The work for this course will be divided as follows (and please note that I will be posting more specific assignments for each of these categories as the semester progresses):
I. Participation A seminar is, at its heart, a social gathering that produces and relies on informed conversation. We learn from saying what is on our mind and listening to how others respond to those ideas. Participants in this seminar should come to every class prepared to discuss the week’s readings, participate in the activities we have planned, and otherwise contribute to the learning of the group.
II. Seminar Presentation Each student will work in a small group to present on a collection (a museum, archive, or other formal grouping of objects).
III. Course Blogging and Short Assignments Students will contribute regular assigned posts to our course blog, npobjects.wordpress.com. (Please see the schedule for writing prompts). We will use this blog to extend conversations outside of the classroom that begin in seminar, to explore key readings and ideas within the course, and to share work in progress over the course of the term. Think of this as an essay assignment that you are writing incrementally, devoting the work and thought to it that would any other writing assignment.
IV. Collaborative History Project Each member of our seminar will contribute to a communal project that will be published digitally.
V. Final Project Your final project will focus on an object, either of historical significance, or from everyday life, and trace its development and history through time. By midterm you will develop a proposal for your project, which can be a traditional essay, a digital project, a creative piece, or some combination of these. It is my hope that this project will somehow intersect with your honors thesis work, though this is not a requirement.
Learning Plan and Grading Contract
In this course I will give you a final grade based on a learning plan that you create for yourself at the start of the term using the above categories. You will decide what grade you hope to achieve in this class and what work you are willing to do to meet that goal. I will provide feedback on your work along the way but will not give you letter or numeric grades. Rather, I will let you know one each assignment whether you have satisfied the requirements (and you are allowed to revise or rewrite the assignment multiple times if necessary to achieve satisfactory outcomes).
We will discuss the Learning Plan and contract at the start of the semester, and you will have the opportunity to reflect on and make changes to your plan as the semester goes on.
Why am I using this approach? My goal is to bring the focus to your learning in our class (rather than grades) and to give you the opportunity to choose and shape your course. As I see this course as a collaboration between us I believe strongly that a shared learning plan is key to the success of the course.