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Here at Top Comments we strive to recognize and promote the talent of this community by highlighting outstanding comments found throughout the day by the diarist, and through nominations at made at topcomments at gmail dot com by your fellow Kossacks.

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This has been a remarkable week for many reasons, and I want to share one of them with you tonight. I had the pleasure of listening to nearly 100 high school students talk for nearly 8 hours. My only regret – that I didn’t have more time to hear more of their presentations.

These remarkable young people were participants in the Arkansas Delta Oral History Project (ADOHP), a service-learning project directed by University of Arkansas English Professor David Jolliffe. Now in its third year, the ADOHP involves students from the University of Arkansas working collaboratively with students from high schools in the Arkansas Delta as they plan, conduct, and transcribe an oral history interview and write a substantial final project (a story, a play, a video, etc.) about their topic. This collaboration is designed

  1. to uncover and preserve legend and lore from that culturally rich part of the work and
  1. to teach students to plan and complete their own extensive literacy projects—in the case of many participants, for the first time in their lives. At the same time, it gives high school students a reason to improve their reading and writing abilities, giving students literacy practices that fulfill both intellectual and personal goals.

ADOHP uses an "each one teach one" approach. Each year it goes to six or seven Delta high schools. Each participating high school agrees that in one class the teacher will use oral history as a teaching method. The teacher need not alter what he or she was planning to teach for a semester. That is, no matter what the content of the course, the students
• identify a topic that in some way involves local history, legend, or lore;
• do some background research on the topic;
• identify someone with a unique perspective on the topic whom they can interview;
• plan, practice, conduct and transcribe the interview verbatim; and then
• write a final project of their own design—an essay, a story, a series of poems, a play or video script, a brochure, and so on—that grows out of the interview.

In subsequent years, that teacher serves as a mentor for other teachers in that school who wish to incorporate oral history.

At the same time that the high school students have embarked on their oral history projects, the English and History departments at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville offer a cross-listed undergraduate colloquium in which students do three things:
• read, write, and learn about the history of the Arkansas Delta,
• plan and complete oral history projects of their own on some aspect of Delta life, and
• act as mentors and role models to the high school students participating in the project.

Early in the semester during which ADOHP operates, the project begins with daylong meeting in Helena, Arkansas, involving all the University of Arkansas students and all the high school students participating in the project, along with the instructors from both sets of institutions. At this meeting, four hour-long workshops introduce the participants to the defining characteristics of an oral history project, to best practices of planning and conducting an oral history interview, to options for converting an interview transcript into a creative final project, and to the logistics of participating in on-line discussions about one’s on-going project.

During Spring Break the students are brought to the Fayetteville campus for workshops. They are divided into writing groups of four or five, plus a University student. The group selects a topic from among their oral histories and develops a creative story, essay, poem, play, or other means to tell the story. Four weeks later, the whole group reassembles in Helena for a day of celebration and performance of the final projects.

The projects presented by these students were amazing, both in content and production quality. Here is a sample of titles to give you an idea of the range of topics. The presentations included narrative readings, poetry, videos, and plays. At some point they will be compiled on a website.

The Tragedy of Forrest City: Tornado of 1974
Bear Hunting Stories
African American Blues Singers from the Delta
African American Veterans from WWII
Delta Medical Practices: Past and Present
Nuthin’ But the Blues
Conspiracy of the Ages: Private Schools in the Delta
Masking and Debuting
Foodways and Health Politics in the Arkansas Delta
A Delta Grocery Store
Flood of 1927 and World War II
Memories of a Poet's Plantation: Harold Crisp Remembers Lily Peter
Vietnam: The War of Contradictions
Integration and its Effects
Harvesting the Future: Farming in the Delta since 1930
Whistle Blowing
Juanita Gibson and Significant Turning Points in the Delta
Crossing the Color Line
Southern Cooking in the 1940s
What We've Overcome
Cultural Turmoil at Pine Bluff High
The Voices of Integration: The Spoken Word

These outstanding young people come from 10 of the poorest counties in the United States. They attend schools that are constantly under pressure for underperforming, in an area where the schools have always been underfunded, understaffed, and underused. Drop-out rates are astronomical, and the white-flight to private schools is legendary, as one of the presentation titles indicates.

But amid an environment that has seen tremendous out-migration of young people, these students have found a link to their heritage, and a reason to be proud of their background – and themselves. In reaching out to elders in their communities to learn of their experiences, these students have learned a lot about themselves. They have a lot to teach others, too, and I am looking forward to hearing from them in the future.

But tonight, I’m looking forward to hearing from you. To get started, here are tonight's Top Comment nominations.

From Dragon5616:

I got a chuckle out of lilkymbo's comment in DemFromCt's  front page post on Obama's international popularity.

From Elise S:

Crashing Vor has this hilarious Tea Partay video that I apparently missed.

