What is it?
As I stated in the syllabus, your goal for this project is to make use of all of the appropriate course material and additional research to develop an extended, multiperspectival argument on a topic or conflict we've discussed and read about in class. In a sense, you will be doing history backwards; in other words, you will be creating primary source material that communicates a crucial or unique understanding about your topic from a particular point of view, contexualized in a particular place and time. You will be given the opportunity to represent your learning through a mixture of several genres including fiction, poetry, visual imagery, and, of course, expository prose. Any genre that allows you to communicate a unique perspective or provide information on the topic in an enlightening way is a possibility.
I am asking you to create a total of five pieces, Each of the first four will represent a perspective on your topic within a particular time-span in history: 1650-1760; 1760-1860; 1860-1960; 1960-present day. You will also write a final reflection as your fifth piece. In the final reflection piece you will trace the connections among the four "historical documents" and show your understanding of the major themes or patterns that have emerged from the four pieces. I also want you to consider the implications for your new understanding as it affects you as a future teacher or citizen. Finally, you should feel free to pose additional questions you would like to have pursued had you had world enough and time.
Because this project will require that you expend intellectual and emotional energy, the topic should engage you both intellectually and personally. I hope you are beginning to discover topics that genuinely interest you or that you find compelling enough to pursue for most of the semester. Remember that each piece should communicate something significant about your understanding of the issue. All of the pieces you create and the information you use as evidence in each piece should enlarge the reader's understanding of your topic.
Creating a whole.
I would like the entire project to cohere. Obviously, your topic will give the project continuity, but I also want you to think of other ways to signal to the reader what the project as a whole communicates. As your reader experiences the project, she should have a sense of how the pieces connect and what the overall frame or question is. That may mean that you add an introductory piece as a part of your final reflection, or you could use a visual or metaphorical method of connecting the pieces. The final reflective piece will be an important way of summing up what the pieces mean as a whole, but you should be thinking as you progress through the project of other ways that you might connect the pieces.
I also would like to see a balance among the pieces; I would like each piece to contribute a roughly equal amount of evidence or to contribute equally to the gestalt of the piece. I do not want you to rely primarily on one genre and simply "illuminate" it using others, but it is possible that two or three of the genres you use will be the centerpieces of the project.
If you are confused about what such a piece might look like, you might want to look at the young adult novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers, or The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje. I will also provide you with a model I created of a letter and a model of a children's book created by Claire Hassett-Moison.
Where do I start?
Even though the form of the project may be new to you, I think the process of researching what you finally represent in the project is "old hat" for you. First, you need to begin with a question you would like to investigate. What events in educational history spark your interest? What educational issues or conflicts prevalent today interest you? Has a person or a particular movement particularly captivated you? Have you had a personal experience that you would like to understand better by investigating its historical roots? I think stating your thesis or focus as a question will help you develop pieces that "answer" the question in ways that complicate and enrich your and the reader's understanding rather than lead to some definitive or "right" answer.
What is the process?
On Sept. 16th, I am asking you to submit your proposed question for the inquiry project. You should also have a list of possible sources for your first piece, due Oct. 5th . Your main history text has an annotated bibliography that follows each chapter, and Spring's book has several references in each chapter that might be useful to you. As you can see from the syllabus, subsequent pieces are due on Oct. 28th, Nov. 16th and Dec. 7th . We will devote part of each class period when a piece is due to allow you to share your work with one or two of your peers to get feedback. I also will give you feedback and suggestions for improving your work that you may use to revise or rewrite. If you choose not to revise or rewrite guided by your peers' or my comments, you will miss an opportunity to produce the highest quality project. During final's week, you will have the option of meeting with me to talk about the final reflective piece, but you won't be required to do so.
What Are Some Possible Questions or Themes?
In the last two semesters when I've assigned this project, I have received some very successful work by students. I think that part of that success is due to a captivating question and an appropriate focus. Here are some examples of effective questions:
- How has the focus on English-only or anti-bilingual education developed in this country?
- How have educational opportunities for women developed through the history of education in the U.S.?
- How has preparation/training for teaching changed in the last three centuries?
- What have been the prevalent issues in school financing in our public school system?
- What have been the controversies in curriculum and textbook design since colonial education?
- What are the roots of progressive pedagogy and how has it evolved?
What are some possible genres?
Below, I suggest several examples of genre just to get you started. I have great faith in your creativity and adaptability, so I expect to be thrilled and surprised by what you come up with.
|Interview (written as a dialogue or a summary)
School Board Minutes
Letter to Parent/Studen t
Lesson Plan/Unit Plan
|Graphic-such as a timeline
Symbol system (equation)
Letter to the editor
Exam results report
Real Estate Ad.
How will I be evaluated?
I am planning to evaluate your multi-genre inquiry project on four criteria:
Coherence and Organization: Each piece in the project is organized effectively with a captivating beginning and a coherent, logical structure. In each piece, the author orients the reader and points to the overall organization of the piece. The entire project is structured so that the genres build on one another to create a significant and compelling story or argument that is articulated clearly in the final, reflective piece.
Appropriateness of Genres Used: Each piece is used in a way that enhances the reader's understanding, and adds to the effect of the whole. Each piece contributes meaningfully and significantly by adding something to the argument in a way that no other approach could. Each genre is a good "fit" for the evidence presented.
Quality of Evidence/ Thoroughness: The evidence used is a balance of scholarly and more experiential/imaginative information that explores the topic thoroughly and thoughtfully in the historical context chosen by the author. The author has researched the topic thoroughly enough to persuade the reader that his/her perspective is valid. The evidence presented fairly represents important aspects of the issue and adds depth to the reader's understanding. The author does not rely too much on one or two pieces of evidence and consistently uses scholarly work to enhance and support more specific, experiential evidence.
Documentation: The author explains the process through which he/she came to create each genre in a way that represents the discourse style for the genre and the issues of the historical period. The author refers explicitly to the models used and/or the interpretation/extrapolation of ideas from the sources. The bibliography/works cited is in APA style.