Sample Syllabus: Poetry Project




Spring, 2002

This project will surprise you.

This project will be fun (and that's not the surprise)!

This project will ask you to be engaged with poetry and creative expression in an everyday context.

This project will encourage you to reflect on the ways in which your academic development and creativity are linked to the communities in which you find yourself.

Several community agencies have agreed to work with us to develop a variety of poetry and creative expression projects this semester. Each of the agencies has a use for our services, and we will link with them to serve their needs while we enhance our own learning about American poetry. Here's the roster of partners:

  • Boys and Girls Club and Pioneer Middle School: jazz poetry workshops for children with Pamela Robinson
  • Turning Point: creative writing tutoring at one of three nearby facilities for troubled adolescents
  • Girl Scouts
  • Columbine Care Center

The project begins after community partner representatives speak to the class on January 16.

  1. By Friday, January 18, you will choose which partners you'd like to work with. Come to class with your top two choices. We may need to negotiate with each other a bit, since we will need to divide ourselves among the agencies to keep from overwhelming them with numbers.
  2. You will work out your initial meeting with your community partner during the week of January 21. I'll let them know to expect your call. You should expect, at a minimum, to spend 15 hours of service with this partner during the semester.
  3. During the week of January 28, we'll take some class time to share with each other the exact nature of the work ahead. We'll pursue these projects individually and/or collaboratively throughout the semester, taking class time frequently to reflect on your experiences.
  4. You will keep a running field notes journal account of your service learning work. Make an entry after every service session. Each entry should include your observations about what actually happened during the session and your reflections on these events. We'll leave the organization of your entries up to you, but addressing the following questions should ensure that you're devoting adequate attention to observation and reflection in each entry. More importantly, they should help you use your journal as a tool for meeting the needs of the clients and/or students you're working with.

OBSERVATION: What happened? What did your see? What did you do? What worked? What didn't?

    • Note the events of the service session.
    • Note successful moments.
    • Note problems that arose.
    • Note anything else that seems important or interesting, especially those moments that made you think.

REFLECTION: What do you make of it? What "bugged" or interested you? How might it be better next time?

    • Record questions that come to mind, especially if they might guide your work or observations in future service sessions. Begin puzzling out some answers on paper.
    • Reflect on your observations to identify potential changes in your plans for future sessions. Brainstorm possible approaches.
    • What did you learn about yourself, your biases, your assumptions?
  1. By May 3, you will
    • Finish your project in whatever fashion you and the agency you're working with have agreed to call finished (e.g., hours committed, product delivered, etc.)
    • Complete a brief reflective paper about your experience. I suggest 4-5 pages, but this is negotiable, depending on your project and circumstances. Your journal should be an important resource for this assignment.
    1. For our "Final Event" on May 6 (during finals week), come to class prepared to tell class members the story of one significant experience you had in the process of completing your service learning assignment. Props, handouts, overheads, slides, pictures, and product samples would be welcome additions to your presentation. Community partners will be invited to this session.