The Peopling of New York City: Neighborhood Explorations
LIB/ ARCH2205: Learning Places
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
How do we understand a neighborhood in terms of who lives there? Specifically, we will look at the different immigrant and ethnic groups that people a neighborhood. This four-class unit is designed for LIB/ARCH2205, Learning Places, but could be used as a module for other courses. The timing of this module in LIB/ARCH2205 would depend on whether the course focuses entirely on the intercultural theme or if the module infuses or adds intercultural learning as a secondary or tertiary aspect of neighborhood exploration. For the full intercultural focus, I envision this module in weeks 4 and 5 after students have learned about New York City and United States immigrant and ethnic history and as well as ethnic studies as it relates to identity and intersectionality. I hope to bring in faculty with expertise in sociology, anthropology and/or history to either co-teach or guest lecture.
We will focus on the Sunset Park, Brooklyn neighborhood: it has a varied and rich ethnic and immigrant history and sociology and is easy to travel to from campus. Class one is an information literacy-oriented workshop that foregrounds student understanding of the neighborhood preparing them for intercultural and place-based learning and meaningful analysis and reflection. Next, in class two, students observe the neighborhood through the intercultural lens. They will be guided in their observations with a series of prompts. Chiefly using photography and audio recordings, they will record their observations. In class three, the students will work together in teams to create a short (5 minute) presentation. They will be supplied with a PowerPoint template that guides how their incorporate their documentation. In the final class of unit, class four, the teams will share out their presentations. The unit will culminate with an in-class reflection and a related homework reflection. For homework, students will also select a signature artifact from a cultural group in their home neighborhood. In the following class, the class will play a game to deduce the artifact and, in the process, may become more aware of individual presumptions. For courses with a semester-long focus on place-based learning, this unit prepares students to continue the iterative work of synthesizing close observation and research. Students would return to the neighborhood to develop and deepen the observation and research connection, moving towards and into a substantial research question.
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
Class 1: In the Wikipedia exercise, the students will be introduced to domain knowledge about the neighborhood. The structure of the article will help students begin to see how a topic is structured and give them a frame for future research. The exercise will also incorporate many facets of information literacy including documentation, attribution and bibliographic references to published/library resources. Students will learn how to find books and other materials including newspaper articles. There will be a brief activity where they find the call number of location of the books in our library. Time will also be given to reading the Encyclopedia of New York City article on Sunset Park. The class will end with a group think-pair-share activity where students compare and contrast Wikipedia to library resources. Homework will require students to find an article in a local newspaper or magazine related to Sunset Park and write a 75-word blog post on OpenLab summarizing the article. Every article must be unique.
Class 2: The exploration: students will learn how to observe visually and aurally and record key facets of a neighborhood and its people through a series of prompts related to the intercultural knowledge and place-based learning. Students will practice utilizing non-text documentation to capture their observations.
Class 3: Preparing the presentation: Students will practice group work and learn how to incorporate their findings into a template that makes the observation coherent. Students reflect on what they observed about ethnic and immigrant culture(s) in a specific neighborhood. Did they see relationships between the culture of a specific group and the culture of their neighborhood-as-place? They will be guided by the affective aspects of the experience.
Class 4: Sharing the presentation. Students will practice oral presentation skills and reflect in class on the unit’s overall learning goal. They will journal to this prompt: How did this activity help you see relationships between a specific cultural group and place (how ethnic groups situate themselves in a neighborhood)? The homework will generate an explicit learning experience where students relate the unit back to their own neighborhood (and self). The homework incorporates metacognition since the students will be “teaching” (explaining to another person) what they learned in a new context. Homework will also involve selection of an artifact for a game for the next class. This little game will also help students to become more self-aware of their own intercultural knowledge.
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?
Between weeks 4 and 8. Provided this unit will be used in LIB/ARCH2205 which has longer class sessions, the entire class time will be used for all four sessions although the first class could be compressed into a shorter session of about 60-75 minutes. The other three classes will require the full two hours normally scheduled for this class. Time for assignments: Out of class time for class one: about 30 minutes; class four: about 30-60 minutes.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
Class one: no preparation. Tablets are needed for student work. For the two activities the instructions will be given on the worksheet and orally (see activity as attachment). For the homework, the instructions will be on OpenLab. Low stakes.
Class two: Observation prompt instructions will be given onsite to the students as a handout that will also have instructions for the production in class three. All instructions will also be added to the course site on OpenLab. Students need to shoot at least three photos but sketches are also permissible as a substitute. Students should record an audio note about why they shot the photograph and how it addresses the supplied prompts. They will also record at least two signature sounds of the neighborhood. We probably will lead the students all together initially for the first 30-60 minutes and then break them up into teams of three to explore on their own. Whether or not we’ll subdivide the neighborhood into discrete physical units for exploration will be determined.
Students should use their phones to record their observations as much as possible since written note taking is difficult in the field. Students are also reminded to be sensitive to anyone they are photographing or recording and to avoid any situation that might be construed as invasive. The activity is the high-stakes activity for the unit. Homework incorporates parts of the Learning Places site visit template and will be emailed to the instructor to avoid plagiarism. See Class Two details for instructions.
Class three: Instructions will be given in class on the white board. Students will break into teams of three where one student each is responsible for photos, audio, and artifacts. Students will copy their images and recordings to their laptops or tablets to integrate them into the PowerPoint template supplied by the instructors. Homework requires the students to work together to finalize their presentations.
Class four: Student teams will each have five minutes to present. After the presentation, each table of students not presenting will be prompted to ask the team who presented a good question. This will take at least 1 hour. [whether or not to have students use a rubric to grade each other is a big question]. The instructor will then discuss the student homework from the fieldtrip for 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes to discuss the upcoming homework. Next, students will spend 10 minutes on a journal reflection (see class description for details). Remaining class time can be spent in lecture preparing students for the next unit of the course.
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?
Parts of the INTERCULTURAL KNOWLEDGE AND COMPETENCE VALUE rubric will be used for student work in classes 2-4, particularly the student presentations. Additionally, for the student presentations, elements of the VALUE rubric for INQUIRY AND ANALYSIS and ORAL COMMUNICATION will be selected, modified and simplified. Class one’s homework is too simple to apply the VALUE rubric for information literacy. It will relate to other assignments and products in LIB/ARCH2205.
No, 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?
I can only speak to the Wikipedia module I teach to English 1101 and 1121. Students enjoy it but I haven’t yet turned it into an active-learning experience since 50 minutes is very brief. I will move this forward over the summer as I flesh out the teaching material for class one of this unit. The site observation, using a very different theme and template, was challenging for logistical reasons because students often were late and got lost. Students generally enjoy any place-based learning but ideally it needs foregrounding, repetition, and scaffolding to be truly robust.
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.
Teaching outlines and materials for classes one and two are attached.
Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab
Class One: Wikipedia for Learning Places (70-90 minutes)
CLASS 2 INTERCULTURAL PLACE-BASED LEARNING investigation / observation https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/mberger-portfolio/files/2019/06/CLASS-2-INTERCULTURAL-PLACE.pdf