All student workshops are crafted to include lecture and cooperative learning activities, but we can discuss an approach that works best for your students. All of these workshops are designed to accommodate a wide spectrum of English language learners. The maximum number of students per session is 30.
Appreciating African American English
African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a variety of English that has gained notoriety on a global scale via its pervasiveness in rap and hip-hop music. Despite being ubiquitous in American popular culture, and increasingly prevalent in the popular culture of the English-speaking world, AAVE continues to be broadly undervalued and misunderstood. This highly interactive workshop therefore outlines the evolution of this language, its linguistic hallmarks, and the ways it has been systemically addressed within the American educational system. (We will even explore how a study on Norwegian language practices became part of a national debate about teaching AAVE in California’s Oakland Unified School District.) Finally, students will discuss social issues related to the use of AAVE, including how they engage with the language as Norwegian language speakers. Note: This workshop is also available as a teachers-only session upon request.
In discourses about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the Black experience can often be unwittingly framed as a “burden.” This workshop seeks to reframe Blackness in the American context as “beloved” by highlighting the ways in which Black Americans have cultivated a rich ethnic identity in vitally creative and joyful ways. Students will be led in a celebration of the gifts in music, fashion, food, language, and civic traditions that Black Americans have given to the world, even as they have fought for the recognition of their human rights throughout the history of the United States.
Codes, Registers, and Messages: How We Negotiate Language Differences in Communication
The most effective communicators carefully consider the needs and knowledge of their target audience. Chief among these considerations are choices about codes (the languages we use), register (the manner of speech we select based on the formality of the situation), and rhetorical appeals (the techniques we use to call attention to the message we are communicating). This session will help students unpack what the negotiation of language differences looks like in their own lives as they decide how to communicate (or not!) with their social peers, their elders, people from different cultural backgrounds, and even other Norwegians who do not share their dialect. Additionally, special attention will be given to the topic of “code meshing.” As a means of allowing historically marginalized students to express themselves more authentically in academic writing, the practice of code meshing connects to the Norwegian curriculum renewal language about “plurilingualism.”
Examining Colorism in Visual Media
The social construction of racism, perhaps inevitably, gave birth to the construction of ‘colorism,’ which refers to the systemic privileged treatment of individuals with lighter skin tones and the prejudiced or discriminatory treatment of individuals with darker skin tones. The colorism phenomenon is evinced within and without black and brown communities all over the world, and it ultimately serves the function of further stratifying and marginalizing people who are already victims of racial oppression. Using propaganda, advertisements, product designs, and pop culture references as illustrative tools, students will analyze American media’s explicit and implicit arguments about light- and dark-skinned Black people. Students will also reflect on how issues related to colorism are present in Norway. Note: This workshop is also available as a teacher-only session upon request.
Making Meaning of Media Messages
When scrolling Twitter or Instagram, we may not take time to deeply consider the mechanics of the messages we are faced with, but being cognizant of how media messages work to capture our interest and influence our behavior will empower us as media consumers. Therefore, in this highly interactive workshop we will use the idea of “coolness” to help us understand core concepts of media literacy and the nature of technical codes. Students will analyze pop culture examples in order to determine how the idea of what’s cool in society influences the construction of media messages for different target audiences and purposes.
Personal Storytelling for Academic Aims
In her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, poet and essayist Maya Angelou asserts, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This agony is proof that the act of storytelling has a revelatory power. Indeed, as author Azar Nafisi explains, “[Stories] link us to our past, provide us with critical insight into the present and enable us to envision our lives not just as they are but as they should be or might become.” Therefore, in this workshop students will reflect upon using their narratives to evolve as individuals and as scholars. Students will discuss the structures of effectively composed narratives and will analyze ways in which culture influences how stories are told. Finally, they will also generate ideas for their own storytelling projects. Note: A supplementary teacher workshop on this topic titled “Facilitating Student Storytelling” is also available.
‘Whose Truths Matter?’: Exploring Purposes of Argument via American Print Media
Using the context of the American news media and its handling of issues related to race, ethnicity and nationality, this session will explore the various purposes for composing arguments. Students will understand how the situation and method of an argument changes based on the author’s purpose. Students will also discuss the author’s purpose of several real newspaper and magazine examples and identify the implicit narratives communicated in those pieces.