Introduction to the Community Classroom
Go to the Student Generational Home Pages
Subject Index of the Daily
Round Digital Library Here
|Dr. Leon James
University of Hawaii
Library and Information Studies Program
Department of Computer and Information Science
University of Hawaii
Searching for Oral and Written
The Generational Curriculum Archives are reports and
messages written by students on various assigned topics. I started the project in 1975 in
collaboration with Dr. Diane Nahl
of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Hawaii. I was
searching for an instructional approach that would provide a platform for authentic
student writing. My theory was that even college students needed more instruction on basic
literacy skills, which I defined as oral and written communicative competence.
Through my work in psycholinguistics and language teaching,
I realized that authenticity is a crucial element in the ability to communicate.
When I came to teach at the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii in 1971, many of my
colleagues held lower expectations for students who had gone through the Hawaii public
school system, in comparison to 'mainland students.' This impression came from the
students' style and level of oral and written communication. But I had another theory.
In the 1960s I conducted a number of workshops for
bilingual teachers and their district supervisors for Dade County, Florida. At that time
it was the largest school system in the nation and experiencing intense cultural stress
from Cuban immigration. My task was to help teachers devise a classroom atmosphere that
would (A) reduce cultural conflict between English speaking and Spanish speaking students,
and (B), motivate English speaking students to learn Spanish.
Social Forces in the Classroom
The solution I offered was inspired by social psychologist
Kurt Lewin who discovered that interpersonal communication in group settings is a response
to "group dynamic forces" in the social situation. These social forces can be
managed. The central idea was that in order to influence oral and written communication,
we need to alter the social group forces in the setting. In the instructional setting this
principle means that we can teach better if an authentic atmosphere is provided for the
students' work. Here are some examples.
In earlier grades teachers put up students' work on the
bulletin board. Look at the social forces this practice creates. The act of
"posting" the children's work makes it public and official. The child receives
the feeling of "My work is real. The teacher put it up. Everyone can see it."
This is a feeling of self-validation, an important affective skill that helps prevent low
self-esteem and underachievement. This approach is effective only if the act in question
is authentic. In other words, it has to be a "real" bulletin board, not a
pretend one. Bulletin boards are a real part of classrooms, and posting student work is a
real part of American public schools. In the classroom, the teacher's act of posting makes
it real. Parents and teachers know with pleasure, the intense seriousness and pride with
which children deliver their work to the parent. "Here, look at what I did." In
these six words I saw the solution to teaching oral and written communication skills in
the classroom. It is not enough to have practiced and finished a work. In order for the
experience to be assimilated and applied, it must be validated or authenticated. When the
parent looks at the student's work and accepts it for what it is, the student is
validated, the learning experience assimilated, and growth has taken place. More learning
is now possible so that there is cumulation from basic to advanced.
In the Florida school situation, my solution was to modify
teachers' focus from bilingualism to biculturalism. In the workshops, I had us
practice making up all sorts of class activities and written assignments on the basis of
two criteria: collaboration and authenticity. The first meant that students accomplished
the work as a team. The second required a real purpose, that is, one within the students'
daily experience and life. In my college classrooms, I implemented over 100 instructional
management techniques to create the community classroom generational approach.
Generational Curriculum Principles for Assignments
Here is a sample of both written and oral assignments
which I regularly use as community classroom principles that create an instructional
platform for learner authenticity and collaborativeness.
- term paper topics are chosen by the students from a
cumulative generational list to which they also contribute suggestions for future
- all assigned reports are written for future students as the
target audience, not the instructor.
- all reports are voluntarily donated to the generational
curriculum archives which are kept in a designated area by the instructor.
- each succeeding generation of students reads, uses, and
maintains the archives through assigned and supervised activities.
- two kinds of reports are required: those submitted as a team
with multiple authors, and those written and produced by the student independently.
- when reports are submitted as a joint effort, all authors
receive equal credit for it (e.g., grade).
- when a project was carried out as a team, each member is
required to write it up separately, on their own.
- all student reports are shared in the classroom with
exercises specifically designed to elicit peer comment and evaluation.
- student reports are never defined as complete, and can be
improved or added to at any time throughout the semester (and even beyond, when they are
no longer students).
- students are given three choices at the end of the
- to leave their reports behind, as is (90% choose this)
- to leave their reports but removing their name or editing
them in some way
- to take their reports with them.
- students are coached to write only what they understand and
believe in, so they can take full responsibility for intellectual content (any sentence
they write that does not conform to this rule is labeled "plagiarism" unless
placed in quotation marks with a citation).
- weekly homework assignments insure the systematic processing
of the generational curriculum archives by each generation; it is thus a major component
of the course content.
