Sociology In Focus was Made for Teachers

Think of us as a sociology micro-reader that uses current events, pop culture, and personal stories to illustrate sociological concepts to your students in ways that are easy for them to understand. We are focused on lowering the on ramp to sociology by discussing sociological concepts in an approachable way. We strive to be the perfect companion for your classes.

Assign Sociology In Focus to Your Students

Our essays were designed to reinforce the concepts that you are already teaching your sociology 101 students. Assign Sociology In Focus to your students as supplemental reading, extra credit, or as a way to kick off a class discussion.

We’ve made example directions that you can easily modify and use to assign Sociology In Focus as extra credit or supplemental reading.

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How I use Sociology In Focus in My Classes

Christina Tulum
Christina Tulum, Massasoit Community College

I want to get students “hooked” on sociology – and, the best way I’ve found of doing that is to help them develop the tools of seeing the world around them through a sociological lens. It’s not enough to just read about the sociological imagination or memorize the textbook definition. Developing a sociological imagination takes a lot of work, regular practice. That said, engaging students in this process can be quite tricky. Fortunately, examples of sociology are everywhere making it easier to actively engage with students in class discussions, group activities and miscellaneous assignments while exploring them.

I’m an Assistant Professor at a community college in Massachusetts. I teach between 2-4 sections of introductory sociology in a typical semester and the majority of my students are there because they “have to be”. But I don’t let that get me down. In fact, it motivates me to design a course that gets students involved and excited about the discipline of sociology and the world around them….

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Twitter in the Classroom

Every day I read a new story or see a new video that helps explain course concepts. I imagine most of you are in the same boat (heck, you’re subscribing to a newsletter from a website whose purpose is to at least attempt to give you that!). When Jay Smooth puts out a video “On Don Lemon, Race and “Respectability”” where he explains how black men can save the world by pulling up their pants while also explaining politics of respectability, I want my students from Race, Class & Gender to watch that clip. When BuzzFeed has a whole article about women being “fashion victims” or killed, attacked by strangers, or date raped in ads – I want my intro to sociology students to open it up and see with their own eyes the evidence of rape culture I lectured about. But I can’t include every clip and

every news story in class. So how do you get them engaged in this outside material?

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Growing Good Class Discussions

What makes a silence awkward? The standard advice is to wait for four seconds. And that’s easy, right? It’s just four seconds. Except… each one of those four seconds tick by like dog years after you’ve posed a provocative question to your students.

Every instructor dreams of a good or (let’s admit it) even a mediocre discussion to get the intellectual juices flowing during class time. Discussions are the bread and butter of a successful lecture (PowerPoint slides are more like the lima beans of a lecture) and represent a more lively, two-way exchange of ideas and concepts between students and teacher. While there are no secrets to facilitating a discussion so profound it practically compels students to hammer out passionate LiveJournal posts after class, a few guidelines may help lay the groundwork for successful communication.

To use the analogy of a garden, you don’t expect to walk out your back door and pick a few tomatoes unless you have prepared some soil, planted seeds, tended seedlings, and weeded before you can make that fabulous BLT with homegrown tomatoes.


    Creating a foundation for discussions ensures that at least some vocalization has a fighting chance to sprout among your students. By that, I mean you can’t reasonably expect students to suddenly begin speaking up in class when you’ve been delivering monologues for five weeks. Start the first day, if possible, by having students “speed-date” one another with banal topics like what their favorite dessert is, if they have met anyone famous, or what they want to be doing in ten years. Though time-consuming, it’s well worth calling roll the first few class periods by asking students to respond with their favorite movie or music group to open dialogue (however, the “roll call” technique certainly has its limits when teaching a class over forty).

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Designing A Syllabus Students Understand

I designed my first syllabus while I was still a student. It was an assignment for an independent study course I enrolled in as a graduate student. It’s an assignment that I am very grateful for today. Designing the syllabus with the perspective of a student has proven to be very valuable. I remember assembling all of the syllabi I had collected over the years and trying to combine the best aspects of each one. Years later I attended a workshop during Skip Downing’s annual On Course Conference on best college teaching practices. The workshop looked at guidelines on making a syllabus accessible for students with special needs, and how these tips can be very beneficial for all students. The ideas below are those implemented in my ever-evolving Introduction to Sociology syllabus. The main goal is to make information clear for students in an effort to make their lives easier as well as mine. 

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6 Tips for Dealing with Large Classes

1. Shrink the Classroom

Leave the comfortable confines of the podium/stage and walk around the room. Ask questions to specific parts of the room (i.e. “Okay I want to hear from someone in the back left corner of the room). After you give your students an in class activity/task, walk around the room and occasionally sit with them. Breach the invisible barriers in your classroom and make yourself available to your students….

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