From nonnie9999:

earicicle outs Karl Rove in JeffLieber's  The Convienent Power Of Rhetorical Flourishes.

From sardonyx:

In Colorado is the Shiznit's insomniac's vent hole diary, imperturb fell asleep in a bowl of soup, and had a red-letter day.

darthstar has compassion...yea even for Tom Tancredo. Just not too much.

From me :

If you think you may be an audio geek, kodiak54 has a  checklist to help you decide.

LeftHandedMan explains why repetition is important in refuting right-wing talking points.

hedwig explains  how to tell if a woman is "too gruff." Looks like I'm just another gruff Latina.

KenBee points out  just how low our expectations of the press have sunk in * AlyoshaKaramazov's* diary Pat Buchanan's Racist Protegé To Be Sentenced On July 8th.

Top Mojo excluding search-identifiable tip jars, first diary comments, and C&J comments:

1 - You'll be back, I hope........kestrel9000.....173
2 - Good Thing He's Not at McCain's B-day Party........Dana Houle.....103
3 - Rec'd for everything, but most especially for.....rfall.....102
4 - Your pictures, rants.....Oke.....100
5 - What kind of country have we become?.....Dallasdoc.....92
6 - Proud liberal shit eating pussy, checking in......Angry Mouse.....84
7 - I can't believe this isn't being covered more.....cjk002.....83
8 - I had my first academic article published.....rdestrada.....81
9 - 1.2 million divorces in US each year, and the RNC.....Benintn.....80
10 - Oh, and if you haven't personally done this in.....plumbobb.....74
11 - Jewish-Korean......AlyoshaKaramazov.....74
12 - But, but - OPOL just said.....Edgewater.....71
13 - He better be back........curtisgrahamduff.....70
14 - Daily Doll - Unofficial Kittehs.....funluvn1.....70
15 - In 4 1/2 months.....Jeff Y.....69
16 - Some voices are very powerful...and I'm going.....SallyCat.....67
17 - Given that he's heading to the Middle East next.....lineatus.....66
18 - Looking good.....Kitty.....64
19 - I have mentioned it in several places.....cfk.....63
20 - So far it's a couple burgers and a datenight.....Rainey.....62
21 - Funny that the RNC.....Big Tex.....62
22 - Petty and ridiculous.....SottoVoce.....62
23 - They sure like to talk about dick.....chicago minx.....61
24 - Found out that I will be on the NYT website.....BFSkinner.....61
25 - OPOL. I really hate to see.....blue jersey mom.....59
26 - On 12/9/00, we lost the rule of law when.....RFK Lives.....59
27 - "rampant socialist" here.....timbuck.....58
28 - I'm with you on this, nyceve.....slinkerwink.....57
29 - ((Tricia)) So good to see you back to.....khloemi.....56
30 - Posted first comments to dKos in some time.....PsiFighter37.....55

Top Mojo with No Exclusions:

1 - I love you guys........One Pissed Off Liberal.....617
2 - tips?.....AlyoshaKaramazov.....362
3 - Diet Coke bottle.....occams hatchet.....355
4 - My major life change today was.....Michael D.....247
5 - Not very original, I know,.....Crashing Vor.....191
6 - We'll need all hands on board--that . . ......nyceve.....185
7 - tip jar here.....slinkerwink.....181
8 - You'll be back, I hope........kestrel9000.....173
9 - I kan has pellut?.....BFSkinner.....159
10 - Tips for dates n/t.....Escapade.....156
11 - Tips for making a deadline! :).....NCrissieB.....145
12 - Tip Jar!.....Andrew Hodges.....136
13 - Que Viva la Raza!.....Deoliver47.....115
14 - This isn't an official pootie diary; however.....triciawyse.....115
15 - tips and recs.....DrSteveB.....112
16 - Good Thing He's Not at McCain's B-day Party........Dana Houle.....103
17 - Rec'd for everything, but most especially for.....rfall.....102
18 - Your pictures, rants.....Oke.....100
19 - tips.....ElsieElsie.....97
20 - What kind of country have we become?.....Dallasdoc.....92
21 - To understanding........rb137.....90
22 - What matters is the Rule of Law.....FreeSociety.....89
23 - Man......reef the dog.....89
24 - Proud liberal shit eating pussy, checking in......Angry Mouse.....84
25 - I can't believe this isn't being covered more.....cjk002.....83
26 - I had my first academic article published.....rdestrada.....81
27 - A lot to get done.....Frankenoid.....80
28 - 1.2 million divorces in US each year, and the RNC.....Benintn.....80
29 - Tips for fresh herbs!.....Purple Priestess.....77
30 - Oh, and if you haven't personally done this in.....plumbobb.....74

Originally posted to casa carolita on Sat May 30, 2009 at 08:05 PM PDT.

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