- assignments are made generationally cumulative to the
extent possible, using the metaphor of "standing on the shoulders of the prior
- each new class of students is officially designated by its
generational ID (G1, G2, ..., G5, etc.). Ceremonies, logos, group songs, nominations,
awards, and group photos are some of the methods I use to create group dynamic forces
of solidarity, identification, emulation, and competitive achievement orientation.
- when possible, student reports are published or made
available to larger audiences for use in science, education, or socializing (PLATO, the
World Wide Web, and e-mail have all been very successful publication media in my
- oral communication exercises in class use the
generational curriculum as content. Examples:
- students pick a report in advance and give a brief (5 min.)
presentation on its content, with their reaction or evaluation. Other students listen and
are required to ask each speaker at least three questions.
- students are arranged in teams and sub-group for a few
minutes, preparing a team response on a topic from the generational archives. Each team
member must speak. Listeners must ask questions.
- whenever students present something formally, it is required
that they introduce themselves out loud and clearly, using both first and last
- members of every generation are expected to volunteer for
maintenance activities that the generational curriculum requires, such as scanning in the
work of pre-Internet generations, up dating links in hypertext, and creating orientation
and "tour guides" for cybernaut visitors.
- students are given the opportunity to do post-semester
volunteer work such as being monitors in the computer lab, coaching other students, or
maintenance work on the ever expanding generational virtual
- student work is expected to be scholarly, scientific, or
service oriented in intent, rather then merely personal. For example, when studying the
psychology of dialog they use scientific methods to analyze a transcript of their own
conversations on the daily round. To see sample
instructions they follow, click here. For example, they create and manage Web
generational databases which collect data or "contributions" from visitors.
Students thus learn how to "market" or advertise their Home Pages using e-mail
announcements, registering with search engines, participating in listserv newsgroups, and
Topics in the Generational Curriculum and Daily Round
The Generational Curriculum is a cumulative collection of
student work on many topics of interest to education, science and lifestyle issues. From
1971 to 1991, the student reports from several courses I taught were bound by topic and
year, and kept as a collection called the Daily Round
Archives (DRA). This was done under the supervision of Dr. Diane Nahl who
organized the collection and made them available to students over the generations. In 1992
when the DRA dital project was begun, the online version received the name of the Daily Round Digital Library. Starting in 1992 the
generational curriculum went online and students started publishing all their reports on
the World Wide Web. The reports were written as assignments. Students followed my
instructions meticulously to insure scholarly value and professional standards of research
and presentation. Typically, I would make an outline of a specific topic in the form of 50
to 100 questions, sequenced logically to form a presentation format. Students were to
follow the questions in sequence, but without typing in the questions or alluding to them.
I would then go over their report and suggest further changes. In this way their reports
achieve a near-professional quality in style and objectivity. Of course if you read
several student reports on the same topic, you begin to see this uniformity in structure.
Though these reports are thus not entirely the creation of the students, they do contain
something unique from each student in the way the questions were answered and applied to
self. Here are some general subject areas:
Note: A Subject Index of the Daily
Round Digital Library may be found here
- Transcripts and
Analysis of My Family Dinner Table Talk
- Traffic Psychology Reports on My
Personality as a Driver
- Driving and Aggressiveness
and also here.
Bibliography on Driving Issues and additonal reports here
Review on Driving Behavior -- Gender Stereotypes, Aggressiveness, and Speeding
- Overcoming My Technophobia and
Psychology of Swedenborg
- Tracing Intriguing Ideas in the
History of Psychology: Evolution, God, Spinoza, Kant, Darwin, Skinner, Rationalism,
Empiricism, and more
- Freud and Dream Interpretation
- Abortion and Sexual Abuse
Exercise and Health
- Diet and
- How I Came to Understand Statistics
- Electronic Course-Integrated
Socializing with PLATO
- My Learning and
Adapting to the Internet
- Online Pathfinders
to Favorite Topics on the Web
- Annotated Bibliographies on Various Subjects:
- driving and alcohol
- gender differences and marriage
- death and dying
- aggression and TV
- gender roles on TV
- zen therapies
- health psychology
- religion and spirituality
A Directory of Student Reports can
be found in this article
A Subject Index of the Daily Round
Digital Library may be found here
The students who enroll in Psychology 499 (Independent
Reading and Research) are engaged in scanning the Daily Round Archives and organizing them
as Web Home Pages. These reports constitute a tremendous intellectual legacy left behind
by many students over nearly three decades of my teaching courses at the University of
Hawaii. In 1992 universal access to online networking on our campus made it possible to
switch to the World Wide Web as the publication and presentation medium for the
Generational Curriculum. This has added many new and exciting dimensions to the archives.
Three are especially noteworthy.
