Guttman CC – Crossing Borders: A Narrative of Social Pedagogy


This practice is drawn from Composition 103, the introductory writing course taken by all students on CUNY campuses. The practice, a narrative essay, is the introductory assignment for the course and is tethered to two other community-focused and social practices. The essay assignment asks students to do two things: 1) take the Subway to a stop they have never been to before and interact with the community through observation, sensory detail, and metacognitive perception, and 2) identify and articulate a time where they have felt like an “other” or outsider. This practice views social pedagogy as experiential and is structured to immerse students in a community of visual signs, symbols, people, and geography they are unfamiliar with. They are then able to develop a nascent voice as an immigrant in this community.

Prior to the completion of the essay, students participate in a reflective exercise that takes them to another member’s ePortfolio. Based on a set of reflective prompts, students comment on one another’s portfolios, focusing on the identification of metacognitive thought and process. Following this activity, students then engage with a full-class Jam Session. Based on the philosophical theme of borders as simulations of reality that creates the framework of the assignment, students respond to a prompt focusing on critical thinking around this issue. During the Jam, students also respond to one another while attempting to have a verbal discussion in the class simultaneously. Engaging in both virtual and live discourse simultaneously allows students to revise their Jam posts instantly based on what they are hearing in class. The Jam gives students the opportunity to reflect on the experiential component of the assignment and the class reflection through the lens of a virtual Socratic Seminar. Merging their feelings, thoughts, and actions together in a rapid-fire Jam Session gives depth to both the experiential practice, the narrative, and the reflection. It illustrates, in real-time, the knowledge-centers that have been enhanced by the sequence of practice.

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