Consider how to sensitively acknowledge and even include current events in your course, particularly if there are authentic ways for students to investigate and reflect upon those events.
Techniques and Activities to help you explore this practice.
Acknowledge the Context
As the most basic level, it’s important to at least acknowledge the larger context in which your course is unfolding. Take time (in class, in Zoom sessions, in online discussion formats) to talk about what you are experiencing and to ask students to share if they want to.
Respecting that the bigger context is impacting your students and that they may need time with you and their classmates to unpack and process that reality is a step towards building trust (and community) in the classroom.
Consider the Context
Even if you’re not ready to dive head-on into a project involving the larger situation surrounding you and your students, you can still take the time to talk about how your field, discipline, or course intersect with the current issues at hand. For example, the Explore section (below) includes emergent syllabi for studying both COVID-19 and #blacklivesmatter. Help students to understand how your class connects with these issues that are impacting them day-to-day.
Study the Context
In some classes, it may make sense to embark on larger projects or assignments related to current issues. A few ideas:
- Have students explore the issue from a historical standpoint and create an infographic or Web page;
- Have students collect interviews from people who are living through this moment now and make some kind of creative product from the stories they hear;
- Have students collect and/or analyze data related to COVID19 or the BLM protests that intersects in some way with your field of study.
Regardless of how you decide to engage with the larger context, remember that your students (and you!) are living through this. Some students may be experiencing current issues first-hand, and may feel uncomfortable talking about them in class. Or they might be so overwhelmed by what’s going on that they want class time to be an escape.
- Talk to your students about their needs and comfort.
- Invite them to decide with you how the class should handle the work.
- Be prepared to offer alternative options for assignments and projects.
Create a Virtual Time Capsule Assignment
This assignment idea could work across many different fields and courses. The idea is to have students create a virtual “time capsule” about the major issues we are dealing with right now (such as COVID-19 and BLM). Have them think about how these issues intersect with the work of your class and then have them collect “artifacts” that they would want to share with someone in 25 years who was trying to understand this moment. Artifacts should probably all be digitally available (news articles, personal stories, artwork) and should relate to your field (news articles about criminal justice issues, personal stories about health care, artwork about the science of disease). You can have students work individually, in groups, or as class. Include a component where students think about how to present what they’ve collected and comment upon it as well.
Build Time for Context-Aware Conversation
Take a look at your course schedule and weekly work/activities. Add some kind of sharing or conversation-based activity every week or two weeks where students can talk about what is going on and how it is impacting them, their coursework, their families, etc. Commit to making sure you do this consistently and that you set aside other concerns while students reflect.
Online reading and resources to help dive deeper into this practice.
- #coronavirussyllabus (crowdsourced editable Google Doc)
- Black Lives Matter MicroSyllabus (all articles free to use/download until August 31)
- We are Not Okay, and You Should’t Be Either, Meg K. Guilford
- 2020 Adult Ed/Postsecondary Syllabus Resources related to Black Lives Matter
- Teaching Computing During the COVID-19 Crisis
- Covid Course, UMW
- Mark Sample’s Twitter thread about teaching through covid19
A larger community of teachers and learners interested in this practice.
Discuss on Twitter
If you are active on Twitter, we encourage you to share your thought and ideas using the #ACEFramework hashtag and the #linkedcontext hashtag to talk about this practice, in particular.
Join a Meeting
If you are interested in talking to people about the Connection value (for which Curriculum Linked to Context is an ACE-informed practice), we invite you to our hosted Zoom chats. Chats are scheduled this summer on the following dates:
- Thursday, June 18 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Overview of the ACE Framework
- Thursday, July 2 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Connection Practices
Submit Your Ideas
If you find yourself working this summer on a project or approach that uses Curriculum Linked to Context, we invite you to share what you’ve found or created, via the Submit Something button below. If you choose to publicly share your submission, it will immediately become available on this page in the Revisit section. (For particularly compelling submissions, we may also add this to the Explore section of this page.)
Hypothesize with Us
Join Our Team
Plymouth State University community members are invited to join our Teams site for the ACE Framework. Feel free to use our discussion channel to ask questions, give suggestions, and point to new resources.
A space for user-submitted ideas, resources, and links related to this practice.