Government Concepts Explained with Photos from Brooklyn

Government Concepts Explained with Photos from Brooklyn

M. Victoria PĂ©rez-RĂ­os

Social Science/Arts and Science

GOV 1101 American Government Spring 2016 Perez-Rios

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

A multiple-step assignment that incorporates open access technology used in a secure setting and that is going to be used to showcase student work. To complete the assignment students will have to find relevant sites in Brooklyn and use video, audio and the written word to connect those sites to basic concepts and/or institutions of the American government. In addition, they will find newspaper articles that support the relevance of the concept, evaluate other students’ work and self-reflect on this activity.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

(1) Making learning American government meaningful to students
(2) Fostering deeper understanding of basic concepts and processes of American government
(3) Facilitating peer-to-peer learning.
(4) Creating together with my students a content-rich video/audio resource helpful to students beyond our classroom

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

I used it after the midterm.

The class time devoted to it was a total of two hours and a half hours. (1) After the midterm I divided the class into groups to discuss their assigned concept (1 hour and a half). And (2) in the next class meeting we went on a tour of the surroundings of City Tech during an hour.

If students are thorough with the assignment, it will take them a minimum of two hours: (1) One hour to open an account in OpenLab and access the course, post the photos and check other student’s work and post their comments. (2) Half an hour to find newspaper articles and comment on their connection to each student’s assigned concept. And, finally, (3) half an hour to reflect on their learning experience.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

The preparation included:
(1) Asking students to open an account in OpenLab and requesting an invitation to my course.
(2) Familiarizing myself with the immediate surroundings of City Tech.
(3) Checking whether all students have cameras or iphones to take the pictures/video

I have added the instructions for this exercise as an addendum at the end of this document.

The activity is low stakes (only 7 points in total) and it is for extra credit.

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

The activity was and extra credit activity and I assigned three points to Step 3 and four points to Step 4.
Students who followed the instructions got full credit; I didn’t detract points for poor editing but for lack of relevant content.

No, to the best of my knowledge this course is not part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

Some of the steps worked better than the others. 1) The preparatory steps (1 and 2) worked quite well and involved most of the students in the class. Step 1 or the in-¬¬class group discussion of assigned concepts was effective because most students took advantage of the time allotted in class to understand their assigned concepts in a more in-depth manner. I talked to each student and they shared their thoughts and examples on their assigned concept. Step 2 or the outside class activity of checking the surrounding area of City Tech also worked well and most students remained with the rest of the class for the whole hour I allotted for this activity. From the perspective of an Introduction to Government class, it was an ideal day for completing this activity because next door to City Tech the press and regular people were standing outside the Brooklyn Supreme Court waiting for the decision on whether former NYPD Officer Peter Liang had the right to a mistrial. Some students were very interested in making videos because there were also police officers in crowd control duty. Other students were excited about this event and started to talk about freedom of the press and of speech when a passerby started to insult Liang who was not present. Step 3 was completed by thirteen students and Step 4 by six. Almost half of the students that completed Step 3 didn’t post the photos and comments for all to see but as file attachments. In Step 4, four students completed a good self-reflection.

The two main challenges were: (1) keeping students together during the out-of-class activity. To overcome it, I made sure that the students who were restless took at least two photos and explained to me how the photos related to their assigned concept. And (2) making sure that there was enough student participation in steps 3 and 4. I may solve this in the future by offering this activity earlier on in the semester and as part of the regular assignments and not as an extra credit.

If I am scheduled to teach GOV 1101 in the future, I would like to repeat this activity but I will probably dedicate more time to prepare the guided tour. For example, I am thinking of bringing maps of the area to a class meeting and organizing an itinerary for the class and alternative ones for the students to do on their own in their way to and from the college.

