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Special Topics in Education: Story Telling in Baton Rouge

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Course Overview

baton rouge classThis service-learning course is an opportunity for a multi-disciplinary team of students to spend a week in January (Jan. 8-12, 2018) at a special elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The school has responded to low student test scores in a brave, unusual way: by integrating project-based learning and the arts into its curriculum.

Last year, to help the school build its capacity for project-based learning, the team worked with children in grades 3-5 on filming and basic video production. See sample music videos from the experience.  In 2018 the team will guide students in writing and illustrating short stories and binding them into beautiful books. Team leaders will be Bryan DuffLanre Akinsiku, and Gregory Page.  

You will need to enroll in the 2-credit winter course EDUC 4940 (Special Topics in Education) through the Office of Continuing Education. Before the experience in Baton Rouge, the team will meet at Cornell for two weekend seminars, one in November and another in December. These seminars will be scheduled at the group’s mutual convenience.

Course Details

Pre-departure seminars

In Fall 2017, before the experience in Baton Rouge, the team will meet at Cornell for two pre-departure seminars. One will take place in November, the other in December; both will be scheduled at the mutual convenience of all team members, most likely on a Saturday or Sunday.

By participating in videoconferencing with faculty and leadership at the elementary school, and by interacting with the three instructional leaders, you will:

baton rouge class

  • Know the academic and other standards to which elementary school students and their teachers in Baton Rouge are held accountable
  • Know the history, demographics, current student performance data, and rules and protocols for the elementary school
  • Know what academic and social knowledge, skills, and habits have been the focus of students in grades 3-5 at the school since the start of the academic year
  • Understand advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of engaging in participant-observation as a method of understanding a context such as a school
  • Be able to, and understand why it’s valuable to, engage in critical reflection during and after a community-engagement experience
  • Be able to lead protocols that elicit and enrich story concepts and plots from students in grades 3-5

Twenty percent (20%) of your grade for the course will be based on your attendance and participation at these seminars and your performance on brief quizzes assessing mastery of the learning outcomes above.

On-site experience

duff with students in auditoriumEach weekday, January 8-12, 2017, the team will work at a Baton Rouge elementary school from 8 am until 2 pm. Each team member will “embed” in one classroom for half the day, providing assistance to that classroom’s teachers. For the other half of each day, team members will co-teach story-telling and technical skills students to students in grades 3-5.

Each weekday evening after dinner, the team will meet for 1.5 hours (7:00-8:30 pm). We will use this time to share and organize what we’ve learned, reflect critically, and plan for the next day.

To enhance reflection, keep families and other interested parties informed, and support our work in the follow-up seminar in the spring, each team member will keep a daily blog (structured according to major intellectual and practical goals of the class) on this course website.

By the end of the site visit, you will …

  • Understand the challenges and benefits—for students, education professionals, and schools—of enacting project-based pedagogy (vs. more conventional direct instruction)
  • Be more inclined towards, and skilled at, reading education theory and research with sensitivity to context
  • Be more comfortable with, and skilled at, modeling skills for elementary-age students
  • Be more comfortable with, and skilled at, managing and motivating groups of elementary-age students when they are working on a specific product
  • Understand the daily challenges of school professionals and be more comfortable and skilled at interacting with them
  • Appreciate the potential of story-telling in youth development

Eighty percent (80%) of your grade for the 2-credit course will be based on on-site performance. Specifically, 50% will be based on participation in weeknight seminars and nightly completion of a blog entry, and 30% will come from evaluations of your professionalism by the classroom teacher whose room you embed in. For each of these components (i.e., participation in seminars, blogs, etc.), you will receive a rubric in advance so that the standards of excellent work are clear.

Costs

Tuition

For the 2-credit course in January 2017, the tuition is $2,820 ($1,410/credit).

Funds from Cornell Commitment, OADI, and the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund cannot be used for tuition.

However, you may be eligible for a scholarship from the Learning Strategies Center.

Also, financial aid (in the form of loans) is available, but this is separate from any aid you might receive during fall and spring semesters. Therefore, you have to apply for aid.

Deadline for tuition: Dec. 1, 2017

Program Fee

non-refundable program fee of $500 covers six nights of lodging, meals, and transportation in Baton Rouge (not airfare).

The Off-Campus Opportunity Fund can be used to cover program fees. This site will give you one-stop access to several grant programs. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, with a final application deadline of Oct. 2, 2017.

If you need any information about the course in order to complete the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund application, please contact Prof. Duff.

Deadline for non-refundable program fee: Nov. 6, 2017

Transportation

You are responsible for arranging your own transportation. Please plan to arrive at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (airport code MSY) no later than 2 pm on Sunday, January 7, and depart after 10 am on Saturday, January 13.

The cost of the flight will vary depending on where you are coming from. Average round-trip fare is about $350.

The Off-Campus Opportunity Fund can be used to cover airfare. This site will give you one-stop access to several grant programs. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, with a final application deadline of Oct. 2, 2017.

If you need any information about the course in order to complete the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund application, please contact Prof. Duff.

Deadline for transportation (airfare): For travel to MSY, you will make your own arrangements. In general, you will find better airfares if you look early.

Steps to enroll

  1. Contact Prof. Duff to see if there is still room in the course.
  2. If there is room, Prof. Duff will schedule an interview with you.
  3. If you need or want financial support, please re-read the Costs section carefully and apply ASAP to the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund. Contact Prof. Duff when you reach the point where you need a letter of support.
  4. Visit the Winter Session website for instructions on how to enroll through the School of Continuing Education.