Category Archives: One Class One Day

One Class, One Day- CI 3211: Introduction to Elementary Teaching


CI 3211: Introduction to Elementary Teaching

Instructor: Tracy Leitl

“What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing”. – Aristotle

Learning has never been a spectator sport, and a great way to learn is through experience. This is why the students enrolled in CI 3211 are involved in a practicum program where they get the chance to observe elementary school teachers in their classrooms. This allows the students to interact with little kids and to learn more about various teaching styles. These education majors are getting hands-on experience and are being taught in a dynamic way. At the beginning of class, the students in CI 3211 had the chance to discuss how their practicums were going thus far. Undergrads took this time to share their stories with one another and to reflect upon what they had been learning. After listening to this engaging discussion, it was apparent that these undergrads were getting real world experience. One student in particular ended up instructing an elementary level Spanish class after finding out that the assigned substitute teacher couldn’t speak any español. This CEHD student wasn’t afraid to take the initiative or to break out of her comfort zone, which is admirable. Although the young woman was taken by surprise, she was happy about overcoming this challenge. She said that instructing this class was a great experience. It had enabled her to apply classroom concepts in an authentic environment.

After talking about their practicum experiences, the class began wrapping up their language and literacy mini presentations. These presentations were designed to help students learn teacher lingo, and they were also very informative. Additionally, the presenters were energetic and seemed to have a knack for public speaking. After each presentation concluded, Ms. Leitl would teach a cheer to her students. She taught them how to “raise the roof”, and “ride the rollercoaster”. These cheers were fun and they helped to create a likeable classroom environment. Ms. Leitl was teaching them to her undergraduate students in hopes that they would one day share them with the elementary kids. These peppy cheers ensure that students feel a sense of accomplishment and they tell students that their hard work is appreciated.

Next, this 3211 class was introduced to the idea of “knowing the learner”. Questions like “who are we?” and “how do we get to know our students?” were posed. Then, the class began to delve deep into the artifact activity where students were asked to share a special story with their peers. They were all told to display their artifact and their description of it on their desk. After each desk exhibited a sole artifact, the students were asked to participate in a museum walk. The museum walk allowed students to roam around the classroom and to observe their peers’ artifacts. As students wandered around, instrumental music began to play. The atmosphere in the classroom was truly inimitable in the way that you could feel the students getting to know one another on a more personal level. This activity was responsible for taking surface relationships to the next level. Now students were beginning to form an emotional connection with those around them, and this was awe-inspiring. Belongings that once meant nothing to the students now seemed to hold a sense of importance, and they empowered the students to look at each of their peers in a new light. For example, what was once just a necklace was now an emblem of a beautiful love story. It was interesting to see both the similarities and differences that existed among the classmates and to see what made each artifact distinct. When most professors want their students to learn about each other, they assign a group project. But, Professor Leitl knows better. She understands that students can benefit more from a 20-minute activity than they could from spending two weeks working on a mundane group assignment. There was a lot of purpose behind the museum walk, and this activity did impact the culture of the classroom in a positive way.    Applegraphic

Following the museum walk, the undergrads discussed how this activity might have panned out differently if done with elementary students. They spoke of what might have happened and the importance of setting expectations as a teacher. Since the undergraduate students were old and wise, Leitl didn’t need to say much in regards to the rules of the museum walk. However, she explained that if she were to do this activity at an elementary school, she would have to go over her expectations with the students first. Establishing rules beforehand ensures that classroom activities will run fairly smoothly. Professor Leitl then covered the look/sound/feel teaching technique with the undergraduates to show them how they might set expectations as an educator. Once again, the students in CI 3211 were learning how to apply course concepts in a way that would be beneficial to their future students.

Lastly, Professor Leitl discussed course readings with her students. She addressed the meaning behind each text and explained why it was significant to the teaching profession. Each reading related to the overarching theme of “knowing the learner” and exemplified the importance of mutually beneficial teacher-student relationships. She spoke of how an educator must understand the needs of individual students and be cognizant of the fact that people learn in different ways. A teacher must also realize that there’s not a “one size fits all” teaching style and therefore, she instructed her students to cater their teaching style to meet the needs of the class.

