Microcosm of the Course: First Day Activities

Group One—And Justice for All

Instructions: Individually, think of one thing that is very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Social justice can be defined as “fair and just relations between an individual and society.” Social justice issues arise when people lack access to the same freedoms, rights, opportunities, resources, etc. as those granted another group—often based on their ethnic origin, gender, class, religion, status, and so on. For example, people from households with low or moderate incomes find it more difficult to afford college than those who come from wealthy families. 

Step 1: Together come up with a social justice issue that is interesting/important to your group (equal rights, environmental issues, access to education). Here’s the sentence you want to answer: ________ (group) lacks access to ________ because of/or on __________. Example: “women lack access to adequate safety on college campuses.” If you are not familiar with your subject matter, you may want to do some quick research.

Step 2: Think about what audience might be most interested in this topic. How old are these people? Where do they live? What do they care about? What do you want them to think/feel/do after experiencing your “event” (your purpose)?

Step 3: Think about what might be best way to inform your audience about this subject. What form of communication would be most effective? Examples include a rally, PPT presentation, a protest, a classroom lesson, a performance.

Step 4: Together, develop sample materials for your “communication”—the beginning of a speech, a few placards, a few PPT slides, etc.

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your process (including your audience and purpose) and materials to the class. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Two—A Star Is Born

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, make a list of three to four things that very important to who you are. They can be activities you do (sports, hobbies), interests (your major, world affairs, culture), roles (daughter, brother), personality characteristics (introvert, party animal), your ethnic or religious backgrounds, core beliefs. Look at your list, choose two things that may be surprising or in conflict (for example, introvert and performer) that you are willing to share with the group.

Step 2: Spend a couple of minutes introducing yourselves to your group members and discuss the two things you have selected. What do you have in common with other group members? In what ways do you differ?

Step 3: Now imagine you are all characters in a Hollywood movie. What kinds of things might happen when you put your characters—with their “identities”—together? What kinds of relationships would these characters have? What might happen in the movie? It helps to think about potential affiliations and conflicts and how your “characters” would overcome the latter. What kind of movie is it? A drama? A comedy? A horror film? A science fiction movie? An action flick?

Step 4: Describe the audience for your movie. Who would want to see it? How old are these people? Where do they live? What do they care about? What do you want them to feel/think/do after seeing your movie (your purpose)?

Step 5: Together, develop a storyboard for your movie. You might want to describe the setting of the film. Add captions to your images. (If you need a guide, look online for images of storyboards.)

Step 6: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining elements) to the rest of the class. Present your movie idea and storyboard. Also mention your audience and purpose. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Three—National Geograph-this!

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, think of one thing that very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Step 2: Imagine: you are a group of scientists studying species in the “wild.” Your most recent assignment is to study the behavior of “hominids” (the primate group that includes humans and their ancestors). Today you have happened upon several particularly interesting subgroups of hominids; they belong to a larger group classified as “Students of WRT 104.”

Step 3: Working as a team, create a field notebook using paper. Draw a line down the center of each sheet of paper you use. On the left, write the exact time of day and describe the conditions of the environment (the size, color, shape, temperature, lighting, objects in the classroom). On the right, moving from group to group, detail in writing and using illustrations everything you observe about each group’s behavior—activities (are they writing? Talking? Looking at electronic devices?), body language (crossed arms, leaning in or out, slumping), gestures (pointing, hair fiddling), speech patterns, facial expressions. Note: Be careful not to use any identifying traits that will indicate who the subjects are individually (hair color, clothing, etc.) Continue until you have observed at least two of the groups. Compare and contrast the groups. Don’t forget to add entries on the left side as the time elapses or if anything in the environment changes.

Step 4: Write up your results for in a blog post for URI students interested in science.

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your field notes and blog—mention your audience and purpose. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Four—Hacker

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, think of one thing that very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Step 2: The following article excerpt contains inaccuracies. Read the article individually. Circle things that seem incorrect to you.

