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Blackboard Jungle 7 kicked off this week with a keynote by Charlayne Hunter-Gault on Monday and continues this Friday, March 28th, with a day of workshops and presentations. (See schedule)

In support of Blackboard Jungle, the CTL is offering two workshops in collaboration with Writing in the Disciplines.   They’ll take place on April 4th from 9:30am -12:45pm at CTL in room 303 Bailey Howe. Follow the links below to register for one or both of the workshops.

–April 4, 2014, Bailey/Howe 303
Bridging the Gaps: Creating More Inclusive Teaching Environments

Part I

9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
This workshop will cover techniques and strategies on how to create more inclusive physical and virtual teaching environments.
Facilitators: Henrietta “Henrie” Paz-Amor and Holly Buckland Parker
» REGISTER HERE

Part II

11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
This second part will focus on development of curricula for face-to-face and online courses using the principles of Universal Design for Learning with the goal of making learning accessible for ALL students.
Facilitators: Holly Buckland Parker and Susanmarie Harrington
» REGISTER HERE

UVM’s Hybrid Course Initiative, conducted by the CTL, is now into the second implementation phase. There are currently three cohorts of faculty who are either teaching or in the process of designing/redesigning hybrid courses. By the end of this second phase of the initiative, we’ll have assisted in launching nearly 30 hybrid courses! (Learn about hybrid teaching and about the UVM initiative, here.)

We’re currently welcoming applications for the next faculty cohort that begins meeting in August ‘14. Participants in this cohort will be eligible for a support package that includes a laptop, a grant to aid in the development of their course, and support from the CTL staff. **APPLICATION DIRECTIONS** and more detailed information about support packages for each phase of the initiative can be found on the Hybrid Course Initiative page. Applications are due by March 31st.

If you’re interested and want to learn more, we’ll be holding an informational session, “What ’s the Hype About Hybrid?,” on Thursday, March 20th. (Read more and register for this session, here.)

2014 dates to keep in mind:

  • March 20th – Information Session: “What ’s the Hype About Hybrid?
  • March 31st – Applications due for the Fall ’14 faculty cohort (info here)
  • April 15th – Applicants notified of acceptance by end of day
  • Welcome and informational luncheon in late-April
  • Cohort meetings begin in August

If you can’t make it to the March informational session, feel free to email the co-directors of the program: Jennifer Dickinson (jadickin@uvm.edu) or Henrie Paz-Amor (hpazamor@uvm.edu) to set up some time to talk about your interest in the program.

It often feels like there are not enough hours in our days to get everything done. To make life a bit more manageable, we need some system(s) and process(es) to help take the stress out of the workload.

Here are a few ways to help you manage your projects, large and small, and ultimately allow you to become more efficient:

Note: All links below will open in a new tab (or window, depending on your browser settings).

  1. Make a list of your priorities. Here are a few ways to do that:pencil and paper
    • Do a “brain dump.” Take a few minutes and grab a stack of sticky notes and write each task that comes to mind
    • Organize tasks by categories (e.g. home, work, class)
    • Choose a project to focus on
  2. To-do listSet some goals for yourself, organize your lists…
    • by priority (H-high, M-medium, L-low)
    • by project or location (work, home, school)
    • by deliverables (what is due first)
    • by importance (what matters most)
    • by time needed (how long will each task take to accomplish)

    Write down the tasks associated under each priority.

  3. Schedule your day! Follow this resource to learn how.
  4. For projects, plan out the pieces and parts – here is a resource to get you started.
  5. checking things off the list Read this blog post to find some resources to help get organized
  6. Cross off tasks as you complete them.
    • Keep your lists close by and easy to find
    • Use paper or find a program that helps keep you organized
    • At the beginning of each week update your plan and set some goals for the week
    • Every morning review your list to see what needs to be done (this also helps me get grounded for the day of work)
    • Delegate, schedule and, re-schedule anything that does not get accomplished

Resources to learn more:

Learn how to prioritize in 12 steps
http://www.wikihow.com/Prioritize

Prioritizing Projects in 3 steps
http://www.wikihow.com/Prioritize-Projects

Time Management for Students
http://www.cob.sjsu.edu/nellen_a/time_management.htm

Time Management: Tips to reduce stress and improve productivity
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/time-management/wl00048

CTL Blog Post on Time Management (with links to task management tools: Wunderlist, Got Milk, Google Keep)
http://blog.uvm.edu/ctl/2012/12/17/time-management-resources/

Additional Task Management Tools:

It seems like we hear this more and more: “I’ve been crazy busy!” So, in the interest of getting to “sane busy,” I’m listing here what I think are some of the best work tools and techniques for time and task management:

  1. To-do List Apps: Write down everything you need to do for a particular list, prioritize your list, assign dates, take action, and then cross them off when done. Be sure to prioritize your workload. Work backwards from project due dates to set your deadlines and prioritize your tasks. For more help prioritizing your workload take a look at: http://www.wikihow.com/Prioritize-Projects.