This course revealed that if an educator wants their students to learn, they must first learn about their students. And although this notion seems rudimentary, I think it’s one of the most important concepts that a teacher can grasp. This class, CI 3211, did a remarkable job of covering best teaching practices and clarifying how these practices will be beneficial to learners. Not only are enrolled students learning how to teach, but they are also learning about the significance behind this profession. I think this makes the course both unique and worthwhile. CI 3211 offers students the chance to learn through experience, and it’s often been said that experience is the best teacher of all.



Photo Cred: Word cloud, Apple, Love teaching, love learning, Teacher and students

One Class, One Day- OLPD 1301W: Personal Leadership in the University

OLPD 1301W: Personal Leadership in the University

Instructors: Christen Christopherson and Amanda Larson

It’s safe to say that you know all of your professors by name (or at least we hope you do!), but what about your peers? Can you match their faces with names? The students in OLPD 1301W can because they are constantly interacting and communicating effectively with their fellow classmates.

What else can these students do? They can design their own classroom attendance policy. The instructors of this course asked the enrolled students to draft up an attendance policy that everyone in the class could agree upon, and then they made a deal with their students. The arrangement was that if the combined total of student absences accumulated to 10 or less over the course of the semester, the class did not have to take a final exam. Typically speaking, when a student misses a class (for whatever reason), it is on them. It affects them and only them. But, in OLPD 1301W, an individual’s absence affects the group as a whole. Thus, not only does this attendance agreement policy give students an incentive to come to class, but it also teaches students how to be accountable for their actions and it forces them to collaborate with their peers and work towards a common goal.

Furthermore, OLPD 1301W teaches students that with diversity comes both beauty and strength. While observing this class, the students took part in a participation activity where 4 students were designated as “leaders”. These 4 students had 2 minutes to strategize and 7 minutes to complete a task. At first, I thought the task itself was what was important. However, looking back on things, I realize that the takeaways from this activity are what matter most. While debriefing what had happened, the class learned that 3 out of the 4 chosen leaders have a very competitive nature. Their top strength from the StrengthsFinder test was “competition”. As a result of this, a point system had been implemented to motivate them to succeed. The instructors explained that competitive individuals are driven by rewards, so each task on their sheets was accompanied by a specified point value. Despite the fact that each of the four leaders were handed different tasks, the point values were all very similar. Additionally, the individual tasks were all worth less than their shared group task, and each of the competitive leaders focused their efforts primarily on their individual assignments.

Despite the participants’ competitive nature, they still didn’t have a lot of success in terms of reaching their goals. The three competitive ones weren’t able to meet their individual goals, the team goal was not met, and the group wasn’t strategic about racking up points. In fact, the only leader who ended up meeting her individual goal was the one who wasn’t very competitive- oh the irony! Overall, this group of leaders was quick to jump the gun on the execution phase and didn’t take full advantage of the planning process. I, along with the rest of the class, thought this was interesting. The class then discussed how this experiment might have played out differently if other students, who possessed different strengths, were selected as the designated “leaders”. If people who honed a variety of different skills were paired together, chances are that the team would have been more successful. After both an engaging and compelling classroom discussion, the students came to an important realization. They realized that there’s beauty in diversity and it’s good that everyone occupies different skill sets. The key takeaway here was that a well-rounded team performs well.

On that same note, the class was asked to break up into groups based upon their talent domains (as determined from the StrengthsFinder test). The domains were as follows: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. They were then asked to answer a list of questions including: Does this accurately define your main source of strength? How does this show up in your life? And, how might being in this domain affect how you “show up” as a leader? The group discussed their thoughts in regards to these questions and then Professor Amanda Larson simply said it best when she stated, “The goal is not for one individual to possess all of these strengths, that’s what the group is for. Learn your personal strengths and then know where to “show up” when working with others.”

After the students finished talking about their personal strengths, Professor Christen Christopherson shared her leadership story with her students. I found this to be very moving. Not only did she talk about her strengths, but she also focused on her weaknesses, failures, and fears. This Professor was open and honest with those in the class, and she was exceedingly self-aware. She didn’t paint herself as being a perfect leader; she painted herself as being a work in progress. She made mention of her faults, which was something her students could relate to. What she said was real and her story was inspiring.

