Discovering Community: Digital Storytelling and Place-Based Learning with the Vermont Folklife Center Summer Institute, Denton & Wesley, Summer 2019

Course Number: EDU 5515 C42
Instructors:

Trisha Denton & Mary Wesley

Location: Fairbanks Museum, 1302 Main St, St Johnsbury
Dates and Times:

August 12 to November 1, 2019. (August 12-15 intensive, independent work through November 1)

Credits: 3 graduate credits
Tuition: $1,550

Note: Please register directly with the Vermont Folklife Center. Payment is due and payable to the Vermont Folklife Center (VFC). VFC will then give you the link to Castleton's online registration form.

Course Description

INSTITUTE PURPOSE:

To introduce educators to methods of ethnographic field research and the techniques of media-making as a means to facilitate meaningful student involvement with the communities in which they live. This research model holds the potential to promote personal growth by deepening students’ understanding of themselves and others. It can also enhance students’ sense of identification with, and caring for, their home community and help to ensure their future involvement in its civic life. Additionally, working with community resources and digital technology represent rich opportunities for hands-on learning—with the capacity to engage both high-performing and at-risk students—and facilitating the development of inquiry-based learning and communication skills.

The Summer Institute faculty and participants will form an ongoing network of like-minded peers who will provide feedback and support for each other’s classroom and program initiatives. Institute faculty and participants will meet again in the fall to share and receive feedback on participants’ short documentaries or digital stories based on footage gathered during the Institute. The mentor relationship established during the Institute will continue as teachers return home to flesh out their projects and implement them. As part of the cost of the Institute, participants will receive 8 hours of onsite support from Institute faculty spread throughout the fall to ensure the meaningful implementation of student projects. Student work will form the basis for our expanding Discovering Community website that offers a resource of curriculum exemplars and student-generated work—providing models and inspiration for other teachers and students.

Course Goals & Objectives

  • To bring together the methods of ethnographic field research and the techniques of documentary production and digital storytelling in order to facilitate the development of projects that both draw knowledge from–and return knowledge to–students’ home communities.
  • To provide a rich, hands-on learning environment that nurtures creativity and critical thinking, modeling ways to structure a similar environment in participants’ own work with students.
  • To present a range of possibilities for student research, offering guidelines for exploring both community history and the rich tapestry of community life in the present, as well as students documenting their own lives, interests, and daily experiences.
  • To support participants in developing individual curriculum plans and to offer guidance as they return to their classrooms or programs prepared to initiate local projects.
  • To provide sustained support to participants throughout the 2019-2020 school year in the form of in-school coaching, workshops, and technical assistance to ensure successful implementation of student projects

SECONDARY GOALS

           To offer hands-on experience that highlights the creative potential of digital media as educational tools.

           To introduce ethnography and community-based research methods as resources for classroom instruction.

           To foreground “deep listening” and “empathy” as both essential research and interpersonal skills.

           To build a network of like-minded practitioners who can offer advice, support, and inspiration for each other’s professional practice.

Course Expectations

COURSE TIMELINE:

Participants will meet August 12-15, 2019, for eight hours per day, with the expectation of individual reading, research, and planning as outlined under “Expectations and Grading.” Participants seeking graduate credit will submit a completed curriculum plan along with a post-institute reflection no later than November 1, 2019. Those seeking graduate credit will be required to attend a follow-up session in the fall (date and location TBD), and complete four contact hours in the form of in-school coaching, workshops, and technical assistance to ensure successful implementation of student projects.

Day One: Focuses on place-based education, community ethnography/research, and the power and significance of personal stories—including a practicum on the interview process.

Day Two: After learning the methods and approaches of ethnographic research, participants go out into the community as participant-observer teams to literally discover the extraordinary character of everyday life.

Day Three: Offers an introduction to video, audio, and photography as documentary media, after which media teams spread out to pre-selected field sites to gather footage to use for their own documentaries or digital stories.

Day Four: The first part of the day is dedicated to learning how to produce a digital story or documentary: reviewing footage, finding the story, and editing a short piece. The second half of the day will be used a planning laboratory to brainstorm and outline specific classroom applications (with support from VFC faculty).

Post Institute: Again, it is our vision that Institute faculty and participants will form an ongoing network of like-minded peers, providing feedback and support for each other’s classroom initiatives long after the conclusion of the Institute. We will invite participants to meet again for a half day in October to share and receive feedback on participants’ ongoing work and media projects. The mentor relationship established during the Institute will continue as teachers return home to flesh out their projects and implement them. As part of the cost of the Institute, participants will receive 8 hours of  onsite support from Institute faculty spread throughout the fall to ensure the meaningful implementation of student projects. The follow up meeting as well as the 4 post-institute contact hours are required in order to receive the full 3 graduate credits for the course.

SESSION TOPICS INCLUDE:

Discovering Community Project Showcase

Ethnography and Transferable Skills

Practicum on Interviewing

Ethnographic Research & Media-Making Ethics

Field Research and Documentary Production

Intensive Media Sessions

ASSIGNMENTS & COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

  1. The creation of a field journal that will consist of two parts: observations from the field sites and notes on the fieldwork experience as well as a record of inspirations, questions, resources, etc. that reflect the participant’s thinking process in the development of a plan for a school-based project.
  2. Participation in field research teams and the documentary production process.
  3. Curriculum Plan using a unit template that identifies framing question, community context, project overview, alignment with standards, timeline, project resources/equipment, assessment, and plan for implementation. (Due November 1)
  4. Post-Institute Reflection in which the participant probes their Institute experience with regard to the evolution of their project and details the matrix of ideas that informs their final curriculum plan. (Due November 1)

For additional course or registration information

Trisha Denton
(802) 388-2854 

Register online now!