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AUTHORS Ruth Alsobrook-Hurich Sal Buffo Curtis Kleinman Scott Farnsworth Dave Graser Chris Heyer Curtis Kleinman Charles Lohman Tina Luffman Joanne Oellers Tara O’Neill Nancy Schafer Mark Shelley Suzanne Waldenberger Karly Way Erin Whitesitt Jason Whitesitt


Contents The Last Week of the 9x9x25 Challenge

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We Triple Dog Dare You!

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We all have something to share – just ask the right questions!

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Effects of New Student Orientation

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On the Other Side of the Screen: Confessions of an Online Student

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Learning in Order to Teach

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Ranting

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A Dean’s Perspective on Teaching and Learning-

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Web Two Point Oh No!! : Advice from a Web 2.0 Investment Banker

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Against All Odds: Protecting the Liberal Arts

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What I Hope for the 9x9x25 Challenge

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At Play in Pompeii

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The Badge

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A Student, Mid-Text

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All Things Considered—Spontaneity, Teaching, and the Bigger Picture

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Another Badge?!

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What’s in a Name?

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The Value of Community College

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Why I Dumped the Due Date

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What Music Taught Me About Teaching

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The Importance of Relationship in the Classroom

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

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The Journey of dotcomYOGA – 1728 to 2013 -

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Have I Learned from Teaching?

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Escaping the Medieval Castle: Toward a Meaningful Grading System

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Talking Shop While Shuttling between Campuses

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Contacting Students by Phone

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The Way We Sit: Physical and Social Structures of Classrooms

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Who should be the copyright educator for an educational institution?

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Monkey in the Classroom

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Where Did I Put That Conversation?

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Camera-Ready

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Dean’s Perspective on Teaching and Learning #2

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A Reminder from the Universe

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Any Readers in Your Classes?

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Sharing Your Chicken Enchiladas Over the Internet: A Note About Cop...

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They Want To Eat Your Brain!

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The Role of Relationship in Student Success

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Who can be an online student?

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A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Post My Blog

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From TV’s Jack LaLanne to dotcomYOGA

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Leveraging Opinion & Belief: Why Should They Care?

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I Should Do What?!

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The Aesthetic of Classroom Experience

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You Gotta be Ignorant to Learn

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Constructivist Theory and Web 2.0 Technologies

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Can I Dump the Due Date Too?

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What music taught me about teaching

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A Reminder from the Universe

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Why I Dumped the Due Date (part 2)

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Digital Narcotics: How Electronic Addictions Undermine Student Suc...

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How Much is That Textbook in the Window?

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The Battle Rages On or Inbox Ping Pong

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The First Personal Ingredient of dotcomYOGA

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Bringing the Community into the College

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Intelligence…What does that really mean?

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Education: A Distraction to Their Distractions

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The Semi-flipped Classroom

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The (E)mail Bag Edition: Wherein I relate a mistake, vent in the gu...

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Creating a Blackboard Course Website that Works

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It’s All About the Brain

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Bursting the Bubble

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Classroom Discussions

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Reacting to the Past: Looking Forward

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Quiet Zones

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Do We Behave Like “The Best Things in Life Are Free?”

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LUV Lessons–Airplanes meet Academics (Part I)

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I Went to the Conference and…

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That Ning Thing

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The Milk for Free?

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Making Connections Count

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The Joy of Mapping Storms

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The Accidental Textbook

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Don’t Go Bananas, Check In With Students

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#backinstyle

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My Thoughts From 2002 Becomes dotcomYOGA

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Cultivating the Instructor-Student Relationship

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Slay the Beast!

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More on (my) “Ignorance”

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LUV Lessons: Growing Great from Within

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Continuing On…

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Writing Curriculum: The Experience

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Playing Rain

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A Better Learning Lifestyle and the Grammar of Education: A Treatis...

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Yep, Once in a While a Not-So-Good Day

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The Structure of 9x9x25

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No-Compete Clause

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My Brain Is Full

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Thank Goodness We are Finished With Chemistry

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Moving the Statue

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What’s More Important; What We Teach, Who We Teach, Or Ho...

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Reading, Writing and Rrrr…eality

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Becoming the Guy on the DVDs of dotcomYOGA

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World War “V”: Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

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What I have learned about teaching and learning from Athletics

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Attention!

