As Jim and I have recently began taking ballroom dancing lessons, I found this research study interesting. "It's been scientifically proven that the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia is frequent dancing."
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
Here are some tips by Jordan Driediger (CEO, DM2 Studios) on how to make an interesting presentation that I'll be sharing with my undergraduate students.
Also, Professor Barbara Nixon (Georgia Southern University) shares her notes on making a great powerpoint presentation.
If you want to get your students away from using powerpoint, I would recommend Prezi as a great visual aid.
I recently showed my MBA class how to use Twitter. On the whole, they were like many people who haven't experienced Twitter in that they were resistant and weren't really sure that it would be useful to them. However, they are now enjoying the platform and using it to communicate with each other on projects and also with the authors of their books. I think Twitter is a great way for students to connect with others and build their own personal learning network.
Here's an useful article to those new to Twitter: 25 Ways To Get the Most out of Twitter.
As we all know, the interest in online courses is growing. I've been experimenting with doing hybrid classes recently with some of the classwork and even a couple class periods being conducted online. Thus, I found this article by Mark Edmundson interesting: The Trouble with Online Education.
"I think that the best [teachers] are highly adept at reading their audiences. They use practical means to do this — tests and quizzes, papers and evaluations. But they also deploy something tantamount to artistry. They are superb at sensing the mood of a room. They have a sort of pedagogical sixth sense. They feel it when the class is engaged and when it slips off. And they do something about it."
This has been my resistance to online classes. If you do not have face-to-face interaction with your students, I'm not sure you can tell when the students are engaged or not and thus aren't able to make the kind of adjustments in the course at the time they are needed. Your thoughts?
It's time for our annual Super Bowl party and I always put together a set of 20 different bingo cards to entertain those of us who mostly watch for the commercials! Let me know in the comments section if you would like a copy of these and I'll email them to you.
Professor Cynde Gregory (Gwinnett Technical College) shares this icebreaker she uses to create a classroom culture of acceptance. I'm thinking I may use it in the next class on Managing Diversity that I teach.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has decided to include “soft skills” such as on-time attendance to class and teamwork as part of their requirements. Students would then receive a certificate attesting to their professionalism and work ethic. This is something I have discussed several times with my Dean and believe it would benefit all our students. You can read more here.
Here's a great internet site of icebreakers that could be used that first day of class. They are organized by size of class (small, medium, or large) and by category (active exercises, team building, or get-to-know-you exercises).
Illustration by Istra Fuhrmann, age 11.
I personally believe dressing professionally in class is important as I feel this shows respect for the students and also helps to role model for them how to be professional.An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education gives advice to faculty on how to dress for a job interview. As noted in the article:
Remember, the objective isn't to draw attention to what you're wearing but rather to draw attention away from your appearance and toward the substance of your candidacy. You want to be dressed neatly and appropriately enough that committee members say to themselves, "OK, this person looks fine, now let's see what he or she has to say." What you don't want is for them to spend the entire hour staring at your unusual dress or your garish tie, wondering what the heck you were thinking.
I would say the same is true for what we wear to our classes...
Here's some more on the subject:
Chronicle of Higher Education's A Call for Professional Attire.
Getting to know a little about your students the first day of class helps to make them feel more comfortable in the classroom with you and each other. Doing an icebreaker is a good way to involve the class and show that you expect them to participate in class activities. Some examples of icebreakers include:
Have students introduce themselves (you pick the categories such as name, major, home town, most unusual job held, favorite author, latest book read, thing they are most proud of, etc).
Put students in pairs and have them share info. Each person then introduces their partner to the rest of the class.
Give students a stick-on badge and have them write several descriptive terms about themselves. Then have the students find someone else in the room with similar descriptions and spend 2-3 minutes talking with that person.
Have each student introduce themselves by saying "I've done something no one in this class has done which is ..." If another student has done this, the student must find something else to share.
Put together a bingo card with various descriptors such as "has more than one major," "is from Chicago," "has a twin," etc. Have the students mingle to find others to sign their card in the appropriate boxes if they fit the descriptor.
Have students introduce themselves and tell how they got their name (could be nickname).
Put students in small teams of 4-5 people and have them develop a list of things they have in common. Have them share the most interesting things with the class.
