Tag Archive for 9x9x25

Kindle for Reading Improvement?

My husband recently went to Phoenix to a computer training session, and he learned about the new Kindle Fire coming out at $49. He ordered me one, and when it came in the mail, I was surprised and not so sure I would use it. After all, I really do like paper versions of books, and I do have a Kindle app on my iPad, but I have found it really comfortable to hold, and the text breezes across the screen like silk.

Another discovery I made with this device is that it has a few tools that may help English language learners quite a bit. The first tool is Word Wise. Readers can Hide or Show the Word Wise mini-definitions for selected words in the book. Readers can also adjust from Fewer Hints to More Hints depending on their personal preference. I find that these tips aren't too helpful for me, but for someone learning English, I believe they would be very helpful. Imagine learning a language and having a small group of easier words in that language showing up immediately above the word you don't know yet, and that is basically what Word Wise offers.

Word Runner is the other tool I find intriguing as a Reading instructor. Notice how in this image on the left the text rolls through one word at a time. Readers can adjust the reading rate up or down. The words are also paced differently with complex words coming up more slowly, and easier words coming up at a faster rate. This pacing is an enhanced form of speed reading technology that is sure to catch on for more than English language learners. I have even enjoyed practicing speeding up my own reading rate. Imagine the possibilities this tool can have in K-12 schools all around the country!

And alas, it is still a Kindle. This tool has Internet, Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Camera, Help, Auto Rotate, and Settings buttons. The Home page has Silk Browser, Amazon Freetime, Goodreads, Calendar, Photos, Contacts, Docs, Calculator, and many other apps already loaded and included in the low $49 price. Audiobooks, Newsstand, Kindle Books, and other apps can easily be used for all kinds of homework and classroom activities. Maybe Canvas will even decide to add some of these apps.

 For now I will practice learning the capabilities of the Kindle Fire 5th Generation. I am seriously considering asking the college to get a set of these for classroom use for the ENG085 class. Another idea is to have students order one as part of their textbook supplies for the semester. And if any of you have children or grandchildren who may benefit, for $49, it is not a bad investment in their education. Be blessed, and have a great week!

Brush With Death, Right There In My Office—When Snakes Attack

Two summers ago I was working in my office, when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  My door was closed and so I thought that the movement behind me deserved at least a cursory investigation.  When I whirled around in my swivel chair I was met by the coiled gaze of a snake.  Really, truly.  A snake was in my office.  That might not have been such a novelty if my office were Rich Leclaire’s, who opens his office door into the Wild Wild West, but my office is located smack dab in the middle of an urban academic bauhaus wasteland, also known as the labyrinth of building three level two.  You know what I’m talking about (even the math/science guys come over once a semester to use the Scantron machine, so I’m sure that everyone knows what I’m talking about), so it seems somewhat crazy that a snake would be found in my office.

After corralling the snake into my recycle bin and ushering it outside, I was met with an ethical dilemma, am I obligated to tell my colleagues that I found a real live snake in my office?  On the one hand, this might freak them out and make them paranoid, on the other hand, maybe they’d like to know so that they might prepare themselves against such a calamity; I hear rattle snake anti-venom can be purchased from some clandestine online retailers, for the right price of course (don’t ask me why I know that).

This harrowing experience made me think of our students.  Many want to go on in pursuit of a course of action in complete blissful ignorance, even if said course is damaging to them, and they don’t want any outside intervention standing in their way.  This puts the instructor in a likewise ethically difficult situation.  If a student wants to be a writer, and I teach creative writing, and the student is horrible, and is never likely to markedly improve, what do I do?  Is it my obligation to have that tough chat with the student and say, “You know, maybe this is not for you”.  Or, do I let them go on taking class after class in pursuit of their goal, yes improving a little, but never reaching a level of excellence which would allow him to obtain gainful employment through his craft.  As instructors and program gatekeepers, we have a doubly daunting moral dilemma, because their continuance in our programs helps our enrollment, even if, in the end, it will never help them toward a career.  As an instructor of creative writing, what do you do?  (Maybe we can get Laraine to respond here . . .?)

