REFLECTION Or, Critically Integrating Community and Place-Based Learning in the Classroom By T. R. Johnson

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REFLECTION

REFLECTIONOr, Critically Integrating Community and Place-Based Learning in the Classroom

By T. R. JohnsonHow we connect traditional academic content to experiences that are outside of the academy-- REFLECTION1Reflection is . . .The bridge between academic content and service-experience in the wider communityThe activity through which learning takes placeTherefore it is of the most vital importance and must be carefully planned as a rigorous dimension of the course. It is at the absolute center of your SL course, the crucial activity that can make success out of unlimited adversity or that can, if mishandled, can squander even the richest set of materials. 2Goal for this Workshop:To guide you in the development of a plan for a system of reflection-assignments for your courseA truly RIGOROUS system of assignments. 3Overview of workshop:

Assumptions and definitionsTypes of Reflection assignmentsWays to grade reflections assignmentsDiscussionsPrimary Assumption:An ounce of experience is better than a ton of theory simply because it is only in experience that any theory has vital and verifiable significance. An experience, even a very humble experience, is capable of generating and carrying any amount of theory (or intellectual content), but a theory apart from an experience cannot be definitely grasped even as a theory. It tends to become a mere verbal formula . . . -- Robert Bringle and Julie HatcherObviously, expereince is hugely important; and thus sevice=learning and various pedagogies that hinge on the notion of learning by doing; but for experience to do this work it must reflected upon; it must be, if you want, theorized, and thats what good reflection asssignments enable. 5Reflection is NOT

Vague, inward reverieStream-of-consciousness diary entriesSolitaryTherapeuticPersonal opinion (unavailable to evaluation)Busy-workInstead, reflection should beAnalyticalStructured and StructuringContinuousCollaborativeSyntheticDocumentary Public Graded Analytical: Require students, in reflection, to . . .Look at experience through the lens of assigned reading, and vice-versa: what new details become important and why?Identify problems or conflicts within reading or at site, or between reading(s) and site(s)Delineate the key components of problems and dismantle ill-structured problems

Note how different this is from inward reverie: it is organized; it is focused; problem-oriented8Structured and StructuringRegular, short, low-stakes reflections should link each weeks reading to service experienceLarger, high-stakes reflections should assess the service-experience in light of the course goals and build on the shorter reflections Feedback from peers, from professor, and from community partner should shape upcoming reflections regularly and systematicallyContinuous,because . . .It thereby becomes habitual in students, not an artificial add-on after most of the work of the semester is finishedIt thereby provides invaluable opportunity to trouble-shoot the service project as it unfolds and open the way for immediate correctives

Synthetic: it leads students to make connections . . . Between different readingsBetween readings and service-experiencesBetween different service-experiences And thereby to build a coherent body of new knowledge derived from diverse elements actively, creatively, analytically, even argumentatively Documentary Can be archived and used as readings in future iterations of the courseCan be revisited by the students themselves in later projects (both academic and professional)Can be used in an on-going way by community partner (in grant applications, in out-reach)Can thereby strengthen in a material way the tie between the course and the community partner and help to sustain this tie, even create a shared history

Public: when transparent, academic work can Preserve the dynamic between the course and the community partner beyond the end of the semesterGive students a sense of meaningful and potentially open-ended audience beyond the person who awards their grade for semesterRadicalize students consciousness of their own subject-position in wider community, beyond Tulane bubble Graded So that students will take it seriouslySo that it can foster more dialogue between student and professorSo that its relation to course goals can be actualized in direct ways MORE ON THIS IN A MOMENT ITS NOT JUST A SPARK FOR DIALOGUE14Types of Reflection AssignmentsAt the beginning of semesterThroughout the semesterAt the end of the semesterBeginning of SemesterInterpreting course goalsDocumenting first impressionsArticulating key questions or anxietiesDelineating contractual obligations

Throughout semesterWeekly Discussion Board posts that link quotes from reading and anecdotes about service experienceWeekly Double-entry journal that comment, in one column on reading, and in the other about service-experienceWeekly Critical Incident logs that describe and analyze problematic or surprising moments. At end of semesterClass presentationsReflective narrativesGroup collaborationsVideosFacebook PagesPublic ShowcasesGrading: a 4-part rubric1. Quotes from reading are numerous, well-integrated less numerous, less integrated not there or merely imposed2. Service-experience is described/narrated in complex detail more superficially not at all Rubric contd . . .3. Engages course goals in meaningful depth more sporadically not at all 4. Evinces significant develop as a person a citizen an intellectual a professional Break-Out Session