NAU’s Second Annual Hip Hop Appreciation/Awareness/Action Week, April 2015

From April 20th to 24th, students, faculty, and staff will make possible a week of focus on hip hop featuring musical performance, dance, discussion, invited speakers, and visual art. Dr. H. Samy Alim of Stanford University will provide a special lecture on “Pedagogical Value of Global Hip Hop in the Classroom.” Dr. Alim is an Associate Professor in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education (SHIPS), and holds appointments in Educational Linguistics, Anthropology, and Linguistics. Other events of interest include graffiti production, a panel on misogyny in hip hop, and an MC showcase featuring rapper and producer Oddisee. Thanks to Ethnic Studies at Northern Arizona University for organizing these events!



“Los Recuerdos del Barrio” Digital Collection at NAU

On Thursday, my Mexican history class visited Cline Library’s Special Collections to learn about “Los Recuerdos del Barrio en Flagstaff,” an online repository of oral histories from what the exhibit describes as “Flagstaff’s Basque, Spanish, Mexican, and Mexican American families.” Interviews include transcription, translation (where applicable), and video or audio recordings of the discussion. (Much of the text is searchable!) Over the course of more than a decade, Special Collections librarian Delia Ceballos Muñoz has been collecting memories and images that preserve the experiences of Flagstaff residents who lived through historical events such as the Mexican Revolution or the Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The site includes potential lesson plans for secondary education in Arizona, as well as a bibliography of local histories.

During the class period, researcher and librarian Delia Ceballos Muñoz talked to the students about how she conducted this project, its importance, and its scope. After the presentation, students had a chance to ask her questions about the meanings of oral history. Then, I created a group activity in which students laid out a hypothetical interview with a survivor of the Mexican Revolution, taking into account the importance of interviewer and narrator identities. This visit to Special Collections allowed students to learn more about Flagstaff’s communities while considering the practices of oral history. I hope this repository will play a role in final projects for my undergraduate classes.

Benito Mayorga

From Cline’s collection. Gelatin Silver print (black and white). “[L-R, Unknown friend and  Benito Mayorga in Mexico]1920.”
Catalog Description: “BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Lillian Martha Ortiz Mayorga Chavez was born in Flagstaff on April 23, 1943. She and her brother were orphaned as young children and then adopted by Benito and Maria Mayorga. Benito worked at the Saginaw sawmill and Maria worked at home, taking care of the family. Lillian’s upbringing was greatly influenced by her parent’s values, her Mexican heritage and the Catholic faith.”

NAU Traditional Knowledge Scholars’ Fall Lecture Series

The Department of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University has an ongoing Traditional Knowledge Scholars’ Fall Lecture Series which also adds to on-campus events in Latin American Studies. Of particular relevance to Latin Americanists are two talks this month. First, on Wednesday October 15th in the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) Gathering Room, Bob Lomadafkie will present “Pueblo Revolt: Kiva opposition of the cross” between 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Also this month, Marina Vasquez will discuss “Mayan Herbology: Medicinal Plants around Flagstaff” on Tuesday, October 21st from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in the same NACC Gathering Room. For more AIS events, see the schedule here.

AIS Lecture Schedule-Fall 2014

NAU’s Cline Library Native American and Indigenous Film Series 2014




Tomorrow, September 18th, the Cline Library at Northern Arizona University starts its Native American and Indigenous Film Series with “Young Lakota” (2013) at 7 p.m. Five subsequent films will be screened at 7 p.m. until November 13. The series accepts audience recommendations and maintains a page on Facebook. All events are free and open to the public. (I also heard there is free parking behind the library in the evenings.) Thanks to the librarians at Cline for their relevant and inspiring programming!

Monitoring Student Progress with Poll Everywhere

A colleague from the College of Education at NAU recently suggested I try Poll Everywhere to evaluate the main points students are taking away from my lectures and assigned readings. I recommend it to new lecturers or anyone who wants to keep tabs on how well students are absorbing information. With five minutes left in a 75-minute introductory survey, I put up a question for text message live polling. Students had the benefits of anonymity and immediate evaluation of their responses. (The question below regards legislation from the mid-sixteenth century.) I’ll be trying out Poll Everywhere with easier and harder questions as the semester progresses. It is certainly helpful to get a range of answers to a question, in this case to see if students are following the reading. The downside is that not all students participated, but I hope more will get used to the exercise as the semester progresses. The goals of using the tool are to keep students on track with the readings and to ensure my own clarity with lecture.


new laws poll

A Successful Lesson with Prism




As a tool for “crowdsourcing interpretation,” as its creators describe it, Prism is visually and functionally interesting for college students. This semester I used Prism to teach two texts in Latin American history, but one stood out as a good length and style for classroom use. Below, I’ve pasted a screen shot of how the class marked up an excerpt from Maria Eugenia Echenique’s essay “The Emancipation of Women” (1876). (This text was published for educational purposes by Harcourt Brace Custom Books and translated by Francisco Manzo Robledo.) I uploaded text and had my class sign up for Prism in small groups. They then read part of the essay and highlighted portions of the texts using three facets. Below, you can see how they understood the theme of legal culture working in this text. The other facets were “Gender Roles” and “Progress.” Three facets seems like a limited number, but I think adding more would not make the exercise as compelling or easy for students to conduct in groups.

My class found the Font Size Visualization feature appealing, though Winning Facet I think would be interesting in a larger class. The Font Size is easier to understand on impact and encouraged students to think about their ideas in relation to those of others. We were able to discuss where we strongly agreed and where some groups had different ideas. The Winning Facet Visualization takes some clicking to understand. Black text indicates places where facets were equally popular. For example, the author argues that Argentine women, “can manage the interests of our children, these rights being the basis for emancipation.” My students believed that managing children’s interests was equally applicable to gender roles and legal culture in nineteenth-century Argentina. Therefore, this portion of text had no winning facet. When we examined this phrase using the Font Size feature, we found that fewer groups had highlighted this section anyway. The combination of the two visualizations is really neat and helps students communicate their ideas with their peers. This exercise allows the class to quickly evaluate multiple opinions–where they overlap and where they diverge.

Like many educators, I have found Prism valuable. Thanks again to all the graduate students, librarians, and faculty at University of Virginia who support the Praxis Program, and the Scholars’ Lab in general. I am a huge fan!