Gemini – Folium Task Guide

Gemini - Folium Task Guide

Gemini – Folium Task Guide

Gemini – Folium Task Video Guide

Gemini – Folium Task Objectives and Targets
  • Improve cultural awareness through critical reading and reflective writing.
  • Improve critical thinking skills through critical reading and reflective writing.
  • Consider the benefits of learning language, travel, and culture as they relate to you.

  • Select any [Folium] article from The LEAF Project.
  • []
  • Read the [Folium] article, including all additional media and links.
  • Submit a thoughtful and introspective reaction, in complete sentences, guided by each point below. This is a free-writing exercise. There are no right or wrong answers, only your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences about the content of the article. In order to receive full credit, you will need to post a full paragraph for each point.
  • Please write your response in English. However, you may choose to utilize the target language if you wish.

Write three thoughtful and introspective paragraphs about the article and the background
information (links) contained therein.

Your completed task should reach a little over one page in length, single-spaced. (400+ words).

Paragraph 1:

  • Why did this article catch my attention?
  • What type of information did I expect this article to include?

Paragraph 2:

  • What did I know about the subject before reading the article?
  • What did I learn from this article that was new to me?

Paragraph 3:

  • How is this new information relevant to my current interests / career path?
  • How can I incorporate this new information into my personal or professional life?

Gemini – Best Practices
  • All Folium Task directions and details are contained within each Learning Module in Blackboard. Please copy directions and requirements for each task and implement them in a matter that best fits your classroom delivery style.

  • Students are to complete one Folium Task per learning Module. (Six tasks total throughout the semester).

  • You may deploy this task in the classroom, or for homework. (At FLCC we deploy this task outside of class).

  • Students are encouraged to choose any Folium article that interests them. There are a wide variety of topics dealing with language, travel, and culture. We do not recommend assigning individual articles to students since the freedom of choice is part of the task objectives.

  • Feel free to encourage discussion in your classroom after each Folium Task. Partners, small groups, or a class-wide discussion on what articles they chose, why they chose them, and what did they learn from the process. Encourage students to think about how the article they chose help shine light on something that they may not have known before.

  • Folium responses are meant to be reflective and introspective. This kind of writing eschews a “right/wrong” mindset for one that measures the ability to process new information and internalize it properly. Therefore, grading is at the discretion of the faculty member. While vocabulary, grammar, and form are important, it is not the primary objective of the task.

  • Folium Tasks should be written in English. This is an opportunity for the student to engage in introspection and self-reflection, and we wish the student to do so unabated. However, if the student expresses the desire to complete the task in the target language, the student is free to do so. In this case we usually indicate errors to improve their grammar/vocabulary skills, but it does not impact their grade.

Gemini – Additional Resources
Definition of “introspection”.

Introspection (or internal perception) is the self-examination of one’s conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on the purposeful and rational self-observation of one’s mental state; however, introspection is sometimes referenced in a spiritual context as the examination of one’s soul. Introspection is closely related to the philosophical concept of human self-reflection, and is contrasted with external observation (Wikipedia).

Definition of “Human self-reflection”.

Human self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence. The earliest historical records demonstrate the great interest which humanity has had in itself. Human self-reflection invariably leads to inquiry into the human condition and the essence of humankind as a whole (Wikipedia).

Gemini – General Writing Tips For Folium Responses
1. Writing the phrase “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” gives the reader the impression that you really haven’t taken the time to consider the content of the reading or what it means to you. Stay away from those phrases!

2. Make bold statements! This isn’t a right vs. wrong answer! Tell us what you think, and do so proudly! Uncertainty leads to doubt, and don’t make the reader think that you doubt yourself!

3. Don’t make broad general statements. “Languages are good”. We already know this! Tell us how and why these ideas in the article relate to YOU on a personal level. If you’re an engineer, scientist, programmer, mechanic, writer, nurse, then why should YOU care?

4. Now is not the time for brevity! Due to the nature of the task, you are encouraged to free-write your thoughts and elaborate on your reflections. Don’t cut yourself short, take the time to detail why you think/feel/believe the way you do. What experiences have you had in your life that combine with this new information to create new perspectives! (Don’t rush. Write more!)

