Category: Student Engagement

Infographics as Team Projects – repost

I posted on this before but I still think it is an idea which could be useful.  Creating the infographic employs research skills around a topic, design skills for appropriately displaying the information, and communication skills to know what information will have the greatest impact.

Check out the original post: http://blogs.belhaven.edu/asfaculty/2014/12/03/infographics-as-team-projects/ 

There are some examples below.

Irreducible Minimum meets Collaborative Learning Strategy

When these two concepts intersect, powerful learning can occur.  However, for there to even be an intersection, the Instructor must accept a few basic premises:

  1. That student learning is different than teaching.  I have heard it said that “teaching is an art.”  I can believe that, but what makes it an art is whether or not learning occurs.  Teaching experiences designed without consideration of how or even if it impacts student learning are empty experiences, which can be equally frustrating for Instructor and student.
  2. That adults learn differently than traditional age college students.  Because of their life experiences the studies show they are better at synthesizing material, particularly if it is presented in a way that allows them to grasp relevance.
  3. That there is more than one way to “skin a cat” as my Mom used to say, i.e. there are other ways to teach besides lecture.
  4. Finally, that there are some things about any subject which are more important than others and which are crucial to mastery of the whole (this is the irreducible minimum c.f. The Seven Laws of the Learner by Bruce Wilkinson).

When these premises are accepted, the Instructor can look at the material to be covered for the class session and, because of experience and education, determine which topics are crucial.  With that knowledge, it is easy to arrange the class session to focus on the crucial topics first, before moving on to the other topics, which are still important but don’t qualify as crucial.

Once the irreducible minimum has been identified, now comes the choice of how to present the material, i.e. what learning strategies will you employ to insure these crucial topics are not just taught but learned.  While those activities include lecture, it is probably the most over used  and least effective technique employed by Instructors.  There are other articles in this blog which talk about collaborative learning activities and any search engine will turn up hundreds if not thousands of ideas, so I won’t include those in this blog post.    Suffice it to say, to contemplate what it will take to achieve student learning will require more time and energy as well as some creativity.  It will mean becoming comfortable with a certain amount of creative chaos in the classroom, something may Instructors find uncomfortable.  On the plus side, this intersection of Irreducible Minimum and Collaborative Learning Strategy will dramatically improve the learning of the students in your class and may have an unexpected consequence of re-invigorating you love for the “art” of teaching.

Originally posted November, 2014

Classroom Activity

Incorporating collaborative classroom activities which are both instructive and engaging can be challenging. One way to do that is to use an activity similar to the one I describe below.

I use an RSS feed to pull together posts from various blogs across the internet that I find interesting.  One of those is from Lolly Daskal. She usually posts interesting material, but it is often light on application.  One of her more recent posts was titled: 10 Vital Traits to Look for in People You Hire. As you can imagine, the points she lists are accurate but too shallow to make an application.  As a classroom activity, however, I could use this list in a couple of ways:

  1. I could emphasize the importance to setting up an RSS feed (I use Bloglovin but there are many which do the same thing and almost all are free) and to pull together some favorite blogs for collection. This promotes self-development and ongoing-learning, a skill that will be vital for everyone in the days ahead. Check out this post about these feeders.
  2. I would use a specific post like the one above and parcel it out to groups in the class and ask them to explain how to determine whether or not a trait exists in a job candidate. For instance, one of her 10 vital traits was that the individual must have a growth mindset. You may be aware of the book Mindset in which Carol Dweck explains the virtues of the growth mindset and the differences and advantages over the fixed mindset (excellent book and I highly recommend it). I would challenge the group with this assignment to find out about the growth mindset, if they don’t already know, and then determine ways in an interview to discover if the candidate had a growth mindset.
  3. Alternately, you could post large pages of paper around the room and list the 10 traits on per page and have the groups rotate from page to page every couple of minutes adding their thoughts to how to find out if that trait is present.

