Wanted: Trinity students with bikes for short video, Sept 24th

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Above: A different short video I recorded with the “Cycling, Sustainability & Hartford” First-Year Seminar. Not related to the event below, but still fun to watch.

The short version:

Wanted: Trinity students with bikes

What: Appear in a short video, on campus, with Professor Jack Dougherty

When: Saturday, September 24th, 2016 from 10 to 10:30am

Where: Vernon Street, near the Broad Street gate, Trinity College

Why: Eternal fame in a soon-to-be viral video, plus free cider and donuts

And if you’re curious, here’s the longer version: Trinity College has funded me to create a free online course, “Data Visualization for All,” to be distributed on the edX platform in February 2017. This course builds on a successful internship seminar where Trinity students co-create interactive charts and maps for the web, in partnership with Hartford community groups. When David Tatem and I brainstormed about how to communicate the course vision in a two-minute video, we dreamed up the idea a bicycle ride — my favorite mode of transportation — to tie together different scenes that we’re shooting with community partners around the City of Hartford. The final scene brings us back to the Trinity campus, specifically at the Broad Street gate on Vernon, where we need as many bike riders as possible to swarm in and shout out the closing line. So if you have two wheels — or can borrow some — come and join us!

Hartford school orientations with Trinity Educ 200 students

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Orientation with coordinator Erin Doyle (3rd from left) at ELAMS.
Trinity Educ 200 orientation with coordinator Erin Doyle (3rd from left) at ELAMS.

When I teach the introductory Educ 200: Analyzing Schools course at Trinity College, one of my favorite parts is introducing my students to different Hartford schools where we place them for their weekly participant-observation sessions with classroom teachers. My students’ minds turn on when reality challenges them to confront the stereotypes that many of us carry about “urban education,” and their eyes light up at the opportunity to escape the “Trinity bubble” and play a meaningful role in the education of people younger than themselves. My Trinity colleagues and I invest a considerable amount of time and energy to build lasting relationships with our coordinating teachers in each school, who help us to schedule the logistics and come to campus at the end of the semester to evaluate students’ culminating projects. This community-learning component is so central to Trinity students’ learning experience that I cannot imagine what teaching this urban education class would be like without it.

Trinity Educ 200 orientation with Enid Camacho-Cruz at Burns Latino Studies Academy.
Orientation with Enid Camacho-Cruz (4th from left) at Burns Latino Studies Academy.
Pleasantly surprised to run into Brigit Rioual '14, a new staff member at Montessori Magnet, who took Educ 200 with me in Fall 2011.
Pleasantly surprised to run into Brigit Rioual ’14, a new staff member at Montessori Magnet, who took Educ 200 with me in Fall 2011.
Trinity Educ 200 orientation at Montessori Magnet School.
Trinity Educ 200 orientation at Montessori Magnet School.

Trinity Pre-Orientation Cyclists Stop by to Chat

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Ken Krayeske and Joe Barber invited me to ride with the Trinity Pre-Orientation cyclists this year, but those plans fell apart when I injured my hand earlier this month. So I was delighted when they stopped by my house this morning for a lemonade break and chat about cities and suburbs. Looking forward to riding with them in the future.

Mapping Hartford: Proposed Class for January 2017

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Trinity students and I hopped aboard CT Transit to explore school choice on our first day of the Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar in January 2016
Trinity students and I hopped aboard CT Transit to explore school choice on our first day of the Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar in January 2016

Trinity invited faculty to propose new half-credit courses for the two-week January Term session during winter break, so I submitted this proposal for “Mapping Hartford.” Stay tuned.

Title: Mapping Hartford (proposed for January 2017)

Description: In this hands-on course, students will create digital maps about metropolitan Hartford, and travel to meet people and places whose stories they tell. You will gain valuable skills in data visualization and web design, learn about the history of the city and its suburbs, expand your comfort zone beyond campus, and taste delicious foods in different neighborhoods. All readings and class exercises are freely available on the instructor’s websites (http://OnTheLine.trincoll.edu and http://DataVizForAll.org). Bring any laptop computer, but no prior mapping or computing experience is required. Instructor: Jack Dougherty. Enrollment Limit: 9.