Have a bag of trinkets including things like a pencil, spoon, gum, whiteout, string, lots of McDonald's kids toys, etc. Have each student pick something from the bag that represents their personality and share why as they introduce themselves.
Icebreakers can even be used in large classes. Charlotte D. Sutton (Auburn University) teaches Management classes with 400 students. She has them break into groups of 4-5 and introduce themselves and share phone numbers so that everyone knows others in the class. Then they have to identify the five most important things that a manager does. After they have done that, she goes through the class with a wireless microphone and get a representative of most of the teams to share what they thought. Another student writes all of this on the board. She says that when done, she basically has an outline of the class and is able to say, "Good, these are the things we are going to talk about during the course this semester."
Obviously icebreakers take time that first day of class but they are worth it in terms of establishing the classroom culture you want.
1. Develop Your Philosophy of Teaching
Think about what it is you are trying to do in the classroom. Are you passing on knowledge of a specific subject? Teaching them how to learn? Giving them practical information on how to be an expert in their field? Role-modeling skills to become productive, useful members of society? Or, all of the above? The readings, assignments, and exams you choose to give your students should reflect what you are trying to accomplish. Your students should understand that your assignments are not just busywork but that these are important in order to be successful, both in the class and later in their careers.
2. Establish Your Credibility
Beginning the first day, establish that your students will benefit from taking your course. Share your professional and academic credentials. Bring in newspaper and journal articles with examples of applications of the topics you are teaching. Illustrate that your knowledge is current.
3. Determine Your Class Culture
formal, or informal, you want your class to be. This affects everything
including how you dress for the classroom, how your students address
you, and how you take questions. Keep in mind you also get to decide on
your attitude each day when you walk into the classroom. You want to
be upbeat and enthusiastic so that the students will be excited about
the course also. Show students that you care about them as people:
learn names, and create a classroom culture where they can feel
comfortable asking questions. Your students are less likely to be
disruptive if they know you know their name and if they believe you will
hold them accountable for being professional.
4. Be Clear About Your Expectations
expectations and be consistent in enforcing them. If attendance is
important to you, tell the students this and let them know you will be
noting any absences. If you want assignments turned in on time, then
either don’t accept late papers or take off points if they are late. If
you have a cell phone, bring it with you and make a display of turning
it off before class. Whatever you do, be clear and consistent about
5. Use the First Day of Class Wisely
To emphasize that you are taking the class seriously, give the students an assignment to do that will be collected at the next class meeting. Or assign some reading to do and announce you will have a short quiz on the material during the second class. If the class involves writing, then have them write. If you will be using cases, then do a short case that first day. Keep in mind that the students are trying to figure out on that first day what the class expectations will be. Give the students an idea of what they, and you, will be doing.
6. Handle Discipline Problems Right Away
Remember the importance of “withitness.” The most effective teachers are aware of what is going on in their classrooms and enforce their policies quickly and fairly. If a student is coming in tardy and you do not address the problem, he or she will not suddenly decide to come to class on time. If you do not say anything, you have essentially rewarded the wrong behavior.
Hope everyone has a great semester!
Just read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It's a fascinating study of how much habit plays a part in our daily lives and how we can change bad habits. He also discusses how organizations can break bad habits that their employees have that affect safety or productivity. I’m going to have my students in a Leadership class read this.
Here's a short video by the author on how he broke his chocolate chip cookie habit and lost weight!
Curious about why people are concerned about today being the end of the world? Check out this prezi, The Rational Person's Guide to the Mayan Apocalypse.
Some faculty are allowing their students to set the ground rules for conduct in the classroom as well as the consequences for breaking these rules. The thought behind this approach is that the students are more likely to engage in behaviors that they themselves have established as important in the classroom setting.
Dr. Lisa Rodriguez notes that the faculty member can also insert his/her own additional rules after getting the students' input. Here is her list of typical ground rules that students might agree upon:
Dr. Rodriguez goes on to say that, "For those instructors who might feel anxious about this process living up to the tried (but sometimes not true) statement of conduct dictated by the instructor in the syllabus, we suggest having all students verbally agree upon and/or sign a final list that is duplicated and distributed for future reference...Also, let students know that you are ultimately responsible for maintaining a fair learning environment."
