Student Blog
J. Carrubba

Old Man's Cloth El Anatsui

El Anatsui, Old Man’s Cloth, 2003

I started last semester having my students blog in my Art 157 (Art Orientation) class. This came out of the discussion forums I had them doing previously that had met with limited success and participation. Ok. Let me pause. You NEVER get 100% participation. I found that the blog worked a little better, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I had them responding to prompts, posting images, and discussion with each other, but I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over.

During Flex week, I had a discussion with Lisa Lane about discussion forums, blogs, grading, etc. I was interested in her ideas about leaving the forum/blog open for the students to go back, and continue discussions from previous weeks. I had set up the blogs in my classes as prompt-based, but after talking to Lisa about how she allows students to lead, I thought a lot about what I wanted from this assignment, and what I thought would benefit the students. On the first day of class, after handing out the assignment, I asked them what they would want from this assignment. The consensus was that they wanted it to be prompt-free.

I have found that allowing them to choose what they are interested from the week’s material has let to better participation, and more student learning. Also my perception is that the students are more engaged in the learning as a whole, and are doing research on the material that interests them, especially in the Nonwestern Art class. I finally feel like the online assignment is doing what I wanted for the students. Now if I could get the in-class group work there…

New Ideas for a New Semester
J. Carrubba


And so, it is that time again…Time for Flex activities, thinking about our pedagogy, and thinking about making our classes better, more interactive. For me, it’s often the most intense and inspirational of the weeks of the semester. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, but getting ideas and new tools from colleagues changes the way I teach every semester. Students want to be engaged in ways that appeal to all learning styles, and keep them interested in the course and material. I think one of our most important jobs as professors is to find those ways, and share them with each other, benefiting not only our students, but our colleagues and their students as well.

One of my new plans for this semester is to change my in-class group work activity. Previously, I had students reading first-person sources or scholarly articles, and responding as a group to questions I posed, but I, and, based on their surveys, they, didn’t feel that this was engaging or challenging enough. Now, they will have to produce a presentation as a group. BUT, how do I form the groups? How do you make sure the students are holding each other accountable? This is where the Flex workshop on group activities came in. What about if I have them network first? What about if they have the ability to fire people from their group after due process? What about allowing them to complete a survey as a means to sort them into groups?

This all leads me to a discussion of tools and instructor presence, a continuation of the 2 POT workshops of today. There is a need to be sure we as instructors are present in our classes, whether those classes are face-to-face, on-line, or hybrid. Students need to feel we are engaging with them, care about their success, and want them to learn. So, how do we do that? We personalize feedback; we add videos to our online or hybrid classes to make us present; we send announcements and emails, and allow students to take the lead in discussions, as a means of empowering them. But then there is the question of how to get their buy-in and engagement. There are a number of tools that you can use that change both the way we interact with students and the way they interact with each other. A new one I learned about today is Padlet, which acts in a similar fashion to Pinterest. One I have used with success is Thinglink, which allows students (and professors) to tag images relevant to course material with videos, weblinks, and their own information. This can be used to further discussions or blogs, as projects, or as a means to give access to lecture information in a more interactive fashion.

Another tool I have used with success is blogging. Blogging gives students a chance to expand on their knowledge and learning of the material, while assisting another students’ learning. But then, how do we keep that conversation going? Lisa Lane had an idea about using the boards or blogs to allow them to post an image, and something about that image, that would then be used in a different written assignment. This gives students agency; gives them a stake in posting; and then, if the boards or blogs are left open, gives them a chance to go back and discuss what they have learned. And they can and do if we give them the means and the agency. These ideas are changing the blog assignment I give students (for the better, I hope). I am planning on leaving them open; giving students more agency in their own blogs; and I think using words like “access” or “build upon,” as opposed to “comment” with regards to their interactions on the blog may change the way they think about and use the blog.

The eternal optimism of the week before the semester starts…but then, perhaps if we give students the tools, students will give us better work.

Flipping the Classroom
J. Carrubba

After starting my POT certification last spring, I decided to experiment with flipping my classroom as a means to allow for more student involvement and engagement. I really wanted to find a way that allowed for more student group work in class (as well as online), and, at the same time, ditched my textbooks in favor of first-person sources and more in-depth texts that allow for critical thinking.

The conception of the flipped classroom has long interested me, as I see it as a new means to allow for the incorporation of different learning styles. The idea is also to force students to take on more responsibility for learning, hopefully allowing for a more valuable learning experience and more retention of the material presented. The professor becomes guide in this process.

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Class Blog vs Discussion Forum
J. Carrubba

I have been experimenting this semester with a course blog in my Art 157 class, which is the basic Art Orientation here at MiraCosta. I changed to this format in Art 157 this semester after trying a discussion forum that was group-work based. Although that format has really worked in my Art 259, the Renaissance to Modern Art survey course, it totally bombed in Art 157. The idea of the group-based discussion forum is that the students are randomly organized into 7 groups, and these groups lead the discussion for each week that expands the in-class discussion, posting both images and questions, as well as responding to fellow students’ posts. I could not get either section of my 157 class to really lead the discussion or engage in the purpose of this, which is meant to further the learning in class. I also link, in the Blackboard classroom, a series of OER resources for them to use. These help with the research, and include Smarthistory through Khan Academy, Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, and WikiCommons image database.

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