I have taught Spanish long enough to recognize when someone is going to be successful in my discipline, but many folks will painfully never reach Spanish excellence.  I had a student who had tons of desire, but she just had almost no aptitude for the language.  She wanted to be bilingual, but even though her learning goals were in-sync with her interests and her values, they were unfortunately very out-of-sync with her aptitudes and abilities.  In the FYE 103 course, we try to encourage students to align their interests, values and aptitudes around a (hopefully lucrative) major.  If you only have two out of three, you probably won’t succeed, at least not very long, in a chosen field.  But my student tried hard.  Even after living in a Spanish speaking country for over a year, she still really struggles with Spanish and is not understood by many native speakers.  Have I been derelict in my duty toward this student by not telling her that Spanish is not for her?

What should our obligations be toward the blissfully ignorant student?  I find that nearly every student comes into my class with gloriously unfounded optimism.  I think we should blame it on Mr. Rogers, (some have labelled this the “Mr. Rogers generation”).  He was the first one, after all, to tell all children that they really matter and are important, when he should have been telling them, as my colleague once pointed out, that “Psych majors are a dime a dozen, life is hard, and humans are hard-wired for failure”.  Do we do our psych majors a disservice by not telling them that we have a stack of resumes for psych majors who want to teach with us, none of whom ever will.  Do we do them a disservice by not telling them that psychologists and FBI profilers (the two things they want to be because they’ve seen them on NETFLIX) have their Ph.Ds and go to school for 10 solid years?  The masses of students at YC love a few things, usually psych, some art and some music.  At YC, this fall term, there are 37 sections of psych.  The AGEC requires three credits of psych and three credits of sociology so you’d think that the sectional offerings would be fairly commensurate across these disciplines, yet we offer only 14 sections of SOC, because NETFLIX doesn’t have any sociologists, to my knowledge.  Music?  There are 113 sections.  Art?  There are 82 sections.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hate on ANY discipline.  Every area of inquiry is valuable in my mind (remember, I’m a Spanish instructor, who am I to cast the first stone), but what I do try to point out to students is that vocal performance majors who “make it” are very rare.  The same is true of art students who are able to survive through their art alone.  Psychologists, even for those who actually become card carrying doctoral psychologists, are many, and jobs are scarce for people who want to hear about problems from the couch—not to mention the mere handful of positions left open for profilers in Quantico (despite what Criminal Minds leads you to believe).  Yet, today’s student is sure, sure against sure, that he will be one of the chosen few, because, as all of their Facebook friends know, they are very special indeed.

I had to laugh as I interacted with one of my teen students who was sure that just after Yavapai College she was headed to Julliard to play the violin.

“How long have you been playing the violin?” I asked, trying to stay optimistic.

“About two years now.  Yeah, I’ve just recently picked it up, but I’m taking to it like a fish to water”.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she started playing the violin about 12 years too late if she wants to be accepted at Julliard.  What I did tell her was that getting a transcript forwarded from Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona that shows a “C” in SPA 101, is not a good way to get in either (she turned in a few more assignments after that).

Mark Shelley once encouraged me to ask my students how much income they expected to make in their first career job out of college.  So, I took him up on the challenge and I had my students simply write their name and a dollar amount on a piece of paper.  They then passed it up to the front and the comedy began.  One of my students who had complained all semester about his hatred for math and his math teacher, was the most vocal.  He ridiculed everyone.  He said, “Hi Wendy, I want to shake the hand of the first 6 figure philosophy graduate the U.S. has ever seen”.  In his defense, there were many six figure salaries in there.  One high school football coach figured he’d make $120,000, another student planning to go into our viticulture program was sure to make $80,000 right off the bat and our digital film making bound were making well into the $90,000 salary range.  When I got to the vocipherous math hater, his card read, “$100,000, and I know that it’s correct because I’ve researched this”.  I asked, “What field are you going into?”  He promptly proclaimed “Engineering” to a class that only saw me laughing about the ironies in his career choice.