Enrollment Limit (please provide rationale):  I request an enrollment limit of 9, rather than 15, to make our travels around the city of Hartford more feasible. When students sign up, I will notify them to obtain a U-Pass, and that our class will be ride as a group on the city bus for select trips. In case you’re wondering, I already experimented with my Educ 308 seminar riding the city bus on our first day of class in late January 2016, and it worked well with 9 students, but am unsure about larger numbers. Also, some of the people and places we will visit in Hartford are located in smaller buildings, so a group of 9 (plus me) is more manageable than 15.

Location: If this course is approved, I will ask Carlos Espinosa for permission to hold our class sessions at Trinfo Cafe, where I taught my Data Visualization internship seminar (with 8 students and 1 TA) in Spring 2016. This is an ideal space to work on our web maps, meet with community partners, and publicly show our work on the large-screen TVs. Also, Trinfo Cafe introduced many students to life beyond campus. Furthermore, since the #61 bus stops on the corner of Broad and Vernon Street before heading downtown, it’s a convenient place for me and my students to meet up.

Schedule for 2017: To maximize student learning and meet the 20 contact hour requirement, within the narrow 2-week J-term window, I propose the following schedule. It alternates between days when we will travel around Hartford as a group versus days when we will meet only at Trinfo Cafe.

Mon Jan 9 10am-1pm 3 hours
Tue Jan 10 10am-12pm 2 hours
Wed Jan 11 10am-1pm 3 hours
Thu Jan 12 10am-12pm 2 hours
Fri Jan 13 10am-1pm 3 hours
Mon Jan 16 no class (MLK Day)
Tues Jan 17 10am-12pm 2 hours
Wed Jan 18 10am-1pm 3 hours
Thu Jan 19 10am-12pm 2 hours
Fri Jan 20 no class (Inauguration Day)
Total contact time = 20 hours

Sample Hartford story map, created with easy-to-learn tools:

Money Matters: School Finance & Equity Policy in Connecticut

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Join us for brief presentations and insightful discussion about the latest developments on school finance reform in Connecticut.

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 from 12:15-1:15pm (Common Hour) in Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall, Trinity College. Open to the public. Light lunch buffet.


Katie Roy (Director and Founder) and Patrick Gibson (Senior Policy Analyst) represent the Connecticut School Finance Project, a non-partisan non-profit organization that seeks to build knowledge and identify solutions to unequal education funding across the state. See video and data resources on their website.

Robert Cotto Jr., Director of Urban Education Initiatives and Lecturer in Educational Studies at Trinity, will provide an overview of state Superior Court Judge Moukawsher’s recent ruling in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v Rell. See Cotto’s resource page on this important school equity case.

Sponsored by the Educational Studies Program and Urban Educational Initiatives, Trinity College.

Video part 1: Patrick Gibson presentation:

Video part 2: Robert Cotto presentation:

Video part 3: Discussion with Robert Cotto, Katie Roy, Patrick Gibson and the audience:

Photos from the event:

Patrick Gibson presenting on behalf of CT School Finance Project
Patrick Gibson presenting on behalf of CT School Finance Project
Vianna Iorio '19 and Briana Casey '17 speaking with Katie Roy and Patrick Gibson
Vianna Iorio ’19 and Briana Casey ’17 speaking with Katie Roy and Patrick Gibson

Collaborative Annotation webinar with Michelle Herbert and Hypothes.is

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Today Michelle Herbert (Trinity IDP student) and I were guests on “Collaborative Annotation in the History Classroom,” a webinar hosted by Jeremy Dean, Director of Education at Hypothes.is. The open-source Hypothes.is annotation tool is growing in popularity among college instructors because it allows students to share their reflections in the margin of a text — such as a website or PDF document — with the public or only members of a particular group. Michelle was the ideal student guest because she learned how to use two different commenting tools in two courses with me this spring, and she began using Hypothes.is as a personal note-taking tool on her individual PDF files. Everyone appreciated having a student perspective in this professor-heavy conversation about learning.

During the webinar, I offered these links to illustrate how we use annotation tools in my class projects, and Michelle offered reflections from her perspective as a student.