    Here are some apps/websites to try:


    Remember The Milk

    Remember the Milk. Share lists, syncs across computers, tablets, smart phones (iphone & android), google calendar, gmail, outlook and twitter!


    Wunderlist. It has a simple and clean interface, ability to share /email your lists, and syncs with all of my computers and devices. Smart lists and notes here too.


    Toodledo

    Toodledo. A powerful tool when you are looking for robust task manager. Includes hotlists, filters, sorting, scheduling, notes, file attachments, sharing, time tracking, imports lists, alarms, and more. Syncs with multiple devices.


  2. Timers to help you stay on task. The Pomodoro Technique is a simple, effective approach to time management that chunks the work into “pomodoros” (or tomato, in Italian)—25 minute periods of focus—followed by short breaks. This is effective for projects that take a good deal of focused energy to complete. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. A Google search for pomodoro timers or pomodoro technique will yield a lot of results, but here’s one site that’s all about the simple timer: Pomodoro Timer.

    There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

    • After creating your to-dos, decide on the task to be done;
    • Set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes;
    • Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x;
    • Take a short break (3-5 minutes); and
    • Every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–30 minutes)
  3. Get(ting) Things Done is a time-management methodology, as described in the book with the same title by productivity consultant David Allen, often referred to simply as GTD. The Getting Things Done method rests on the idea that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally, so the mind is free from the job of remembering the tasks that need to be completed. One can then concentrate on performing the tasks, instead of remembering.

    I read this book in a moment of panic earlier in the semester and it has been a serious stress reducer. It’s full of ideas to help you, well, get things done.

    The David Allen Company lists many tools to help you manage your time more efficiently like TheBrain and EverNote. Richard Winters wrote an article reviewing 3 apps he uses to get things done including the low-tech index/notecard.

     

This semester I had the privilege of presenting the workshop “Building Your Stress Toolbox: Minimizing the Impact of Stress on Your Life & on You.” I held the workshop twice, once for the Womyn@Noon program offered through the Women’s Center and again at the Center for Teaching & Learning.

The presentation was about managing stress to minimize the impact it has on our lives, a topic that affects us all. Stress is all around us, but what is stress? There are many definitions out there, but for this article, I like this definition I found at Mountain State Centers for Independent Living:

“Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength. This class will discuss different causes of stress, how stress affects you, the difference between ‘good’ or ‘positive’ stress and ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ stress, and some common facts about how stress affects people today.”

Because stress comes from everywhere, we can’t get away from it. My recommendation: Plan for it.

Here is an excerpt from the collection of resources I have collected related to stress management:

Build Resilience

When feeling the effects of stress it is important for us to be able to:

photo of trees and clouds

  1. Recognize the stress and its impact on us. Identify what and how stress affects us.

  2. Reorient the perspective back to “me.” Focus on self-care.

  3. Realize and utilize the resources around to help manage or minimize stress and its impact.

Recognize Stress

There are a few different levels of stress, categorize your stress into: low stress, mid stress and extreme stress to plan for each. Ask yourself the question, “What stresses me?” This helps us to zone-in on the causes of stress in our lives. Make a list for yourself in a journal or a document that you will keep in your stress toolbox.

To mitigate the impact of stress in your life, it is important to recognize the signs of stress in and around you. We each have a variety of ways of responding to our stress. Some ways help us to move through it, while other ways just have us moving in circles and creating additional stress. Writing these out can help us begin to plan what tool to use when we are feeling overwhelmed and it becomes too hard to think.

Reorient the Perspective

So often when stress takes a hold of us, we resist checking in with ourselves and our needs. We just try to “get it all done.” This added distracting inner voice compounds our stress response. Maybe it’s that we are used to taking care of others’ needs first and forget about our own needs. Self-care is critical to success. Having a plan helps us when it is the hardest to see ourselves. Planning helps us to focus on self-care.

Utilize the Resources

It is important to have many different ways to take care of ourselves when stress takes over. Start building your toolbox. This is important to do for ourselves because stress is personal, specific, and individual.

For my first post to the CTL blog, I wanted to share some resources with the larger UVM community as a follow-up to my Sound (Teaching) Bite this week that offered a few strategies and tools for educators to help students assess their own learning styles and abilities to read, comprehend, understand, and learn course materials.

soundbite image

The focus on getting students in gear for learning is really about preparing students to become their own active learning agents—accountable for and engaged in the process of learning.

