Category: Classroom Management

Creating a Team Project Covenant

This is a repost with updated links

Many of the courses in the Adult Studies Programs for Belhaven University include a Team Project.  The inclusion of the Team Project is valuable on many fronts:  It provides the opportunity to learn to work together, maximizes group resources, allows for synergistic achievement, just to mention a few.  It is also one of the most frustrating experiences for many students who complain about “freeloaders” who don’t do the work and either drag everyone’s grade down or force others to carry the extra load, often without the Instructor noticing or seeming to care.

The best solution to this and one which falls in line with our goals and mission is the Team Project Charter.  Unfortunately, it is often ignored because it takes time to work out and many Instructors and even team members fail to see the value, wanting to jump straight into the project.  This is almost always a mistake leading inevitably to the complaints mentioned above.

The Team Project Covenant is important because it outlines the basic expectations and is signed by each member of the team.  The basic parts include:

  • Group goals and/or purpose.
  • Planned meeting time, place, and agenda.
  • Clearly understood attendance requirements and penalties for absences.
  • Discussion of responsibilities of members within teams.
  • Discussion plan for meetings.
  • Conflict management and resolution, penalties for constitutional covenant breaches, and plan for constitutional covenant changes.

When these items are spelled out it is much easier to pull the document back out at the beginning of a Team meeting and address any problems and the potential penalties for covenant breaches.  It empowers teams to function smoothly and to stay focused, while avoiding freeloading.

There is an example of the Team Project Covenant on Blazenet under Student Live/Services – you can find it HERE  (you must have a Belhaven login to access this document).

If you haven’t wanted to take time for this in the past, I strongly encourage you to make time going forward.  It will provide a better experience for the students, less frustration and grousing for you to deal with, and, more importantly, allows students to see how to deal with situations if a positive format that they can use in the future.

Here is another article which also describes the importance of the Team Project Charter:  Creating an Effective Team Charter

Team Projects – Student Actions

I posted the material below to the Adult Learner Blog but I thought you would like to see it as well. If you use this process you can hopefully cut down on the problems which arise from team projects.  Note the italicized comments which were not included in the post the Adult Learner Blog. 

Team Projects are often the most dreaded part of a course. While not all our courses include a Team Project, there are still several which do. So, the question is, “What can I do, personally, to make the team experience a positive one (and also get a good grade)?”  I’m glad you asked. Here are several ideas for improving the outcome of your team project:

  1. Make sure you complete the Team Covenant the first meeting of your team. This can be found on Blazenet under StudentLife/Services in the Documents. While completing this may take a few minutes, the value comes in having everyone on the same page – especially when it seems like some in the group are dropping the ball. Calling out those who aren’t complying with the Covenant expectations may be necessary, but it is much easier if the Covenant exists. If you make time for this in the first or second class session it can help the whole group succeed.
  2. Make sure everyone has a copy of the Team Evaluation rubric. This can be found in the same place on Blazenet. The important thing here is to make clear to everyone up front that you are going to be brutally honest in completing this form at the end of the project. Help the students understand that you are going to pay attention to these evaluations.
  3. Do your best to stay engaged in the Project, completing the expectations assigned to you. Don’t hesitate to check in with other team members on their progress.
  4. I HIGHLY recommend you use either a Google Doc and/or Google Slides for your project and include the Instructor.  Both of these are free, and it can easily be determined who contributed and how much they contributed.  The team leader should start the Document/Slides and then share it with the rest of the team members.  That way you can all work from different locations at the same time on the same presentation or document. Both also have chat capabilities built in so you can “talk” in real time about the project.
  5. You may not have tried it before, but Canvas has a Zoom link on the left panel which can be used for video conferencing and screen sharing. This means you don’t have to set up another time to get together, you can video conference. This is a simple product and it works great – you can also record the session to further prove who participated and who didn’t. Just identify who will be setting up the meetings.

Team projects, when done effectively, can enhance your knowledge and skills. If you incorporate group software like I describe above it can also make you more valuable at work.

Poll Everywhere – What, Why, How

WHAT?

Poll Everywhere is a web-based tool which easily builds into powerpoint presentations to allow students to respond from their mobile devices. It presents the results in real time, allowing for evaluation of knowledge, or as a prompt for discussion.

Here is a short video which demonstrates it’s use.

WHY?