As mentioned before few students chose to complete the self-reflection but I the ones that did liked the guided tour because it was something different from what they are used to in other courses. In addition, most students liked working in groups and they were happy to have their work presented outside of the classroom so other people can learn some basic concepts of the American form of government. The following are direct quotes from students’ self-reflection assignments [I didn’t edit their words; they are as they were posted]:
Melissa Feliciano: “This assessment was a good learning experience because I was able to explore more the meaning of government on my own. It definitely helped me learn the concepts in a better way since the definitions and examples were made by us the students which make it easier to understand than by reading complicated terms in a textbook. Also, despite the fact that it can be difficult for me to work in groups, it was fun to share the different ideas we had about the concept and being able to mash it together to make a unique and complete definition. Going out of the building to take pictures of our surroundings that would explain our assigned concepts was also very fun because we got to do something that rarely happens and at the same time we were being aware of what was around us by trying to relate it to our class. Furthermore, I do like the idea of sharing our pictures and examples to everyone out there because through this we are in a way leaving a mark in the world by sharing our ideas and helping others understand these concepts learned in government class”
Nazmon Nahar: “In class we also do group work that help us to know better our lesson and each other’s thought. When you don’t understand something if you work together in groups it help you to understand. That’s why I liked to do group work.”
“The most amazing day was the day we all went outside to take photos and videos for our assignment. Learning is just not only taking notes and my teacher proved that by doing different activates in class.”
Anthony Paton: Did you learn the different concepts better than just by taking notes in class and studying them for the tests? Why? Why not?
“I feel like I did learn this concepts a little bit better than just taking notes in class and studying them. The reason is because when I define the word, I had to find example of what I was defying. When I found the example, it made a clear understanding of what I was reading and I gain more knowledge over the concept. I’ll start doing this with more school work from now on.”

Did you like working in groups with other students? Why/why not?
“Yes I did enjoy working in groups with other students. The reason is because you get to hear another student’s opinion. Sometimes they might disagree with yours but that’s the fun part. You get to talk about and discuss your opinions on popular issues. For example students should have free metro cards would have a lot of students engaging in a conversation.”

Did you like going out of class to take pictures/video? Why/why not?
“Yes I enjoy going out side to take pictures and video. That was my very first time happening to me and I never expected it to be like that. I was actually shocked that people of different races were siding with the African American [Press and onlookers on the case of Officer Liang]. I quite happy and wanted to tell them but I didn’t.”
Do you like the idea of your photos and comments being used by other students in the future as part of an interactive map of Brooklyn populated with political terms? Why/why not?
“Yes I like the idea of my photos and comments being use by other students in the future as part of an interactive map of Brooklyn populated with political terms. The reason is because it allows students to teach and learn from one another. Students will probably have a better understanding after looking at these.”

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.

STEP ONE (in class): In groups of three discuss your assigned government concept and write down a definition that you will hand in to me at the end of the class. Include examples. Keep in mind that in our next class meeting we all tour the surroundings of City Tech to take pictures that will illustrate the concepts that you have been assigned. NOT GRADED.

STEP TWO (outside of the classroom): During the next hour we are going to tour, the whole class, the surroundings of City Tech and find sites, events and objects that illustrate the concept that your group was assigned in last class. Take several photos because you will be required to use two for Step Three. If you do not have enough time to take relevant pictures, feel free to take pictures in your spare time as long as they are taken in Brooklyn. NOT GRADED

STEP THREE (to be posted on OpenLab): What do you have to do?
1. Access the course on OpenLab where you have to post the exercise
• Students who have received an invitation to the course: I have invited to My Course, Open Lab all those students who have active accounts that could be identified by First and Last Names. You have to accept my invitation and then you can post asap.
• Students who have not received an invitation: Since this is an extra-credit activity it is your responsibility to access the course in OpenLab and request membership. NO EXCEPTIONS ALLOWED. If you do not have an account at the school, it is your responsibility to get one. The course in OpenLab is: GOV 1101 American Government Spring 2016 Perez-Rios
2. What has to be posted? Once you access the course you will see my example [See: below the sample of the exercise that I provided as the first entry in my OpenLab page]
• Every student has to post two photos that show in images the concept that you defined in class. Add a 50 word minimum comment to each photo. In addition, add a caption to each photo with your name, what is it, place where you took it, and date [This information does not count toward the 50-word minimum comment]. POINTS: 2.50
• Finally, you will have a look at the photos from the other groups and you will comment on at least one of them; the comment has to be 50 words minimum and it should include an assessment of how well the photo shows the meaning of the concept through images. In addition, you could evaluate the creativity of the student. POINTS: .50 of a point

©M. Victoria Pérez-Ríos/Brooklyn Bridge/Manhattan views from Brooklyn/October 2015
It is an institution that provides services and protection to individuals who reside in a country, state or locality. In addition, the government controls the legitimate use of force within the territory over which its power is recognized. The USA is characterized for its federal system in which federal and state governments, as well as local governments, have decision-making powers.

