Monday, August 1, 2011

Race & Ethnicity: A Writing Assignment

When it comes to race and ethnicity, everybody has a story to tell. Everyone talks about race. They might talk about it privately, but they talk about it. Race is no doubt a common ingredient in conversations. I'm going to try a new assignment in my Race & Ethnicity course this semester, and most likely will tie the assignment to presentations at the end of the semester.

The assignment: Write a diary to keep track of the things you say and hear about race. Are there themes in your conversations about race? What do you overhear people saying about race? In addition to conversations about race that you're privy to, use the diary to keep track of your own thoughts and reflections about race and ethnicity. For example, use the diary to record your observations about race in public places. Write at least one entry per week throughout the semester. Plan to turn your diary in at the midpoint of the semester so that the entries can be checked for appropriate progress. Plan to turn your final diary into a five page paper in which you reflect upon and discuss your thoughts, observations, and conversations about race and ethnicity during the semester.

Note: I think I'll have students do brief presentations (approximately 10 minutes) in which they summarize their diaries, which will hopefully produce some follow-up Q & A from their peers.

Any feedback on this idea? Suggestions for making it an effective assignment? I welcome comments.

Click here for a collection of resources for teaching and learning about race and ethnicity.

11 comments:

  1. I think this is an excellent way to get students more engaged in the ideas you talk about in class. I also teach a course in race and ethnicity at a Midwestern university. May I use this as a template to create my own racial diary project?

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    1. Sure, go for it! Would love to hear how it goes. Feel free to introduce yourself by e-mail -- I'm at tas@niagara.edu

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  2. Thanks for sharing this! I would also like to use the template for my first assignment.

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    1. Hi Kimberly, you're welcome. Send me a note sometime (tas@niagara.edu) or please follow up with a comment here to let me know how it went. Also, am curious for your ideas for improving the assignment.

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  3. Hello Todd, I would also like to use this assignment as a template for the class I teach on racial and ethnic groups. This sound great!

    Peace
    Bev

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    1. Sounds good Dr. Bev, let me know how it works out for your class. Peace to you. TS

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  4. This is an excellent idea. I'll be teaching Race and Ethnicity for the first time and I think that this is a great way to keep students engaged in the course. I would like to use this assignment in my class if that's OK with you.

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  5. This is an excellent idea. I'll be teaching Race and Ethnicity for the first time and I think that this is a great way to keep students engaged in the course. I would like to use this assignment in my class if that's OK with you.

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  6. Hi Rachelle,
    Thanks for writing. Good luck teaching your course. Nice to hear that you plan to use this assignment in your course. Happy to share this assignment.

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