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Learning Unplugged

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Reacting to the Past: Week One

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To Dream Again

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To Be Online…

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The Last Week of the 9x9x25 Challenge

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EDUCAUSE 2013 Overall Reflection

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Keeping Taylor Swift’s Attack Dogs at Bay or Tomabo&#...

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Putting a Face on Online Learning

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Something Else

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An Ode to the Discussion Board

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What Would Captain Kirk Do?

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I Am Haunted!

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Trust the Process

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It Never Ends

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Mirror Mirror

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Learning Hope From a Fudged Grade

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Yet Another…

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A Scary Story

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The Tour de YC: Over the Mountain and through the Rocks

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How Do You Flip A Zombie?

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What’s the Point?

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Learning and Exercise

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The Academic Double Standard or How the AGEC is Cripling the U.S. E...

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Can I Dump the Due Date Too? (Part Two)

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Wishful Thinking

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Student Success Skills, How Much Should I Help?

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Writing to Think

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Question Everything… I Dare You

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Intelligence and How to Get It

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On Being a Student…

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Take it Off the Yoga Mat or Outside the English Class

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What the H—–?: The Jungle that is Hybrid at YC

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Relevance and Meaning Before Details

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Students as Teachers

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Welcoming the Class

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Gearing Up for a New Semester . . Soon

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Teaching or Presenting

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Giving Thanks

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Oh Where (OER) Oh Where (OER)

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What I Learned Away from the Office

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Optimism in the Classroom

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What I’ve Learned From Being a Teacher

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Real College?

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Watch-Out Unmade Bed Demons

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You Teach Who You Are

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Differentiated Learning + the E, Enjoyment, From the F.I.T.T.E. Pri...

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Put Money Where Your Mouth Is

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How Taking on a Blogging Challenge is Like Going to the Gym

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Reflections

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Reflections

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A Look Back…

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What I’ve Learned From the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge

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My 9x9x25 Challenge Reflection: What Yoda Taught the Teacher About ...

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Reflections on the 9x9x25 Challenge

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It’s a Wrap…

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My Short Reflection of the 9x9x25 Challenge

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In Praise of The Instigator

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Reflections on the Challenge

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So What?: Reflections on 2025 (That’s 9x9x25)

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Reflections of 9x9x25 Challenge

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We Triple Dog Dare You! Thursday, September 05, 2013

What is the challenge? Well, TeLS and the GIFT Center invite you to create 9 pieces of writing with 25 sentences or more each week for 9 weeks beginning September 16th. Aside from the 25 sentences each week for 9 weeks, the only other rule is that the writing must be about teaching and learning. That’s a lot of latitude to write about pedagogy, tools, successes, challenges, or hopes and dreams. The short term goal of the challenge is to give faculty a playful space to share and learn and to see what colleagues are doing in classes. These writings will also be in a place where new and seasoned faculty can easily access them for years to come. The long term goal of the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge is to push teachers to be reflective practitioners in the field of education and share their reflections with colleagues. While the nine weeks of writing may be a start, we hope that some of the participants will continue to write and share their thoughts about the educational landscape. We will use the internet as a place to write and share the work. The faculty writing will be magically delivered to the telswebletter and it will be there so that you can read the work your colleagues submit. TeLS will help you build a place to write from and support you throughout the 9 weeks. You can see scheduled 9 x 9 x 25 trainings here or call us anytime and we will happily make you a master of writing on the internet in less than 20 minutes. And when you run astray during the 9 weeks, we will be available to help you find the right path. Really! What is in it for you besides sharing your thoughts and ideas with your colleagues? For completing each week, the participants will be rewarded with a variety of awesome gifts, from Viticulture t-shirts, books about teaching and learning, to lunch with the college president. To sweeten the deal, we will reward you with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s delivered to your office for completing the first week of the challenge! Adjunct instructors will get to pick up your awesome rewards from any of our fine offices. So, are you up for the challenge? We know you are busy. We know you already share your ideas at the institutes and at the water cooler. But we challenge you to use sentences as a way to reflect and share your thoughts about teaching and learning with a

