February 19, 2013
Use Google Sites to organize and monitor group activity on a class project
Google Sites provides a simple interface to build a course web site and organize information for a course, individual team projects, or collaborations with a research group. Google Sites has a large number of templates to get you and your students started.
Create a collaborative space in which students can share materials, edit common documents, and communicate with one another about a class project. Create pages on the site to serve as document archives (file cabinet), make announcements, or host topical discussions. Google web pages on the site can include images, links, a table of contents, text boxes, videos, and other Google apps. You (and members of student teams) can track who makes changes to the site and when changes were made to hold students accountable for their individual contributions.
Need help? All Google Apps include comprehensive help pages. At the top right corner of the window, click the gear-shaped icon. The menu will allow you to change your settings (preferences) and will also direct you to the help pages, which are indexed and searchable.
This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Francine Glazer, PhD, Assistant Provost and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, New York Institute of Technology (http://www.nyit.edu/ctl ).
WKU Writer’s Consortium
January 15, 2013
How should I respond to a student who seems despondent?
The Suicide Outreach and Support (SOS) program is a suicide prevention program that is based on suicide prevention strategies that are applicable to broad populations and are well-suited for the general campus population. The SOS program also includes a special emphasis on reaching military-affiliated students (active duty servicepersons, veterans, and military spouses and dependents) and students in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) community.
The SOS program at UWF includes training sessions for faculty, staff, and students, a Suicide Prevention Coalition, a Student Organization Network, and a Social Marketing Campaign to increase knowledge and awareness of suicide warning signs and risk factors among members of the UWF community, including information about several national suicide hotline resources.
Faculty may be particularly interested in the QPR Gatekeeper Training, which will help faculty develop the ability to recognize warning signs of potential suicidal thoughts and respond effectively to individuals who present these warning signs.
QPR is easy to learn. Training sessions require only a one hour commitment. They are free to students, faculty and staff. The UWF Counseling Center will offer three training workshops during the spring terms:
|Monday, January 28, 2013, 2 PM – 4 PM|
|Monday, March 11, 2013, 10 AM – 12 noon|
|Thursday, May 9, 2013, 3 PM – 5 PM|
All workshops will be held in BLDG 960 (Counseling & Wellness) Room 258
Use the following link to sign up for one of these QPR workshops:
Contact April Glenn to schedule additional training (474-2420 or e-mail: email@example.com).
Faculty can also visit the Counseling Center web site, which includes a resource page on suicide prevention, including the resource, How to Help a Student Who May be Having Thoughts about Suicide. This document discusses the warning signs of suicidal ideation, specific actions individuals should take if they are concerned about a person, and follow-up actions they should take when responding to student or colleague.
Suicide Outreach & Support resource page:
Thanks to April Glenn, Student Counseling Specialist, UWF Counseling Center, for this teaching tip.
January 8, 2013
Using electronic tools to organize your class
Faculty can choose among several options to remind students of course activities and deadlines and help students stay on task.
If you teach an online course or use eLearning to supplement a face-to-face course, you can create deadlines in the calendar function in eLearning. Students will see notifications of impending deadlines whenever they open the course in eLearning.
Create a News item to alert students to an impending deadline. Encourage your students to set Notifications in eLearning. Students can request eLearning to send them reminders of upcoming deadlines for the Dropbox or to notify them when a new item appears in their course News or a new message is posted to a discussion forum. Students can choose to receive their notifications in an e-mail or as a text message to their mobile device.
Encourage students to regulate their progress by creating a Checklist of assignments in eLearning. Checklist items include brief descriptions of assignments and the date each assignment is due. Students monitor their progress by checking off each item as they complete it. You can create multiple short checklists for items due in each module of a course or you can create a global checklist for all items due during the term. ATC provides details about the mechanics of using checklist in AskATC.
Google apps strategies
You can create multiple Google calendars in your UWF Gmail account. Create one calendar for each course you teach and enter class meetings, readings, and assignment due dates on the class calendar. Students in your class can subscribe to the calendar for your course. When you make a change to the course calendar, the change will automatically appear in the students’ accounts. Since student email at UWF is hosted by Gmail, students can access the Google Apps calendar whenever they check their email.
Create a Google site for your course. Add countdown gadgets (search on the public gadgets for countdown options) to remind students of the number of days to each assignment deadline.This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Francine Glazer, PhD, Assistant Provost and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, New York Institute of Technology (http://www.nyit.edu/ctl ).
March 27, 2012
Revealing all of your expertise while teaching
Expertise can interfere with our ability to explain a new idea clearly. Once you find the hidden pattern in an image, you may find that you can no longer look at the image again without instantly recognizing the pattern. However, what is obvious to the knowledgeable viewer may not be obvious to the naïve viewer. As Heath and Heath (2010) note, once we know something, it can be difficult to imagine what it is like to not know this information.
