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20
Mar

FEP 2018: Self Examination of Committee Participation

To complete an FEP each faculty member must engage in a self-examination of “THREE REQUIRED AREAS”:

  • GOVERNANCE AND/OR COMMITTEE PARTICIPATION AT THE COLLEGE AND/OR DISTRICT LEVELS

I was just chatting recently with our interim Dean of Instruction about a new process for committee selection for faculty. Apparently it’s not just a pain in the butt for faculty, but also for the deans in trying to insure all faculty get their requested committee picks. Well, I can verify that for two years in a row (2015-16 & 2016-17) I didn’t get any of the committees I requested. The second year it happened to me, I was seriously pissed off upset. My solution was to not participate on those randomly assigned committees and instead serve where I thought I could best serve the college. To be honest, I don’t think anyone even noticed. No one came knocking. Instead I chaired or co-chaired four different committees over the last three years and participated in several more.

This academic year on campus I serve on the Technology Alliance Committee, the CTLE Advisory Committee, GCC OER Committee, Learning Communities Committee (LCAC), PAR Committee, and the President’s Completion Task Force. I’m happy to report that two of those I actually requested and received as my assignment. I also serve on a district committee for OER, Maricopa Millions, Faculty Developers Committee, and the unofficial CTL Faculty Directors Committee. That’s 9 committee assignments. I’d complain but Meghan has more than I do, so it seems pointless to complain.

So where do I start? I’ll focus on OER. After five years of being involved with OER, I have plenty to share about my committee participation. As chair of the GCC OER Committee, in our first year as a committee, we participated in a district wide OER Student Awareness Campaign. Our 5 person committee did the following last fall.

GCC participated in the Student OER Awareness Campaign planned by the Maricopa Millions Steering team the week of September 25th. Our OER Committee organized events at both North and Main on Tuesday and Wednesday of that week. Faculty and volunteer students used laptops/tablets to showcase Maricopa Millions OER Student website and to show students how to find OER courses in “Find a Class” with the No Cost/Low Cost filter. Additionally, on the main campus, we used a camera and whiteboard for the “How Much Did You Pay?” student pictures, which were posted to social media with hashtags #OER, #textbookbroke, #maricopamillions and @MaricopaOER. At North two faculty were able to talk one on one with about 110 students, and on Main, a crew of two faculty and 6 students took 20 photos, and spoke with well over 150 students. Our photos and talent release forms can be found in this drive folder. Our social media can be found on this page.

In addition to my on campus OER participation, I continue to co-chair the district OER committee, Maricopa Millions. Lisa and I were a little overwhelmed with some new responsibilities with the new OER fee, so we added a third chair, Angela Christiano (PV Math). We spent what seemed like endless hours working on the OER Enhancement Fee RFP, and then after it was approved, we had to deal with vendors calling us and trying to sell us on their products.

The following is a list of some of the many to-do items we covered over the last year. Lisa and I presented on MM at NISOD last May in Austin. We wrote a proposal and was accepted to present at Educause in October, but declined the invitation. The team planned another successful OER Dialogue Day this spring and had about 80 participants. We completed another call for proposals (Phase 8) for MM grants and provided support for existing Maricopa Millions grantees. And we planned a successful Maricopa Millions $10M celebration that was held at Gateway last fall.

In addition to all that, we supported a new Maricopa Remix project to increase adoption, maintained the OER Canvas site, helped create a Canvas Commons Implementation Plan, worked with business offices to create materials on how to enter OER Enhancement fee into FMS, SIS and coordinate census dates for reporting to vendors, and developed a plan to institutionalize OER in the district. The plan was to appoint a faculty in residence to coordinate OER efforts, chair OER Steering Team, etc.; provide budget for outreach, professional development, incentivizing OER, and coordinating OER Degree. This plan was adopted this spring, and we are in our last semester as tri-chairs.

I’m really excited to be at the end of a great ride with OER in Maricopa. It has been a rewarding experience to work with some wonderful colleagues, Lisa, Angela and now Matthew, as well as all the other OER champions on the steering team. I don’t think I can find another opportunity as grand as this, although I am looking forward to a time when I won’t be in the middle of so much action.

