43 An Adventure of Our Own

Nathan Theriault

So far during my time with the CPLC I have seen a great deal of new ideas and proposals regarding innovative ways we can improve our teaching habits and the collaborative nature of higher education. Project based learning immediately stuck out to me as something that is extremely viable not only to the general college populations, but to my own students, and my own teaching as well. Project based learning sounds like a very straightforward concept, and it is in some regards. Students are usually tasked with taking on a real world problem or critical question and developing multiple ways to understand and answer it. Instead of having a course end in a standard final exam, I can see a project as a much more valid way to not only assess a student’s progress and capabilities, but also as a way to promote real world skill development that will actually benefit their direct future. How does a final exam benefit students?

I am currently trying to find a way to create a long term project for my students to work on periodically throughout the semester. My current idea is to have them create a sort-of anthology, but instead of existing as a book/e-book, it would consist of a map drawn by a group of students, and  in each section of the map students could name/create a land and attach a piece of original writing to it. This concept was in part inspired by the anthology work of Robin DeRosa and later by Abby Goode for Early American Literature. Some of my goals for this project would be to have students not only write extensively but also to create artwork, songs, histories and other relevant information for the individual peoples/places that they create. These unique stories and detailings would then be available to future classes/students to add and expand upon.

Another aspect of the CPLC that I hope to incorporate this year is using more OER sources in class. I have not assigned a specific textbook, but I do want to provide resources for my students that provide important and viable information that they may need during this class that will also translate to skills in the future. I think that using OER not only takes the power from the standardized textbook corporations, but also transfers who creates knowledge to the public instead of large conglomerates. Since my composition course is themed I realize there may not be much OER available to me and my students, but hopefully we can compile some of our own resources in the future to benefit others.

The CPLC has helped me to look beyond what I might immediately think of when I hear the word “education.” What this means for me is that I will not just look at what everyone else is doing around me, but will instead try to tackle problems from different perspectives and with different tools. I am still so new to teaching that my pedagogies are still in development, but the CPLC has helped to reinforce that I do not have to be a copy of anyone else’s teaching styles or practices, and that I can do things differently when my students and I set out on our adventure.

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