Studies in Children’s Literature
What are the learning objectives for this course?
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
How do you measure student learning and development outcomes?
The learning objectives are reflected in the activities of all three Units of the class:
1. Reading Posts
Reading Posts are 200+ word Discussion Board posts, one for each assigned section of reading. You will be given a prompt to which you will respond. Your classmates and professors will respond to your ideas, and you should respond to our comments/feedback accordingly. As with all writing constructed for this class, you will be evaluated on the intersection of five basic criteria: understanding of concept (close, careful, and complete reading); application of your ideas using textual examples to support your claims; overall sense of course issues (reading the piece but thinking about it in the larger course context); choice of approach to assignment (style, tone, liveliness); quality of writing (style, clarity, and mechanics/editing). The degree to which you accomplish these five basic criteria will be reflected in your grade. You are expected to use our comments and critiques of your ideas and writing to strengthen future work.
2. Travel Posts
Your Instagram posts will take two different forms, a Daily Report and a Travel Post. Each student is responsible for one Daily Report and three Travel Posts; everyone has assigned days for each post (see the schedule, below), though the topic of each post is relative to our experiences while abroad.
The Daily Report is a short summary of the day’s events for anyone following our activities (family, friends, professors, Longwood PR, etc). The Daily Report serves a practical, informative purpose. Each Daily Report will begin with the heading “Day #, June #, 2020.” Each Report will be accompanied by a thoughtfully selected original photo that reflects, literally or symbolically, our group activities of that day. Each Report should be about 100 words. The schedule (below) has your due date for this assignment in yellow.
Although the schedule also dictates when you will take your turn posting your Travel Posts (find your name in three different pink squares), the topics you choose to write about are up to you. Your topics will emerge as we tour different locations throughout Serbia/Croatia/Montenegro/Bosnia. From our experiences and discussions, you will construct Travel Posts that highlight different aspects of Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Bosnian foods, people, cultural practices, landscapes, etc, perhaps with a mind toward educating the average citizen back home who doesn’t know much about the former Yugoslavia, in a pithy and upbeat manner. Each Travel Post must include 1-3 photos. You should not duplicate another student’s topic, so communicate with the group and with me about your intended topics.
Although it is not required, you are encouraged to ask me for feedback on a draft of your Instagram posts during office hours. I will ask you to edit your work after it has been posted if there are errors, especially spelling and factual errors but also grammar and mechanics. Remember that every post is a representation of you as a writer AND the class as a whole, so do be sure to carefully edit your work.
*Office hours TBD.
3. Group Challenges
We will be doing multiple group-based activities on this study abroad, including group challenges, presentations, and changing roommates with every new lodging. In whatever group you are in, your job is to contribute to group unity in the Longwood spirit, follow directions/rules, think creatively, pull your weight, take your turn, maintain a sense of humor, and work hard to not let anyone down.
4. Final Presentation: Book Talk Remix
Each student will post (in an easy or presentation format on Canvas) their thoughts on a course text that has new meaning after our real experiences while abroad. Each student should begin her discussion with a retelling of an experience from the trip that enlightened or complicated her understanding of a particular course text, one scene or the larger story. Choose your scene/remix topic thoughtfully and creatively.
5. Active and Appropriate Participation
Students are expected to be appropriately and actively engaged with all course related activities at all times, before and during our study abroad, in person and online. Class attendance and all excursions while abroad are required. Normal daily expectations are field notes, nightly debriefs, and engaging with people outside of our group when possible. Drinking in excess, drinking before a class activity, acting disinterested, complaining, causing drama or — in any distracting way — disrupting the course flow or positive vibe will cause your grade to suffer.
All writing and speaking is evaluated according to the intersection of five basic criteria: understanding of concept, application through examples, overall sense of course issues, choice of approach to assignment/question/prompt, quality of writing. The degree to which students accomplish these five basic criteria is reflected in their grades. Put more succinctly, your ability to answer questions/prompts with accuracy and clarity and completely will be the reasons for your grade. I will comment on your writing and offer suggestions regarding both strong and weak points, and you’re responsible for reading those comments and applying them to future writing.
How does the curriculum support participants’ understanding of the social, historical, political, economic, linguistic, cultural, and environmental contexts?
Starting with the required literature we will read pre-departure, every element of the course is chosen to bring students into a conversation about the real place that is the former Yugoslavia, the obvious (like tourism and the current uses of space and place), the local (practices, foods, iconography), and the abstract (the region’s traditions and its values)–not to mention how all of those things are similar and dissimilar from one country to the next. The group challenges are especially designed to embed students in the everydayness of the region, which invite students to engage in both interview and analysis to draw reasonable conclusions about Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro.
How do the curricular and co-curricular programming, including assigned readings, excursions, and guest speakers, include diverse perspectives and practice inclusive pedagogy?
The course itself is interdisciplinary; children’s culture cannot be explored without thinking of literature, media, popular culture, history, marketing and advertising, not to mention sociological issues such as parenting and education. Furthermore, one can’t understand the former Yugoslavia without thinking about ruling forces of the past, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, and Italy, geography, religion, and the cultural imports/soft influence of the present, such as American films, British television, and German literature, for example.
What’s more, the students who take this course are from all over campus, and that results in varied student expertise and interests which manifest in projects and findings that are wonderfully unpredictable.
When abroad, we have a. number of different kinds of activities planned, formal and informal, rural and urban, from guided tours to walkabouts. And because of my longstanding relationship with the area, we have connections in homes and in places mere tourists cannot reach. We also often mis-use public places, holding class in the remains of a building that was bombed during the homeland war, or analyzing the rhetoric of a children’s fairy tale museum. There’s also a lot of flexibility built into the class that is meant to facilitate on-the-ground, student-driven detours.
What results is an experience that I cannot fully predict and that students can make their own.
What are your policies and procedures related to evaluation, awarding and/or transfer of credit, grade conversions, grade appeals, research ethics, and academic integrity? How do you make them accessible to interested parties?
While I don’t generally have students from other universities who take this course, we have a variety of layers that make very clear the Longwood, study abroad, and the course’s policies and procedures.
To begin with, the chair of my department, the Dean of my college, and the study abroad committee all vet my syllabus, itinerary, and policies before the program is even accepted. The course is still housed in my department, which means that any grade complaints have the same due process as any English and Modern Languages course. Then there is a Longwood and course-specific Code of Conduct form that reiterate the policies the students agree to in their study abroad application. The students and I go over this during one of our pre-departure meetings. Finally, we have Longwood University’s Honor Codes that all students and faculty are held to in all aspects of our Longwood activities.
Did you consult any resources on education abroad that were particularly helpful in designing this course? If so, please describe.
I have participated in the Workshop on Intercultural Skills Enhancement (WISE) conference three times and three different NCHC City as Text Faculty Institutes and conference workshops. I have found the Purdue Intercultural Learning Hub very useful. I am also always reading place theory and articles on study abroad pedagogy (though no one is really doing children’s literature study abroad scholarship, so I am on my own with that).
Jennifer M. Miskec
Affiliation: Longwood University
Dr. Jennifer M. Miskec is a Professor of English at Longwood University. Miskec teaches courses in children's and young adult literature and runs study abroad programs to Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro and to South Africa. Miskec is a Fulbright Specialist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Croatia in 2019.
Photos of program
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