 

 

19
Mar

FEP 2018: Self-Examination of Three Required Areas & Two Elected Areas

It’s FEP time again. Every 3 years and 2017-2018 is my turn again. For my FEP this year, once again I chose to use a portfolio as means of assessment for each of the “REQUIRED,”ELECTIVE,” and   “RELATED” areas that are evaluated. My professional blog: Freshmancomp.com serves as my portfolio and links to all the relevant parts listed below in the FEP description. This post will be updated to link to each part of my FEP listed below.

To complete an FEP each faculty member must engage in a self-examination of “THREE REQUIRED AREAS”:

  • TEACHING (OR OTHER PRIMARY DUTIES).  For example, instructional or service delivery, content expertise, classroom or program management, instruction/program design. This year as faculty director of the CTLE, I decided to focus on service delivery.
  • COURSE OR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT/REVISION.  For example, a review of syllabi, tests, and course or program content, including competencies and objectives. I decided to redesign my hybrid ENG102 course.
  • GOVERNANCE AND/OR COMMITTEE PARTICIPATION AT THE COLLEGE AND/OR DISTRICT LEVELS. I serve on the Technology Alliance Committee, the CTLE Advisory Committee, OER Committee,  Learning Communities Committee, and the President’s Completion Task Force on campus. I serve on a district committee for OER, Maricopa Millions, Faculty Developers Committee, and the unofficial CTL Faculty Directors Committee.

In addition to an assessment of these “3 REQUIRED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.1.) , “AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.2.), and other “RELATED AREAS” (REP Section 3.5.3.3.)  may also be selected by the faculty member to review, in order to bring into better focus their full professional involvements at the college or within the District.  Examples include program coordination, research projects, department/division chair responsibilities, student activities-advising/mentoring, professional involvement in the community, professional growth, involvement/projects, professional interaction with colleagues, etc.

  • AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS:
    • Professional Development &
    • Research Project – MCLI Grant
  • RELATED AREAS:

    • Involvement/Projects – Maricopa Millions

As a means of designing an FEP that is flexible enough to respect the broad diversity of the faculty role, a faculty member developing and implementing the plan should select ways of examining his/her performance that will most effectively describe his/her:  current performance, future goals and actions needed to achieve them, accomplishments in the professional areas to be examined, etc.  These may include different means of assessment for each of the“REQUIRED,”  “ELECTIVE,” and “RELATED” areas that are evaluated.  Examples of different means include checklists, observations, student evaluation instruments (which can be customized), student skill inventories, video assessments, portfolios, written summaries, conferences, etc.

19
Mar

What’s the Hardest Part About Teaching Students Research?

Grading the final paper? Ha! Just kidding.

Although grading those research papers has been a painful experience in the past, I’ve been on a mission to improve the process for both myself and my students, and lately things have been a lot better. So I’d say the hardest part about teaching students research is getting them to understand what synthesis means and how to do it properly. Research papers for most students means taking pieces of content from others and piecemealing together what they want their paper to say. This type of paper is painful to read and grade. I figured if I could get them to understand how to synthesize to support their own voice, I could probably get some decent papers. So this is what I did.

First, I stopped spending so much time on teaching APA format and asking students to spend time reading text about HOW to do research. My new approach is we are just going to do it. A little at a time. I started by creating a list of lessons to help teach students about research and the research process. These lessons are created using tools like Softchalk and Storyline 360. These tools allow for me to talk to students about these concepts, show examples and then ask quick questions about their understanding. It’s much more engaging. The way these lessons are integrated into the course, it makes students feel as if it’s just another opportunity to hear from the instructor about another piece of the process. A quick snapshot of some of the lessons are displayed here to the right.

The next step was to adopt a technology tool to help students learn APA documentation style without it being a hindrance to the process as a whole. The tool I chose was NoodleTools. I learned about it from one of our awesome librarians, Pamela Gautier, and it’s a tool created by librarians. I needed a tool that was not just a citation generator. I wanted something that could be used to teach students and to help students through the whole research process, thus allowing me to spend more time on teaching synthesis and analysis of sources instead of how to manage a research project.

NoodleTools is an online platform designed to be a one-stop support system for students’ research. It includes a thesis writing feature, research planner / due date reminder, notecard generator, development space (collaborating with GoogleDocs) and, of course, a citation generator.

