Friday, April 29, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/29/16

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Expedition Day: A Deep Dive Into the World’s Coral Reefs - free set of resources about the world's coral reefs.

EcoKids – “EcoKids offers free learning activities and resources for Canadian teachers, students, parents and communities to engage in environmental action. EcoKids is designed to inspire children to become life-long environmental stewards through nature connection and play.” (L:E; SA:S)

NOAA – “See how data can be used to understand our planet and improve our lives.(L:M,H; SA:S)

GlacierWorks – “Explore Everest – an interactive map to explore the world of Mt. Everest; Rivers of Ice – discover more about glaciers, rivers and people of the greater Himalaya.” (L:G; SA:S)
Dangers of Fracking – find out why fracking is considered dangerous (L:G; SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The 2016 Teaching & Learning Forum

This week I attended the 2016 Teaching & Learning Forum at Furman University. It was great because all of the sessions were so informative! Each session was short and had a lot of information that was useful and made me want to find out more about different topics.

Facilitating and Managing Online Discussions: Building Classroom Community

Presenter: Bobbi Siefert, Education

1.     Online Groups and Roles:
A.   Engaged students with scenario-based responses. Shows how they process and apply what they have learned.
a.     Scenario Leaders - Team members 1-3 Discuss scenarios – Monday
b.     Discussion Enhancer – Team members 4-6 Discussion Enhancers – Wednesday
c.     Provocateur: a person who stirs up others in order to upset the status quo and further a political, social, or other cause (embody the roles of people that they might encounter – parent, taxpayer, board member etc.)
d.     Summarizer – Sum it all up
B.    Assigned to groups in Moodle (Users – groups-create group)
a.     Group 1
b.     Group 2
C.    Summing It Up! The so what- Friday.
a.     Reflection: So why does this matter for this course? What connections do you make to your educational context and professional practice?
E.    Post group with roles and names each week
F.    Weaving in and out of the conversations gave me the opportunity to probe and extend discussions
G.   When both groups got back together, pull quotes or key points to share with class and open up discussion.
H.   Use reading quotes to back up decisions

Group Dynamics and grading challenges:
Catme – create teams and team feedback
Survivor – team can vote someone off the team and they have to work all by themself the rest of the semester.
Group grade and individual grade
Explain in a paper the duties of each individual.
Rubric – group presentation and individual evaluation too.

Stress Less, Learn More: Mindfulness Practices for Students and Faculty

Presenter: Min-Ken Liao, Biology; Meghan Slining, Health Sciences

Teaching Mindfulness to College Students
1.     Challenges
a.     Needing relief and impatient for improvement
b.     Curious, open, flexible
c.     Respond well to humor and stories
d.     Excited about the science of mindfulness
4.     19-29 year olds don’t like just sit
5.     Koru Mindfulness - 4 session mindfulness training program specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of emerging adults
6.     Koru is the New Zealand Maori word for the unfurling fern frond
7.     Koru Key factors
a.     Taught in small diverse groups (12)
b.     Require commitment to attendance and practice including 10 minutes daily homework.
c.     Keep it focused and brief(ish) – 75 min. session
d.     Self-calming skills
8.     Koru Course Requirements
a.     Mandatory attendance to four classes
b.     Read the book Wherever You Go, There You Are by Kabat Zinn
c.     10 min. mindfulness practice each day
d.     weekly mindfulness activity
e.     a log that must be completed and returned each week.
9.     Each class includes
a.     5-10 min. short opening meditation
b.     check-in
c.     mind-body skill
d.     mindfulness meditation practice
10.  Course
a.     Week 1 – dynamic breathing and diaphragmatic breathing; body scan
b.     Week 2 – Walking Meditation; Gatha
c.     Week 3 – Guided Imagery; Labeling Thoughts
d.     Week 4 – Eating Meditation; Labeling Thoughts
11.  Study – A randomized control trial of Koru
12.  Email:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Creating a Successful Writing Assignment

Presenter: Margaret Oakes, English

1.     Figure out what you want them to learn.
2.     Think about the genre of writing you will be focusing on
3.     What skills?
4.     How is your content going to play into that?
5.     The scope of the assignment – how long is this going to be?

Engaging Students at the Lightboard: Approaches Across the Curriculum

Presenters: Melinda Menzer, English; Brian Goess, Cheistry; Amy Buttell, Business and Accounting; Kerstin Blomquist, Psychology; Amy Boyter, CTL

Video examples:
Diagraming Sentences for English class to demonstrate understanding of information

·      What forms of creative language do students use to describe complex scientific content on a student centered wiki?
·      How can we preserve problem solving strategies through successive generations of students?
·      What value does it have?