All in all, this discussion section taught me that there is no such thing as a perfect leader, and that you don’t need to be perfect to inspire others. Although everyone may have their weaknesses, not everyone lets their weaknesses define them. The curriculum for this course is unique and the atmosphere in this classroom is one of a kind. I think this class would be beneficial to anyone who took it, and therefore, I would recommend it to all of you.

Gophers, keep this class on your radar when registering for spring semester!

Photo Cred.: Leadership

One Class, One Day: Diversity in the Workplace


Discovering a nearly three-hour class where the students remain actively engaged is no small feat. Based on that fact alone, the class must be pretty engaging.

Discovering said three hour class that falls on a Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.– especially when it falls on one of the first sunny, warm days after a seemingly endless Minnesota winter– is another thing altogether.

Enter OLPD 3828: Diversity in the Workplace, instructed by Maria Pabon.

On this particular Thursday, students in Pabon’s class were engaged in debate. The week before, Pabon had given her students a handout of diversity incidents and left them to read and analyze each incident for examples of workplace discrimination, prejudice, or oversensitivity. Now students gathered in the front of the room to discuss their analysis of the events with their classmates.

Among the twelve cases discussed, one example that led to a particularly long discussion was a case in which a top applicant’s application was removed because she was a convicted felon. As Pabon mentioned to the class, weeding out people based on past experience is standard practice during the hiring process. Each case read caused a range of reactions from students. Phrases such as “Who cares what their lifestyle is as long as they’re gonna get the job done correctly?” and “standardized discrimination,” filled the room as students debated each case.

The class was more than just discussion, despite the fact that it didn’t seem like anyone would have minded had it been. During the class session, students finished an activity from the week before on intercultural communication. Two groups of students stood in front of the room, one pretending to be a tribe and another a group of American men. The group playing the tribe was instructed not to respond to any spoken attempts at communication to serve as an indication that they didn’t speak the same language. What followed was a period of awkward silence as the men attempted to figure out exactly how to get their message across to the tribe. After five minutes of uncomfortable laughter and shrugging shoulders, Pabon asked the groups to return to their seats. She then revealed the reason for the exercise was to serve as an example of how cultural differences can be an obstacle in the workplace.

“We’re all wired to feel categories. To label and to put situations into groups, so it is impossible to be culturally neutral. It doesn’t matter how open-minded we are or how much we know about the culture,” Pabon told her class, concluding that the only truly universal gesture is a smile.

Throughout the class, Pabon gave out plenty of the universal gesture, and provided students with an environment to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Because of her flexibility, a student’s comments could give way to an entirely unplanned discussion, filled with nuggets of wisdom from Pabon.

One such example was a student’s story of a tour of Google he took with a friend who works there, noting that Google provides employees places to take naps and lots of food. This led to a conversation on the importance of understanding the diversity of your workplace to know what motivates people. Or, in the words of Pabon, “To be creative, you have to feel safe and be comfortable.”

The same could be said about the Diversity in the Workplace experience. Thanks to Pabon’s guidance and a wealth of interesting and extremely relevant topics to discuss, students had a safe and comfortable space to share their thoughts and ideas. Diversity in the Workplace presented a whirlwind of information extremely relevant to anyone interested in understanding diversity or the dynamics of business– and that was just one Thursday.

One Class One Day: SMGT 3143- Organization and Management of Sports

“How you respond to adversity is what defines you.”

– Joel Maturi

52,557- That’s how many students attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (link to source). There are 52,557 Golden Gophers in the world and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. So, let me ask you a couple of quick questions. Do your professors know you by name? If you skipped a class (which we frown upon!), do you think your professors would even realize it? Do any of your professors give you a printout of your current grade in their class? What about late work, do they accept it? If you answered “no” to all of the above, welcome to college! In college, this is pretty typical. However, this is not how Professor Joel Maturi operates.