One of my first assignments for students is to teach them about creating an annotated bibliography to keep track of their sources during the research process. NoodleTools has a lot of resources for students and faculty to help teach many concepts as well as how to use the tool. My focus is more on the purpose for keeping an annotated bibliography and how the annotations are written. NoodleTools helps instruct students on the process and format. For instance, NoodleTools will show students a list of possible source types to choose from (see image). Depending on the citation type selected, a Show Me tutorial may be available to help students evaluate the source. The lessons are differentiated based on which level the student is in: Starter, Junior, or Advanced.

Once students start to fill in the citation form with information about their source, the form provides further support with pop up dialogue boxes. So when a student puts the cursor in the Article Title form field, a pop-up with the follow message appears: “Article title: Capitalize sentence-style (only the first letter of the first word in the title and in the subtitle (if any), as well as the first letter of any proper nouns).” For students learning APA, this is a big change from MLA, which they learned in ENG101. So it doesn’t just format the citation for students. They are learning as they use the tool. After I’ve taught student how to write annotations for the sources, they come back to NoodleTools to add them to each citation, which again is a very easy process for students.

I could set up a dropbox (Inbox) in NoodleTools for students to submit their projects for me to grade in NoodleTools; however, for the annotated bibliography I want for student to see how it is formatted. So I instruct students to Print/Export to Word or Google Docs, and their annotated bibliographies are formatted beautifully. I almost wanted to cry when I got 90% correctly formatted assignments. I was able to spend most of my time grading the content and very little correcting APA formatting mistakes. Students felt less stressed about it too. Here’s an example of what the annotated bibliography looks like exported directly out of NoodleTools. Not perfect, but a good start.

Now for the good stuff. Remember the good old days of physical notecards. We color coded them, stacked them in piles, wrote all over them. Organized them in ways to help write the paper. It was glorious. But I stopped requiring physical notecards for my students 10 years ago when I started teaching online. For obvious reasons, but I truly feel as if it affected my students’ ability to synthesize. I was desperate for a solution, and NoodleTools did the job. In the image to the right you can see some digital notecards that can be color coded and tagged and moved around the virtual desktop. This is really cool, but the best part is teaching students how to create good notecards.

NoodleTools helps immensely with this process. In class we learn basic note taking skills using summary, paraphrase and quotes. Why and how. We also practice annotating sources using Hypothes.is. After they have that down, we learn to make notecards. The process makes it impossible for students to not cite their sources correctly. Well, nearly impossible. Once they click the New Notecard button, a dialogue box appears (see below) that guides students through the process of taking a note. It prompts them to choose a source for the note, and there is a drop down menu of all of their sources (4).

They title the notecard to help with organization, and in box 5 on the left they add in a direct quotation. I can edit the instructions that pop up in each box. For instance, I’ve added to my assignment that students should wrap that direct quote in quotation marks. On the right side is where they put in their paraphrase or summary using their own words. I have students do both so they can choose which to use in the paper later. Lastly they add their own ideas, original thinking in the bottom of box 5. Again I’ve edited the instructions to meet the needs for the assignment.

The next step in the process is to create an outline for the research paper and then have students add notecards to the outline. This helps students organize the notes they plan to include in the paper. It also helps them to visualize how synthesis works. They are adding notes to help support their own arguments, and not just adding notes to make up the paper. So it helps to get students to start with a good outline. We start small with a template (see below) and then fill it in with complete sentences as we continue the process. Students can drag the notecards from the left and drop them right into the outline on the right.

Overall NoodleTools has been a great tool to help teach students the research process, and it’s also been easy for me to keep up with the grading, as students can submit their research projects in a NoodleTools Inbox that I can set up, or they can easily download to Google Drive or Microsoft Word and submit in Canvas. It’s definitely worth checking out.

 

12
Feb

Mini-Bytes. Try Before You Buy

Photo: Great Falls College MSU

I learned about an interesting way to increase student online enrollment from the eLearning team at Great Falls College Montana State University today at the ITC eLearning conference in Tucson. They discussed how students are often reluctant to sign up for online courses because they’ve never done so before and don’t know what to expect. That coupled with the fact that some students sign up for online courses and are not properly prepared to be successful in the online environment. The eLearning departments solution was the creation of Mini-Bytes. “A Mini-Byte class is a free 2-week sample of an online course. Instructors that teach the full 16-week watch over the courses and interact with the students who can sign up at any time.” Students get to try before they buy. That’s a great idea.