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broader audience. Imagine if 20 teachers survive all 9 weeks that would produce 180 pieces of writing from Yavapai College teachers about teaching and learning! We could use that! Are you wondering what 25 sentences looks like? Well, you just read them! To signup, please email todd.conaway@yc.edu before September 20th. The first week’s writing is due the 22nd. To get started writing right now for free, visit www.wordpress.com, www.blogger.com, www.tumbler.com or http://blogs.yc.edu/wp-signup.php (use your YC username for blogs.yc.edu) For a small fee we suggest http://reclaimhosting.com/ or http://www.bluehost.com/spoke for more control and permanency. Remember, if you need help, please contact Todd or the TeLS department. Posted by TeLS at 06:00AM (-07:00)

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We all have something to share – just ask the right questions! Thursday, September 05, 2013

You’ll notice by my picture that I like doggies! They have so much to share – and they do ask questions of you, but the best part is the unconditional love they always give you – even if you are too busy to take them for that walk. To me teaching is sharing – sharing is teaching. We all have something to share – with our families – with students – with colleagues – with our communities. The sharing becomes part of scholarly teaching. Most of us are scholarly instructors. We read, plan, teach, reflect, change and read some more. It’s when you share those plans (be public) with peer review, discussion, evidence, and evaluation that builds and develops our teaching. I remember attending a conference on teaching and learning in the late 1990s that talked about a concept, the “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (evolving into SoTL). It was an interesting concept to me because I thought that’s what we all did as a matter of course – sharing – questioning – building – reflecting- and sharing some more. Teaching is public. But it’s our sharing, questioning, criticism, and evaluation in a public way that actually creates the scholarship. So, is there SoTL at Yavapai College? Yes, I can think of several things: • Summer & Winter Institutes – review (and some friendly criticism) and evaluation from peers from which we develop further • TeLS and the way we are sharing here – I’m sure there will be some review and (kind) criticism too! • Faculty Committees • Our Gen Ed process over the past year or so – a great scholarly exercise • Free classes we take at YC • Our Quality Initiative Project – comparing delivery methods in our courses • Sharing in our division meetings • Sharing in scholarly journals or at a conference Some of the best SoTL, for me, begins in conversations in the hallway – questions on a particular assignment, quiz, or project spark conversation and, perhaps, action by both parties. So, what’s the right question? It’s the one you really want to know – How did you do that? What did you use? What are the resources? Where can I find more information?

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Who else can I speak with? Once the question is asked I research what I don’t know (and want to know more about), follow up and build my knowledge base and, hopefully, I’m the one that shares next time when someone asks me a question. We all have experiences – from our education – from our careers – and from life – that gives us gifts to share when others ask – our SoTL so to speak. So, remember to ask the right questions – share your gifts they are important, and they contribute to the tapestry of life! -Chris

Posted by mcheyer at 11:32AM (-07:00)

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Effects of New Student Orientation Sunday, September 08, 2013 Each decision a college makes effects change within the institution. Some have profound effects that can be seen immediately. Others take years to realize. Last year the Developmental Education committee studied research and learned that new student orientations often make no real difference. Although students stated that they felt more prepared for college, these same students had the same drop out rate and did no better in the long run. But then our college sent a group of advisers and faculty to the First Year Experience conference in Florida. Experts there claimed that new student orientations do make a difference. Our Student Services director became excited about the concept as well as the others who had gone. The director also was able to share statistics with positive outcomes to administration, and they likewise supported college involvement in these new orientations. Realize that this does not mean that our college has never offered orientations. We have. But now we have decided to blend faculty and staff involvement to create a stronger support for the students. Student Services also decided to coin the phrase "mandatory for students success" as part of the launch. Although the orientations would not be mandatory, we felt all students would desire success. So this summer a larger group of staff and faculty developed a series of orientations to be held at various locations across the county. Faculty and student services personnel met weekly and designed a general session, three concurrently running breakout sessions, and set up resource tables for students to browse between sessions. The cost to organize and run these orientations are as follows: weekly or biweekly staff meetings, faculty giving up personal time without compensation, office space and utilities expense, prizes and packets.