Professor Maturi is truly one of kind. His class sizes aren’t small, but he still makes an effort to get to know each and every one of his students on a personal level. At the beginning of class, he gave all of his students a printout of their current grade. Then, he took the time to go over all of the answers to the quiz that his students had just taken. (The quiz referenced financial terms and politics in the world of sports). Maturi is a man who has his students’ best interest in mind- always. He is a professor with integrity and a compassion for people. Moreover, he is very knowledgeable. Professor Maturi used to be the athletic director at the University of Minnesota. Therefore, he is able to make course content applicable to the real world. He’s always telling stories and this is found to captivate those in his classroom.

After reviewing the quiz, Maturi recapped the speech that was given during their last class period. The guest speaker, Joe Sweeney, was found to give a remarkable presentation and Maturi simply wanted to touch on the highlights of this. Professor Maturi summed up Sweeney’s speech by talking about how everyone has different passions in life. He also said that everyone possesses different gifts along with their various passions. Likewise, this speaker also discussed how people see the world and what people want from life. He told the class that people today often live for entitlement and not for gratitude, and then gave the students time to reflect upon this. After referencing Sweeney’s speech, Professor Maturi then went on to speak about a few of his personal beliefs. He spoke of how one’s response to adversity is found to define who they are as a person. In this segment of class, Maturi also recited some fun facts. He told his students that Joe Sweeney normally gets paid $25,000 (gasp!) to speak and that Sweeney has written a bestselling book as well. Thus, it’s safe to say that this guest speaker was one to remember and that the students in this class are very lucky to have been given the opportunity to listen to his words of wisdom.


The next portion of class was entitled, “Hot Topics”. This is where students got the chance to speak in front of their peers in regards to what was currently happening in the world of sports. The first student spoke of new legislation that was proposed by the NCAA. He also showed a brief video segment regarding this breaking news. Among the new legislation, both scholarship and walk-on student-athletes will now be allowed to have an unlimited number of snacks and meals from their respective schools. The student explained what this entails in greater detail and then went on to pose a couple of thought provoking questions. He asked questions such as, “Why do you think the NCAA did this?”, and “Do you think that this a good or bad idea?”. This then resulted in an interesting class discussion. Students began to voice their opinions on how this would effect the small D1 schools that can’t afford to do something such as this, and they also spoke of how students could abuse this privilege. Furthermore, these questions got students thinking about how this would effect the U’s financial situation/ status. (Another fun fact from Professor Maturi- there are 750 student-athletes at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities!)

The next two students both chose to do their presentations on the Dinkytown riots that took place last week. They gave an overview of what these riots consisted of and then posed some tricky questions. They asked questions such as, “Do you think the fact that it was a buzzerbeater game is what caused the students to riot?”, “What do you think would have happened if people wouldn’t have been allowed to watch the game at the bars?”, “Did all of the police efforts only make the riots worse?”, and “Do you think social media played a role in all of this?”. Another enticing conversation then began. Students spoke of their personal opinions regarding the riots, why they thought they occurred, and what factors played a role in them. It seemed as though everyone had their own story to tell in regards to the riots, and listening to other people’s thoughts and opinions was very interesting. Opinions were varied and this discussion caused students to really reflect on what happened. One key point that had been addressed was the role that social media seemed to play in all of this. Little things like uploading “selfies” with the SWAT team really seemed to fuel the fire. Think about it, would you still ask a SWAT team to take a pic with you if you couldn’t post it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat? Probably not. This is just one example of something that was being considered/ reflected upon (there were many others!).

The last portion of class was devoted to talking about a topic that was deemed to be controversial. Students discussed the unionization of college student-athletes. The question, “Should they be allowed to unionize, why or why not?” was posed and then another discussion section was found to follow. Once again students spoke of their personal opinions and potential complications with the topic at hand. This allowed individuals in the classroom to see things from divergent perspectives.

SMGT 3143- Organization and Management of Sports is a class that is focused around student participation and engagement activities. It’s a course that is found to be very interactive. Professor Joel Maturi creates a lively atmosphere in his classroom and he firmly believes that when students get involved, learning takes place. Professor Maturi does teach his students a great deal of information, however, he also ensures that they have fun throughout the learning process.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin

Photo/ GIF Sources: Sports Management BannerMinnesota M

One Class, One Day: Going Global



Freshman Lizzy Selvik knows she wants to study abroad– her only question is where. Maybe London or New Zealand, Selvik isn’t quite sure. But she is in the right place to find out.