I think that if students could actually see what the expectations are for an online class and experience the look and feel of a course, they would have a better idea of what the online class will be like. They can then make an informed decision about whether online is a right fit.

However, many times great ideas get mired in red tape. How could GCC or Maricopa capitalize on an idea like this? First, we would have to get past the whole registration aspect. With our no late registration mandate, this is not possible. Strike one. Next, we would need to get faculty who teach online to be willing to open a 2-week portion of their online course and allow for open enrollment. Canvas permits this easily; however, the idea of having a random group of students in a 2 week course that faculty would be responsible for engaging with is not easy. Faculty working for free? Strike two. If the numbers were small, it might be possible to persuade a few. But would there be a broad enough spectrum of courses available for students to taste?

Another problem I foresee would be course consistency. As the former eCourses faculty lead for GCC, I know first hand how challenging it is to get all departments on board with a consistent look and feel for online courses even though we subscribe to Quality Matters. I would imagine taking an online English course would be much different from taking an online math class. Although maybe that is not the purpose of the mini-bytes. Maybe they are course specific which makes sense. Therefore, we would need to ensure that department online courses have a consistent look and feel. I know in English that is what we strive for, but it can be a challenge.

Overall, I like this mini-bytes concept and clearly one college, Great Falls College, has made this work for them. I guess I will implementing innovative ideas in Maricopa were easier.

 

9
Feb

Sabbatical: Supporting Data-Driven Decision Making With Educational Data Analytics Technologies

I’m happy to say that I was awarded a sabbatical for the 2018-2019 academic year. The fancy title of this post will be the focus of my sabbatical. It should be a grand ole dandy time, and I’m looking forward to spending my time doing and learning something new. If you’d like to read more about my sabbatical, I posted a few key points below.

Abstract: Learning analytics is a new and developing field. There is a growing literature base around learning analytics and its impact on student grades and retention. Although learning analytics is still at a relatively early stage of development, there is convincing evidence from early adopters that learning analytics will help to improve outcomes. It only makes sense that Maricopa would want to tap into this new field. Learning analytics has been defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs” (Sampson, 2016). Maricopa with its use of Canvas LMS and SIS has an overabundance of data that goes unused. Becoming a data analysis authority will enable me, as a full-time faculty member, to help support data driven decision making at GCC using education data analytics technologies, which includes Canvas Data Portal.

Goal(s) – what the sabbatical will accomplish. A vital aspect of data driven decision making is Data Literacy for Teachers, which is the primary goal of this sabbatical, to empower myself to use data in the decision-making process, so that I can help support data driven decision-making at GCC using education data analytics technologies. Data Literacy for Teachers “comprises the competence set (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required to identify, collect, analyze, interpret, and act upon Educational Data from different sources so as to support improvement of the teaching, learning and assessment process” (Sampson, 2016). Our LMS, Canvas, produces a lot of data that presently is not being used. By becoming a data analysis authority and more knowledgeable in Canvas Data, I will be able to help support other faculty and administrators with data driven decision making at GCC using these data analytics from Canvas.

Objectives – steps to achieve the goal(s). The objectives for this project mostly follow the competency set (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required for Data Literacy for Teachers. They are required to identify, collect, analyze, interpret, and act upon Educational Data from different sources. There are several steps involved in this project.

  • Identify and learn about big data, analytics and data analysis.
  • Identify and learn about Canvas Learning Analytics.
  • Learn about Canvas Data Portal.
  • Learn how to collect the data from Canvas into various tools for analysis.
  • Learn Data Analysis to discover what the right questions to ask will be.
  • Learn how to interpret learning data to predict and influence outcomes (act upon).
  • Assess and identify which BI Tools schools are leveraging to analyze data.
  • Create/Find a collection of example queries that use Canvas Hosted Data to answer questions; queries that could be very useful to solve problems at GCC (act upon).
  • Create awareness guides and a workshop for faculty on Canvas Learning Analytics.
  • Create a resource guide for district CTL’s on Canvas Data Portal.
  • Get Canvas Data Portal turned on in Maricopa.

