What do you want from student writers?
What do you want from student writers? avatar

In recent flex workshops, Curry Mitchell and I have invited faculty to make videos about their writing expectations. We’re interested in focused, short clips that either inform students of preferences about assignments or disciplinary writing styles. While several faculty made videos for their own use, Joanne Carrubba jumped into the exercise with both feet and produced the first videos for the Writing Center to post for a larger audience. We’re still looking for the perfect spot to house this resource, but we’re also hoping other faculty will want to produce similar materials about their discipline’s writing styles and expectations. I”m posting a link to Joanne’s video about how to write an art exhibition review. Take a look. Let me know if you’re inspired to add to our nacient collection.


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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KISS! avatar

It’s my fifth semester teaching, and I’ve learned so much in this short amount of time.  The one thing that I want to remind myself, and hope you all can appreciate, is that the best thing to do is to keep it simple (silly!).  Keep the lessons straightforward, use simpler language (or dovetail simple language with new, complex terms), and spell out what you expect of the students.  What is obvious to us is rarely obvious to them, whether this is regarding the material or general classroom expectations.

So what are some things I do to keep it simple?  First, being consistent.  Posting lecture notes at the same time each week, having a general format for my slides… Specifically for this, I like to have one set of my notes for myself, and another set specially made for them.  This latter set has a “fill-in-the-blank” format, so they can follow along with the notes while writing down key words without getting bogged down by writing every single thing on the slides.  I want them to have time to absorb what’s on the slide, not worry about copying every single letter.

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Encouraging Student-Generated Content: Giving up Control and Liking It
Encouraging Student-Generated Content: Giving up Control and Liking It avatar

I teach English, and recently I have come up with an activity that encourages students to actively engage with the course material, take ownership of their learning, and define their own goals. What is this magic bullet? I call it “Quiz Creation.”

For a moment, imagine designing an assessment of material for your course. Now, isolate those steps you take to create an effective assessment. Typically, the sequence moves as follows: you familiarize yourself with the material, rereading sections, identifying key vocabulary; next, you evaluate what is important, what your students ought to know; after, you carefully craft questions that encourage critical thinking and reinforce the valuable content; lastly, you edit your assessment for precision and clarity. In the end, an effective assessment is not too easy, not too difficult, and reveals to the students what they should have been paying attention to all along. Now, consider your students in the role you just imagined yourself in: they are the ones having to show a mastery of the material; they must evaluate the content; the students have to pay attention to their language; and they must be held accountable for their work. All of these goals reflect the larger goals of a successful student.

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Conversations With Mentoring Students
Conversations With Mentoring Students avatar

My class is filled with inspired and passionate students who come ready each week to share their experiences working in the ECE field with others.  It is at times, an exhilarating experience to be in a room surrounded with adult students who enjoy the exchange of information and experiences that are shared by their classmates.

Aside from recognizing that they all come from different backgrounds; both  culturally and socio-economically, there is a common thread amongst them of a desire to learn and a desire to give.  This by itself has been immensely rewarding to me as a first time professor.  I am wondering if it has happened because of this particular mix of individuals or because I set the tone for them in the manner in which I embrace teaching.  Whatever combination of the two ideas, I appreciate it and them.

As I read the other entries in this blog, I see that many of you share specifics about the practice of teaching that you find relevant.  For me, the emotional and social construct of working with others is the most important aspect.  As we determined with children, they will all learn to read and write in their own time.  But, will they all learn to be kind, giving respectful contributors who are open to the ideas of others, willing to play and share nicely?  The answer is not necessarily, unless they are provided with role models for whom doing just that, are received as valuable skills to master.

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Everyone likes to talk about themselves!
J. Proppe

Hi Everyone!
I teach music history courses at a variety of college. One of them is Intro to World Music, which is interdisciplinary encompassing music history, music theory, anthropology, and some sociology. The culminating project is a music ethnography which they must present in class. In the past I have shown videos of past projects, given extensive guidelines, and photocopied tomes on ethnographies, but still many students express high anxiety preparing for this project. I suspected it was mostly due to having to stand up in front of their peers.


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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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Ciao from the New Kid on the Block
Ciao from the New Kid on the Block avatar

My journey in education started while I was raising our four very young children in the Sierra Foothills near Lake Tahoe.  The year specifically was 1991, and our children were between the ages of 2 and 10 years of age.  As you can imagine, I was very busy and had children in all stages of development; from diapers, binkies, blankies, potty training, growing teeth, losing teeth, riding bikes with and without training wheels, and everything in between.

It was the best time of my life and while my husband and I had little money, the dream of planting a vineyard (which we did but that’s a whole other story) and truly valued that period of our lives, we made every day count and I have great memories of that time. But as much as I loved my life and all the little daily details, I longed to go to college and experience the intellectual stimulation I felt it would provide me, and to fulfill a promise I made to myself in honor of my parents who valued education immensely.  My father had an 8th grade education and was a first generation American (his parents migrated from Ireland in the late 1880’s), and my mother arrived as a twelve year old from Mexico. Continue reading

Syllabus Quiz
Syllabus Quiz avatar

Hi everyone, I’m new to blogging so bear with me if I am not that lucid. One of the key issues I face with my onsite classes (also with my hybrid and online, but our focus here is onsite) are students not knowing what they are getting themselves during the first two weeks, and then regret their decision and usually withdraw.

Granted I teach math, and that has its own emotional/stereotyping from students, but that is a topic of another post. What I have done, and have heard that other instructors also do, is a syllabus quiz. Now, I know and understand some use the built in blackboard system to achieve this goal, and I am not advocating nor promoting any system in particular, rather just the concept. As an ulterior motive for my post is get comments and/or suggestions on how to improve the questions in my quiz. Continue reading

New things I’m doing Spring 2015
Julie Harland

After teaching for over 30 years, you’d think I’d have it down by now, but I still change things up every semester. This semester, I am trying to give students a “group” assignment at the beginning and end of every class, and this usually entails them coming up to the board in a group to do some problems. I have them write everyone’s first name and first letter of last name on the board. They also have to do the work on their own paper, which they must keep organized by date and whether it was done at the beg or end of class. So it might be labeled 2/2/15Beg. This gets them to class on time, up and working immediately, helps students to learn names of other students, etc. I wander around to make comments, help, etc. Then I give everyone credit if their name is on the board, or I might collect the sheets occasionally, or one student’s sheet with names of group members on it. It’s like a participation grade and I don’t have a bunch of quizzes to collect, grade, and return anymore, which is what I’ve always done in the past. They must be there at beg and end of class, and I just put a √. It’s worth a small percentage of their grade. At times throughout the semester (or maybe only at end of semester or on test days), I’ll have them put the pages in order and give them more points for keeping them. Anyone who missed an assignment can get that credit at that time so it encourages them to find out what they missed and do it. Sometimes, I might give them credit for still being in class at the end. They never know. Also if they keep all the papers, it’s a good study guide of important problems. At the end of class, this gives me time to put away all the electronic and other stuff I have out during class (doc cam, books, paper, pens, candy, etc. ) while they start their problem so I can be ready to get myself and all my stuff out of class before the next class comes in. I was used to having no class come in after my class ended, but that’s different this semester, so I don’t have the luxury of hanging out in the room for an extra 30-60 minutes anymore. Continue reading