Gemini – Examples From Previous Students


Note the time and though put into each of the responses. This generates three very strong paragraphs with solid reflections and observations. The student draws conclusions that will most likely change their thought processes in the future.

1. This article caught my attention because learning how other cultures see America is fascinating to me. By gathering what is seen as different or weird in our country, I also learn a lot about other cultures. Furthermore, reading an outside view of the culture you’re in makes you examine certain facets you’d otherwise never think about. I took a cultural anthropology class a couple years ago and it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. Americans tend to think that the way we do things is the best and only way. It’s easy to forget there’s so much more out there and many more ways to live your life. I think it’s very important to expand your view, and I expected the article to do that. I didn’t realize that it would be so many different testimonies from all over the world and that I would see yet another example of how racism is still prevalent in our country.

2. All I really knew was that other cultures are incredibly different to ours. I know culture shock is a very big deal, and food is very different here than in other cultures. It’s a lot unhealthier and the portion sizes are much bigger, but I didn’t realize how specific some of the other differences are. For instance, American “friendliness” and “politeness” is repeated quite a bit. It’s mentioned on the original Vice article, the Anda Galffy blogpost from Travel Notes and Beyond, and Sonja Bueno’s video. They all think Americans are very friendly because you can strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. The big difference is that when Americans ask “how are you”, it doesn’t necessarily mean they really want to know how you are. It was interesting to read that in other cultures, “how are you” is a deeply personal question, not a generalized way of saying hi. However, in the video of the men from Sudan, they did not see America as friendly at all. One of the men in the video remarked how no one talks to each other, giving the example that you can’t walk into other people’s homes even though you’re in the same neighborhood. That was a big eye opener for me. It’s also very sad that they were asked not to travel in a group because it was making people feel uncomfortable. That part of the video was kind of glossed over, but it screamed out to me. That is a very big deal. It says something huge about our country. These men aren’t dangerous, they aren’t thugs, but they’re seen that way. Meanwhile, the other video, the girl from Finland, she didn’t have that kind of problem at all. She talked about sales tax, tips, and differences in language. These are big differences. She thinks Americans are friendly, the men from Sudan did not. It just made me really sad to watch.

3. This information is relevant to me because I will be studying abroad in the fall, so it was good to read about and watch videos about culture shock since that is something I will most likely experience. It made me think about the different words for things, like how “rubber” for Anda meant a pencil eraser, but here it means a condom, and how I might encounter that. Except it won’t be someone else making the mistake, it will be me. I will be the “immigrant”. Reading all of these testimonials and finding out what specific things are weird to other people motivated me to do more research so I’m more prepared for another country and culture. Even though I have been abroad before, it was always with family, so I never had to worry about figuring things out for myself. More importantly, however, it has made me think about the stereotypes Americans put on people, either because of their color, their accents, their citizen status, or a combination of these things. Being frustrated with someone because of their accent is incredibly condescending to that individual and telling people how to act because of how they look is just inhumane to me. Even though I strive to treat everyone with respect, this article has heightened my awareness of things I might not have realized I was doing. I will carry this with me and actively work on not judging others as quickly.

Note how this student’s passion is clearly evident through their writing. This topic was well-pondered and considered before the student began to write. The use of personal experiences is woven throughout the piece. While definitely longer than required, you can tell that writing this reflection was not a chore for the student. It resonated with them, and he cleared his mind to express himself.

This article caught my attention because I taught in a Hispanic community in Bushwick, Brooklyn for the Department of Education and New York City Public for 6 years.  All of my students were learning English as a new language.  One year my first grade class taught me so much about music that it literally changed my teaching philosophy and way I approach teaching.  It was the constant tapping in my classroom.  Pencils tapping, feet tapping under desks, hands and thumbs were constantly tapping.  After careful observation and finally questioning my class, I learned they were singing popular songs they had heard on the radio.  Some of my students were even making up their own rap songs in their heads and the constant tapping was the “beat” keeping their song alive.  I am hoping to learn more about how music can help English Language Learners in a classroom setting.  I have had the opportunity to see the great impact music can have on students and would love to read some research to back up what I have experienced.  I am also interested in learning how music can be helpful to older students in upper grades.      