The only objective I’m worried about not accomplishing is the last. It can be a challenge at time getting things with in Maricopa accomplished, but I’m up for the fight.

29
Sep

Online Editing Tools – Benefit or Crutch for Students?

Writing today is almost a completely online or computer aided experience. Students are composing in word processor programs as well as online in programs like Google Drive or directly in Canvas. While most of these text editors will probably have built in spelling and maybe a grammar checker, a more robust dedicated editing tool can find hidden errors that are easily missed on a standard text editor, and there are many of these tools available on the web for free and for pay. During my summer project, time was spent using some of these editing tools to discover which make best use for students and studying how these programs work to discover if in fact they are accurate and how accurate they are. Although most of the programs are expensive for students, three stood out as being accurate and useful for students.

I am officially hooked on Grammarly; however, I did cancel my membership after my 3 month trial period. It’s just too expensive to justify even though the service was good. And the free version still offers features that are usable to me and others.

This small project gave me the time and the motivation to dig in and see if any of these tools are useful, which I discovered that they are. I discovered their usefulness for students, and learned how to use them for my own benefit. I spend half my day writing, so this is useful for me too. Doing this project also helped me increase my knowledge of tools in which I can share in my role in the CTLE where I’m responsible for delivering innovative workshops for faculty, so I’ve shared these resources with the English department and colleagues who are constantly asking me about these different tools. I now have a working knowledge of these specific editing tools. It’s been awhile since I’ve research and written anything. As community college faculty the opportunities are not abundant. In fact, the last time I did any research and writing was when I was a MIL fellow. It’s good practice to indulge in scholarly endeavors even if they aren’t as heavy as a dissertation study. It keeps the mind sharp and keeps you current in your field. So for me partaking in this small project was doing that for myself. Read moreRead more

9
Mar

Is It Time for Happy Hour Yet?

That’s a pretty relevant question. It is Thursday, and the To-Do list is fairly long. So why not shirk all responsibility for 30 minutes or so and blog about happy hour? Sounds good to me. Happy hour is the obvious choice for this week’s writing prompt for Write6x6Building Relationships. How do you build relationships with faculty, staff, and students on campus? How important are these relationships to you?

First, I’m going to point out the obvious. There will be no happy hour with students, but everyone else is fair game. It’s the perfect way to build relationships. When I left South Mountain Community College 8 years ago, one of the pluses on my Pro/Con list for leaving the college was building relationships and community. I have some wonderful friends at SMCC and built some long lasting relationships, but not many of those relationships went beyond the boundaries of the college. I just felt like if I was going to spend 6 hours a day with people, I should be friends with those people outside those boundaries – at least some of them. So I left. I felt like a bigger campus, more people would open up those doors. And I was right. I went from having 6 faculty in my department to 40. There might have been more at SMCC if I counted the Reading faculty, but I didn’t really know of any of them. But you get the idea.

Everyone is busy, and teaching schedules can be chaotic. It’s difficult to build relationships when you never see the people you work with. So I made it a habit of walking the halls and spending time in my office beyond the required 1 hour office hour, just so I could connect with my peeps. After a while, I quickly learned that I was never going to get much work done when I was in the halls of 05. I spent my time there popping into offices, talking with colleagues, answering questions and generally just chilling.  It was a great trade off. Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, as there were plenty of closed doors in the hallways.

But there are also many happy hours. Meeting up off campus allows for people to feel free, be more relaxed, and open up a bit more about how things on the job are really going. It gives us all a chance to problem solve together and brainstorm ideas. But it also builds stronger relationships. I work with a bunch of awesome people who travel to conferences for professional development together, submit proposals for grants together, work on projects together, and of course, attend many happy hours, dinners and gatherings in our own homes together. We’re just one big kumbaya song.

24
Feb

How to Combat Fake News

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Fake News BBC

Studies show that students have ‘dismaying’ inability to tell fake news from real news. Fake news stories can have real-life consequences, so it behooves us as educators to teach students how to fact-check the news and get the facts. We’re offering a workshop in the CTLE this spring on Fake News. The workshop will be a lesson in fake news that can also be used with students.

For the workshop, I’ve compiled a list of resources to help you and your students understand the fake news epidemic better, and the workshop will cover:

  • What is fake news?
  • How is fake news and “alternative facts” a problem for society?
  • Where does fake news come from?
  • How to check news and use fact check sites.
  • How to avoid fakes news on social media.
  • Best practices for questionable sources.