The rewards measured so far include: over 300 new students came to these orientations voluntarily, anecdotal reports exist of students coming to class the first day on time. Some classes actually had all students in their seats ready to learn the first day of class. In my online classes, I actually had more students logging in and getting busy at the beginning of the first week. Can all of this positive change be due to the new student orientations? Or are other 9x9x25 Challenge

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factors involved? One that occurs to me is that the college has better management of financial aid fraud. Perhaps we have more motivated students. Either way, it appears that new student orientations will be mandatory next year, and then we will be better able to measure the value of this new shift in the environment here at Yavapai College. Posted by Tina's Blog at 12:00PM (-07:00)

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On the Other Side of the Screen: Confessions of an Online Student Sunday, September 08, 2013 For me, one of the greatest perks of teaching at a college is the opportunity to take classes for free. I get to sample various topics I'm interested in, and I'm interested in a lot of things! But, of course, I do have a full-time job and then some, so like a lot of our students I look to online classes to allow me to fit school into my schedule. I also teach online classes every semester and have for years, so I'm quite familiar with online education. However, being an online student has really given me insight on the challenges our students face. One of the biggest, I've found, is simply interacting with the course materials. I'm not an idiot. I thought I'd better clarify that right up front, because I've found myself making the same irritating mistakes that drive me up a wall when my students do them in my classes. I've misread instructions and quiz questions. I've skimmed over text and jumped straight into watching embedded videos, missing important information. I've clicked through folders and files, trying to remember where I saw the class due dates or the reading list. Remember, I'm a professional student, an honest-to-Betsy Ph.D. with (presumably) better-than-average study skills, taking introductory classes at a community college. And yet, it is SO easy in an online class to get lost, to misunderstand a direction or an assignment or to skim over online text. And that makes it so much harder to succeed. A couple of years ago, I had a student who HATED my online class. He couldn't find course materials. He didn't understand the schedule of assignments. He'd email me repeatedly for clarification, and grew increasingly hostile when my explanations didn't make things any clearer for him. In his eyes I was just a bad, bad teacher with a mess of a Blackboard shell. And I just couldn't figure out how to help him, as I'd made my class as simple and as straightforward as I could. How could he not understand what was so clear to me? I could find everything necessary for the class. It was all there. Why couldn't he figure it out? One thing I repeat again and again in my critical thinking class is that "different brains work differently." This is usually in the context of discussing how people see the world from different angles depending on their background and experiences, but it is equally appropriate when discussing online education. I try to make my classes as clear and organized as I can, and they make perfect sense to me. But then I take online classes from other teachers and I get frustrated and confused. Objectively, I know that their classes are designed in a way that makes perfect sense to them and that they have taken as much care with the design as I do with mine. But my brain works differently. As did the brain of my frustrated student. As do the brains of all our students. Of course this can also be an issue in F2F classes, but for whatever reason, I find the problem magnified in the online setting. Perhaps it is the lack of metacommunication. Or maybe the missing component is the opportunity to ask and answer questions on the fly. Certainly online classes can be isolating, leading to a sense that you are the only one struggling with the material, that you are on your own. I don't have an answer. But I am certainly now much more aware of the potential disconnect between what I upload and what students experience on the other side of the screen. Posted by Sukey at 10:53PM (-07:00)

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Learning in Order to Teach Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The thought of learning something in order to teach it seems counter intuitive. It is true though. In order to share a topic, one must first learn it. How does one go about this adventure? I find myself in this situation daily, struggling to learn a new process in order to share the information with others. In fact, just today I experienced this first hand. The TeLS department often provides trainings to Faculty on the use of Tools within Blackboard. Today’s training was my turn. The topic of today’s training? Blackboard Blogs, Wikis, and Journals. You would think we are experts in the use of all Blackboard! Honest truth…We Google a lot! As far as Blogs, Wikis, and Journals within Blackboard…I am not a user of these tools, and at the time of the training, not so knowledgeable of their uses. It was a frightening moment when I thought someone was going to attend and I knew NOTHING about these diverse features! So off I went to login to Blackboard and learn something new. With the help of Thatcher, Iain, and our one participant Daintry, I learned about these tools. I learned these are not the greatest tools within Blackboard. I learned they could have a purpose if used correctly. I learned I need more information on each of these tools so I can better grasp how they work and WHY they work. Am I comfortable with them? No. Would I use them? Probably not. Which do I feel is the better of the three? The Journal. Why is the Journal the better of the three? It works as it should. It’s intuitive. It’s user friendly. For Blackboard, that’s says a lot ;-D 18

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What did I get out of the whole process? I learned something quite new, in order to teach it to you. Posted by rudi1234 at 11:48AM (-07:00)

