The Office of Faculty Development

September 2014 Tuesday Tips

2 September 2014:

Knowing and using students’ names in the classroom is a fundamental way to build a community of engaged learners; there’s something very powerful in the connection created by being addressed by name. But learning all our students’ names is one of the most challenging tasks for us as teachers, made more difficult by ever-increasing class sizes (and, for some of us, by our ever-increasing age).  I have a colleague who managed to do it with a class of over 100 students by the end of week two.  While most of us will remain humbled by his prowess, here are some ideas for learning student names relatively quickly:

  • Ask them to use their name each time they speak in class, and repeat their names in your responses.
  • Have students create name tags or tent cards. You can hand these out at the beginning of each class period, reinforcing your retention by calling their names. (This also doubles as an attendance-taking device—the cards left in your hand are absentees.)
  • Use photos. Use the photos in the online roster, or have students bring in a photo on a 3’x 5’ index card, on which they can also write information that will help you remember them, or take a photo of student groups if they will be in semester long cohorts. Write names above each face in the group photos and pin them up in your office for frequent reference.
  • Break it down. Have students sit in the same seats day to day, and learn one quadrant of the room per week.
  • Make a commitment to learning their names, and work at it, using whatever techniques work for you.

More ideas for learning names can be found here (PDF), and more still in some of the teaching resource books here in MLIB 458.

And as a reminder, there’s still time to register for TODAY’S CELT WORKSHOP:

“Building Traditional Assessments (live or online): A QOLT-Friendly Approach”

Presented by Ben Seipel, 3-5 pm in MLIB 002 ATEC Training Lab

Description: Maybe you have never been trained professionally to write quizzes, exams, or other types of assessments. Or perhaps you just want to see what other formats, configurations, and approaches exist. Possibly you want some guidance on transferring your face-to-face assessments into the Blackboard Learn platform. If any of these resonate, then this hands-on workshop is for you! Bring a sample assessment with you.

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

9 September 2014:

Are your students working in groups? Most of us have been convinced by now of the power of collaborative learning, whether in formal semester-long, project-based cohorts or in informal occasional in-class groups. Here are a few tips for managing group work in the classroom from James M. Lang(opens in new window):

“No matter how well you design the task, you will have students who don’t understand it, and groups that wander off course, and students who will do their best to sit back and let others have the conversation without them. So you do need to provide some supervision of the groups, however minimal. At the same time, students will feel inhibited, and may clam up, if you plunk yourself down in a chair with a group right after you have set the task. Give the groups a few minutes to begin the process on their own, after you ensure that all the groups have understood the task and are making progress. Then move around the room, occasionally eavesdropping to check for problems, but primarily making yourself available for assistance” (114).

Lang goes on to offer suggestions for dealing with common problems that arise with group work—including getting off task, dominators and slackers, and finishing early. Want to read more? Check out  On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard 2008), available in the CELT Faculty Writing Community in MLIB 458. (Where we are eager to brew you a big mug of Peets coffee and hear how the semester is going so far.)

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

16 September 2014:

Inbox full yet?  Even though we just got more capacity so those “your mailbox is almost full” messages have retreated for the moment, many of us still find it difficult to manage student email traffic, especially when we have more students than ever, and especially frustrating when many of their questions could have been answered by reading the syllabus.  What’s the solution? In-class tutorials on the use and abuse of e-mail? A syllabus quiz to motivate comprehension of course basics? What about having students read and discuss an article by a professor who banned student email altogether? That’s what the author of this recent piece in  Inside Higher Ed did, with pretty interesting results, culminating in the question, “Do we really want to graduate a generation of students who can’t decide for themselves what warrants pressing the send button?” My takeaway is that whatever policies we land on—about email or turning in late work or use of devices in the classroom—giving students a chance to think and talk about the issues behind the policies can create powerful buy-in and help develop important professional capacities.

Oh, and did I mention the CELT Conference on October 1-3? You don’t need to register for the conference as a whole or for most of the sessions, but check out the schedule now so you can plan what you’d like to attend.  I especially recommend the Awards Luncheon and Keynote with Dr. Jillian Kinzie on Wednesday October 1 from 11:30 to 1:30 in the BMU Auditorium and her workshop for faculty on Friday October 3 from 12 to 1:30 in Colusa 100A.

It’s been great seeing a few more of you here in the Faculty Writing Community in MLIB 548. Join us?

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

23 September 2014:

Not so much a tip this week as a teaser. The 20 th Annual CELT Conference is happening next Wednesday through Friday, and will offer you more tips than you can shake a clicker at. For instance:

  • Thinking about trying a flipped classroom unit or course?  Hear about the benefits and challenges Gayle Kipnis discovered last year in her flipped Nursing course. (Wednesday 10/1, 2-2:50, Colusa 100B)
  • Struggling with slackers and controllers in group projects? Find groups even harder to manage in online settings? Learn from some small group communication experts about how to avoid these pitfalls to achieve true cooperative learning. (Thursday October 2, 9:30-10:45, BMU 210)
  • Ever think about becoming a department chair or dean?  Wondering what it takes to achieve a campus leadership role, and what happens when you get there? Consider these two new sessions: “Sitting in the Seat of the Chair” (Friday 10/3, 8:30-9:45, Colusa 100B) and “Women’s Leadership Roundtable.” (Thursday 10/2, 1:30-3, CE 107)
  • Got a tip of your own to share? We’ve got an open mic and a friendly audience for you at our first annual Teaching Slam. Demo a favorite lecture nugget, in-class activity, testing technique, you name it! (Friday 10/3, 9-9:50, Colusa 100A)

Full descriptions of these and all the conference sessions can be found here, where you can also register for the Awards Luncheon and Keynote on Wednesday, The Learning Catalyst Fellows Breakfast on Thursday, and the Keynote Faculty Workshop on Friday. None of the other sessions requires advance registration.

It’s week 5, and your schedules have very few open spaces left, but wouldn’t it be rejuvenating to spend an hour thinking and talking about these things with your colleagues? I hope you’ll join us.

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

30 September 2014:

The 20 th Annual CELT Conference opens tomorrow with the Awards Luncheon and Keynote address by Jillian Kinzie at 11:30 in the BMU Auditorium. I hope we’ll see you there, and at many of the great sessions slated for the following three days. The theme of the conference is High Impact Practices or, as we like to say, HIPs. You’re probably already using some of these, maybe without realizing it. Come learn more about what HIPs are, how they work to improve student learning, and how you can expand their effects in your courses. For a concentrated look at a range of HIPs used by our colleagues, check out the Thursday afternoon panel discussion on “Infusing Courses with High Impact Practices,” from 3 to 4:30 pm in Colusa 100B. And you won’t want to miss the Workshop for Faculty offered by Dr. Kinzie on Friday from 12 to 1:30 in Colusa 100. Really, I’ve seen the handout, you don’t want to miss it.

Several faculty members have expressed interest in forming Faculty Writing Circles, those groups that meet regularly to offer structure, support, and accountability for our varied writing projects.  The Faculty Writing Community is a great space for these, and I want to facilitate the formation of at least one this semester. So please reply to me at kmccarthy@ if you’re at all interested and we can talk about timing and structure.

Hope to see you at the Conference.  I’ll have a name tag—say hello!

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.