What to expect
Before the one-week winter experience in Baton Rouge, the team will meet at Cornell for two half-day pre-departure seminars. One will take place in November and the other in December; both will be scheduled at the mutual convenience of all team members, most likely on a Saturday or Sunday.
By participating in videoconferencing with faculty and leadership at the elementary school, and by interacting with the three instructional leaders, you will:
- know the academic and other standards to which elementary school students and their teachers in Baton Rouge are held accountable;
- know the history, demographics, current student performance data, and rules and protocols for the elementary school;
- know what academic and social knowledge, skills, and habits have been the focus of students in grades three to five at the school since the start of the academic year;
- understand advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of engaging in participant-observation as a method of understanding a context such as a school;
- be able to, and understand why it's valuable to, engage in critical reflection during and after a community-engagement experience; and
- be able to lead protocols that elicit and enrich story concepts and plots from students in grades three to five.
Twenty percent of your grade for the course will be based on your attendance and participation at these seminars and your performance on brief quizzes assessing mastery of the learning outcomes above.
During the week of January 7-11, 2019, the team will work at a Baton Rouge elementary school from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Each team member will "embed" in one classroom for half the day, providing assistance to that classroom's teachers and aides. For the other half of each day, team members will work on the project with the older students.
Each weekday evening, after dinner, the team will meet for one hour. We will use this time to share and organize what we've learned, reflect critically, and plan for the next day.
To enhance reflection, keep families and other interested parties informed, and support our work in the follow-up seminar in the spring, each team member will keep a daily blog (structured according to major intellectual and practical goals of the class) on this course website.
By the end of the site visit, we will:
- understand the challenges and benefits for students, education professionals, and schools of enacting project-based pedagogy;
- be more inclined towards, and skilled at, reading education theory and research with sensitivity to context;
- be more comfortable with, and skilled at, modeling skills for elementary-age students;
- be more comfortable with, and skilled at, managing and motivating groups of elementary-age students when they are working on a specific product;
- understand the daily challenges of school professionals and be more comfortable and skilled at interacting with them; and
- appreciate the potential of story-telling in youth development.
Eighty percent of your grade for the two-credit course will be based on on-site performance. Specifically, fifty percent will be based on participation in weeknight seminars and nightly completion of a blog entry, and thirty percent will come from evaluations of your professionalism by the classroom teacher in whose room you embed. For each of these components (i.e., participation in seminars, blogs, etc.), you will receive a rubric in advance so that the standards of excellent work are clear.