An easy way to demonstrate this impact of prior knowledge on your ability to communicate is to try the “tapper task” with a friend. Think of a common tune that you and your friend know well. Your task is to tap the rhythm of the tune by rapping on a table. Your friend’s task is to guess the name of the tune you are tapping, based only on the pattern of taps. Will your friend be able to identify the tune? The pattern will seem to be an excellent match to the tune of the song (you will hear it playing in your head while you tap), but your friend will probably not be able to identify the tune. How can your friend not imagine the tune that is clearly playing in your head while you tap? In this case, your knowledge of the tune is private. The tapping will not adequately communicate the information your friend needs to identify the song.
Similarly, an explanation that is crystal-clear to an expert may omit critical details required to clearly communicate this knowledge to a novice. These details are so obvious to the expert, that he or she forgets what learning is like for a novice who does not already know these details. An important skill in teaching is learning to identify these critical details that create bottlenecks to learning for novices and discovering strategies that make these details more explicit in the learning experiences (Diaz, Middendorf, Pace, & Shopkow, 2008). Teaching strategies that communicate new ideas using simple models, compelling stories, and multi-sensory information frequently ensure that critical details that experts notice automatically will be equally obvious to novices.
Diaz, A., Middendorf, J., Pace, D., & Shopkow, L. (2008). The History Learning Project: A department “decodes” its students. The Journal of American History, 94, 1211-1224.
Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Teaching that sticks. PDF file available from www.heathbrothers.com.
November 16, 2010
Web Resources on Course Design
Dee Fink, author of Creating Significant Learning Experiences, has launched a web site with resources on how to design courses that encourage student engagement and produce better student learning. http://www.designlearning.org/
The web site includes examples of course designs and links to useful print resources related to course design. An especially good resource on this site is the report, Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback (2004).
Juwah, C., Macfarlane-Dick, D., Matthew, B., Nicol, D., Ross, D., & Smith, B. (2004). Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback, York, UK: The Higher Education Academy (Generic Centre).
April 13, 2010
What is Universal Design of Instruction?
Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) is an approach to teaching that consists of a proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with disabilities.
The seven principles of UDI provide a framework for faculty to use when designing or revising instruction to be responsive to diverse student learners and to minimize the need for "special" accommodations and retrofitted changes to the learning environment. UDI operates on the premise that the planning and delivery of instruction as well as the evaluation of learning can incorporate inclusive attributes that embrace diversity in learners without compromising academic standards.
Seven Principles of UDI
Information about UDI is from the University of Washington DO-IT program.
The guidelines are from The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina University.
Thanks to Vannee Cao-Nguyen, Ed.D., Assistant Director of the UWF Student Disability Resource Center for this teaching tip.
March 30, 2010
Use effective grading strategies to help survive the demands of grading during finals week
Thanks to Sally L. Kuhlenschmidt, Ph.D., Director, Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching (FaCET), Western Kentucky University, for contributions to this teaching tip.
March 2, 2010
Using electronic tools to manage collaborations with students and colleagues
Current technology now provides a variety of tools that allow faculty to collaborate with students and colleagues. E-mail enables rapid communication and exchange of documents with collaborators. Faculty can now easily draft and edit a manuscript with co-authors on several continents by sending documents as attachments or sharing documents through other electronic forums. For example, Google Documents and Google Sites allow faculty to share and edit documents without exchanging large attachments in e-mail.
Although technology creates many convenient tools for collaboration, it also creates vulnerabilities to the security of intellectual property and personal identity. When collaborating with students and colleagues in the UWF community, faculty are sometimes tempted to provide access to files on a computer or server by disclosing their password instead of using a more secure collaboration tool. ITS and CUTLA developed a new information website that discusses the tools currently available for electronic collaboration that will help faculty easily share files with students and colleagues without compromising password security.
The new web site is located at http://uwf.edu/cutla/password.cfm
Thanks to Sylvia Maxwell and Michael White (ITS) for contributions to this teaching tip.
November 17, 2009
Minimizing distractions in the classroom that interfere with student learning
Instructors may use a handout in class and begin talking about the content of the handout at the same time that they distribute it. This also creates a multi-tasking situation, since students must pass the handout down the rows and they may need some time to read the material before the instructor begins discussing or elaborating. This problem also occurs at faculty meetings, when documents are distributed for discussion at a meeting, rather than in advance of the meeting. People need time to read and think about the content of the document before they can engage in meaningful discussion of its content.
Matlin, M. (2007). How cognitive psychology can enhance your students’ learning. In S. A. Meyers & J. R. Stowell (Eds.), Essays from E-xcellence in Teaching (Chapter 9), Volume 7.
E-book retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site:
January 20, 2009
Have a question about solving a problem in your class?
Consult the interactive web tool created by Michele DiPietro and Michael Bridges at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Technology for Education at Carnegie Mellon University. The tool is a three-step process that serves as a convenient index to a large collection of useful teaching tips and strategies.
The first step, problem identification, opens a menu of common teaching problems. Selection of a particular problem opens a menu of possible reasons for the problem. Finally, selection of one of these reasons opens a menu of strategies for addressing the problem and underlying reason.
Updated 01/15/13 cdw
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