Quick, high impact things we can do now in our current classes that will develop our students' powers of visual, scientific and verbal expression. The idea driving this project is empowering our students to record from the grassroots level how the pandemic has affected their lives, to help themselves and others see and understand across cultural divides and to argue for social justice. The project starts modestly with teachers and faculty in courses across the curriculum offering students extra credit for creating their own Grassroots Histories. The project is also very ambitious. Our goal is to help students look at their everyday lives with the eyes of writers, visual artists, scientists and historians. The grassroots histories our students create may eventually become part of the historical narrative of our times.
Visual imagery is a vital part of this project. The cameras in the mobile devices many students carry in their pockets together with digital image processing are incredibly powerful and inexpensive. They give our students creative and narrative powers far beyond what was available even just twenty years ago. Many students already routinely snap "selfies" and other pictures. Student Grassroots Historians will develop the habits-of-mind of professional photographers - observing and recording their worlds with a photographer's eye. In addition, they will be able to mine their own digital photograph albums and publicly available imagery and create striking graphics as part of their narratives.
Faculty can begin small -- for example, by spending a few minutes discussing how newspapers use words and images in articles that students bring in. By observing how professional storytellers use words and images they will learn how they can tell their own stories at the same time that they become more sophisticated and discerning readers. Faculty can encourage, reward and help students share their creativity by spending a few minutes discussing student' narratives and techniques in class. The bulk of today's webinar consists of small examples that can be used in STEAM courses. Even though they are individually small, their cumulative impact can be transformative and they can build a foundation for a collaborative narrative of the history of our times - a history of, by and for the people.
Our website has a series of papers with titles like -- Grassroots Histories and Calculus, Grassroots Histories and Statistics, Grassroots Histories and Chlorophyll, and Photography and Geometry.
Frank Wattenberg (U.S. Military Academy (emeritus)) is an amateur photographer and will introduce the project and focus on the narrative power of cell phone photography. Marianna Bonanome (New York City College of Technology) will focus on "Storytelling Through Data: An Introductory Statistics Project Illuminating Changing Views in Pandemic Times." Katherine Poirier (New York City College of Technology) will focus on "Building Community in Online Math Classes."