Using Polleverywhere is relatively simple and can definitely liven up a presentation.  It also allows individuals who rarely speak in class to contribute in a low threat environment. Using this type of tool makes the discussion more relevant and students experience a greater sense of understanding the material

HOW?

The video above describes the process pretty clearly, but here is an article which also goes into detail about how to use Poll Everywhere:

Great ways to use Poll Everywhere in the classroom

Test Review???

I posted this initially in April of 2017 but I thought I’d share it again since I believe it can be an exceptionally good way to review for tests, not to mention reinforcing information in a way that engages the students and creates a little fun along the way:

I know you are always on the lookout for an activity to use after 9:00 that will actively engage students and make that last hour meaningful.

Here is one activity that will do that. Kahoot.  Kahoot is a classroom engagement software that is free to instructors and provides an interesting way to engage students in content.  I’ve included some links to a couple of tutorials about how to use Kahoot below.

It will involve you setting up the activity in advance but on the plus side, it can be used over and over again as you teach the class.  This would make a great test-review session and could spark some interesting discussion as well.  Don’t be put off that the tutorials are based on secondary education models – this will work just as well for adults in that last hour of class.  I’ve been in a session when this was used and I can personally vouch for how effective it is.

Please post a reply to this if you use it and let me know how it went.

Kahoot! Demo for Teachers

How to Use Kahoot! in the Classroom

Grading in Speed Grader and Feedback Studio

This was a webinar which was just presented by Dr. Kim Priesmeyer, Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning.  The webinar was recorded and can be viewed at this LINK.

This was one of our best attended webinars and a LOT of great information was shared about using Speed Grader and Feedback Studio.  The conversation evolved into best practices related to grading overall and I know you will find something useful in this presentation.  I hope you will take the time to watch/listen to the presentation.

Dr. Priesmeyer, in her new role as Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning, is also interested in hearing from you about other webinars or faculty development experiences. You can contact her at: kpriesmeyer@belhaven.edu.

 

4 Square Instructor

At each of the faculty workshops I visited, or sent video to, for the Fall 2018 rotation for Belhaven University, I challenged the faculty to become a “4 Square Instructor.” When this idea first came my way from an article by Neil Haave, titled “Teaching Squares Bring Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives” I thought there might be something there which could be used to help overcome the chronic problem every teacher faces: becoming trapped in their own pedagogical ruts. After discussing this with the Deans at Belhaven’s Regional Campuses in our Summit in August, we decided on a model that provides an interesting option for improving or refreshing their practice of teaching.  The 4 Square Instructor model below is the result.

Instructors who have been through the approval process for Belhaven can become 4 Square Instructors by:

  1. Visit 3 other classes outside your normal course assignments or discipline for a couple of hours to find new teaching ideas (this is not for critique, but to find new ways to make the subject material come alive).
  2. Implement at least one new idea into a class you are teaching.
  3. Write up summary, at least 2 pages, including which classes you visited, what you learned, what you tried and how it worked. Don’t be afraid to describe failures as they can be an excellent source of learning.
  4. Present at an upcoming faculty workshop as called upon by the Dean at that Regional site.
  5. Receive a 4 Square Instructor Polo shirt for that year
  6. Repeat every year.

Not everyone will do this, or even be able to, but I see the possibility of some interesting cross-pollination of ideas which will definitely benefit our students.  Note, there may be some variation from one site to another so check with your Dean for specifics.

Give it some thought. If you want suggestions on which classes to visit, contact the Dean at your campus.

 

Peak Moments

by Dr. Paul T. Criss, Dean – Memphis/DeSoto

Coming back from the Christian Adult Higher Education Association Conference 2018, I have been reflecting on several ideas that were presented that I would like to unpack over a couple articles.

The plenary speaker, Dr. Mary Kay Park, Executive Managing Director of the Far East Broadcasting Company – Korea in Los Angeles, presented several intriguing ideas. The one that greatly intrigued me personally was this statement: “Currently there is a ‘boundary-less-ness’ in careers. The shape of the career has changed – today’s young people will change employers twelve to fifteen times and careers nine to eleven times. We are not preparing students for a single job market, we are preparing them for twelve to fifteen employer scenarios and nine to eleven career scenarios.”

