I’ve now tried two different ways to use CSL in my 300-level class Intro to Civic Engagement. The first was to assign two chapters (sessions) per class period for the first two weeks of the term. My goal in doing this was to introduce some key social challenges and then spend most of the rest of the course addressing (civic engagement) perspectives on meeting these challenges.
The second method I tried was integrating CSL later in the term, assigning one chapter per class, and organizing fixed groups that would stay together throughout the CSL discussions. I liked this approach much better. It allowed students to organize a facilitator for each session. This person had to turn in a page of notes and demonstrate some creative thinking on how to get others in the group engaged. I encouraged them to start the discussion with a free write, drawing, or short video, and to make sure all voices in the group were heard. Many students reported this was a meaningful aspect of class. This helped break up our 4 hour sessions and gave students ongoing relationships that I believe helped discussions overall.
This term I am offering CSL as one of five options for an additional reading that will be done in small groups with rotating facilitation. I have some students quite excited about the text.
I’m curious how other instructors frame the NWEI course book assignment to students. Is it about the environment, about civic engagement, about leadership? Thanks for the input!
I am hoping to use a couple of NWEI discussion books in an Environmental Sustainability course this spring – if textbook rental at my university will allow it despite having no ISBN number. I appreciated your suggestions about using consistent, smaller discussion groups. Also sounds like a good idea to use it as an option for additional readings.