A month out from the Spring semester and academic year, I’ve been reflecting on the amazing final projects my students created as a part of our learning communities. For most of my upper division classes, I offer a final project menu. I developed this menu after years of offering group, creative project (often in video form). Students asked for more options: option to do something individually (most SFSU students work full time, meeting with groups became too hard), option to do something with creative writing (children’s books, prose, blog reflections), option to do something that aligns with their creative passions (many SFSU students are already practicing or working in their creative forms).
I developed the menu with the logic that when students get to pick their creative project form, they are more committed to it, they can commit to learning the form, and thereby, process the content they are putting into their projects.
For my Families and Society class, Serena Matsumoto and Donna Cruz created a zine that reflected on how their families resisted the normative ideas of family. And although, they might’ve grown up thinking their families as aberrant, through the course, they redefined their families’ idiosyncrasies.
Developing a semester-long process around these final projects was key! I gave out the menu on the first day of classes and some individuals and groups chose to create blogs in response to our readings.
Kay Buban, Kristal Osorio, Lilibeth Panigua and Cole Baumeister read Elaine Castillo’s America is Not the Heart and they built this website’s content (the image below is hyperlinked to their site!):
Jan Michaela Yee or Mykee wrote reflections on growing up Asian American, infusing her posts with Asian American songs, art and fiction:
First Comes School, Then Comes Marriage
Are We Home Yet?
Rainbows and Butterflies
These were some pretty awesome final projects. Just a few here to highlight but there were so many good ones! This menu is inspired by amazing university educators (and contingent faculty) Irene Faye Duller (tenured adjunct at USF and longtime lecturer at SFSU Asian American Studies), Melissa Ann Nievera-Lozano (a future TT professor at Evergreen Valley College in the Fall 2019) and Apryl Berney (longtime lecturer at SJSU Asian American Studies and De Anza College). Further, Florence Emily Castillo, MA, Doctoral Student in Sociology at University of New Mexico’s rubric on her list of final projects informed how I assess these projects.
I also had the pleasure of doing one-on-one independent study with graduating students. One of whom was a CAD major, working at my daughter’s preschool co-op. Ari and I read articles about how to bring Ethnic Studies to the preschool level. We found the concept of “multicultural education” in early childhood development and tried to expand it as social justice pedagogy. Ari introduced lesson plans that could introduce diverse characters and stories to the children–but more importantly, talk through difference as a method of learning.
Pictured below is Aya at the language arts table at Village Nursery School where in February, African American history month, the children learned about George Washing Carver on a card with teachers or co-op parents reading his history to them. The table celebrated him as a scientist and first black agriculturalist from Iowa State.
Another student, Austin Leong
, a published and talented photographer graduated from our sociology program this year. We worked together over the semester to think about visual sociology, primarily in a close reading of Mitch Duneier’s Sidewalk
and examining the role of the image in that book. Austin donated his photos which are framed and will be installed in our student lounge!
Lastly, it was my very first time participating as a “first reader” on an MA thesis! Tiffany Mendoza conceptualized, researched, wrote and presented a tremendous thesis on Filipina/x queer kinship! Tiff’s work builds on critical Filipino/a/x studies, specifically on Martin Manalansan’s work on “mess”, Robert Diaz’s work on queer migratory identifications. Tiff’s going on an exposure trip to the Philippines to expand her political and academic work, so you could donate to her trip–just hit up @lfssfsu on Instagram!
What amazing students! So honored to be working with such brilliant people!