There are Many Others Within (the) U.S. (Personal History as Literature) How memoir, in the literacy curriculum, can inspire high school learners to expand their understanding of American History as a multicultural mosaic

Course Number: EDU 5620 C11
Instructor: David Mills
Location: Online
Dates and Times: Thursday, November 16 to Wednesday, December 27, 2017. Note: If agreeable to all students, the course may be extended to January. This will be discussed and decided by all in one of the first online sessions.
Credits: 3 credits
Tuition: $900

Note: Please register online. Purchase order or payment of $900, payable to RRWIB, is due at the time of registration. Please mail check to the Castleton Center for Schools, PO Box 6049, Rutland, VT 05701. If you wish to pay by credit card, please call the Center for Schools at (802) 770-7060. If you will be using a school purchase order, please enter the purchase order number during the online registration process.

Course Description

This course will use memoir as a way of exploring our nation’s diverse, multicultural past and present. Rather than learning about the country through “history” writ large, learners will use memoir as a literary microscope to see how ethnically-diverse writers in different centuries have understood and contributed to the American narrative. 
Vermont’s proficiency-based graduation requirements for literacy, such as mastery of written papers, where we will incorporate information from multiple sources and compare author perspectives, will undergird the course’s content. There will also be suggestions for applied learning and transferable skills, because, ideally, students will integrate the course’s overarching objectives into their daily interactions, promoting both good citizenship and civic awareness.

Audience: 9-12 English and History teachers

Course Goals

1. Write reflections about your reading on discussion boards.
2. Read and comment on others’ posts on Moodle.
3. Complete a final project: 6-10 page paper. 
4. Familiarize yourself with Little, Brown handbook for mechanics of grammar and syntax as well as MLA formatting of a paper and citations.
5. Create two new lesson plans that can be applied in your classes. 
6. Establish clear demarcations between critical and subjective responses to literature.

Course Objectives

Create lesson plans that encourage learners to broaden their sense of the multicultural nation we live in and its attendant history.
Instruct students to see the universal through the particular.
Encourage students to see connections where society and media tends to highlight division and distinction.
Create assignments which allow high school learners to implement (and witness) in their day-to-day lives what they experience in literature.
Structure pedagogical instruction that allows high school learners to recognize difference but strive for unity. A hand has its particular anatomy and functions, but it is still part of an entire body.
Facilitate discourse that kickstarts conversation that does not “otherize”/marginalize minority or majority culture.
Implement Vermont Core Teaching Standards in a multicultural literary/history curriculum.
Promote a diverse but inclusive learning environment.

Required Texts

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964.
Geronimo. The Story of My Life. New York: Penguin Group, 1996.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

Other Suggested Readings/Texts:

Aaron, Jane. The Little Brown Handbook. 8th ed. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2001.

Course Outline


Review Syllabus 
READ Franklin Autobiography pp. 1-76

Discussion Board Unit 1: WELCOME

Assignments: Please post/share a brief introduction about yourself: your work and educational background, your experience, relationships/friendships with people of diverse cultural backgrounds who live in the United States.
Respond to two other students’ “introductions.”
Share an area in the U.S.’ multicultural history/biographical literature you might like to explore from a pedagogical and/or personal viewpoint that could lead to learning for both you and your students. 


Unit 2:

READ Franklin Autobiography pp. 77-146

Assignments: Find at least one autobiographical/U.S. literature resource (such as another book, and/or a website) that presents strategies for teaching autobiographical U.S. literature, also see if you can find a resource with a multicultural angle.

Multicultural pedagogical strategies could be subsumed under the umbrella of Culturally Responsive Teaching. (

Culturally Responsive Teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning. 

Some of the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching are:
1. Positive perspectives on parents and families
2. Communication of high expectations
3. Learning within the context of culture
4. Student-centered instruction
5. Culturally-mediated instruction
6. Reshaping the curriculum
7. Teacher as facilitator

With both this definition and list in mind, see if you can “add” to or complement this list by locating additional multicultural teaching strategies.

Always look up words from books we’re reading that you’re unfamiliar with. Keep a log and try to commit definitions to memory.

Discussion Board Unit 2:


Personal reflection: If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, what do you imagine he might have thought of the protests, which occurred in various parts of the country during the summer of 2017? Each reflection can be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The reflection should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs) and be written in first person.

Option 1) What does Franklin’s Autobiography tell us about eighteenth-century America? What does it omit?
Option 2) Late in life, Franklin came to oppose slavery. Are there any signs in the Autobiography that indicate he might one day take this position? What is Franklin’s argument for abolition and for the care of the emancipated slaves? Each response must be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The response should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs) and must always be written in third person.
Share what you know personally about autobiography/U.S. non-fiction literature and ask what your peers might know about this topic. Share the U.S. autobiographical literature resource you came upon.