Selvik and the fourteen other students in Donald Riley’s and Christopher Johnstone’s class, EDHD 1620: Going Global, sat hunched over computers and tablets attempting to find the perfect location for their hypothetical students to study abroad. Riley and Johnstone had handed out cards with student information on them and left the students in groups to decide where to send each one. Senior Nasir Hamza and Selvik worked together, poring over the Learning Abroad Center website to find the perfect location to send their student: a senior business major, who wanted to study in a non-European country and is also interested in food and fashion. Hamza and Selvik looked a programs all over the globe before finding a matching program in Israel. In a lot of ways, finding a location to study abroad seemed a lot like a math equation.


Before EDHD 1620, it is likely students never considered the many factors that go into choosing a study abroad program. But instead of the class becoming a stressful to do list for students,  instructors Riley and Johnstone presented information clearly, while focusing on fully addressing every aspect of the experience, leaving little room for stress or worry.

Riley led the class through an exercise where they weighed the importance of different factors that influence a location choice. Students took turns at the whiteboard writing their answers to the question, “What is important when choosing a location?” Words like finances, climate, living options, language barriers, and programs offered joined phrases such as ‘not a war zone’ and ‘understanding the language and culture of the people.’ Riley led the class through each student’s answer, adding his own commentary such as addressing the climate concern by quipping, “You’re probably not going to choose Iceland if climate is the problem.”

EDHD 1620, one of the one-credit Strategies for Student Success courses, provides students the opportunities to explore the numerous study abroad opportunities offered through the U, with the goal of the class being for each student to choosing a study abroad program by the end of the semester. With the guidance both Riley and Johnstone, it is no doubt that the process of choosing a program will be met with plenty of advice and encouragement. So whatever program students like Selvik decide is the best fit, they can rest assured that they made the choice that was right for them– thanks to EDHD 1620: Going Global.

Photo sources: Map

One Class, One Day: Preparing for Meaningful Community Engagement

When instructor Amber Cameron asked her students to close their eyes, eleven pairs of eyes fluttered shut.

“If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back,” Cameron read. The sound of feet shuffling filled the room.

“If you were told that you were beautiful, smart, and capable by your parents or other adults in your life, take one step forward,” Cameron continued. Eleven pairs of feet moved forward.

The class was performing what Cameron called the “Power Walk” exercise. The exercise  asked students a series of questions to help them think about power and privilege in society and how it relates to their own experiences and life opportunities. At the end of the exercise, how far forward or back students were from the middle of the room represented the amount of privilege they held in society.

After completing the activity, students returned to their seats and were presented with the question, “How do power and privilege affect inequality?”

The “Power Walk” exercise highlighted the kinds of worthwhile and thought-provoking topics covered in EDHD 1620: Preparing for Meaningful Community Engagement, part of the Student Academic, Professional, and Personal Success program (APPS). This 1-credit course is a unique class where lessons learned in the classroom can be implemented into one’s everyday life almost immediately. Students enrolled in this class learn how to become active citizens in today’s society and understand the ways they can take on social responsibility when working with communities. This particular class session discussed power, privilege, and access.

At the beginning of class, Cameron showed a video clip about men who forcefully developed a rural village community and, in turn, stripped the villagers of their native way of life. After the video ended, students discussed concepts such as cultural diversity, cultural sensitivity, and the need for countries to find a sense of “common ground” with one another. When asked if the development technique was a success, one student responded with “[the developers] pretended they were gonna help, but instead changed everything.” Another concluded that “because [development] works for us, we assume it will work for them.”

The conversations the students had represented the very mission of the class, which is to provide students with the information they need for an active citizenship and social responsibility. Because of the relatively small class size, all of the students were able to engage in meaningful conversations with their peers. Moreover, the classwork encouraged students to identify their assets and motivations for community work and discover how to use them for meaningful and positive work with a lasting impact.

