A Northern Maine Community College faculty member and former instructor were two of the highlighted speakers recently at the Two-Year College English Association Annual Northeast conference in Wilmington, Delaware.
Jennifer Graham, an English and Communications Instructor at NMCC, and Lynne Manion, formerly of NMCC and now at Eastern Maine Community College, presented on a project the two collaborated on which explored the use of Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried” as part of the study of the Vietnam War in an American History course.
This presentation showcased how faculty from two community colleges collaborated across the disciplines to engage history students through the use of literature. Literature students at NMCC created multi-media presentations describing their perspectives of O’Brien’s fictionalized account of the Vietnam War. Their presentations were viewed by history students at EMCC, who read the novel with a critical historical eye. Students were then asked to reflect on their experiences.
“The presentation was well-received by our colleagues, perhaps because it offered a unique way to approach teaching literature,” said Graham. “Two-year college faculty typically seek ways to make their content relevant to students, and incorporating the opportunity for students to teach their peers at a different campus something they had learned was a good way to do that.”
Manion said the project showed said the project showed the value of peer to peer teaching.
“Based on our survey results, students came away from this collaborative experience feeling like they had learned something from their peers,” added Manion. “Providing students an opportunity to teach other students at a different institution really enriches the learning experience for everyone.”
Graham said linking up the differing courses between the two institutions is unique, but proved to be valuable as demonstrated by the interest in their presentation.
“It is a great example of how we can use technology in innovative ways to open up our classrooms, said Graham. “Connecting NMCC and EMCC students was a fun way to engage them with a different audience. Bringing additional perspectives into the classroom, particularly in a literature class, is always beneficial to our discussions.”
Graham is not the only NMCC faculty member to present work to the Two-Year College English Association in the past year. David Raymond, Chairman of the Arts and Sciences Department, had his essay, “The Literature of Work: Developing a Thematic Unit on Work,” published in the national journal: Teaching English in the Two-Year College.
The conclusion of the essay reads, “If we can use the study of literature to help our students make sense of the role of work in their lives, help them make a life as well as a living, then we truly will have bridged the gap between the liberal arts and the useful arts.”