I know that you’re wondering, so I thought I’d report.   Number of sections of accounting:  12.  What we need are more shows about accountants on NETFLIX . . .  maybe ones that fight crime!?

Now, after much deliberation, I’ve decided to tell my students straight up.  Heaven knows that their parents won’t do it, Mr. Rogers won’t do it and I wonder if university recruiters will do it on transfer day, so the buck stops at me.

“What are you going into?” I’ll ask.

“I’m a psychology major.  I want to be an FBI profiler.”

“Ahh, I see.  Do you have a back-up plan.  I hear FBI jobs are hard to get”.

They look befuddled for a minute, as if they never considered not getting into the FBI, I mean, they are them after all, with nearly 350 Facebook sycophants reminding them, on the daily, that they’d “be like a totally awesome profiler, because you like always know what I’m thinking and stuff”.  Then, they come up with a contrived plan “B” on the fly:   “Or maybe a veterinarian, I’m not really sure yet”.  Then I try to encourage the plan “B” with all I’m worth.  Better to end up a marginally successful veterinarian than an out of work profiler, that’s what I always say.

So, with the office snake invasion, after great deliberation I decided to tell my colleagues about my brush with death.  Jenny was angry; she wanted to live on in blissful ignorance and avoid the paranoia of imagined future snake attacks, but Debbie thanked me.  She wanted to plan against the day of her own office serpentine invasion.  Wise girl!  Better to have bought anti-venom and not needed it than to have never bought anti-venom at all—another thing that I always say.

Get Better…Now!

thinkerAt the end of each semester, I like to think about how the semester went. What did I do a good job with? How was my stress level during the semester? Did any project just bomb?

Immediately, a couple students who really got it come to mind. For a day or so, I can frolic in the feeling left by their success. Inevitably, it the students who did not do so well that stick with me. Or the assignment that seemed so intuitive that few students were able to complete it successfully.

I can’t go into the next semester feeling like I did nothing to remedy those failures. But I am not smart enough to come up with ideas for improving my teaching on my own. I need to find ideas elsewhere. Luckily, there are a huge number of educators who like to share their ideas. They can be found at the college I work for, at conferences, and even online. It is just a matter of finding them.

I am lucky that mathematics instructors at two year colleges have a terrific conference they can attend. The American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC) is an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of faculty in the first two years of college. Each November, the organization holds a conference with a couple hundred presentations. Most of these presentations outline different teaching strategies for mathematics that are ripe for stealing. A lot of what I do in the classroom was inspired by what I learned at this conference. I’ll bet that your teaching discipline has a similar organization that might be a great resource for improving your teaching.

Not everyone has the resources to attend a national conference. Luckily, AMATYC has chapters in almost every state. One of the most active chapters is ArizMATYC here in Arizona. ArizMATYC organizes two miniconferences each year in conjunction with the Mathematics Articulation Meeting. For $15, you can spend a day rubbing elbows with other mathematics educators from around the state. At the miniconference last Friday, there were 10 or 12 presentations on all sorts of topics in math education. Small meetings like this are inexpensive to attend and require a very small time committment, 1 day.

You can even participate in discussions about mathematics from the comfort of your own home. Blogs like mine can offer a wealth of information about education. There are several that I have read regularly over the past few years.

  • informED – This blog is hosted by Open Colleges in Australia and features several authors from around the world who write about just about every topic you can imagine. My favorite author is Saga Briggs. She always gets me thinking about what I do and how it relates to the wider body of educational research. Her posts embolden me to apply this research in my classroom.

  • Faculty Focus – This website publishes articles from faculty around the country. Although the company that produces these articles sells wares via this website, there is a lot of free stuff there too. Even though it is oriented toward a general higher education audience, I am always amazed at how much my mathematics classroom has in common with classrooms in totally different disciplines.