The final portion of the class was spent listening to Julie Huck, a program manager at Project for Pride in Living, a non-profit dedicated to helping Twin Cities residents achieve self-sufficiency by providing them with housing assistance and other services within the community. Huck explained the services and projects that PPL offered as well as ways for students to volunteer their skills and services within the program. Huck’s visit showcased the connections that Preparing for Meaningful Community Engagement provides for students by connecting them with both employment and network opportunities from the comfort of their desks.

The class, which meets once a week for half a semester, packed a wide variety of activities in the two-hour session. One minute, students were debating a video, the next Power Walking in center of the room, the next listening to a guest speaker discuss relevant volunteer and employment opportunities. Cameron was a very relatable instructor, saying things that literally left the class laughing out loud and explaining material in a way that was simple and easy to follow. The class provided students with all the tools that a student working with a community should possess. It is clear that no matter where students ended up following the questions in Power Walk, Preparing for Meaningful Community Engagement will give them the knowledge they need to succeed with both their careers and personal goals.



Are you ready for the campus job that will change your life?

CEHD America Reads is a program that allows college students to mentor elementary school students (ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade) by helping them build their reading skills. Literary mentors meet students on site several times a week to help them with everything from their reading skills to their homework. On the surface, the program sounds like the perfect resume-builder for anyone interested in teaching or children, but that is only the very beginning.

America Reads works with several sites throughout the Twin Cities area, each offering different programs for students. Mentors visit their sites two or three times a week depending on their schedules. Each literacy mentor’s experience is different– some meet students during their school days; some help at after school programs; some mentors only work with students on reading; some attend programs that include everything from gym time to making meals.

The CEHD America Reads program comes with job training in the form of a semester-long class. Tutors are enrolled in a EDHD 1920, CEHD Special Topics, a class which meets four times a semester. This one-credit course covers everything from different reading techniques, how to engage students in the material, what to expect during site visits, the value of literacy, and more.

Professor Eva Boehm warmly greeted her class as they met for the third of four sessions. The classroom of mentors sat in desks surrounding Boehm as she began class with an enthusiastic reading of Leo Tolstoy’s Three Questions. As Boehm read, she encouraged mentors to apply the message of the book to their experiences as literacy mentors. The story- which focused on the importance of doing good for the people you surround yourself with- allowed mentors to reflect on their site visits and the children they work with.


After she finished reading and the mentors moved on to a reflection essay, Boehm discussed the importance of the America Reads program.

“We can’t put enough resources in education. I personally believe this is the best work study job on campus,” Boehm said. “These are college students going in and giving so many of these kiddos at these sites a nugget of hope. They are needed.”

And it was visible just how much the students gained from the interaction with mentors by a visit to East Side Neighborhood Service’s Mulberry Junction, one of nineteen different sites mentors work at.

One mentor, a sophomore English major named Ellen, was shelving books as she waited for students to arrive from school. Ellen, who plans to be a high school English teacher, said she was looking for a job when she stumbled upon the application for America Reads.

For Ellen, the program has proven to be much more than just a job; it has taught her teaching skills and given her a sense of just how rewarding working with children can be.

“As soon as you get here you can tell that your job is important,” Ellen said. “I would do it for free.”

Soon after, students began filling the room and the program began. Mulberry Junction’s program offered more than just reading time– students also got a chance to work on their homework with a mentor, and the choice between helping prepare a snack or playing capture the flag outside.

Students inside divided the tasks of making a salad: some groups baked croutons, other sliced peppers, one pulled apart lettuce, and one more stirred a homemade ranch dressing. When it was time to eat, the group from outside came to join in the snacking. As the students ate, their instructor discussed the ways that they could be respectful to each other. As the students discussed how they could be good friends to one another, snack time came to an end. It was finally time for some reading.

Throughout the program, mentors learn to gauge their mentee’s reading level. During their class section, Professor Boehm had mentors practice reading styles on each other with an excerpt of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The mentors rehearsed choral reading, partner reading, and other exercises with a partner. These same exercises were then applied in the classroom with the students. While some students were comfortable reading on their own, others needed help along the way.

