to time and place; and participated in conversations based on the novel. 

I also guided hands on projects in the classroom and before I knew it those projects could be published on the internet.  As the technology exploded, I asked the students to send me to a place that they visited on the internet so that I might get ideas for teaching and they sent me to MySpace and FaceBook.  It seemed to me at the time that the technology had just startedbecome a large part of society.  I used the information gathered from these sites to start a web-blog  with the support of David Wong at Santa Barbara City College.  David wedded my idea to the computer software.

Slowly but surely I started to find my way.  I read and turned the stories to audio; I read and created the fictionalized oral history.  As I worked on it I strove to keep in mind that my ideas must always be student centered. I kept looking for ways to make the students prior knowledge reflect itself in the classroom.  Out of that exploration came timelines for the novel,  PowerPoint presentations, hands on projects and blogs to bring marginalized communities to the center, extensions to the novel.  I used their interests to stimulate some engagement; we discussed the novel and connected it with social issues, and then I gave them the space to define who they saw as marginalized.

The multimedia - video and visual arts -  project being introduced on this site is all a part of the main purpose - the telling of life's stories.  They can all be found in their various forms through the webblog.

Imagine then that this center stage is populated with students and the voices they choose to honor.  Picture it as a rich and lively intersection of many crossroads where people meet and grow as they go.

Therefore, the webblog's main purpose is for students and teachers across borders to collect these stories and upload them to this center stage.  AND, this staging should also engage the participants in an interactive manner; it should encourage them to read these many stories and respond to them with guidance and with honor.

Now we go to the project.  The projects represents the weaving of my interest in telling stories with my role as mentor and guide for my students.  It is a model for what they will do as they create their own multimedia essays:

THE 21st CENTURY BOOK - Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora:
Chapter - 1)  Curacao - Elia
Chapter - 2) Guyanese Pioneers