  • Google – Google is not so much a blog as a form of social media. If you have a Google account, you can subscribe to various communities within Google . Some of these communities have thousands of subscribers. I currently subscribe to two communities on project based learning, oneon Google Apps, two on technology in education, and another connected to Techsmith (makers of Camtasia). Whenever I have a free minute, I’ll look at my Google feed to see what other participants are posting. I can also add my blog posts to feeds and widen the audience who views my blog. Although there is a lot of commercial crap on some of these communities, there are also a lot of great tips.

And don’t forget the TelsWebletter at my own college, Yavapai College. This website is produced by the tech teaching gurus here. Not only do they produce a lot of original content, but they also collect and aggregate information on teaching with technology from around the web.

There is a huge amount out there for us to learn from…do a little searching and I’ll bet you will find something to help you clear the nightmares at the end of the semester.


This is a Test- This is Only a Test

       It's another Saturday morning and here I am in a quiet library doing it yet again: administering a test. As usual, I shook a new tutoring student's hand, sat her down, had her fill out form after form, then slid an answer sheet across the table to her and started the timer. This time it's a GED practice exam. It could have been reading fluency, a driver's permit practice test, or basic math skills. They're important, these assessments, I know that. They give me a starting point to launch from; an idea of where this individual has been, academically speaking; and a measure of how far we have to go together to accomplish their goals. Most importantly, they give me a baseline to report to my students' counselors, my real bosses, to which they can compare future scores. After all, they need some way to measure if our tutoring sessions are worth the pretty penny that the state is dishing out for them.
     This same tutoring client also joined my GED preparation class this week at Yavapai College. What was the first thing we did together in the classroom? Again, mounds of paperwork and then 8 tests all in a row, this time the TABE. The first three class hours I spent with her consisted of this one-sided conversation and the sounds of pencil scratches and page turning: "You have twelve minutes, please begin....You have 5 minutes, please begin.....You have 8 minutes, please begin....You have 12 minutes, please begin....You have 25 minutes please begin....You have 15 minutes, please begin...You have 25 minutes, please begin....You have 25 minutes, please begin." By the end I was apologizing to her, "I'm sorry. This is the worst day, I swear. Class will get better." I let her go wondering if she would come back. Would you?
      I didn't even have the heart to tell her she's not done yet. Chances are good that she might have to retest in one or more of the subject areas. The way the TABE is designed, the first four tests are "locators," meant to narrow down what general level a student performs at in each subject so that you can give them more tests at their ability level and further pinpoint their grade level equivalents. That's how those locator tests are supposed to work anyway. Frequently though, the student doesn't end up with a final score in the range that they should based on their locator. In that case, the score is deemed out of range, and we are required to retest them as soon as possible. Almost half my class needed at least one retake at the beginning of the school year. I'm not the only one; the instructor I share an office with has been bemoaning the fact that many of her retests were still out of range and those students needed to be RE-retested. Additionally, once the student has hit 30 or 40 hours of instructional time, depending on their level, I'm expected to get another round of TABE testing out of them to obtain that all important data. Eighty percent of them have got to show progress in their weakest area after 30-40 hours of instruction. It makes sense, it does. After all, our program is funded by tax dollars. The State needs data, The Federal Government needs data. How else would we get standardized, objective, quantifiable data?
       How else, indeed? I began this blog last week Saturday and I've been pondering this question since then trying to come up with a moral to my tale, a positive take-away. If not all the tests, what? I still don't have an answer and my midnight on Sunday writing deadline looms. However, there are a few things I do know. "Because it's on the test" is not enough relevancy to make a concept matter to my students. Some of them may never finish 25 math computations in 25 minutes but that doesn't mean they can't learn the concepts.  Most importantly perhaps, test scores only reflect one aspect of their classroom progress. There are so many valuable and important lessons that I watch my students struggle with and finally grasp that cannot be measured by any test score. There are students who realize they are capable of things they never thought they could do, like algebra. Students fall in love with poetry or develop a passion for numbers. Others who once rolled their eyes and sat with their arms folded begin leaning forward and listening, curiosity sparked.  Students who originally trembled when asked to introduce themselves begin participating in conversations. I have no way to report this data but that doesn't make it any less valuable. Not all learning is quantifiable.