Unit 3: 

READ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl pp. 67-132

Assignments: Come up with a non-writing activity for students that would come out of your memoir reading. How would these activities relate to classroom learning? (eg. watch a documentary about 19th-century North Carolina. Or role play/improvise a scene from Incidents, or another of the course’s texts. If you have students of diverse ethnicities, have them role play as characters they would have been ethnically/genderwise during the U.S.’ antebellum period; then role play the same scene but this time do some race/gender switching, and have your learners record how that ‘switch’ impacts the role play and how the audience/other learners’ experience the enactment.)

2. Find two lesson plans (online or elsewhere) that would be applicable to the texts we’re reading, or a course you might teach using these texts.

Start coming up with your own less plan (ideas) based on the texts we’re reading. If you have not used Prezi before, start familiarizing yourself with it ( Explore the ways it can be used as a tool for academic presentations. 

Discussion Board Unit 3: 

Share two relevant lesson plans from materials (that were found online or elsewhere). Post about how you could use this resource to enhance your own lesson plans.

Continue responding to your peers’ post on the discussion board. This exchange is essential for your own and their edification. No one is an intellectual island.

Unit 4: 
READ: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl pp. 133-200

Assignments: Prepare a lesson plan (see template below) prompted by the reading of Franklin’s Autobiography. 

Continue to familiarize yourself with Prezi

Discussion Board Unit 4

Assignments: Personal reflection: In thinking about Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, if you have/had children how would you feel if they were taken from you/sold while they were still children and you could do nothing to prevent it? (A Modern day take: maybe they’re/your children are placed in foster care, or you have to give them up for adoption at birth.) Each reflection may be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The reflection should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs) and be written in first person
READING RESPONSE: Comment on the irony of the first place Jacob’s escapes to. (Reading response must always be written in 3rd person. Each response must be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The response should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs).

RESPOND to your peers’ post on the discussion board.

Unit 5

READ Geronimo: pp 3-83

Assignments: Outline a 6-10-page comparison and contrast paper of two of the three books we have or will have read during the course. This is the course’s final project and must be written in a scholarly form—refer to the Little, Brown Handbook if you have any questions about MLA formatting/citations. (Paper topic suggestions will be provided—see below.) If, however, you have a topic you feel strongly about please share it with me before starting your paper. If you feel you might want to use Geronimo in your final project, please read ahead. Prepare a second lesson plan prompted by Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Discussion Board Unit 5


Post Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl lesson plan. (see template below)
Post your final project/paper outline.

RESPOND to your peers’ post on the discussion board

Unit 6

READ Geronimo: pp 85-170

Project: Write 6-10-page paper.

Discussion Board Unit 6


Personal reflection: Note how similar or different Geronimo's experiences were from your own. Each reflection can be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The reflection should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs) and be written in first person. 

Reader Response: although this is an autobiography, Geronimo starts the book with the Apache creation myth. What impact on the unfolding of his life story and the book’s structure does this rhetorical strategy have? Each response must be supported by quotations/allusions to the text. The response should be no more than 400 words (two paragraphs) and be written in third person.

Turn in 6-10-page paper/final project. Present your two completed lesson plans using Prezi. Comment on at least two other peers’ lesson plans (organization, clarity, likely effectiveness in the classroom, suggestions for improvement).

Your work throughout this course should reflect and reflect upon Vermont State Standards. And lesson plans should be for a grade level/class you would or have already taught.
The Vermont Core Teaching Standards addressed in this course are

Standard 1: Learner Development
Standard 2: Learning Differences
Standard 3: Learning Environment
Standard 4: Content Knowledge
Standard 5: Application Content
Standard 7: Planning for Instruction
Standard 8: Instructional Strategies
Standard 9: Professional Learning Practice
Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration 


We will use Moodle
(Due dates for all assignments will be posted) 

Minimally, you should spend six hours a week between reading, writing and posting about course content 

Students must read all assigned texts. Questions will be generated to focus your reading during a given unit. Students must use Moodle for their discussion board posts.

Complete Final Project (6-10 page critical paper)


There will be at least one question to answer and post about for each unit (approximately once a week). You should read your peers’ responses for your own edification but also to ensure that you do not repeat what has already been said. (The quicker you write your response the less likelihood of reiterating. But even if you are the first responder, you should still read all subsequent responses.) The beauty of the human mind is we all can witness the same thing yet have different reactions/perceptions. Therefore, opinions may differ, and if so, you may respectfully agree to disagree in your posts/responses—the key adverb-ingredient: “respectfully.” Please write discussion board responses as if you’re writing a paper not tweets or texts. Responses must be done in a timely manner (i.e. before the next prompt/unit) and certainly no later than the night before the next unit starts. Please look at posts to gather others’ thoughts about what you posted. Make the most of this pedagogical experience.

Evaluation/Grading Criteria: 

Class Participation/ Discussion Board/Posts: 35%
Final Project: 6-10 page paper 35%
Two lesson plans generated from the reading assignments/online research: 15% each

For additional course information

David Mills
(718) 907-6160

For additional registration information

Bethany Sprague
(802) 770-7060

Register online now!