Here are some amazing facts about Finland's educational system:
93 percent of Finns graduate from high school compared to 75.5 percent in the United States.
Teachers in Finland spend only four hours a day teaching and have two hours each week for professional development.
Teachers are selected from the top 10 percent of college graduates and 100 percent have Masters degrees.
You can read more here.
As we finish up the semester, I thought I would share this grade change form that fits any student excuse!
My favorite? "You told us to be creative but you didn't tell us exactly how you wanted that done."
Thanks to Dr. Alec Hosterman for sharing this.
One of the skills I try to help my students with is the ability to make an effective presentation with good eye contact and without reading from their notes. Dr. Miren Ivankovic (Anderson University) uses public speaking opportunities as a way for his students to earn bonus points. As he notes:
To earn the points, the student is required to come in front of the class and tell a story. Usually, the first time we do it, students can choose their own topic and later in a semester I either announce a topic prior to class, or, to make it really demanding, announce a topic once the student is in front of a class. Grading varies from only me deciding on a bonus from 0% to 3% points, to the whole class submitting a grade like a ballot vote and then I average all the numbers. The grade is based on the following points: the quality of vocal presentation, eye contact, body language, the topic discussed and the level of confidence the student has while telling the story.
While I'm usually not a fan of bonus points, I think this is a win-win assignment!
One of the topics I include in a MBA course I teach on Leadership is creativity. The students tend to resist although they do a great job once given permission to be creative. Thus, I found this video by Sir Ken Robinson interesting. He contends that school kills creativity, that we "educate students out of their creativity."
One thing I've learned after 32 years of teaching is that using rubrics for exams, papers, and student presentations means less time grading and more specific feedback for the students. Check out this website for thousands of free rubrics as well as templates for putting togther your own.
We've all had this happened. You give your students something to discuss with the person next to them and then you can't seem to get their attention back again. Raising your voice really loud doesn't usually do it as a room full of students can easily overtalk you. Dr. Rick Sheridan (Wilberforce University) shares his tips for regaining control of the classroom.
Have you ever read a book and then months later can’t recall anything about the book? Or perhaps you pick up a book and start reading and realize after a few chapters that you’ve read it before? I know I have and thus I found this post by Dwayne Morris interesting: How to retrieve what you’ve read-almost instantly.
Check out this interesting article by Professor Jeff Karon (University of South Florida) on plagiarism and how to prevent it.
Here are some other tips you might find useful:
Be proactive in preventing cheating on papers and assignments. Let your students know that you expect them to do their own work and that cheating will be punished in your class.
Put your university’s policy on your syllabus. You should also be familiar with your university’s procedures on reporting cheating so that you follow the appropriate steps if this becomes necessary.
Define the term plagiarism for your students. Many of them do not understand the difference between citing and copying someone else’s work.
Give specific and timely topics on papers so that students cannot simply access the internet for commercially produced papers. Thus, a paper on sexual harassment in the workplace is easily available for sale. A paper on sexual harassment policies in local companies in your town is probably not.
Have students turn in outlines and/or first drafts of their papers to you earlier in the semester and then have them attach those drafts to the final paper when it is due.
Require students to turn in copies of all sources cited including websites, journal articles, and pages of books used.
Read the Bibliography. Dates should be required for interviews and websearches. If these dates do not fall in line with what is reasonable for the semester due dates, that should raise a red flag (tip submitted by Timothy Johnson).
Here's an article on how to use humor in the classroom, especially in those classes that students all have to take but don't necessarily see as relevant to their major. As the authors note:
"Humor is a valuable teaching tool for establishing a classroom climate conducive to learning...Appropriate and timely humor in the college classroom can foster mutual openness and respect and contribute to overall teaching effectiveness."
They go on to say: "Humor is a catalyst for classroom "magic," when all the educational elements converge and teacher and students are both positive and excited about learning. Instructors can foster classroom "magic" through improved communication with students by possessing a playful attitude and a willingness to use appropriate humor."