Marie Hardman Health Educator 2015-10-11 11:02:00

Test Anxiety – How Can We Help?

Anxiety is the feeling of being worried or nervous about an event. Test anxiety is when student get so nervous before an exam that they forget all the information they have studied. They may not even read the question or answers correctly. The student may experience fear of failure or feeling inadequate. They may feel physical symptoms like headache or nausea. Students make themselves physically sick thinking about the exam.

All sources remind students to not try and cram all the information into their brains the night before the exam. It is best to study daily and review the information again and again to learn it. Students need to get sleep the night before, eat a breakfast with protein, and show up early for the exam to help reduce anxiety. I tell students to eat eggs, not donuts, for breakfast. Low blood sugar can cause lightheadedness during long exams.

Most students with anxiety finish the exams with time remaining. They rush through the exam wanting it to be over. They get more anxious when students finish before them. It is better for students to know that it is their exam and to not pay attention to other students.

I had test anxiety during college because of my dyslexia. I did not read the questions correctly, therefore I could not choose the best answer. I learned to read the first ten questions without answering them. By the time I had gotten to the eleventh question, I was calmer and could read the questions clearly. At the end of the exam, I would go back and read the first ten questions, and then they would make sense to me.

How can we as teachers help students with test anxiety during exams? I have seen students so upset, I thought they were going to pass out during an exam. I try to teach students to stop, close their eyes and take three slow deep breaths if they start to feel anxious. This helps relax their muscles and bring oxygen to their brain. As teachers, we need to realize that many students experience test anxiety. Students are not learning to cope with life in general and this is one expression of it. We can assist students by teaching them exam coping skills before exam day. Encourage students to practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, before exam day so they are ready to use it when test anxiety strikes.

Teaching to learning styles

Teaching and learning for different learning styles can make our job very challenging!  I want to discuss some things I am trying as well as ask suggestions or ideas as I try to put this research into practice J  As I am preparing my Elementary Teachers to teach in their own classrooms, I feel like I need to practice what I preach.  So how can I introduce math to different learning styles in my college classroom?

First of all, somehow the students need to assess (either a self assessment or one given by us) their personal learning style.  Most research says we fit into these three categories – Movement (kinesthetic), Visual (pictures or diagrams) and Auditory (hearing it).  I try to implement each of these three in my daily teaching (visual and auditory are easier than kinesthetic) in unique ways, and I think it would benefit all instructors to remember that students all learn differently, and we need to try to address all the styles as much as possible.

Conferences and the subsequent idea sharing has a way of re-energizing my professional practice.  It is funny that I started this blog on Thursday and Friday’s Arizmatic conference provided me with new ideas to put into practice.  Two of the speakers focused on active learning in developmental education, and I am very excited to put a couple of these ideas into “motion” this upcoming semester.

Teaching in meaningful ways help the students not only learn the material, but retain it from year to year, semester to semester, and to apply it.  And there is a big difference between learning actively as opposed to learning through application; I tied those together early in my career, but I feel I am getting away from it as material and responsibility piles up.  I had a project for each unit in Pre-Calculus when I taught that at the high school level, but as for implementing those in my college classroom, I am trying to do that without increasing the student work burden.

With the daily demands of the college and classroom, I am trying to keep perspective of what is important: service to students and student learning.  And my hope is that I can continue to improve my practice while also providing my future teachers with insight on how they can improve learning for the students they will serve.