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A Dean’s Perspective on Teaching and LearningWednesday, September 11, 2013

A couple of years ago I came across several articles, one was in the NY Times and the others was in Time magazine, that got me thinking about how people learn. Earlier this year one of our colleagues, Dr. David Graser, discussed a book which I am currently reading, called the “Brain Rules”, which expanded on topics from those earlier articles. As I mentioned to some faculty within my division, reading and thinking, particularly at the same time, may not be good for me, but it allowed me to realize that I have frequently heard faculty talk about improving the content of their classes and less frequently hear them talk about the delivery of that content, and I’m not referring to whether it is a face to face, hybrid, or online class, even though they do play a role. What I mean is that many faculty teach the way they were taught, which may be similar to how our mentors were taught by their predecessors, and so on. Have we taken the time to stop and ask ourselves how are we delivering the content, not just what we teach but how we deliver that information? As educators how much time have we devoted to staying current on developments in learning theories and research, about how information is stored in the brain, what goes into making a memory and retrieval of information? We have all heard that people have different learning styles (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.), and we are all probably aware that students don’t employ just one style but use a combination of styles to learn. What have we done in the delivery of our content to acknowledge these different styles, do we take the time to assess students preferences and analyze the percentages of preferred learning of a particular section and then make adjustments in how we deliver the content to honor those differences? Or do we outline in our syllabus the readings, videos, and other learning activities that will take place in our course and hope the students will auto-migrate to those particular components that best suit their learning style. Do students even know what their preferred learning style is? Do we include activities at the beginning of our class that inform students of their own learning style? With the ongoing research into how the brain functions do we use that information in helping us structure how we deliver or course content or are we using the same format that we were introduced to as students? As I have visited with faculty about their goals I have invited them to consider instead of attending another conference or workshop in their discipline to consider what modifications could be implemented in the delivery of their course content based on recent developments in learning and brain function research. I just wonder if we had a better grasp on how the brain works in learning new information and we adjusted how we 9x9x25 Challenge

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teach that incorporates these new developments, if the students would not be more successful? A Dean’s Dream!

Posted by sfarnswo at 04:33PM (-07:00)

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Web Two Point Oh No!! : Advice from a Web 2.0 Investment Banker Sunday, September 15, 2013 Web 2.0 times ten to the "demasiado rapido". I'm getting fed up with web 2.0. TeLS wants us to utilize web 2.0 technologies and become these dynamic online teachers and we even run institutes to try and get our feet wet on these technologies, but there's one problem, they quickly disappear. Have you noticed? Meebo anyone? Loved that one, now gone, without a trace. Actually, often there is a trace left behind, some Meebo web bread crumbs so to speak. You navigate there and see a page as empty as your life without the product that you came to love. You know what else is empty, your syllabus! Because you’ve incorporated the product so fully and masterfully into your course that now you realize that you’ve pretty much gotta start from scratch. The worst part is, these services often take all of your content with them, left to flounder in some digital void (probably on some Google server somewhere) waiting to, perhaps, be reinvented in a more profitable venue elsewhere. Which services for teaching did you come to love, but are now defunct? Here are my fav five: • Meebo • Google Reader • Xtranormal • Posterous • iGoogle (to be discontinued soon) Why does this happen? Wasn’t the ad revenue pouring in? Of course it was, but money talks and when the big boys like Google and Microsoft come to town and start flashing around big dinero, these little start-ups often can’t resist and sell out! In fact, most start ups begin their business hoping that soon they’ll get popular enough for Google and the other big brothers of the digital age to pay attention to them. The result is the same system that we have in retail, big box stores take over. The big boys come in and slash prices with their cheap off-shore goods and even take a loss for a while if they have to, until all of the competition is out of business. Then they jack prices back up and don’t make an effort to improve their products or service. So now, the only thing people can get is low quality products sold at quality product prices and even if you wanted to take your business elsewhere, the options just don’t exist. A great digital product comes along like Posterous, Google gets wind that someone is doing something amazing for free that is similar to something they do, they freak out and buy the company and discontinue the service. The quiet corners of the web are a little harder to completely control than small rural communities, but just as Wal-Mart has conquered the U.S., Google and others are making a bid for total cyber domination. We’ve seen the effects of Wal-Mart’s totalitarianism all over the world, but up to now Google has played nice with the web. Sure they close down my favorite websites, but they haven’t ended up creating a similar site and then charging me an arm and a leg to use it . . . yet. The strangest thing is, they often shut down their own sites that are very popular, for no apparent reason (e.g., Google Reader). Most analysts have given up trying to figure out what Google is up to and so have I. I look at myself as a Web 2.0 investment banker now. Before I get excited about a new product or website, I have to take a step back and ask myself a number of questions: 1. Is this website well supported, or does it look like a one man show trying to stave off