As with creating courses, the course objectives are the first step. Before we go there, here are some guiding questions I shared to help with this discussion:

  1. How do you know if your students are understanding, comprehending, and learning their course reading material?
  2. How do you get your students to do the readings?
  3. How do you know your students are learning and absorbing content? 
    Guess what? They may not know either!
  4. How do I help students be accountable for their learning process? I propose that with consistent assessment and evaluation deeper learning can happen.

So how do we do this? Remember, as mentioned above: 

Evaluation needs to connect to learning objectives.

As you start this process, ask yourself, why are you evaluating? 

To make sure that students prepare for classroom discussion? (formative)

To prepare students to succeed on class exams? (summative)

Here are a few tools for evaluating student learning: 

  • Anonymous quizzes for “just in time teaching” (JiTT) – formative assessment
  • Readiness assessment tests (RATs) or online mid-semester and end-of-year survey (ungraded) – formative assessment
  • Pre- and Post- exams (graded) – formative and summative assessment
  • Using iClickers in the classroom – formative assessment

Examples and resources for preparing students to succeed and help them get to know their learning process:

Reader’s Guide
http://www.facultyfocus.com/wp-content/uploads/images/readers-guide.pdf
Developed by Tiffany F. Culver, PhD this reading guide is a great tool that you can adapt and give to students as a helpful roadmap to help them figure out what they are reading. It is broken down into 3 parts: Planning (preparing students to focus), Reading (how to read – techniques to help with retention), and Evaluate (promoting critical thinking). This 1 page guide (2 sided) is helpful to all students and makes reading accessible and efficient. It also makes me wish I had something like this when I was in college! 

Reading Strategies
http://www.mindtools.com/rdstratg.html
In this blog post, MindTools authors provide helpful tips and resources for pulling out the important information when reading (including info on mind-mapping for active reading). What I like about this post is that it breaks down the process of “Reading Efficiently by Reading Intelligently” and looks at how the technique for reading efficiently changes based on the type of material that is being studied and provides tips along the way.

Using Reading Prompts to Encourage Critical Thinking
http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/using-reading-prompts-to-encourage-critical-thinking/
In this article on Faculty Focus, Maryellen Weimer, PhD reviews highlights from Terry Tomasek’s book, The Teaching Professor and takes a look at  using reading prompts to help students read and write more critically. The prompts in the book are organized into six categories to assist students connect to and analyze what they are reading. Here are the categories: Identification of problem or issue, Making connections, Interpretation of evidence, Challenging assumptions, Making application and Mechanics.  

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful 
http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/making-the-review-of-assigned-reading-meaningful/
In this article, Sarah K Clark, PHD gives us 4 strategies to promote meaning making when reviewing assigned readings both in the classroom and at home. I really appreciate her candid writing about the importance of engaging students, especially when it comes to assigned readings. Sarah shares techniques and ideas that have been helpful to her in her class: The Top Ten, Secondary Sources, Journaling, and Divide and Conquer (for larger size classes)

Key Terms: Assessment
http://blog.bokcenter.harvard.edu/2012/02/08/key-terms-assessment/
In this blog post from the Bok Center at Harvard University, assessment is highlighted and examined in reference to student learning. This post offers some assessment-related tips to get you started in measuring student learning.
Here is another from the Bok blog that speaks directly to the question “How Do We Measure [Student] Learning?”
http://blog.bokcenter.harvard.edu/2012/03/05/how-do-we-measure-learning/

Authentic Learning
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3019.pdf
Marilyn M. Lombardi talks about the important role of assessment in relation to successful teaching and learning in this EduCause Learning Initiative paper – Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning.
Here is a clip from the abstract that captures the heart of this paper, “Educators who strive to bring authentic learning experiences to their students must devise appropriate and meaningful measures to assess student learning and mastery of concepts at hand.” 

More information about Assessment—Formative and Summative by Richard Swearingen at Heritage University, take a look at
http://slackernet.org/assessment.htm

*Don’t forget about the
Writing Center at UVM
http://www.uvm.edu/wid/writingcenter/, and the
UVM Learning Co-op in L/L
http://www.uvm.edu/learnco/
These are helpful resources on campus to share with your students to help enhance their writing skills and to get assistance with studying. 

By providing students the tools and resources to guide their learning, they can begin to assess their own process, making themselves active agents in their own learning process. Which in-turn helps students by giving them a sense of what skills they may need support to strengthen in order to succeed. 

Next Steps:

If you would like to sit with a member of the CTL to talk about ways to use these tools to assess your students, request an appointment by emailing ctldoc@uvm.edu. If you would like to contact me (Henrie Menzies) directly, send me a note at hmenzies@uvm.edu