Number Three

As we reach the middle of the semester
I find there is so much to do
Keep up on grading
Recreated a course or two

Then there is this blog
Trying to keep up the rhymes
An extra added burden
To this thing called time

I reach deep into my soul
And pull on my weary brain
You can do it Ruth
I say to myself again

The courses have been checked
All ways of communicating viewed
I think I am caught up
Finally, changes can be pursued

It seems when I fall out of step
It takes longer to regain
Seven courses to keep up
Yet, I am the only one to take blame

Students demand more time
The answers they cannot find
The textbook does it wrong
Where is that presence of mind

In the very beginning of the class
The text I did state
Is from a different version
The lectures will open the gate

Read my child form both places
And you will clearly see
An answer come before you
My little gamer enrollee

Because of this confusion
The assignments I will twist
To reflect on more material
The Lecture and Text will coexist

Yes…Next semester will change
An updated version of the text
What will they miss next
Of this I am perplexed

Now…and unrelated video from David Bowie

Campus Safety and the Benefits of Constructive Conversations

My phone starts buzzing, or I overhear that ‘OMG tone’ in the rumblings in the Learning Center near my office.  There’s been another school shooting.  At a community college.  People are dead.  Families are grieving.  News alerts go out, with varying accuracy and tone, and unwavering repetitiveness.  Pundits grab for a microphone.  And for at least a week afterwards, there will be varying responses featured on the media, concerns from my family about whether my job is more dangerous, and furtive comments on campus from colleagues or students.  

In some schools, there may be an email sent reminding employees to seek help from our EAP, or to contact campus police if you are concerned for your safety.  Perhaps even a comment from counselors about vicarious trauma, and the triggering impact that these national traumas have on those who struggle with PTSD.  Or collective pondering about what makes one student resilient and another go, literally, ballistic.  And a very real concern from a faculty member that a bad grade she assigns could cause a student to lose their grip on reality and do something deadly.  Questions go unasked, unanswered.  And then we go back to business-as-usual; until the next time.  I wonder what this says to our students.  Does anyone dare ask “Do you feel safe at school?” or “How should we address this issue?”

I felt that similarly frustrated this semester after viewing “The Hunting Ground” (http://www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com/) film about sexual assaults on college campuses.  I wondered how violent acts like this could possibly happen and be ‘under the radar?’  Current figures estimate that 20% of college freshman will be assaulted.  Did you know that the reported percent of Military Sexual Trauma is also 20%?  The Do-Not-Talk rule doesn’t seem to be helping reduce these incidents, in fact, it may contribute to it.  How can we foster a safe learning environment for our students, and a safe working environment for our employees, without an open discourse on these difficult topics?

Should we address these horrible current events head-on in the classroom, or in private sessions with those who bring it up, or do we just wait?  Does everyone know we have a defined response to safety concerns (with a handy chart)?  We also have a Title IX Coordinator for addressing sexual assault issues.  Whenever I have questions on safety/conduct or a concern, we have a very accessible Campus Police presence (thank you!) and we have our CARE Team (928-776-2273: Program into your cell phone) and perhaps most importantly, we do have each other.  

There are a lot of different opinions regarding campus safety, some are informed, some are emotional, all need to be heard.  I don’t know the answer.  I’m not even sure that I know the right questions.  It’s probably good that we don’t know how many incidents are averted just by someone caring to ask, “Is everything ok?” or “What can I do to help you right now?”  And though I would prefer to ignore the horrible news like these crimes on campus for my own peace of mind, I think the higher path is to discuss them openly and remind everyone of our resources.  No one can learn, when they are concerned for their safety.

Missed Opportunities

Last 9x9x25 I wrote about Phi Theta Kappa and why it is a great opportunity for our students. This year, I want to highlight some of the scholarship opportunities that our students have available to them, and that they often miss out on…because they don’t know they exist. So, I need your help.  If you work with students, please let them know about these opportunities.

