“Butch,” a fifth-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School, didn’t like reading.
But thanks to a three-week partner project where Keuka College students met one-on-one with schoolchildren to craft a personal story from the child’s perspective, it wasn’t long before he changed his mind. So says Butch’s new buddy and personal “author,” Keuka freshman Will Staub.
“Butch told me the first day he didn’t like reading, then the next week he showed me this book he’d read,” Staub described. In truth, it was more like Butch raced to Staub’s side, book in hand, thrusting it into view and leaning forward in eager anticipation for the response.
Watching the interaction – and others like it across 17 such pairs of college and elementary students – were Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka, and fifth-grade teacher Terry Test, herself a 1973 Keuka graduate. The two teamed together, with support from elementary principal Edward Foote, to enable the collegiate “authors” to craft a three-page story from the perspective of each child selected from the joint classroom Test shares with team teacher Rebecca Morse.
The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?,” was the final assignment for Joiner’s Literature in the Wider World course, a new introductory English course in Keuka’s general education curriculum. The course was designed to highlight the focus the English program is placing on literature as the doorway to culture, society, community and more. Over the course of three weeks, each college student spent time getting to know his or her child, and ultimately, learning more about Penn Yan through the child’s eyes or imagination.
The fifth-graders all chose character names for themselves and wore name tags to each session, where partners paired up, using whatever chairs, tables, floor space, gym mats, or window ledges were available to continue their conversations.
“Look at the dynamics of this,” Test said, gesturing around the room at the pairs. “The ‘I’m too cool to do this’ vibe just shattered in the first second, and my students are real, being true to themselves. The energy is here on all sides. I’m so impressed at Dr. Joiner’s scaffolding of this.”
To say the children were thrilled would be an understatement. Some brought sketches, notebooks, origami, and more to share with their college author during the second and third sessions. A handful of boys could be seen half out of their seats, leaning forward to dialogue with their authors, while other children were seated more casually, body positions mimicking the college students taking detailed notes.
Watching from a few steps away each week, Test and Joiner were almost as excited as their students at the energy generated during the interactions, and the impact it had on student learning. By the end of the first week’s session, when alerting everyone in the room that only two minutes were left on the clock, Joiner said she could tell the project was en route to success.
“Every student – big and little – turned around and went ‘awww’ in disappointment,” Joiner said. “Some of my students who are not as vocal in class totally engaged with the children. It was just a cool thing.”
Test said the impact on her fifth-graders was almost immediate. (more…)
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series of Q&As with new, full-time faculty members.
Kevin Murphy of Elmira, assistant professor of social work, is teaching traditional and ASAP courses this fall, including Social Welfare Policy and Service I & II, Ethics and Diversity in Social Work, and Generalist Social Work Practice I. Come spring, he is scheduled to teach Group Processes I & II, Social Work Research Methods, Generalist Social Work Practice I & II, and Social Welfare Policy & Service I.
Last book read: Dr. Sleep, by Stephen King.
Favorite quote: Non decor deco (Latin for “I am not led, I lead.”)
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? No one. I like my real life too much.
What makes teaching fun? Seeing the passion the students bring to the table, and being privileged enough to be a part of their transformational journey.
What do you do for fun? Time with the wife and kids, campfires in my backyard on weekends, reading, writing, and obstacle course racing.
Guadalupe Morales-Gotsch, visiting assistant professor of Spanish, is teaching Intercultural Studies, Introduction to Spanish, Spanish for Communication, and Latin American Short Stories.
Last book read: Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Favorite quote: “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” by Albert Einstein.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? Dora the Explorer, because she loves to engage herself with new friends and situations, making the best of those situations and her new friends.
What makes teaching fun? Students and their desire to learn.
What do you do for fun? Travel, meet new people and learn about their culture, reading for pleasure
Nicholas Koberstein, instructor of child and family studies, teaches Introduction to Human Development, Development in Middle Childhood, and Psychology of Adulthood and the Aging.
Last book read: Go Dog Go, by P.D. Eastman. My daughter, Harper and son, Wyatt, read every night before bedtime. Go Dog Go is a great book that helps them develop skills in language, learn colors, numbers, and orientations, all with some subtle humor. It is a mainstay on our bedtime bookshelf.
Favorite quote: “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me,” by Winston Churchill. My wife, Kristen, is the cornerstone of our family. I have never met a more gorgeous, intelligent, kind-hearted, and hard-working woman.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? Indiana Jones, the ultimate renaissance man. If nothing more than to have some flashy, three-piece tweed suits. Jones lives a fascinating life of exploration and adventure. He always escapes danger and fights for what is right and just.
What makes teaching fun? Influence. To make a positive change in a student’s life or to teach them something that changes their world view. Learning is an experience that is more than the information that is taught in the classroom. It is a culture that is co-created and shared by the students. Every new class is a different than the last.
What do you do for fun? I love to explore with my family. Every weekend my family and I try to experience something new. Since we moved to the area in August from Connecticut, there is plenty of exploring to do.
Betty Morris-Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Accelerated Studies for Adults (ASAP) program, is teaching Social Work Practice III (SWK 351) & Social Welfare Policy & Services II (SWK 401).
Last book read: The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
Favorite quote: Character is found in how you treat people who can’t do anything for you.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why?: I would be Ivorie from the book, The Good Dream. Ivorie, a single woman, rescues and raises an abused young child despite talk and opposition from members of the community.
What makes teaching fun: Helping students achieve their God-given dreams; helping them to understand that they were created to soar.
What do you do for fun? I read. I enjoy reading fiction, non-fiction, self-improvement books, and biographies. I also write short-stories when I have the time.
In 1967, theorist Marshall McLuhan published his classic work with its signature theme “the medium is the message.”
Artists Liz Brownell of Victor and Barron Naegel of Rochester see compelling parallels in their own exhibit, which uses a first-generation iPad to introduce viewers to a fusion of old and new technologies and new approaches to art and work.
The exhibit, Reconfiguring Another Way, runs through March 2 at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library, with an artists’ reception, open to the public, scheduled Thursday, Feb. 23, from 4:15-6 p.m. The exhibit features many of Naegel’s limited-palette drawings and Brownell’s layered mixed-media designs alongside their signature creation: PORTOISE.
Last year, Naegel and Brownell received a $500 “SOS” grant, or special opportunity stipend, funded through New York State’s Council on the Arts (NYSCA), to purchase a first-generation iPad and other art supplies used in creation of PORTOISE, which is taken from the words “portal” and “tortoise.”
The three-foot wide sculpture, resembling a sea tortoise, houses the iPad, which is programmed with a variety of apps and artistic works conceived by Naegel and Brownell.
“The whole thing is a portal to another dimension of creativity and working,” Naegel explained, “a tongue-in-cheek nod to an old version of silica (clay). New technology is heavily based in ways of working with silica.”
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