  • My Ed Reform Past & Present syllabus, and a link to a 19th-century primary source text pasted into a Google Document. During the first few weeks of the course, to help students learn to “read like an historian,” as Sam Wineburg encourages us, I insert questions into the margin with Google Doc comments, and assign students to respond and/or add their own annotations, then lead a discussion of the text in class. This is not a Hypothes.is example. Instead, I use Google Docs here because it’s a tool that is already familiar to most of them, which matters a great deal during the first few weeks, when I overwhelm them with unfamiliar historical content and other digital tools. Also, these public domain sources are available in plain text, so Google Doc commenting works nicely. See a screenshot: GDocComments-webinar
  • In my Cities Suburbs and Schools syllabus, we use Hypothes.is because it’s the best tool for shared commenting on PDF files. For this class, I download a copyrighted PDF of a journal article, make sure that it’s OCRed (optical character recognized), and upload it to our seminar’s password-protected Moodle learning management system. Each student signs up for a free Hypothes.is account, and I assign teams of students to annotate and lead the discussion for specific PDF readings. Since only students in my seminar can access our Moodle site, their Hypothes.is comments are limited to our class. Each semester, I can upload a fresh PDF for new annotations. See what it looks like here: Hypothesis-Moodle-sample
  • For my On The Line history book-in-progress, I encourage readings to post comments on draft chapters that appear on a self-hosted Pressbooks/Pressbooks Textbook site. The latter plugin includes built-in support for Hypothes.is, which means that readers do not need to install the browser tool, but they still need to sign up for a free account. To help newcomers understand this tool, I created a “How to comment” page with this animated GIF loop: 2016-how-to-comment
  • During the Q&A, one topic that came up was the tension between public writing and student privacy regarding these web annotation tools, so I shared an essay I wrote on that very topic in a recent open-access volume I co-edited, Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning.

Check out the entire webinar on YouTube below. Our segment begins around the 10 minute mark.

When Real Audiences (Not Just Your Professor) Read Your Writing

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Guest evaluators Jasmin Agosto (Trinity '10, right) and Glenn Mitoma (UConn, center) review their written feedback with student authors in the Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar.
Guest evaluators Jasmin Agosto (Trinity ’10, right) and Glenn Mitoma (UConn, center) review their written feedback with student authors in the Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar.

This week we wrapped up one of the most meaningful writing exercises this semester in my Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar. Rather than typing up a traditional paper to be read only by their professor, Trinity students composed essays on the public web, received feedback on early drafts from our “sister seminar” at Yale University, and final evaluations from a panel of three guest evaluators. Based on similar assignments over the past several years, students work harder on improving their prose — and find the experience to be more intrinsically rewarding — when real audiences are involved in the writing process.

Earlier this month, students carved out their topics and digitized source materials from a list of topics on the recent history of education and activism in the Hartford region. The assignment was to tell a compelling story, with analytical insight and supporting evidence, of no more than 2,500 words, for audiences who may be unfamiliar with the issue. Topics included the 1960s Project Concern city-suburban integration program, the 1969 Hartford documentary film interviews, the 1970s Lumpkin school desegregation case, the 1985 Bloomfield school residency case, and plaintiffs’ perspectives in the 1989 Sheff integration case. This seminar had the advantage of drawing on source materials that previous students had already collected and digitized, so that we could focus more of our energy on the analysis and storytelling. See the students’ web essays at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/web-essays/. Also, to learn more about the philosophy and planning behind this pedagogical approach, see my essays on related examples in the Web Writing book and a recent Connecticut History Review article.

Many thanks to Mira Debs for teaching her Yale University “sister seminar” on a similar topic for her students who exchanged drafts and peer comments with us via Google Docs this semester. Also, a special thanks to our three guest evaluators — Jasmin Agosto (Trinity ’10), Glenn Mitoma (UConn), and Susan Campbell (U of New Haven) — who recognized the strengths of the students’ work and recommended ways to further revise it for potential publication in the On The Line book that I’m currently writing with several contributors.