Before reading the article this is a small glimpse of how integrating music into my writing lesson plans had a huge impact on my students.  As per the first grade poetry curriculum, the first assignment was to “look at ordinary objects with fresh new eyes.”  I used my art background to create a pair of glasses using pipe cleaners to help us look at these ordinary objects in a fresh new way.  My students were excited to choose their own color glasses and make them.  Some even bent their pipe cleaners into the shapes of stars and hearts!  The poetry unit was off to a good start but they were still forgetting some valuable tips and writing tools when they were writing their poems.  I kept wondering how can music play a role in helping my students remember everything they needed to be successful .  Then it hit me!  My class literally helped write a rap song titled “Cool Kids Use Cool Tools!”  My first grade class would go on and share their rap song with the other four 1st grade classes and the principal of the school.  One 4th grade teacher asked if my class could write a rap song to help her students remember to look over their math problems for the New York State Exams, which they did and it was titled “Check Your Work Step By Step!”  It was a huge success and it gave many students a strong sense of pride. I learned there is new research supporting the strong connection between ‘processing music and language.’  I found it interesting to learn the strong relationship between the pitch of music in comparison to the pitch of different languages spoken such as Mandarin.  I enjoyed reading the studies of children attending an intervention of music training and learning their phonological awareness, speed, and accuracy increased with music.  In addition, learning a new language through music creates a pattern where the listener can anticipate, predict, and process what is coming next.  It is also the same in learning to read where many of the beginning easy reader books follow a pattern that might change at the end of the story but the reader is ready and can anticipate it through the rhythm of the book.          

This article is relevant to my current career path because I am a teacher pursing TESOL certification and it helped me better understand the ‘why’ behind music having such a strong impact on my students and teaching style.  I can incorporate this new information into my professional life by presenting the curriculum in a creative way with the use of music.  When I was teaching in New York City, music became the rhythmic heart beat of our class.  I would even sing to get their attention in class and I found their listening skills improved too!  In time, I actually did not hear the tapping anymore either!  Again, I agree that music is a language on its own.  In my own teaching experiences, I have seen students gain stronger listening ears, recall important facts, improve academics and gain a strong sense of pride that they will probably never forget.

This is a more philosophical example of a Folium response. The topic was still well pondered, AND it is clearly evident that the student read/explored the additional resources at the end of the article. Reading the “Resources” at the end of Folium articles will greatly increase your knowledge and understanding of the article, and is highly recommended.

What interested me about this article was the idea of a language being influential which made me wonder what makes a language more influential than another. I expected this article to either include information about how a language is influential and what it influences or which languages have spread the farthest over time and how they’ve become such widely spoken languages. I thought that there would be more historical information on how a language such as English spread far and wide and became such a popular language in the world today.

Before reading this folium and the other articles embedded within it and watching the attached video I did know a few things about how languages can be influenced by people. For example, throughout history the more powerful cultures have tended to dominate less powerful cultures (due to their superior technology/weapons), and depending on the size and success of the newly formed empire can cause the “subordinate” languages to disappear and be replaced with the language of the “dominant” culture.

Another example of how a language can be influenced by people and vice versa is that Greek was commonly spoken during Pax Romana and throughout Alexander the Great’s Empire because many great physicians, political figures, and philosophers were of Greek origin. The information given by Greece through the Greek language (spoken and written) was valuable to other cultures, so scholars wanted to learn Greek in order to understand these new concepts.

By investigating this folium I’ve learned that It doesn’t matter how many people speak a language but how the language connects people from different cultures and bridges the language gap so information can be shared. I find it interesting that Mandarine is spoken by many people in China because it is highly populated, but it is  concentrated in one area and though it is spoken by many people it does not connect language bridges. English on the other hand is spoken all over the world and it allows people who speak different languages to communicate.

I find it very Interesting to learn about the world and how different cultures can be connected through a common language. It’s always a good idea to learn more about other cultures so we are not so close minded. Since a lot of people cannot travel to other parts of the world and observe these cultures for themselves, they can instead learn about them by watching documentaries, videos, or reading articles about them and their traditions. After navigating this folium I now have a greater appreciation for languages and how cultures can be connected through them. I’m more empathetic for non english speakers and people who speak English as a second language which is good because in the hospital there will be patients and family members of patients who won’t speak English (very well or at all) will need help from me and I will have to pay close attention and have a lot of patience in order to help them.

(rev. 09 OCTOBER 2018)