Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Conversation Starter for Your Race Unit

Kerry Washington and Aziz Ansari Swap Racist Casting Stories

StoryCorps in the Sociology Classroom

I love a good story. Don't we all love a good story? This is why StoryCorps is my favorite podcast. I am so excited to begin the conversation of how we can integrate it into our classrooms.

Here is an introduction to StoryCorps from their founder, Dave Isay:

StoryCorps reminds me of Humans of New York because it displays raw emotion from real people and real relationships in a small glimpse of these people's lives. These short stories serve as a great free supplemental resource for our Sociology class.

Due to the diversity of stories they have recorded, there are limitless ways to incorporate this resource into your classroom. By searching their website by theme, you could find a story/podcast to introduce almost any of our units. (The transcripts of each podcast are also available for each story.) Hearing these short podcasts, from real people could make our course come alive for our students, they can help our students relate to our content, and is an excellent way for students to apply their sociological imaginations!

Here as an example of how you could use a podcast:

You could use this story about two black men who moved to Hollywood in the 1960s to become stuntmen to begin a discussion about the history of race, or the state of racism in different industries, or to connect current issues to the race unit (2016 Academy Awards).

Another idea is you could assign your students to record an interview with someone important in their lives, like Ms. Mieliwocki did. After listening to various podcasts throughout the course, it would be very empowering to "hand over the mic" to our students and to allow them to uncover powerful stories in their community. (Official project write up will be in the Google Drive folder before school starts.)

If you aren't intrigued yet, here is a glimpse of the impact StoryCorps has had:

The Sociology classroom can serve as the perfect platform to increase these understandings in our high schools. 

Please tell us your ideas of how you would like to use StoryCorps in the comments below!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Semester Syllabus, Pacing, and Topics

For our new Sociology teacher readers, or those looking to revamp their courses- this post will provide you with a few tips and ideas for designing your course.

*Disclaimer: I teach a semester long Sociology course.

1. First, chose the units you will teach. 

I use my textbook for this task. If you do not have class textbooks, I would order an exam copy from a publisher (or multiple). They are free, and will serve as a useful resource throughout this year. You can also use the ASA (American Sociological Association) Standards for this task.

My units include:
  1. Founders & Research Methods
  2. Culture & Media
  3. Deviance & Crime
  4. Socialization
  5. Stratification
  6. Race
  7. Family & Gender
2. Following, design your syllabus. 

Here is an AP Lang example.
I strongly advise to keep your syllabus to be 1 page, front and back. This way the most important information is in the document, and your students and parents are more likely to read it. (And you save some trees!) You could even let your creative juices flow and make your syllabus an infographic! (If this suits your fancy, here are two websites (1) (2) that I have used to make infographics.)

3. Include your VIP classroom procedures in your syllabus.

From my experience, it is crucial to include procedures and policies such as your late work policy, academic dishonesty policy, and absent work policy. (These 3 are very important) If you have your students and parents sign the syllabus, this helps to reinforce the policies throughout the duration of the course.

4. When tackling pacing, think about what you want your units to look like.

Ask yourself- How will I introduce your units? Will I need to provide your students work time for a project? How will I assess them, authentic assessment or traditional test? How excited am I about this topic, and will I want extra time to engage my students in my favorite activity we did in college? 

In my course, I try my best to introduce each unit with an experiment or simulation. I like to stick to approximately 10 class days per unit, including assessment day. I pace my course this way so that I have all of December (for semester one) for our final project, our Sociology Capstone (I will blog about this project in the future). 

5. Factor in any major projects into your pacing guide.

I used to integrate a semester long research project through out the course. This year, I am revamping the project into a capstone project at the end of the semester. You may like to implement 20% time.  Decide if this is something you want to include in your course. If so, schedule time for it, and include a little blurb about it in your syllabus!

6. Use resources besides your textbook! Or if you don't have a textbook, consider using these books as a resource for you!

Here are two supplemental texts that I love and use in my Sociology course:
               The Contexts Reader                 Down to Earth Sociology, by James Henslin

As always, thank you for reading!