Business & Accounting:
Marketing: Students at the Lightboard –
·      Developing Storytelling Skills,
·      research a specific marketing topic,
·      teach that topic,
·      acquire video presentation skills,
·      build a video presentation library to free up class time for discussion/projects and assignments
LB Project Outcomes
·      Student perception: Most unpopular project at mid-term
·      Most challenging of the projects
·      Very direct type of storytelling
·      Video presentation very different than in class presentation
·      Plan to do again next year = may allow more latitude in choosing topics or link it with another project
·      Will use most in video content library
Example: The 3 Bs of Storytelling – Be Authentic, Be Creative, Be Strategic

Psychology – taking the research and how do we apply it?
How marketing can be misleading
Example: Debunking P90X (vimeo)
Preview outline before the video so wrong info is not given
Work in teams for checks and balances

Suggestions from Amy Boyter, CTL
1.     Make sure you explain clearly why the Lightboard will enhance their learning.
2.     Stress to go to orientation session.
3.     Stress how important it is to practice the presentation
4.     Practice in front of a white board or set up a camera

Options for storage for videos:
(chemistry) Link to Box for the class but not good for embedding.
Department Vimeo or YouTube account
Furman isn’t good for streaming.

The Storytellers: Improving Peer Feedback

Presenter: Jenny Colvin, Library

Storytelling is a performance.

Storytelling May X 2014: Group Feedback Self-Reflection

1.     Basic premise of story
2.     What do you wish you’d said (hindsight)?
3.     What could you have said with more time (expansion)?
4.     What feedback did you get from others (at least two)? – Get in groups

Don’t just say – Give each other feedback.

What is the one thing the person did well?
What is one thing that they person can work on?

Many didn’t want to say something negative in person even though they knew it would be useful.

Move feedback out of class and structured.

Video Capture
1.     Lesson 1: Talk to Joe Hiltabidel
2.     Looking for easiest, least complicated solution
3.     Happy with “good enough”
Solution: Zoom (We have this at Furman; audio is good quality) and Vialogues (request space for educational purposes)

In an assigned group of four, each person must provide feedback to 3 other people and him or herself. Using Vialogues, locate the video for the day. Your comment must be specific and cover two categories

·      One thing that was successful.
·      Ones specific element that needs improvement.

Uncomfortable Students and Sensitive Topics: Dream or Nightmare?

Presenter: Savita Nair, History & Asian Studies

Connecting Content to Life
Split into gender groups and explain why the other group chose that group

1.     Global Feminism
2.     Intersectionality – thinking all things connect (Women in Science and Women in Politics change that) State of Women state by state.
3.     Intersex - Anne Fausto-Sterling article “The Five Sexes” compare this to your grandmother.

Exposes the invisible, privilege, sense of entitlement

How did you do gender today?

(painting coolers?)

What’s New in the Upcoming Moodle Release

Presenter: Corey Gheesling, Information Technology

Moodle 3.1- A Guide to the Update for the Furman Community

6/4/16 updating the University’s Learning Management System.
2-year upgrade plan

What’s new?
Utilized as a hub for education, not simply as a repository of information.  At Furman, we have a multitude of learning technologies that are at our disposal, but often are not utilized. Moodle has made this integration a central part of Moodle moving forward.  This development serves to promotes more active and engaging learning experiences

Better User experience. Cleaner and more useful.

Students upload assignments. No need to go to assessment inbox or download files. Better.

You can lock it down when students see it.

Online annotator.

Moodle is open source

Gradebook is streamlined. Gradebook setup is the only option. You can do single view for grades.
Grade History

Big Upgrade – includes Competency Based Education and Conditional Activity
·      When mastery or a skillset is a required portion of classes.
·      You can now set up activities with multiple parts to promote competency based education
·      Now you can edit assignments and activities that an be opened or restricted based on completion or a grade in a prior assignment or activity.
Looking to use more analytics to help better understand a larger picture of learning. Which activities are being used? How long did students spend on various aspects? Is course participation trailing off at the end of a term? Do you value parts of the course that students are not?

Cothran Faculty Seminar Panel: Community Engagement or Political Activism

Panel: Matt Cohen, Earth & Environmental Sciences; Brandon Inabinet, Communication Studies; Liz Smith, Political Science; Aaron Simmons, Philosophy

Think about our calling. How do our talents meet the world’s needs?
What is scholarship? Service? Expanding our teaching?
How do we avoid advocacy or should we?
What are the constrainsts of liberal arts professors?
At what point do we understand the scope and boundaries of political engagement?
Book: On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
There is a need for more training on Public Engagement.
Disciplinary Expert or Private Citizen?
What about people who want to be a pure researcher?

My Thoughts:

This was a great day and I really enjoyed all the sessions. I learned a lot of things that would be useful in my classes. There were also some things that I want to know more about and books that I want to read. I found it very inspiring to listen to the discussion that occurred at the end of each session. Attending this was definitely well worth the time and I’m truly thankful for all of the people involved who made it happen.