Last week I wrote a blog post for ASU’s Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST). It previews the virtual presentation I will be giving with my (former Howard University student) coauthors Sophia Hussein and Lundyn Davis later today at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting (coauthor Mariam Trent will not be joining us). CGEST focuses on women of color in science and technology, so it’s a great place to preview our presentation. Our talk is based on a paper in progress tentatively titled: “Wikipedia and the Outsider Within: Black Feminism and Racialized, Gendered Knowledge Construction Online.” The paper draws on our experience contributing to Wikipedia as part of a 2018 class on the Sociology of Food and Agriculture at Howard University. Check out the blog post, and come on by our virtual talk at 11:30 EDT if you are registered for the conference!
See also this other blog post where I describe the class assignment of contributing to Wikipedia.
Although the weather continues to be hot here in Washington D.C., summer has come to an end for the students and workers of Howard University. I attended the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting just as school was beginning. This conference is spectacularly ill-timed to take place right before or during many schools’ first week of classes every year. I cancelled my first day of classes and taught two days later after getting off a red-eye from the West Coast at 6am.
Regardless of how you spend the last few days of summer, you may feel overwhelmed by the administrative details associated with resuming classes and committee work each fall. Because I think there are few life-problems that a good list can’t help address, I created a Back to School Checklist this year to help me remember some of the details that need to get taken care of for a smooth start. Feel free to adapt it for your own purposes as you like, I know I’ll be adding things as I remember them. And if you’re really list-crazy, take a look at the fun ones available at Knock-Knock (I find their “Pack This!” list particularly helpful). Or check out Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto – if nothing else, it’ll make you glad you don’t have to worry about whether you left a pair of scissors inside the last person you did surgery on before sewing them up.
Back to School Checklist
- Confirm class time and space
- Check audio-visual supplies: screen, projector, speakers
- Finalize Syllabus
- Update readings
- Add new dates for each class meeting that correspond to this calendar year
- Look at campus academic calendar and add dates to syllabus as needed (campus closed, last day to drop, etc)
- Update assignments
- Schedule guest-speakers
- Schedule office-hours
- Create course website (Blackboard, etc)
- Make sure that enrolled students are in the system
- Add syllabus
- Upload readings
- Set up places for students to turn in work for each assignment
- Set up gradebook
- “Publish” site so it is visible to students
- Create attendance sheet
- Create sign-up sheets (for example, if students will each facilitate a day of classroom discussion)
- Order required books at campus bookstore
- Put required books on reserve at campus library
- Add chalk, eraser, or whiteboard pens to teaching bag as needed
- Add paper and pens for big nametags on desk as needed
- Prepare lesson plan and slides for first day of class. Make time to:
- Do names and/or ice-breaker
- Introduce self
- Introduce class – with hook!
- Review syllabus – use screenshots of book covers when possible
- Sign up for assignments that are date-specific
- Take attendance
- Collect information of students hoping to get in to class
- Get students signed up for independent study classes as appropriate
- Create proxy library accounts that let students check out books to my library account
- Schedule first team meeting with students
- Reserve room for team meeting
- Prepare for first meeting
- Review and organize prior student work
- Prepare list of projects and tasks to be divvied up amongst group. Decide how many people are needed for each project
- Create agenda
- Create sharable to-do lists and timesheets
- Update IRB “how to” document that details what students need to give me in order to be approved by the IRB as research assistants
- Update all other “how-to” documents as needed to support student tasks
- Select and upload introductory readings to help frame research tasks
- Add students to Google Drive folder that houses group files
- At first meeting
- Background on research projects and descriptions of tasks
- Divide up tasks
- Describe optional events happening this semester that students can participate in as part of their weekly hours to supplement their learning
- Share contact information
- Assign background reading
- Give overview of the IRB and the describe the documents students need to provide to be approved by IRB as research assistants
- Get familiar with the documents in the shared folder on Google Drive
- Review project communications and tracking (to-do list, hours sheet)
- Schedule training for students with librarian on how to find scholarly articles
- Pick weekly meeting time
- Schedule meeting between each project group and myself to provide training about how to get started with their task
- Add campus calendar dates to personal calendar (due dates for grades, last day of classes, etc)
- Add dates on department calendar to personal calendar (faculty meetings, report due dates, etc)
- Make work plan for year/semester
- Post office hours on door
- Return or renew library books
- Clean office!
If you’ve ever been to a workshop on how to write an op-ed, you’ll know that the leaders spend a lot of time talking about the need for your piece to have a “hook.” This usually means finding a way to link what you want to say to some kind of timely news event. Most of these are fairly straightforward. On Mother’s Day, you publish your op-ed about the need for state-sponsored maternity leave. On Valentine’s Day, you write about worker abuses and pesticide poisoning in the international cut-flower industry. Or, for another Valentine’s Day idea, you write about fossil fuels.
Wait, what? How do fossil fuels go together with Valentine’s Day? Well, watch “Breaking Up With Fossil Fuels is Hard to Do” for an example of a masterful, if somewhat unexpected, media “hook.”
Then, use it in your classrooms!
- For media studies classes, use it as an example of a media “hook,” as described above. Or use it after showing this video first. Then use both videos to analyze framing, strategic political communication, and how political actors respond to the messages of their opponents.
- For environmental studies, social movements, or politics classes, use the video above and this video as a way to get students interested in the politics of climate change. Both videos tell simplified, politicized stories. What truth is there in both videos? What are the the different plans that already exist for lowering our use of fossil fuels? What political forces oppose these plans? How likely are the plans to succeed in the contemporary political moment? What would it take for them to succeed?
- For gender classes, watch the first video and ask students, “How is gender being used in this vide? What does it mean that the “fossil fuels” character is female? That the narrator is female? That the story is tied to Valentine’s Day and breaking up? What stereotypes about women are being used to help make the point that we shouldn’t “Break up with fossil fuels?”
Thank you to Jean Boucher and Milton Takei for sharing these videos on the environmental sociology listserve of the American Sociological Association. Happy teaching!