Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Book One Community

I met Outreach Librarian Melissa at the Service Learning Fair in April. She asked about my work in Riverside and when I told her part of it involved reading and getting books into the children's hands, she asked to meet with me about the One Book One Community project that will kick off this fall at Ole Miss. When she came to meet with me, she laid the book Listening is an Act of Love on my desk and sat down. I commented immediately, "Oh, StoryCorps!" She was excited that I had heard about StoryCorps, so I explained my Unalaskan friend's participation and credited her with telling me about it.

Listening is an Act of Love is the first book we will be using to introduce the project, whose primary mission is to strengthen literacy, for the community to read and learn together, and to develop a sense of community focused on conversations around what is read. I was on board from the first explanation of the mission.

In practical terms, what that means is I will assign this book in a class--or more than one--and build assignments around it. In brainstorming with Melissa, we talked about how readily the stories will lend themselves to social work--assessments, for example. It lends itself to analysis of diversity issues presented in the stories, and how it relates to the promotion of social justice. All involve critical thinking, reading, writing, research skills that are needed by our students.

In addition to what we do in the classroom and the community--we will extend this into our Riverside program--there will be campus and community activities to which the students can connect. The idea is to connect individuals who might not otherwise be connected.

In my grad class this summer, we have an assignment where the students post a short 1 page paper about the readings as connected and applied to the activities we do in class. Then, they have to converse (via the discussion board) with other students about the ideas contained in the paper. I have been amazed already at the depth of the conversation and see it as a valuable resource to their learning; I don't know how they see it, but I am just fascinated by their comments--comments that I would never know about if not for this method of eliciting them.

I will use that same process in the practice with groups class this fall in implementing the One Book One Community Project. I plan to use it in the Research Writing class as well. Nothing else has worked to get them interested in writing, so I will not lose anything by trying a different approach. I am enthusiastic about the possibility to create a new partnership with others on the campus about writing and reading, and try once again to find a way to connect students to the joy of lifelong learning and what it can add to the richness of our lives.


Gigi said...

I love these ideas! And I am partial to StoryCorps, of course. I was also thinking about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library--did we talk about that before? Our school district is participating and it provides books monthly to preschoolers. But I think you have to have funding for it....

Suzassippi said...

I don't recall the Imagination project. I also found a new website http://www.readwritethink.org, which has wonderful resources for k-12 for free. I found a fascinating project on producing a photo story about a community project to teach social justice, which could easily be adapted to college classroom.