Tuesday, March 21, 2017

About A Year Away from Completing a 7-Year Project

When I started at Fairfield University, I made it a goal that I would collect data on ways that Skills4Life promoted by my cousin through Hoops4Hope connect with the young adult literature I teach, the ways I choose to develop readers, the philosophies I uphold as an English educator, and the writing I promote for my students to do.

Self-esteem, Self-Awareness, Responsibility, Sense of Humor, Focus, Integrity, and Ubuntu: these are the themes promoted on and off the field with the young people he works with in S. Africa. I've been collected data on how these life skills play a role in the texts we promote in school and developing literate learners.

In this project, I assign my students to come in with a visual representation of a theme: either literacy or philosophy. Actually, I give them a puzzle piece and instruct them that they need to visually represent their thinking (rather than write it out), and I have color coded their responses. They are intrigued by the work, and when we bring all the pieces together, they finally get it. My philosophy is Ubuntu and I know that we are stronger together than acting alone. I want learning: reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and growing, to be collaborative. It is not me as an instructor, but all of us who are part of this larger project.

This semester, my students have been working on self-esteem as we read Kwame Alexander's Booked and discuss theories in teaching reading. The graduate students have also helped me to develop curriculum to go with the poetic novel and to help me think deeper about self-esteem as a life skill when reading and writing.

What's beautiful if that I now have 100s of student essays discussing their theories of philosophy and reading, so I have both their visual representations (community art) and thoughts where I can make connections between the life skills and texts we've read. In this sense, there's a 7-chapter book to be written with my cousin, where I can connect the life skills with teaching and he can can address the skills with sports.

We shall see where this project takes us (there's a lot to analyze here). AND! I saved Sense of Humor for last. Call me crazy...okay. I'll take that. I just like to laugh, and I'm laughing that this project is almost done!

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