That provoked some reflection on how our classrooms will likely change. In addition to focusing on the content of the course, the faculty member must also focus on all of the intangibles that need to be brought to bear on student learning. Not only the typical hard and soft skill development, but also teaching and developing flexibility, resilience, and grit/perseverance. These essential skills are needed for the diverse future that may lie ahead.

Dr. Park continued to explain three areas that disrupt a student’s pathway to success. The first is situational barriers – things like time limit and cost. The second is institutional barriers – policies and procedures that may discourage or exclude students. The third area is dispositional barriers – personal perception, attitude, and support. As faculty, we may not be able to address the first and second barriers, but we certainly can address the third. But how? How do you help improve a student’s perception of themselves,  of Belhaven, and of the future that God has in store?

Disneyland and Disneyworld conducted a study by asking attendees to rate their experience throughout their day at their amusement park. On a scale of 1-10 how good is the experience at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and throughout the day. The average experience was 8.6. How would one look back at that a few months later? Would you remember? Everyone remembers the higher scores. WE only remember the peaks and then we average the peaks. What are students remembering from their experience in your classroom? What are they sharing at dinner parties? With current Belhaven Students? With potential Belhaven students? How is that an anchor point for them as they maneuver through their career journey?

Dr. Park suggested focusing on the “power of moments” – teachable moments – peak moments that will be remembered. How do you create more peak moments in your classroom? Perhaps find ways to embed God’s truth into practical life application. Share personal and professional experiences that have shaped you. Bring into the forefront those experiences that changed the trajectory of your career. Moments that made you more resilient, flexible, and gritty. Students in Tennessee attest that the number one reason they persisted in their studies is that they had a meaningful moment with a faculty member outside of the classroom. Be available in the hallway, prior to class, or at a student appreciation event. Be intentional about learning each of your students’ name. Find something about each student to which you can relate – it will help you remember them. Create those peak moments in your classroom and improve the trajectory of your students’ lives.

Advice for Teachers: Dare to Be Strict – repost

I’m passing this article on because I think there is some good information here for us.  This is always like walking a tightrope and yet if we don’t address it, the educational quality for our students suffer.  RLU

Joseph W. Trefzger PhD

For two decades I have taught 150- to 200-student sections of introductory financial management to majors in all business programs, plus business minors from diverse fields. Although the course has its fans—some even change their majors to finance each semester—many students find the material daunting, become distracted, and behave in ways that impede the learning of others along with their own. Distractions always have lurked in college classrooms; texters and Web surfers are merely the note passers and campus newspaper readers of the digital age.

READ MORE

Guiding Your Course

The course you are teaching was not created out of a Big Bang. Nor does it randomly exist without purpose. It was conceived as a collection of knowledge and competencies which fit into a larger picture. The larger picture we call a degree, or perhaps a concentration. When a course is well designed it fits into that larger picture as a piece fits into a puzzle, revealing and contributing to the fuller understanding of the knowledge which that degree/concentration represents.

The connection of the course you are teaching to the larger whole can be found in the Student Learning Outcomes, which can be found at the beginning of your module.  Sometimes they are called Learning Objectives or Competencies. They usually vary in number from 3 to 12, with 4-6 being the ideal. I have no doubt that you have read through them when you first looked over the module. The question I have, is: to what extent do those outcomes/objectives/competencies guide your instruction?

You might say, especially in the online course, that everything is so prescribed that there is little you can do that would impact the achievement of the outcomes/objectives/competencies anyway. Therefore, you might easily gloss over them as more academic rhetoric that is simply part of the course module which has no real bearing on the REAL job of teaching.

This, of course, is absolutely wrong. It is only as the outcomes/objectives/competencies for the course are achieved through student learning that the course can be considered a success.  While an effort has been made to align those competencies with the assignments, quizzes, and grades, the true measure of success, for you and the student, is whether they have indeed been met.

How to do that in a curriculum which is relatively “fixed?”

  1. Make sure YOU know the outcomes/objectives/competencies for the course.
  2. Through discussions in class and online tie the content back to the objectives.
  3. Through announcements online and in post-class email summaries, reflect on the connection of them to the work the student has done in the previous week, or the work which will be addressed in the coming week.
  4. Actively evaluate the achievement of the objectives both at the mid-point of the course and the end through discussions and any other ways you can.

Using these outcomes/objectives/competencies in an ACTIVE teaching pedagogy will make you a better teacher.  It will also better equip your students for success as they leave your course and move on to other courses.