Why Social Media Is Not Good for You: Common Misconceptions

Comparing our lives with others is unhealthy

Social media actually helps people feel connected because they can compare themselves to others. Scanning through our media, we have the opportunity to judge how we measure up to others. In a recent study, researchers studied how we feel when we try to determine whether we are better or worse than our friends. The results suggested that both kinds of comparisons make us feel good. Researchers were surprised by these results; outside of social media interactions, we only feel bad when someone else seems to be better off than we are.

Social Media can lead to jealousy—and a vicious cycle

People have suggested that the above comparisons can lead to jealousy. Credible research shows that social media comparisons quell feelings of jealousy. When we witness on social media friends who have friends, money, or experiences beyond our reach social media, our feelings of well-being are increased. Some people have suggested that there is a vicious cycle: “feeling jealous can make a person want to make his or her own life look better, and post jealousy-inducing posts of their own, in an endless circle of one-upping and feeling jealous,” but there is no evidence of this.

Social Media is addictive

Contrary to popular beliefs, social media is not addictive and can have no effect on relationships and academic achievement. Even people with addictive tendencies run no risk of becoming addicted to social media.

Step 3: Discuss the article with your team and conduct research on the web to try to find more accurate information. Together, rewrite the passage to make it as factual and accurate as possible.

Step 4: Determine the audience for your rewritten article. Who would be interested in it? Why?

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your rewritten article. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Five—Write for Your Life

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, think of one thing that very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Step 2: Individually, review your last five Instagram posts. Describe each one—what are the images of (people—faces, bodies—things, food, animals)? What emotions/moods do they convey? What is the gist of the caption? Why did you post this particular image/caption? Looking at it now, how do you feel about each post? Does the post make you happy? Sad? Indifferent? Why? Think about what you wanted to achieve with each post. What did you want the audience to think/feel/do after seeing your post (your purpose)? Be as detailed as possible in your answers to each question.

Step 3: Looking over your analysis, what patterns do you notice overall?

Step 4: Think about your audience. Who were you thinking would see these posts? Are they all the same people or do you think about different people for different posts? Describe your audience(s) as specifically as possible. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they care about?

Step 4: Together in your group, discuss the patterns you discovered in your posts. Try to come up with some way to group similar patterns together into categories. Do larger patterns emerge when you put all your data together (50 percent of pictures are of people smiling)? Write up a little report of your findings (feel free to add charts).

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your findings. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Six—Make It Work

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, think of one thing that very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Step 2: Make a fortune teller using this quick guide. Once completed, decide as a group what text/numbers/colors should go on each fortune teller (these can be fortunes or tasks—see examples online).

Step 3: Answer the following: Who might want to use/make the fortune teller you just created—why?  Describe the audience in detail: age, gender, income, values, interests, etc. 

Step 4: Based on the above, make a “how-to” video teaching others how to make a fortune teller. You may leave the classroom to make the video.

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your findings. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

Group Seven—Postcards from Home

Instructions:

Step 1: Individually, think of one thing that very important to your identity and that you’re willing to share. Now spend 10 seconds introducing yourself to your groupmates. After all group members have introduced themselves, read the passage that follows and then complete the steps below.

Step 2: As a group, go somewhere (a room, hallway, somewhere outside–nearby!) that is significant to URI students. Write down everything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste. It’s helpful to imagine you are an alien from another planet, and you’ve never been to this place and you have to report back to your leaders. Also take photos. Spend 5 minutes taking notes.

Step 3: Discuss your notes and come up with two or three “dominant impressions” (is it lonely, serene, chaotic?) that are shared by the group. Select one dominant impression that works for the group.

Step 4: Return to class. On your computer, create a two-slide presentation using PPT, Google Slides, Keynote or other convenient technology. On the second slide, write a “postcard” to the class that works to convey your sense of this place. Work to create a dominant impression and write in a way that the impression will resonate the people in the class. Select one photo that conveys that dominant impression. Insert the image on the first slide of your postcard presentation.

Step 5: When selected, each team member will introduce themselves (and defining element) to the rest of the class. Present your findings. Each team has a different assignment, so be sure to begin by explaining your task.

 

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