Blogging Helped me Blog

It’s been a long time since I had a blog, and I’m glad EDUC x 580 has encouraged me to start one again. Just establishing the blog was the hardest part! Because my interests are far broader than teaching in higher education, I look forward to adding content about my other interests and accomplishments, including GIS projects, volunteer events I participate in, and random art and photographs.

Having this blog throughout the semester, very similar to journals I have been assigned in other programs, has encouraged me to really develop a narrative for my experiences in this class, helping me to absorb and reflect on the materials covered. Reading other students blogs is a great, more casual way to learn about other students’ experiences in the program and gain new perspectives.

I had previously tried to get a blog for my students through the state program I work for, but doing it through the government with all the regulations was very discouraging. However, I think in higher education there is more freedom to experiment with these technologies and I could see myself utilizing blogging as a tool for individual students in a class.

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Emotions in the Classroom

This semester, amidst a rather taxing MS Excel lab, my students introduced me to the term “rage quit” as they logged off their computer and left the room.

According to UrbanDictionary.com, the following is the most common definition of the term:

To stop playing a game out of an anger towards an event that transpired within the game.

This also applies to computer programming, geospatial science, image editing, and many other tasks within academia that rely on computers. I have found this semester that while I may tell students to take frequent breaks, eat a snake or take a short walk in between problems, they usually just want to push through, trying to get the assignment done as quickly as possible. No matter how clear the instructions are, there are ultimately glitches and misunderstandings that cause students a great amount of angst.

The most successful technique I have come across so far is modeling the behavior myself. I will lead students through an activity, but take breaks along with them. This gives some people an opportunity to catch up as well. I also encourage that we all stand and stretch, and practice “power poses.” Surprisingly, most follow along as I explain the benefits of the pose. Here’s a video blog explaining the same thing:

 

 

Effective Teaching Methods

The interdisciplinary education I received at The Evergreen State College set a strong foundation in my teens and early twenties for the way I learned and allowed me to see the world through what I like to refer to as a kaleidoscopic lens. Using a combination of social and natural sciences, as well as visual media arts to understand topics allowed for a passionate, engrossing learning experience. I often talk about the first class I took at Evergreen, in Environmental Chemistry. The professor could barely stay still, scribbling equations on the chalkboard and relating to us their importance in the physical world and beyond. I was wowed by his enthusiasm, and amused by his choice of a bright orange shirt and cowboy boots as he sat upon his desk top. I was reminded of him again as I slipped on my own cowboy boots to compliment my bright orange dress on the way to teaching this morning.

Another professor at Evergreen who I never had the pleasure of working with has still influenced me and the other students and educators who I show her videos to. Nalini Nadkarni has taken on bold and innovative solutions to environmental problems by diversifying learning communities and sharing her general passion. In this video, she gives an overview of some of the things she’s taken part in, while telling the story of the importance of conserving our forest canopies.

 

Assessing Student Learning

“So…what questions do you have?”

I dread the blank stares accompanied by silence that I’m sometimes met It’s hard to figure out how students are doing with the subject material, and sometimes it’s hard for them to communicate their struggles. I will be trying the following for my upcoming “Smelly Science” class.

During class, I really like the following idea taken from 20 Quick Formative Assessments:

“Red Card/Green Card – Using red, yellow, and green cards, students can indicate their understanding of the presented material as it happens.”

At the end of class, I want to make the best Jeopardy game my students have ever seen. Not some lame PowerPoint version, something where I can embed images and video. It seems there are a lot of web based generators out there, but I am intrigued most by this one from superteachertools.net.

Engaging all the senses.

I’m teaching a class about smell, more specifically, bad smells. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get a very diverse group of people to be both engaged and supportive of others.

(Scanner is not working tonight – will post a better image on Saturday.)

Diagram of potential opening activities.