Collaborative Conversations in High School Math Classrooms: Revealing the Role of Math in Democratic Dialogues
- Megan Staples, Associate Professor, Neag School of Education (Mathematics Education) & affiliated faculty in the College of Liberals Arts & Sciences (Mathematics)
- Kaitlyn Seeto, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education
- Toby Wei, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education
This project aims to increase classroom-ready materials that can be used to support democratic dialogues in high school with a specific eye to topics that require inclusion of quantitative elements – information which is argued to be crucial for understanding collective challenges and solutions (Ani, 2021). Many issues in our democratic society cannot be discussed fully without attending to information or analysis that involves quantitative reasoning or mathematics in some way. In this project we aim to both shed more light on the role of mathematics in civic dialogue, as well as prompt more conversations in high school classrooms that are examples of democratic dialogues. We leverage the Collaborative Conversations protocol that was developed based on the Encounters model, and previously piloted by Armstrong and Whipple in social studies classrooms in the state, to promote these mathematically informed democratic discussions. We plan to produce, pilot, and revise as needed a set of 4 full lessons and share these publicly. Lessons will be piloted in high school and college classrooms.
Responding to the Antiracism Call to Action as Educators
- Anamaria Artega, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education (School Psychology)
- Clarisa Rodrigues, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education (School Psychology)
- Gina Norman, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education (School Psychology)
- Mike Li, Graduate Student, Neag School of Education (School Psychology)
Our project will provide an opportunity for educators (open to all who work in education) across Connecticut to connect in small online breakout groups to discuss (1) past & current practices that have led to disparities in the provision of educational services, (2) barriers to implementing antiracist educational practices, (3) practical action steps to respond to the antiracist call to action as an educator, and (4) an opportunity to ask expert panelists' questions regarding the implementation of antiracist educational practices. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance after attending the entire duration of the event and completion of the feedback form.
- Sherry Zane, Director, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
- Jane Gordon, Professor, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science)
- Anne Gebelein, Associate Director, El Instituto
- Sandy Grande, Professor, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science and Native American and Indigenous Studies)
- Melina Pappademos, Director, Africana Studies Institute
- Jason Chang, Director, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
- Na-Rae Kim, Assistant Professor in Residence, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Asian and Asian American Studies)
- Lily Luo, Graduate Student, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science)
- Luis Beltran-Alvarez, Graduate Student, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science)
- Yejie Kim, Graduate Student, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science)
Building on a grant awarded by the Provost’s Office to develop a Gen Ed class in support of Life Transformative Education (LTE) and the CLAS Strategic Plan’s core values of diversity and empowerment and educational mission “to foster curiosity, inquiry, and a thirst for knowledge about the world, preparing our students to be informed, critical citizens, and creative leaders in their professions and in society” (CLAS Strategic Plan, 2020) the course will offer students a shared introduction to Africana Studies, American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, El Instituto, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This team of ICD fellows aims to deepen our ability not only to devise the course’s transdisciplinary content but to communicate and facilitate engagement with the themes and problematics that are its focus. Joined by a commitment to cultivating 21st-century classrooms with actively participating students, we want to move beyond a university curriculum in which students wait for upper-level courses to experience a seminar-style learning environment that supports community dialogues on critical issues. We think learning to communicate understanding of contentious information must include strategies for live in-person conversations and when facing challenges and negative attacks on social media, where much contemporary “dialogue” transpires. A preliminary idea is that the Gen Ed course will introduce students to current tests that one must pass to obtain U.S. citizenship and then turn to working together with course instructors to determine what historical, institutional, and social knowledge should be considered indispensable to active citizenship today. Ideally, a cadre of students who complete the course in a given year will be trained as facilitators who will function as peer mentors to students in the class in the subsequent year.
Such an agenda exemplifies the broad goals of general education to educate students to understand, appreciate, and enjoy diverse perspectives; to give them tools to participate in civic discourse and action beyond their years at UConn, and to confront the challenges of the world today.
Vamos! A Multidisciplinary Dialogue Series about Intersectional LatinX Experiences at UConn
- Pauline Batista, Ph.D. Candidate, Neag School of Education (Educational Leadership)
- Claudio Daflon, Ph.D. Candidate, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Latin American History)
- Lauren Perez-Bonilla, Ph.D. Candidate, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Latin American History)
In this project, we present a structured opportunity for dialogue across intersectional themes within Latinx identities. That is exactly why we chose to title this initiative “Vamos!” (or “Let’s Go!” both in Spanish and Portuguese). This initiative is a call to gather UConn’s growing Latinx population in an effort to provide a space for Afro Latinx, Queer Latinx and other underrepresented Latinx populations to start different conversations around identities and different perspectives. Despite the focus around Latinx identity related issues, all students are welcome to attend meetings. The group will meet biweekly (virtually or at available campus spaces such as Cultural Centers in the Fall). We chose to use Paulo Freire’s (1994) participatory action framework to create dialogue opportunities between the university and local groups in the community. Our team along with partner Latinx graduate students will facilitate meetings, however, all conversations will be student centered, in partnership with various student led organizations on campus. We will also bring a guest artist or speaker from abroad by the end of the semester.
