Spring 2020 Social Foundations of Urban Education

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Updates to our class

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    Hello everyone. I apologize for not contacting you sooner regarding the remainder of the semester. A lot has happened since we last met last week and it seems that every day brings new changes. I hope everyone is well and I hope you are finding ways to destress in these very stressful times.

    I have been working around the clock to bring all my students online (70 students on three different campuses in three different classes). It’s been challenging, but our class especially is ahead of the curve since we’ve been using our class website from the beginning.

    A few things to note regarding the changes that are to come:

    Schedule and Class Assignments:
    I am in the process of revising the schedule and assignments for the rest of the semester. The new schedule will be posted on our class website by tomorrow. Take a look at it, but understand that things will change. None of us signed up for an online class and therefore did not plan to be learning (or teaching) at home. The schedule is a roadmap of goals, but it will be adapted as we go along to fit our needs. (Even as I type this I am thinking of ways to simplify the assignments.)

    Online Chat:
    I think touching base face-to-face on a regular basis is a good way for us to feel connected and will help you feel less like you are suddenly doing this class on your own. However, I understand that many of us are dealing with uncertain schedules, closed public schools, families cooped up together, and a million other distractions. You will not be penalized for not participating in the chat. You will also not be in trouble if you need to sign on to a different time slot if that sometimes works better. I will be available for you every Tuesday between 1:30 and 3:30pm (with all the chaos of my kids and the world in the background). It is up to you all how best to use that time. And I am always available via email at other times during the week.

    We are going to have these meetings via Blackboard Collaborate. I have included instructions for using this platform at the bottom of this email. In order to prepare I will need to activate our class Blackboard site, so if you get an alert from Blackboard, please know that we are still using our website on CUNY Commons as the primary platform for our class. We are only using Blackboard for the live chat.

    I am going to stop here since this email is already very long. If anyone has any issues moving forward with this class or accessing the materials or live chat at home let me know. Stay tuned for more information tomorrow, and thank you for your patience as we work this out.


    Blackboard Collaborate
    Blackboard Collaborate is where we will hold online “live” classes. Click on “Blackboard Collaborate” on the left-hand tab. I will set up a class session for each date we are meeting. When you click on the course date you will see the button “Join Course Room.” I will be there along with any other students who are able to attend live. Remember—attendance will not be based on live attendance to our online sessions. If you can’t attend for whatever reason, that’s OK. Everything we discuss in these sessions will be on my blog or sent to you via email. But if you can attend during our regular class time, please do! It might make your learning a bit easier and I will be there to answer any questions you have.

    1 Using the Microphone and Camera:
    At the bottom of the screen you will see a microphone and camera icon. If there is a line through them, that means your microphone and/or camera are muted. Click on them to mute/unmute. If you aren’t speaking, it is probably best to keep your microphone on mute. That will cut down on unnecessary sounds from all of our computers from cluttering the classroom.

    2 Raising Your Hand:
    If you want to ask me a question, click the “Raise Hand” icon at the bottom of the screen. I will check in with you as soon as I am able.

    3 Chatting:
    On the bottom right is an arrow. When you click on this you will open the chat function of Blackboard Collaborate. You can ask me questions there, or say hello or comment with other students.

    4 Leave Session:
    When you need to go, click on the icon in the upper-left-hand corner. At the bottom of that menu you will find the “Leave Session” button.

    Francine Almash

    Mellon Humanities Alliance Fellow
    PhD Student in Urban Education
    The Graduate Center-CUNY

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