Thursday, October 09, 2008

election exhibit in gleeson library: students teaching students

it's hard to believe that we're about to finish week six of fall semester. summer feels like yesterday.

this fall, i'm teaching two sections (about eighty students in all) of intro to media studies. for the first three weeks of class, i mostly gave lectures (about newspapers and magazines and the magic of wikipedia) and led discussions (about thinking and literacy and whether google is making us stupid). on week four, students wrote and turned in paper one - a mixed bag ranging from this-is-awesome to you-can-do-better. last week, professors susana kaiser and michael robertson gave excellent guest lectures.

this week, week six, all minds were focused on our group show and tell in gleeson library.

first, the assignment:


Assignment: Create an exhibit in Gleeson Library that encourages and educates people to vote in the upcoming US election.

o You must work in groups. Groups can be as small as 3 and as large as 8.
o Your exhibit should be interesting to your audience and make them smarter.
o Your exhibit must be supported by evidence from at least 3 legitimate sources, 2 of which must be print resources from the library. If you are not sure what I mean by legitimate, ask. If you would like ideas about what kinds of resources the library offers, ask a reference librarian at Gleeson.
o Select a spokesperson/s to present your exhibit to the rest of class.
o In addition to your exhibit, each group is required to turn in a brief essay addressing the following: a) Explain your topic and its importance; b) Explain why you designed your exhibit the way you did; and c) Explain why you used the sources you did. The essay can be between 1-2 single-spaced pages.

o Meet as a group early and often.
o Meet with librarians early and often.
o Distribute the workload so that all group members are contributing.

Your exhibit is due in the library at the beginning of class on Thursday, October 9.


while my students were working hard on their projects, USF librarians were working hard preparing and enhancing gleeson library's first-floor reading room and exhibit space. debbie benrubi collected and displayed voter registration materials (last day to register to vote in the state of california: october 20). carol spector culled and displayed a few dozen excellent books about obama, mccain, and other relevant topics. and joe garity, who also serves as the library liaison for media studies, helped pave the way to make a library reading room into a student gallery space.

the students' work ranged from very good to outstanding. they designed posters and voting boxes and interactive maps and info graphics and animal kennels and a huge three by two feet issue of time magazine. they used paper and pens and paint and tape and glue and yarn and cardboard and photographs. at least two of the projects were made entirely from recycled materials.

their show and tells addressed the many topics that make this election so important and so dizzying - the economy, human rights, war, immigration, the environment, abortion, animal rights, same sex marriage. some projects juxtaposed the views and voting records of obama and mccain and of palin and biden. and two projects explored who the world thinks our next president should be.

by the time the afternoon class was over, there were nearly twenty student exhibits on the walls, upon the bookshelves, and in the windows of the reading room of gleeson. as the students filed out of the reading room, i stayed behind to appreciate their collective creativity and to learn a bit more about the issues. about ten minutes later, a student returned to the reading room with a friend in tow. a few minutes later, another student returned, also with a friend. as the students guided their friends through the exhibit, i tip-toed out of the room and thought to myself students teaching students.

election exhibit - students teaching students can be viewed in the first-floor reading room in gleeson library. it runs through the election.


Amber said...

Very cool!

Kelci said...


Joe said...

We've put up a sign near the display in the library encouraging folks to make comments on this blog about the display--also we have a paper Comments Book in case someone wants to write a comment on paper.

jini said...

a really great student response to your assignment!! yes!

Anonymous said...

Professor Silver,
I had a great time working on this project, it was a lot of work but when I found out that my friends had visited the site without me telling them to it was truly rewarding. They were pretty impressed by all the projects and def. learned a thing or two about the election. Thanks for creating such a unique assignment!

david silver said...

amber and jini - thanks for the comments!

kelci and joe and all other gleeson librarians - thanks for you help on the project and thanks for letting us take over a good chunk of your library!

LR - excellent! i hope all USF students (not to mention staff, faculty, and administration) take the time to check out the exhibit before voting!

Anonymous said...

Professor Silver, I agree with L.R. I also found the assignment to be hard work, not because of the outline of the actual assignmetn but because of the challenge to meet with the members of my group in the week we had to complete the assignment. I was very relieved after we presented and listening to my classmates present reinforced my feelings of excitement for this upcoming election in which I for the first time have the opportunity to exercise my right to vote!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you and your students for emphasizing the *participatory* element of Democracy. This is the kind of "Reality Show" that I can really appreciate!

Ivan Chew said...

"...about ten minutes later, a student returned to the reading room with a friend in tow. a few minutes later, another student returned, also with a friend."


Dani said...

Yes, I finally got around to commenting your blog!

I dropped by the library the other day and was happy to find that there was only one ballot left on our props-and-peeps exhibit (well, no peeps, but whatever). I'd replenish the ballot supply if I had the ballot template...though I'm not sure people are still doing this stuff. It might be getting old. If anyone else from our group is here, could he/she tell me if and when we're going to count up the ballots? Just wondering...

In other unrelated news, a shameless plug: I started blogging! It's not much, but hey, I'm making media!

Joel said...

I just visited the exhibit a couple of weeks after we presented them, and I definitely believe that it was a great idea at the right time to have an exhibit like this in the library. It's a lot of good information!

Debbie said...

I noticed there's a dialogue about the Palin and Biden posters and a lot of other thoughtful comments in the notebook Joe placed on a nearby table.

david silver said...

dani - thanks for the comment and thanks FOR REMINDING US to count up the votes from your group project! as i mentioned in class, i'm eager to hear how the voting went and hope to learn about that prior to the election on tuesday. oh, and i'm really glad you've begun blogging - right on.

joel - i agree. i learned a ton about the elections from this project. plus, i was and remain very impressed with the way you and your classmates collaborated. for the most part, the group projects were truly group designed and built. excellent.

debbie - thanks for the update on the guestbook in the library! i've been reading it every few days and hope that more of my students will also take part in the debate.

Anonymous said...


Remember the ballot box, "What Are You Voting For?" where many of you stated which California and San Francisco Propositions you were voting for??

Well now you can compare your vote to your fellow USF students. Then on Tuesday (11/4!)we can see if the voice of USF students is the majority or the minority of those is California and San Francisco.

Result's for "What Are You Voting For?"

1A: 84% yes 16% no

2: 89% yes 11% no

4 38% yes 62% no

8 26% yes 74% no

J 100% yes 0% no

H 80% yes 20% no

R 50% yes 50% no

U 74% yes 26% no

Thank You all for participating!
Robinson, Elle '11

david silver said...

AWESOME, thanks for adding the results as a comment Elle.

how many votes were there in total?