Student Perceptions of Shakespeare as a Pedagogical Resource
- Réme Bohlin, Ph.D. Candidate, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (English)
The debate about Shakespeare's relevance in the twenty-first century, indeed the relevance of literary studies in general, is long-standing. However, undergraduate students are often absent from these debates. My project seeks to recruit undergraduate voices in the creation of an online, open-source Shakespeare class that directly addresses these questions. By surveying students, I hope to open up a conversation that, while urgent, has grown stale. Often, conversations about Shakespeare’s relevance begin and end with requirements for the major: should English majors be required to take a Shakespeare class? However, revising major requirements does not adequately address questions of relevance. How can questions of value and relevance be taken up in the (virtual) classroom?
The Voice in the Body: Contemplative Practices to Support Dialogue in Online, Hybrid, and In-Person Courses
- Tina Huey, Adjunct Faculty, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Academic Specialist, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
- Martina Rosenberg, Director, Teaching and Learning Assessment, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
In online environments the careful attunement to timing, tone, energy, interest level, and interpersonal dynamics that in-person teaching permits is much more challenging for both student and instructor. This impacts engagement and motivation, but also vulnerability, a key disposition in dialogical practice. Because it takes place in a space that is public, but that cannot be “read” through the body, distance learning poses a special challenge in courses that center dialogue. We believe that contemplative practices (CP) support dialogue in in-person classes, and are curious about the pedagogical potential of body-centered and ekphrastic meditation exercises in online courses. Contemplative practices include structured dialogue that links mindfulness and soulfulness (Harrell) of the self with compassion for the other. Our goal is to work with instructors in 6-10 courses, facilitate instructor reflection on the role of contemplative practices in dialogue, solicit feedback from students, and produce a video guide with simple techniques for other instructors. In a series of follow-up workshops with instructors, we will explore and identify reasons why dialogue is difficult online, from the point of view of both the instructor and the students. In courses with online components, we wish to explore CP to frame both synchronous and asynchronous dialogue. That being said, we wish to define specific activities in collaboration with participating instructors.
Collaborative Conversation Initiative
- Stephen Armstrong, Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut State Department of Education
- Sally Whipple, Executive Director, Connecticut Democracy Center
- Yesenia Karas ‘21 (MAT), Central Connecticut State University
- Megan Villanova ‘21 (MSW), UConn School of Social Work
Our program’s goal is to introduce the Encounters discussion model and make it accessible to Connecticut educators and students using a variation called Collaborative Conversations, which we piloted in 2019. Teachers and students who participated in the pilot valued both the use of shared readings to ground discussion and the practice of uninterrupted listening. Collaborative Conversation’s fundamental structure applies dialogue and deliberation to whatever topic is chosen by participating high schools. The format allows students to learn content and interrogate it through discussion, rather than debate. Our project will provide written information and training designed to help teachers and students engage more fully in the model and its practice, and to replicate it in the future. We plan to create a facilitator handbook outlining the program’s goals and approaches, as well as information that will enable trained participants to replicate the program in the future. Our team will then train a team of teachers and students as classroom facilitators who will conduct on-site Collaborative Conversations sessions in at least six Connecticut high schools. After these sessions are completed, our team will survey all participating facilitators and students, targeting participant experience. We will measure student engagement and understanding. The feedback will be used to inform revisions to the facilitator handbook.
Participatory Budgeting at UConn
- Richard Frieder, Hartford Decide$
- Christine Caruso, University of Saint Joseph
- Nana Amos, Program Manager, Dodd Center
- Elnara Klicheva, Program Specialist, Dodd Center
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic, community-driven process in which the members of a community (whether a university, municipality, or other organization or institution) collaborate to decide how to spend a designated part of a budget. The aim of PB, parts of which have a significant dialogic element to them, is to engage community members in a process of identifying and developing potential projects and then holding a vote to determine which of them will be funded. PB results in the implementation of important projects and, equally important, also builds the capacity of multiple stakeholders with diverse interests to work together for the greater good of the community.
First used in Brazil in 1989, PB came to the U.S. about ten years ago and is now used in several cities around the country. More recently, a few universities have started implementing PB.
PB offers several potential benefits to universities including:
- PB helps build a sense of community on campus.
- PB stimulates civic engagement on campus and provides an opportunity to learn about the democratic process.
- PB provides opportunities for students to learn more about the campus and what's available - as a result they will better access resources of the university.
- PB enhances academic learning in subject areas such as economics, political science, and others.
In this project, the team will explore and begin designing a PB initiative at the UConn Hartford campus and perhaps other campuses, building interest and relationships that will foster implementation next year. The team will also investigate possible collaborations with Hartford’s PB initiative (Hartford Decide$), and with high schools that are interested in PB.
Human Rights Education as a Buffer to Extremism
- Sandra Sirota, Post-Doctoral Fellow, HRI
- Yvonne Vissing, Professor of Healthcare Studies, Salem State University
- Jane M. Williams, Co-Director, Observatory for the Human Rights of Children, Swansea University
- Quixada Moore-Vissing, Associate Director for National Engagement Programs, Public Agenda
The project, Human Rights Education as a Buffer to Extremism, seeks to promote democracy and human rights through examining best-practice efforts to counter violent extremism and making those resources available to professors and the broader education community. It will do so by a) engaging in dialogues with students and experts in extremism and human rights education that will result in b) developing educational materials, c) offering pedagogical tools, and d) sharing research to assist professors in how to use human rights education (HRE) to buffer the rise of extremist views and actions. The materials will be made available to professors and other educators for free on the websites of universities and organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), University of Connecticut, Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA), and the University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education (UCCHRE).