College of Communication & Education

Inaugural Take Time for Teaching Brown Bag Series Shares Innovations in Teaching

The Take Time for Teaching: Brown Bag Series was created to share the best teaching practices and innovations applied by faculty in the College of Communication and Education.

Welcomed by Dean Angela Trethewey and moderated by Associate Dean Deborah Summers, the Brown Bag Series began with an introduction by Summers.

“The Take Time for Teaching: Brown Bag Series is an opportunity to showcase pedagogical approaches to teaching that, first and foremost, engage all students in ways that we have perhaps never before by leveraging flexible pedagogical practices and new technology,” Summers said.

The first Brown Bag Series presenter, Quinn Winchell, from the Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology, was joined by Cris Guenter, a longtime leader in arts education and professor in the School of Education.

Winchell began the presentation by explaining the video film essay assignments he gives to students. Winchell asks students to use the analytic concepts of cultural studies and the production tools of media arts to create their own video essays to make important claims about how films shape our understanding of identity in contemporary culture. 

They find films, edit, and produce short, seven-minute film essays to make an argument for their thesis. This is another way that students can learn to argue a point or prove a thesis statement. A 10-page thesis paper can be equivalent to a seven-minute film essay.  

“Blackness in film” was a topic in Winchell’s class in 2017. Students researched how African Americans were often portrayed in films throughout the decades and produced film essays to illustrate particular stereotypes that were present at a specific time in history.

“Innovation in film is not to dismiss the written review or written report, but to expand upon it through a different medium,” said Winchell. “I make students accountable for their own research and interests.”

Guenter, a fan of coding, shares innovative teacher arts projects with her student teacher candidates. In one instance in her presentation, she shared a video of her students using a Makey Makey kit, an invention kit for youngsters. One group of teacher candidates collaborated using coding to explore a science concept of using conductivity to create sound. They created a soundboard made up of salad vegetables, which was an innovative and exciting way to teach science and music to their elementary school children. 

“Innovation, not only in our instruction but also in assignments, is important,” said Guenter. “Our students are coming to us with experience and expectations for the emerging technologies and innovative approaches in learning.”

The event ended with a question and answer session from an enthusiastic crowd. Summers asked the question, “What does it take to engage students in innovative work?” Winchell responded that trust is most important when teaching new concepts. Students have to be able to fail and not feel defeated. He offers help in production, editing, and research if students are interested.

Dean Trethewey was pleased by both the audience participation and the presentations by faculty.

“Today, CME faculty members Cris Guenter and Quinn Winchell shared their insight, expertise and amazing student work at our Take Time for Teaching: Brown Bag Series session devoted to innovative pedagogy. I was inspired, engaged, and honored to be in the audience!” Dean Angela Trethewey said.

Our next Take Time for Teaching: Brown Bag Series events will occur on April 11 at 12:00 in the Student Services Center, Room 122. The presenters will address both inclusive teaching and student engagement.

faculty posing for the camera
Quinn Winchell, Dean Angela Trethewey, Associate Dean Deborah Summers, and Cris Guenter.