Thus, humor in the classroom helps to reduce the anxiety students feel and makes for a positive learning environment. In one of my classes, there were a number of students who came in tardy which is actually very unusual in my classroom. It turned out that there was an event on campus that had filled up the parking lots. I didn't know this and was lecturing and every 2-3 minutes another student would come into class. The first one I ignored, the second one I stopped and looked at, the third one I made a comment. By the fourth person I paused and started laughing. Obviously something was going on out of the ordinary. I then accused the students of all standing outside the classroom text messaging each other and deliberately sending in one late student at a time. The class thought it was hilarious. It made the point that I was paying attention and yet didn't place any blame. I find humor a good way to manage the classroom.
You've probably heard of the marshmallow study on delayed gratification that was done back in the 1960s. The research done at Stanford University found that children that were able to delay eating the marshmallows were more likely to be successful later in life.
Researchers at University of Rochester revisited this study by adding the element of uncertainty and were able to demonstrate that delay gratification is influenced by environment as well as by innate self-control. "Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer - 12 versus three minutes - than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations." Thus, being able to trust that the reward will, in fact, be given affects the children's motivation to wait.
Although there's been a lot of press lately on flipping your classroom, it's still necessary for many of us to put together a lecture when teaching our subject matter. Ashley Wiersma shares her tips on how to craft an engaging lecture that will transform the classroom environment from being passive to an active learning experience.
Like many people, I’ve talked for years about writing a novel and have even written a number of chapters. Here’s an interesting post on how to write a novel using the snowflake method.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing Company, shares his best advice for first-time authors including links to other authors and ebooks on writing.
And if you need accountability, consider signing up at NaNoWriMo for National Novel Writing Month. Every year thousands of people take the pledge to write a novel during the month of November. The website has lots of useful tips on how to do this.
Have you ever gotten partway through the semester and wished you had arranged the course differently or developed different assignments or put paper deadlines on different days? Professor Claire Potter gives tips on what she says is acceptable to change on your syllabus and what should stay the same, at least until the next time you teach that class.
Although I actively use social media to interact with the public, I've been reluctant to open up my Facebook page to my students. Instead I use Facebook to keep in contact with family and very close friends. However, I found this list by Jeff Dunn interesting: 100 Ways to Use Facebook in Your Classroom.
Thanks to Janet Symmons for sharing this on Twitter.
Dr. Susan R. Johnson (University of Iowa), discusses ways to deal with the stress of being overwhelmed with the work load you have.
Dr. Johnson has some great suggestions. I sometimes ask my students if they use a "to do list" of some sort? Usually it's about half the class and usually it's my better students.
If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for 9 months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job...D. Quinn
Here is an article for students on how to talk to their professors from Michael Leddy and another from Dustin Wax. These might make a good appendix for your syllabus and/or great suggestions to share with your advisees.
I love the advice to "Tell the truth...your average professor has pretty much heard it all...If a professor thinks s/he’s being played, they’re not going to respond very well to whatever request you have to make, so you might as well be honest. If you feel you absolutely must lie, at least make it a huge flaming whopper of a lie, so the professor can get a good laugh when they share it at the next faculty meeting."Students can also find lots of good advice from Professor Ellen Bremen’s new book, Say This, Not That to Your Professor: 36 Talking Tips for College Success.
Kevin Eikenberry posts on Seven Simple Ways to Subtly
Influence Others in the business world.
As I read down the list, it occurs to me that these are all great tips
that we could use in our classrooms to create a good learning environment. I especially agree with the first one: Use a person’s name. After all, we require our students to learn theories, concepts, terms,
formulas, dates, etc. We should at least do them the courtesy of
learning their names. The students will be surprised and pleased you
did and less likely to be disruptive. And while many of us believe that we are not good at remembering names, there are some tips on learning names if we just make the effort.
I’m reading this article by Thomas L. Friedman who stresses the importance of education today. As he notes:
The unemployment rate today is 4.1 percent for people with four years of college, 6.6 percent for those with two years, 8.8 percent for high school graduates, and 12.0 percent for dropouts.
The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of postsecondary education, make sure that you’re engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules.
Good advice to share with our students.
I had to laugh and then send this to my son who is a design engineer at Microsoft. Lot of truth here :)
I had a former colleague send me this email he got from one of his online students.
prof, i luv this www class, im sittin in my pjs right now workin on the stuff 4 class, but im fraid this assgnmt is gun b late. cud u gimme n x10shun til fri? srry. wont hppen again. ttyl