One source in particular that I found useful was False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources by Melissa Zimdars which offers a huge list of fake news sites and the following tips.

Tips for analyzing news sources:

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (Newslo is now found at Politicops.com). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
  • Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources (remember: this is also the domain for Colombia!)
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue. Thanks to Ed Brayton for this tip!
  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Sources such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
  • For more tips on analyzing the credibility and reliability of sources, please check out School Library Journal (they also provide an extensive list of media literacy resources) and the Digital Resource Center.

If you want more resources and information about fake news, sign up for one the two sessions below:

18
Feb

Evaluation Plan for Faculty Can Be Fun. Really.

© Laura Strickland/MyCuteGraphics.com

So I’m a member of the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) committee again this year. As a member of this committee, I have agreed to be a mentor for a probational faculty member that needs to comply with the RFP requirements. When I heard about these new requirements for probationary faculty, my first thought was, thank goodness I’m not probationary. I don’t want to have any part of that. Well, it turns out no one can really escape PAR. Even us old residential faculty, as all the newbies are required to have mentors. And with so many new faculty, pretty much everyone who is not new is a mentor.

The Maricopa Community College District implemented this new peer assistance and review model (PAR) for probationary faculty about 4 years ago. Faculty are considered probationary for 5 years. Under this new model, probationary faculty are assigned a residential faculty mentor to help guide them through the process to becoming residential (tenured). As part of the PAR, probationary faculty have the opportunity to document their professional growth, mentor evaluation, administrative evaluations, and student evaluations in a Google Sites template.

I actually ended up with two pretty awesome mentees. Both are excellent teachers and fun to work with. The best part is they make being a mentor fairly easy. I’m going to share my recent evaluation of one although evaluation isn’t quite the right word. It was more of an observation with feedback. Evaluation indicates the making of a judgment about the value of something; assessment. I’d like to believe all teaching has value, and it’s really not up to me to judge someone’s value or their teaching. I like to observe and then give feedback. Lucky for me what I’ve observed has always been inspiring.

Recently I sat in on an after class review session and the room was full. My first observation was how does that happen. Students stick around for a study session after class? The whole class was engaged. They were divided into groups of 2-4 and it appeared that they each had an assigned topic to cover. As the instructor called on each group, students were prepared with their information. Some reading from notes or slides; others reciting information from memory. My mentee was encouraging and peppered the whole class and group members with questions. Students volunteered answered. Whether they were correct or incorrect, they each received the same kind feedback that the answer was correct or incorrect. It didn’t seem punitive if the answer was not correct. Someone else was just called on to provide a different answer. The whole session was positive and encouraging. I was inspired, and I wasn’t even a student in the class.

It’s really good to see good teaching, but the best part is there is no one way about it. Every instructor brings her own touch to the classroom, and we can all learn by observing how others get the job done. Turns out that this whole PAR thing might not be such a bad thing after all.

9
Feb

Need a Grammar Checker? I Want to Find Out

Writing today is almost a completely online or computer aided experience. Students are composing in word processor programs as well as online in programs like Google Drive or directly in Canvas. While most of these text editors will probably have built in spelling and maybe a grammar check, a more robust dedicated editing tool can find hidden errors that are easily missed on a standard text editor, and there are many of these tools available on the web for free and for pay. I decided that maybe our students and even faculty and staff might benefit from some of these tools, so I wrote a summer project proposal to research it this summer.

My goal for a summer project is to spend some time using some of these editing tools to discover which make the best use for our students and for us. I also want to study how these programs work to discover if in fact they are accurate and how accurate they are. In addition, I’d like to research whether these tools actually benefit students by teaching them to become better writers or if they are simply a crutch. With this knowledge, I’d like to develop a plan for how best to use these programs with students so that the tools can be more of a teaching aide than a tool that makes corrections only for students. So my proposal includes academic research, activities that can enhance my professional knowledge and expertise, as well as field research to learn innovations. 

I think this will be great way to spend my time this summer, so I plan to complete this project over a 4 week period during the month of June. Did any of you submit a proposal? I’m curious how you plan to spend your summer if you did.