You can see the Brooklyn Bridge that was inaugurated to the public in 1883 and facilitates communication and transportation of people and goods between Brooklyn and Manhattan. This bridge is a National Historical Landmark (NHL) and a city historical landmark. The Department of Transportation of New York City (DOT) “owns, operates, and maintains” the Brooklyn Bridge which allows pedestrian, vehicular and subway transportation without paying tolls (See: New York City DOT, “Infrastructure: Bridges,” However, the city government benefits from resources provided by the Federal government when this bridge, for example, needs repairs: “$30 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds” (See: “Mayor Bloomberg And Vice President Biden Mark Start Of Brooklyn Bridge Rehabilitation Project” 2 June 2010,

The photo shows a relevant piece of infrastructure—a bridge—that is necessary to conduct intra and interstate commerce. The regulation of interstate commerce is one of the delegated powers of the federal government (See: Art. 1(8) of the Constitution of the USA) and the regulations of intrastate commerce is a reserved power to be exercised at the state/local level (Amendment 10 of the Constitution of the USA).
Below you can see two examples of student work (Figs. 3 and 4).

STEP FOUR (to be posted on OpenLab): What do you have to do?
1. Add two newspaper articles (write down author, title, newspaper, date and internet address) that show the relevance of your assigned concept and post them in OpenLab. Each article should be accompanied by a 50-word comment on the connection between the article and the relevance of your assigned concept. POINTS: 2
2. Write a 100 word assessment of this multi-step exercise (POINTS: 2). Include at least the following:
• Did you learn the different concepts better than just by taking notes in class and studying them for the tests? Why? Why not?
• Did you like working in groups with other students? Why/why not?
• Did you like going out of class to take pictures/video? Why/why not?
• Do you like the idea of your photos and comments being use by other students in the future as part of an interactive map of Brooklyn populated with political terms? Why/why not?
• Any other comment
4. POST ON OPENLAB BY DUE DATE: Sun, May 15 at 11:59 pm.

Melissa Feliciano/ New York City College of Technology/CUNY College From Brooklyn, April 2016

This Image is an example of the concept of government since the institution, New York City College of Technology, is part of the City University of New York which is a public system subsidized by the government. As many other public colleges around the country do, students have the privilege to attend a four-year college without having to pay high tuition rates and often are granted loans and financial aid that is also granted by the government.

Melissa Feliciano/SUPREME AND FAMILY COURT/ from Brooklyn, New York
April 2016

The picture above is also a good example of government since it shows the Supreme and Family Court of the State of New York located in downtown Brooklyn. This is a governmental institution that enforces the law. When creating the new government, our founding fathers put the judiciary in charge of ensuring the American people with “equal justice under the law”.

Anamaria Reyes: This picture was taken on April 14, 2016 at City tech. This picture show students who attend the college to enhance their education. (Waiting maybe for next class to start)

In this photo it shows the diversity in the college setting. The picture demonstrates the different cultures that attend city tech to enhance their education. Diversity is important in the education system because different cultures and races can contribute towards the students’ academic development. For example when students who socialize with someone of different racial groups or discuss racial issues this contributes to the student’s cultural awareness and commitment to promoting their cultural background to others. Having a diverse student body attributes to having a stronger commitment to multiculturalism, promoting creative thinking, and preparing future workforce.

Anamaria Reyes: Taken on April 14, 2016 in front of the Family court on Jay street metro tech. Those people are Journalist who have chosen that career path and interact with different culture, race, age and gender.

Diversity plays an important role in the jobs of each individual career choice. This picture was taken outside of the family court where reporters of different backgrounds came to record and interview an important case of a cop who had “Murdered” a civilian. As shown in the picture there are Asians, black, white and Hispanics come together to protest or record. This picture shows the diversity between gender and age in field of journalism.

Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab

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