A Week in Review: Classroom and PBL Connections Found in Doctorate Courses

Between my three courses I’m taking this semester, I find two of them to be the most engaging. The third that I’m less excited about is really only due to the dry nature of the class’s construction; the content of the course, learning theories, is actually fascinating. I will gain a great deal of insight from each class, but my research in writing course and social justice classes will really push me forward as a teacher and researcher. The workload is manageable, but the reading is intense. Still, the reading is highly valuable overall. The discussions in class have already pushed a few different ideas into my mind of how I’ll approach my classes next year, and I’ve tried to write all of these down as they come to me. The most important addition I plan on making stems from a combination of a discussion from my social justice class in conjunction with what I already do with project-based learning (PBL).

I had never really put into context that what many of my students do in my Studio course could be labeled service learning. Many students like to design philanthropic projects that help their community or fellow man in some way. What I see myself doing is introducing some project/problem-based learning via service-learning for my more traditional classes. I’d want to allow my students to choose a particular problem they see in their community and then work to tackle that issue through action and/or advocacy. I’ve struggled placing some form of project-based learning in my traditional class settings, but service-learning may  be part of the answer.

I’ve also begun questioning a pilot study I could implement with students as well. I’m not ready to give details yet, but it would involve developing literacies outside of the normal school setting and acknowledging that those literacies are valuable to the classroom. I’ll expound more on this soon, but in particular I am interested in the line of questions Mollie Blackburn has purpose through her “literacy performance” ideology. Blackburn is best known for her work in literacies that co-op with LGBTQ studies and students. This is not the angle I would be taking, but the questions poised on generating a space for students to bring various literacies to the table, teachers facilitating such conditions, and in turn those literacy performances to turn into social action intrigue me; I want to see if I can bring some of the questions into my own classroom and study students bringing those various literacies and assets into class and more importantly in their writing.

My mind is buzzing with ideas and that, my friends, is a blessing and curse as I have so much reading and writing to navigate on top of placing my new ideas in a context that I can use them in my classroom next year. I remind myself that it is a step-by-step process and not to bite off more than I can chew, but I just don’t function that way. I want to try it all. That being said, I know that I can’t and I’ll have to be pin down what will work for me and what I have time to navigate.

This will be a heck of a summer semester. Cheers!

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