Students divided into groups based on their age and left for different parts of the building. During reading time, students could either get help with their homework or practice reading. Many students opted for reading, pulling out books by Dr. Suess and other popular children’s authors. Some students chose to read, others chose to be read to, but regardless of their choice, every student seemed to appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a book at the end of a long day.

As the program came to an end, students said goodbye to their mentors with hugs and questions of when they would see each other next. Being a mentor seemed to take college students out of their daily routine and into a place where their passion and knowledge was appreciated by everyone they came into contact with. After observing a day of mentoring, it was hard to tell who learned and benefited more from the program– the mentors or the students.

 For more information about CEHD America Reads and how to apply, click here!

One Class, One Day: First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing

About the Class

All first-year CEHD students are required to take PSTL 1525 First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing, but thanks to a variety of themes, engaging professors, and interactive learning, it’s not another pre-requisite to be dreaded.

Students can  choose from five different themes for the class, all of which work to answer the question “How can one person make a difference?” Themes range from  “Making a Difference in the Lives of Young People” to “Freedom, Democracy and Incarceration.” Each theme is broken into several sections which meet twice a week and in a large group once a week.

On Friday, we visited Postsecondary Teaching & Learning faculty Rashne Jehangir and Naim Madyun’s combined section of “Stories as Game Changers: Critical Moments in Narratives.” The class is described as a place where students explore the critical moments in their own stories and in the lives of persons.

Stories as Game Changers

This particular morning, Jehangir and Madyun’s plan included a lesson in perspective. Class began with Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story. The talk described the dangers of viewing the world through stereotypes.

The class listened to Adichie’s opening story of writing about American people while growing up in Nigeria. They listened to her single story about viewing her domestic help only for his poverty before getting to know him. The class laughed as Adichie recounted how her college roommate asked to hear Adichie’s tribal music and was surprised when she realized that she also listened to Mariah Carey.

The video emphasized the importance of looking at people as more than who they appear to be. Madyun stressed the importance of looking at multiple perspectives in order to gain a well-rounded viewpoint of others.

“Show people as one thing over and over again and that’s what they become,” Madyun told the class.

Telling Their Own Stories

The discussion soon shifted into ways students could incorporate the lessons of the video into their upcoming film project.

A large portion of the semester is spent preparing students to make their own five to seven minute mini-documentaries on an issue that relates to the topics they are learning in class. The documentary will be the second and largest film project for students, who did an earlier project showcasing their personal stories. 

Jordan Boonstra, a CEHD freshman, spent the class time working with his group on their documentary on how the American Dream has changed over generations. Boonstra said the most difficult part of the project was deciding on a topic.

Both Madyun and Jehangir gave the students plenty of advice on how to manage the project, as well as how to incorporate Adichie’s talk.

“Don’t allow your own culture, your own background, your own experiences to draw conclusions,” Madyun said. He emphasized the importance of stepping away from preconceived notions when telling a story.

The iPad Effect

As Jehangir and Madyun jogged around the classroom helping students with project ideas, Sarah Jirak and May Yang, both undecided freshmen, worked with their CEHD-issued iPad Minis to organize information. Jirak and Yang noted how helpful it was to learn how to use the iPad in class.

Boonstra agreed, noting that his group is filming and editing their entire project using their iPads.

“It makes things convenient,” Boonstra said.

Overall Impression

The most notable part of the class was the way in which it incorporated the themes of Adichie’s TED talk into the work the students were doing in their own projects. The class was more than just another lecture for students to catch up on sleep. It was an interactive experience which gave them the chance to apply the lessons discussed to their work almost immediately. The class also gave students the opportunity to understand the technology that CEHD provides for them, a crucial part of their first year experience. By providing students with information and perspective, PSTL 1525 First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing laid the groundwork for a successful college experience.

One Class, One Day: Intimate Relationships

Welcome to One Class, One Day. This is a new feature brought to you by the CEHD Undergraduate Experience. In this project, the CEHD Student Writers will visit various classes offered through the college and report on the findings. This feature will give you an inside look at CEHD classes– without you even having to leave your pajamas and head to lecture.