Each year, students can apply for the All-Arizona scholarship.  If they are selected they receive this scholarship, they will receive a full tuition scholarship to complete their education at ASU, U of A or NAU.  They can also qualify to receive additional stipends, and possibly recognition in USA TODAY.  The best part about this scholarship is that we have lots of them to give away (2 per campus to be exact).  So, here is the information that you need to pass onto your students:


Students must have a 3.50 GPA (for all course work, from all institutions for the past five years) to apply for this scholarship.  They do not need to be members of Phi Theta Kappa, but if they aren’t, they will have to sign up for a guest account on PTK’s site.

Students must be enrolled at least through December 2015.  Preferably, they will be graduating in Spring 2016.  They must plan to enroll at a four year institution in Fall of 2016.

Students must have completed at least 30 community college credit hours in the past five years.  Preferably, they should have 36 completed hours by December 2015 and 48 completed hours by August 2016.

Students must be temporary or permanent residents of the US and be able to verify their citizenship.

Students record must be free of disciplinary action.  If the student has been convicted of a crime, all conditions of his/her sentence must be met.

Application Process:

Students must visit my.ptk.org to complete the application.  If they are members of Phi Theta Kappa, they will use their IDs for the organization to log in.  If not, the student will need to create an account.  The application begins with an eligibility quiz to insure that students who apply are qualified.

Students will need to select a home campus when they fill out their application.  This campus should either be where their major is housed (for example, PV for EMS) or they should have taken at least 50% of their on ground courses at that campus.

Students will need to find two recommenders.  One will fill out a leadership evaluation and one will fill out an academic evaluation.  Students should focus on finding these people early.  They should know the student well, as their evaluations make up a large part of the application.

The internal deadline for YC for this scholarship is NOVEMBER 2ND.

One more time…NOVEMBER 2nd.  PTK’s deadline is a bit later; however, we need the extra time to make our selections.  A YC specific committee is selected to evaluate the applicants.  Two from each campus are selected as the All-ARIZONA recipients (this is the scholarship to one of the three state universities) and the All-USA nominees.

If you think you know a student that might be right for this scholarship, please encourage him or her to apply.  Also, encourage students to attend my All-Arizona/All-USA workshop on October 12th at 12:30 p.m. in Building 3, Room 269 on the Prescott Campus.  Don’t miss this opportunity!

Bells & Whistles v. Process & Product

On Learning: As profs, we often wish to engage in discussions on teaching & learning. For my dissertation I studied Hesburgh Award winners for excellence in T & L. But, I think when we, the teachers, focus on the topic; we lean heavily on the teaching aspect…which is to be expected, I suppose. Of late, I’ve gleaned some things and have begun to examine my own learning. Hopefully, it is analogous to my students’ learning.

I’ve decided I’m very linear. Honestly, as a college student for 11 years and as a professor for 23, in both venues, I am linear. This is both a strength and a weakness. I get things done. I’m facing 80 essays to grade this week. I want to get them back to my students quickly, but in English 101 and 102, these essays are critical for students’ tenure in college. So there’s that time thing; I’m not very good at multi-tasking. I want to grade before doing anything else (including teaching). I don’t say this for sympathy, it’s what I signed on for, but being so linear, I’m likely to get nothing else done this week. Hence the weakness. Because I am so linear, I design my classes in the same way. They are scaffolded. Students seem to like it that way, although it’s very easy for me to see when students haven’t learned what was required before moving to the next step.

This brought to mind something I learned in a graduate class called Online Instructional Design and is, apparently, part of the Quality Matters’ philosophy (taking that in November).   What I have learned is the Bells & Whistles in design, really don’t have much to do with learning. It also helps to have children in college.   I have had three. It gives me opportunity to peek over their shoulders and see what’s going on in their classes. Bells and whistles confuse. Linear seems to be preferred by my students (and kids). But, I’ve learned more…

Being linear in course design, tends to make students more product rather than process oriented in their performance. In other words, they want to jump to the last item on the list (the product) and not complete the whole list in order to get there (the process). Of course, it is the process where the learning takes place. Quite the quagmire. At least for me.