There are a LOT of good resources available to draw upon to enrich your class and engage your students.  If you would like to know more or have questions, please contact me (rupchurch@belhaven.edu) or Dr, Kim Priesmeyer, Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning (kpriesmeyer@belhaven.edu).

Zoom Video Conference – Why and How

You probably are already aware that you have access to a powerful video conference tool from inside Canvas, titled Zoom.  I’ve included a picture of the link.  Zoom is very easy to use and intuitive, meaning that you should be able to use it with only a little trial and error. Below I’m going to discuss Why you might want to use Zoom, and How to set it up and use it.

WHY

I’m going to list several scenarios in which you might benefit from using Zoom:

  • As “office hour(s)” – Designate a time each week when you know you’ll be at your computer and start a zoom conference, posting the link in an announcement on the course-site in Canvas.  One of the things I love about Zoom is that if
    you minimize it, a small window stays active in the upper corner of your screen and you can easily see if anyone joins the conference and you can maximize Zoom.  You can also post an announcement that “Office hours” are by appointment and set up your Zoom specific to any student who schedules an appointment
  • To record a presentation or tutorial.  Zoom is perfect for recording a presentation or tutorial of some computer application.  Whatever you can see on your desktop can be shown through Zoom and recorded and made available to students.  This might be particularly useful for some of the trickier formulas or math related problems.
  • To set up an optional (strictly voluntary) class meeting relative to a specific event, e.g. you could set up a Zoom to discuss political debates following the debates while everyone is still fresh.
  • To bring in a guest lecturer to your class session.  While you would still need to let the Dean know and get approval, this is a perfect way to bring someone into your class that you know can bring some specialized knowledge or a powerful story to connect with your students. This way your guest could be literally anywhere in the world and still present in your classroom.
  • These are only a few ideas, but I’m sure you are getting the idea.

HOW

Starting a Zoom is very easy, all you will need is your Belhaven login and password.  Once you click on the Zoom link you will want to “Host” a meeting after you enter your credentials.  To invite others, either email them the link or post the link in an announcement on your course site.  I’ve included a video below which walks you through the process.

Let me know how it works for you.

 

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

Student Testimonial

Sent by a Chattanooga Student:

To my esteemed instructors & staff at Belhaven,

I want to thank you for the significant impact you have had on my heart, my mind, and my spiritual growth over the past four years during my undergraduate studies.  You inspired me to take each subject into my heart, infusing each one with a biblical application that brought meaning and importance never before seen.  You helped me to assign words to my Christian worldview, and to embrace my biblical beliefs boldly.  You pointed the way for me to look back at my life, to identify how my worldview was formed and to appreciate the gifts I was given in my upbringing.  You were patient when life got tough and I needed Grace on a deadline here and there.  You directed me to the One who would provide exactly what I needed in every course, every day, and every week.  You helped to identify the talents God gave me and encouraged me to believe it is never too late to become the person He planned for me to be.  You gave me a safe place to be in community each week, in prayer, in vulnerability with one another, and in trusting friendships.

Because of you, I became a more effective employee, a more compassionate friend and a closer-walking disciple of Jesus.  The BSM diploma and the James W. Park award are humbling honors I will always cherish, but they hold more meaning because of the many ways my life was enriched by you.

Thank you, and God bless you,
Susan (Scarbeck) Anderson

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

Using clips from 60 Minutes in your class

I attended a faculty workshop at Jackson where one of the librarians from Belhaven’s Library shared how to access their database of clips from 60 Minutes to use in class.  This is a great way to start a discussion and present different perspectives.  Here is the process:

  1. From the Belhaven homepage, click on Library under Academics
  2. Scroll down and click on Databases (in the gold box)
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of databases and click on 60 Minutes: 1997-2014.  It’s the last database listed.
  4. You will have to enter your Belhaven credentials to access the material

Here are some of the searchable categories:

Subjects