Although this specific class assignment has concluded, one way to judge the depth of student learning is to follow how many choose to revise their drafts again — without grades as a motivator — to improve our telling of these important civil rights education stories with broader audiences.



Catalyst Summer Internship Funding from Trinity Career Development Center

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I’m spreading the news about the Catalyst funding program, which offers $3,500 grants to support Trinity students in unpaid or low-paid summer internships. At present, the key information is buried so deeply inside the password-protected CareerLink database at the Career Development Center, which makes it hard to find. (Try a Google search for “Trinity College Catalyst Summer Internship” and you’ll find this Tripod story, but as of today, nothing on the Center’s own website.)

Even when you access CareerLink, it’s not easy to find. Typing “Catalyst” in the search box did not work for me. I had to go to Employers > Trinity College > Available Positions to find the info that I’ve reposted below.

The basics: Eligibility is limited to Trinity 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-year students with a GPA of 3.0 or above. Applications accepted until April 8th, 2016. Preference is given to students who have attended CDC workshops or had prior appointments with their staff. See more details in the Student Learning Agreement PDF.

From the CareerLink web page (with links to PDFs I downloaded):

If the only thing standing between you and an unpaid or low-paying internship opportunity this summer is financial support, then the CATALYST SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM is for you! The Career Development Center is proud to offer $3,500 grants to eligible first, second, and third-year Trinity students!

To be considered for the CATALYST SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM, you must upload the following completed documents to this application by noon on April 8, 2016:

1. An updated résumé that has been approved by the CDC

2. A cover letter addressed to the CDC that includes the following:
• The type of internship you are seeking and why. (Please specify one of the following: an internship you have already secured, internship opportunities to which you are applying, or an industry or sector in which you are interested.)
• The strengths and weaknesses you will bring to the experience
• What you hope to learn over the course of the internship
• How the experience will help you hone your professional skills

3. One signed Career Catalyst Initiative: Summer Internship Program Student Learning Agreement (please make sure to upload this document in “Other”):

The following documents must be completed and emailed to amy.porter@trincoll.edu by noon on April 8, 2016:

1. FERPA Waiver PDF (signed by student and emailed to recommender).

2. One (1) Letter of Recommendation (recommender completes letter of recommendation and emails both the letter and signed FERPA Waiver
to amy.porter@trincoll.edu).

The following document must be completed and emailed to amy.porter@trincoll.edu by 4:30 p.m. on May 6, 2016:

Employer Confirmation Form PDF (download and save a copy of this form now as this posting will expire April 8, 2016)

Amy Porter
Assistant Director
Career Development Center



GitHub browser is great, but needs a directional visual cue

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I continue to be impressed with GitHub’s browser interface, which makes sharing, editing, and web hosting code or text so easy for novices. Next week I’ll start teaching GitHub to my undergraduate data visualization seminar, which includes many students who have never touched a piece of code in their lives. We primarily stick with the browser interface to avoid overwhelming newbies, since it does nearly everything we need.  But there’s one small user interface revision that would make it easier for students to learn how to make pull requests inside the browser.

The problem: The current GitHub browser interface provides no visual cue about the DIRECTION of the pull request, as shown below:

No directional visual cue in the current browser
No directional visual cue in the current browser

In my teaching tutorials, I have to create a “TO — FROM” screenshot to help my students understand the direction of the pull request, as shown here:

My modified "To -- From" tutorial screenshot
My modified “To — From” tutorial screenshot

Clearly, GitHub would be even better if this step were more intuitive. Here’s two possible solutions for the developers to consider:

1) GitHub Desktop for Mac already includes a directional visual cue, where the sending branch box is shaped like an arrow, pointing into the receiving branch, as shown below. You could replicate this in the GitHub browser interface.

GitHub Desktop for Mac has a directional visual cue
GitHub Desktop for Mac has a directional visual cue

2) Or if that’s too complicated, a simple fix for the browser interface might be to change the current ambiguous symbols (…) into a visual direction cue with different punctuation (<—), as shown here:

A simple fix: change (...) to (<--)
A simple fix: change (…) to (<–)

Once again, just trying to suggest a simple way to make the GitHub browser interface even easier for novices to use.