One Class, One Day will showcase a variety of different classes in the college, but if there is a particular class you are curious to see on this blog, feel free to tweet @CEHDugrad with the hashtag #CEHDocod. The Student Writers look forward to bringing the classroom to you during the One Class, One Day project!

 The Class

Intimate Relationships, in the Department of Family Social Science, is one of the most popular classes offered through the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. It focuses on the interpersonal dynamics of couples, and addresses topics such as courtship, dating, relationship problems and sexual orientation, through multiple theoretical perspectives. The class is held in an almost retreat-like way by integrating learning with self-reflection, which makes it especially captivating for many students.

The Professor

Tai Mendenhall’s Rate My Professor page is flawless. The word ‘amazing’ appeared eight times on the first page of reviews alone. Students raved that Intimate Relationships changed their lives and that Mendenhall was “by far the best professor” they ever had.

The Discussion

When is the last time you seriously thought about the relationships in your life? When something bad happens and you’re feeling distressed, who do you turn to? Why, out of all of the people who come and go into your life, are you attached to them? These are the kinds of questions students consider in Intimate Relationships.

As students scribbled down the names of family and friends they turn to, it became evident that this class was more personal than most. Mendenhall tailored every abstract concept into an anecdote or thought exercise for a room full of young adults.  Academic theory has never felt more relatable.

The class started on a lighthearted note: babies. As precious as they are, they require a labor of love.

“The only way you’re going to make something that takes this much work survive, is make it cute!” Mendenhall joked.

Responding to crying babies directly relates to how they attach to those around them as they mature.

“What they are doing is learning that in their lives they are worthy of being responded to,” he said.

The class took a more serious tone as Mendenhall shared a sobering story about a little girl faced with unimaginable tragedy.

While camping in a secluded location, a 6-year-old girl bumped into a picnic table and knocked a large container of coffee onto her, burning 60 percent of her skin. By the time she received medical attention, she had to live in a burn unit and have her skin removed to save her life from infection. Yet she didn’t express pain or sorrow. She simply did not say a word. Despite everyone’s best efforts, she kept silent for days while undergoing this excruciating experience. Finally, one day she asked the nurse,“Is it OK to cry?” And so she did, because someone finally showed her that her sadness is worthy of care. She was raised in an environment where crying was not encouraged or met with sympathy.

The lecture hall was silent as students let the impact of Mendenhall’s story sink in. Some even wiped away tears. It was clear everyone was moved. This was not the type of class you dread going to, fall asleep in, or half-pay attention to while you troll the internet.

Mendenhall then began an honest conversation about romantic relationships and how attachment theory plays a role in them. He showed images of happy couples on their wedding day and the mood was lifted. Our experiences attaching to our caregivers teach us something essential and priceless.

“We learn that people are good… That is an extraordinary way to walk through the world.”

To supplement his lecture, Mendenhall showed clips from movies to demonstrate how the theories play out in real life. Many of the topics hit so close to home, making this class one of a kind. It’s not surprising so many undergraduates across the University enroll in it.

Students were again asked to think about some big questions: How do I feel about me? How do I feel about others? Am I generally positive or negative? What do I do in my relationships? What are my patterns? How do I help or sabotage things with my partners?

“I see myself as a good catch. I see you as a good catch. And I see us as extraordinary,” said Mendenhall, explaining this is one of the best feelings in a relationship. “I love you… And more importantly, I love me… And then, I love us… That’s what I want all of us to have.”

The class ended on an inspiring note. He highlighted the special ability some people have to appreciate the good and not dwell on the bad.

 “Maybe the glass isn’t even half empty, maybe the glass is empty. But oh my gosh! I have a glass! How cool is that?”

It was a neat way to conclude a class period that grappled some pretty heavy topics. Many of the students who take the class are undecided, and Mendenhall said that about 25 percent of his typical class either enrolls or switches to the FSoS major.

Mendenhall’s class is a must-take for any student interested in learning more about Family Social Science, relationships, or to understand themselves better. As someone said on Rate My Professor: This class is a life-changer.

Photo by juganue on DeviantArt