- World Wide Access:
Student reports are accessible world wide through browsing and powerful search engines
that locate their work. In effect, students have become published authors and scientists,
and have acquired a public persona and reputation
- Multimedia Presentations:
Student reports are in multimedia form. This creates the social condition for individual
expressiveness, creativity, and identity, far surpassing the print medium, which
restricted all reports to shelves in a building somewhere. Icons, logos, photographs,
artsy backgrounds, and interactive communication through e-mail are used by students with
enthusiasm and great frequency
- Virtual Reality:
Student reports and multimedia productions (known as "Home Pages") are gradually
built up into a virtual reality cybercommunity, thanks to the power of hypertext. Each
generation adds inter-connectivity features, tunneling deeper into the virtual
generational cybercommunity. This hypertext feature insures that the generational
curriculum not only grows in physical size, but in the complexity of its virtual reality.
Its educational and scientific value will thus automatically grow with time. If
institutionalized through a department or school, the generational curriculum can continue
forever, spanning the careers of individual teachers. Children and grandchildren of the
students who participated, can later look up the work of their parents and grandparents,
and feel a sense of continuity and validation. Truly, the curriculum in this format,
becomes a national treasure!
Citations and Sources: Articles Related to
Generational Curriculum Community Classroom Approach
- James, Leon. (1997). Creating
An Online Learning Environment That Fosters Information Literacy, Autonomous Learning and
Leadership: The Hawaii Online Generational Community-Classroom (see here) (My TCC-L
Online Conference Paper).
- James, L. A. (1969). Second Language Learning and Transfer
Theory: A Theoretical Assessment. Language Learning, 19, 55-86.
- James, L. A. (1970). Foreign Language Learning: A
Psycholinguistic Analysis of the Issues. (chapters
available here) Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
- James, L. A. (1972). Authenticity in
Foreign Language Teaching (available here). In S. Savignon (Ed.), Toward
Communicative Competence: An Experiment in Foreign Language Teaching. Philadelphia:
Center for Curriculum Development.
- James, L. A. (1982). Authentic Language Teaching Through
Culture-Simulation in the Classroom. Bulletin of the Canadian Association of Applied
Linguistics, 4(1), 9-30.
- James, L. A. (1991). Course-Integrated Electronic
Socializing on PLATO. UHCC Newsletter, 28(2), 12-14.Available online here.
- James, L. A. (1993). A Review of "Bilingual Education:
Issues and Strategies" by Padilla, Fairchild, and Valdadez (Eds.). Studies in
Second Language Acquisition, 15(4), 261-262.
- James, L. A., & Nahl, D. (1979). Social
Psychology: Studying Community-Building Forces (see here). Honolulu, HI:
Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii (available at Hamilton Library).
- James, L. A., & Nahl, D. (1981). Applied
Psycholinguistics for the1980's: Student-done Discourse Analysis and the Videotape
Language Lab (available here). The Linguistic Reporter(April), 11-13.
- Leon James and Diane Nahl (1978). Society's Witnesses: Experiencing Formative Issues in
- James, L. (1995). Course Integrated Use of the World Wide
Web. InfoBITS -- University of Hawaii Information Technology Services, 2(2),
8-9. Pre-publication version available online.
- James, L., & Bogan, K. (1995). Analyzing Linkage
Structure in a Course-Integrated Virtual Learning Community on the World Wide Web. Proceedings
of the INET '95 Conference, Honolulu, HI. Pre-publication
version available online.
- Lewin, K. (1935). A Dynamic Theory of Personality.
New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Nahl, D. (1996). Taxonomic Inventory of Affective and
Cognitive Behaviors While Learning and Adapting to the Internet, ASIS Proceedings.
American Society for Information Science. Pre-publication copy
- Nahl, D. (1996) Driving Informatics. Available here.
- Nahl, D. (1981) Proposal for a Daily Round Archives.
- Nahl, D. (1996b). The User-Centered Revolution, 1970-1995. Pre-publication
draft available online.
- Nahl-James, D., &James, L. A. (1987). Teaching the
Analysis of Titles: Dependent and Independent Variables in Research Articles. Research
Strategies, 5(4), 164-171.
- Leon James and Diane Nahl. (1979) Social
Psychology of Community Classroom
- Leon James and Diane Nahl. (1979) Summary of Steiner's Principles of Education
- James, Leon and Diane Nahl. (1979) Community-Building
Forces for Community-Classroom
For more articles, please consult the Annotated Directory
of the Writings of Leon James
Accessing the Generational Curriculum
A Directory of Student
Reports can be found in this article
Subject Index of the Daily Round Digital Library Here
Go to the Student Generational Home pages
Go to Leon James Home Page and all other points on this site
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