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starvation with every line of code. 2. How often does this website crash? Can it handle a lot of Internet traffic? 3. Does this site look like it is a quality site that was put together by someone who knows what they are doing? Usually a boxy looking or monochromatic site was made long ago and forgotten, not a good idea for someone as savvy as you to get involved with; your investment is better spent elsewhere. 4. Is the free version going to get me what I need? Or, is it worth paying what they want for a pro account? And most importantly, 5. Will this website still be around in two or three or maybe even five years? Before becoming fully invested in any one site, take a web 2.0 investor’s advice, diversify! Don’t put all of your academic capital in one basket. Always check and see if there aren’t multiple similar services that might do the same job or better. Here’s a trick that I use. Use Google search’s power to make sure that you are using the best possible product in the Web 2.0 universe. Use search terms in quotation marks like this: “better than voxopop” to find a product that can record voice discussion boards better than voxopop.com . If you keep getting Voice Thread in the search results and you don’t want it, type this into the search box: “better than voxopop” –voice – thread . By putting in minus “voice” and minus “thread” Google will eliminate these words from your search. Take that Google, we’re using your search functions to beat you at your own game and invest in a winner. So, best of luck investing all of your educational assets, mis queridos amigos, as for me, I’m going to go update my status on Facebook before Google buys it and forces me to use Google+, hasta luego. Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 02:12PM (-07:00)

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Against All Odds: Protecting the Liberal Arts Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's pretty much the worst-kept secret in higher education: the liberal arts are in trouble. On a national scale, rhetoric and emphasis with regard to higher education have been increasingly focused on college and university study as a means to an end - a better job, a higher salary, a greater degree of self-sufficiency and a lesser degree of dependence on social welfare programs. Recently, even the President of the United States has been pitching the idea of making college more affordable, in part by reducing the length of time it takes to complete a degree. While I am reasonably confident all college instructors would like to see higher education within the financial reach of every American regardless of income, race, or gender, those of us in the liberal arts are acutely and painfully aware of which "fat" gets trimmed when it comes time to pull out the cleaver. It's hard to argue with the idea that many careers and trades do not require a sophisticated understanding of traditional college subjects outside the field. But it's equally hard to argue with this: even if the post-college career doesn't require it, the college graduate does! There are reasons for this. Perhaps most obvious is that the integrity of higher education in general is important. A college graduate should not only be prepared to enter his or her field, he or she should also be able to uphold the expectations of a "person who has attended college". If I were an employer hiring a college graduate, I would expect this potential hiree to be able to describe the significance of the Parthenon, give me the gist of theories developed by Freud and Marx, and understand the basics of human cell biology. In addition, I would anticipate she or he would have the ability to write reports clearly and coherently, make compelling arguments, and correctly cite reliable sources. A college education should - nay, must - mean something beyond being able to perform a specific job, else we could enroll our kids in a trade program at ten and be done with it.

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Positive civic involvement and good public policy depend on both an educated populous and policy-makers whose backgrounds include the liberal arts. An understanding of history, philosophy, and rhetoric is essential when it comes to developing, selling, and implementing effective public policy, not to mention the ability to evaluate and apply research evidence! If college is expensive, how much more money have we spent putting into place programs and policies that were later found to be ineffective or even counterproductive (and were often unsupported by research in the first place)? Eschewing evidence-based interventions was precisely what resulted in such gems as abstinence-only education and the No Child Left Behind Act. Finally, there's a question of values at stake here. Economic self-sufficiency and increased social mobility are not the only reasons to go to college. What about learning for the sake of learning? What about expanding your understanding of the world? What about pursuing your interests? What about the fact that a liberal arts background could potentially make you better at just about any job you might wish to pursue? Financial success may be among Americans' core values, but it's not the only thing that matters (and we liberal arts adjuncts know that better than anyone). When liberal arts are part of a core curriculum, college can be an opportunity for students to explore those areas of interest and learning while simultaneously developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need in order to achieve their economic and career goals. So the liberal arts are important, and as teachers, we should be fighting like hell to protect them, even when the battle increasingly appears to be a losing one. And while engaging in that fight publicly, there's also a subversive path we should be taking at the same time, which relies on one universal truth: Teaching about anything is an opportunity to teach about everything. No matter what you teach, you can incorporate all types of topics and subjects.

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When lecturing about economic systems with one of my classes, I often use Henrietta Lacks as an example. While her case allows me to discuss the implications of capitalism (with regard to biological material), it also gives me leeway to talk about so much more, including gender, race, class, medical ethics, families, sexuality, and history. When talking about how to conduct research, I often use the example of Ignaz Semmelweis to illustrate why research is so important... and in the process, we can talk about germ theory, history, and social psychology. My husband, Jason Whitesitt, a Professor of English and Humanities at Yavapai, also adheres to this philosophy, utilizing units on body modification, media, and food ethics to teach composition and rhetoric. Now, he and I might not be ideal candidates for the type of subversive behavior I'm describing here, because we both teach courses that already fall under the liberal arts umbrella. I'm certain it's considerably more difficult for a welding or agriculture instructor to include liberal arts topics in their lectures (although I have no doubt it can be done). But the liberal arts aren't going to disappear entirely. Nursing students will always need to take psychology; business students will always need a composition class. The real danger is this: students are increasingly at risk of getting a mouthful of liberal arts in their college experience, instead of the three-course meal that they need and deserve. Which means as teachers, it becomes more important each year that we make it a point to offer every bite we can, at every opportunity we can find. Posted by ewhitesitt at 04:43PM (-07:00)

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What I Hope for the 9x9x25 Challenge Monday, September 16, 2013

I hope that as a result of the Challenge we can begin to develop a repository of writing from our faculty. I hope that over the years it is one place a faculty member may go to get some insight into teaching here at Yavapai College and teaching in general. We don’t currently have a place where a teacher can go to read what colleagues here at YC are doing in classrooms or challenges they are grappling with. The summer/winter institute wiki is the closest thing to that we have and it is a great resource too. But I hope, after a few years of running the challenge we can develop a rich space for learning on the Webletter. That is one thing I imagine the challenge might do. I see the act of writing as a way to fine tune ideas and as a way to revisit them later to further ponder what is thought. As a former English teacher I think that writing things down is a good way to get the ideas out of our heads and onto a physical space where it can be re-examined and reshaped. Once out it can be shared differently too. Conversations are a great way to hash out ideas, but when they are written they take on different qualities than can be leveraged. With the challenge we can connect teachers together who may otherwise not have conversations. I hope that some of the ideas shared in the Challenge at some point leap from the offices of the teachers and out into hallways and into committee discussions. That in some way there are some ideas expressed in these postings that look differently at a problem or solutions and that they are carried into the world as alternatives or newly discovered ideas. Who knows, maybe the president will see one of the writings here and bring it to a place that the author would be unable or unwilling to do. I suppose that could be a good thing or a bad thing. One thing I hope happens here is that we get some more viewers of the Webletter. It is a great resource and while it does get a good number of views, I know that many Yavapai College teachers do not know about it or do not visit it often. I would also love to see some conversations developing on some of the posts. That has been a hard thing to get teachers to do. Also, I hope that maybe as a result of this I can get some of the faculty to contribute articles more often. Most of the posts are from the TeLS group and we know 28

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how much more powerful it is to have a faculty express ideas.

But one of my greatest hopes is that maybe this idea will be one direction we can use in the development of our faculty. What might our yearly performance reviews look like if the “reviewers” could look back at a years’ worth of reflections on teaching and learning? Writings about conferences attended or about new tools or strategies employed in the classrooms? Reflections on the landscape of education on the whole, or musings on state, federal or local policy in education. How might those inform the reviewers and show learning and “development” over the year? A few of the folks I have learned the most from over the years are community college teachers. You can read their work here: Lisa Lane & Alisa Cooper I guess I hope that it will be expected that teachers write about their profession and share that writing. And look, that is what we are doing right here in the 9x9x25 Challenge. Posted by Todd Conaway at 12:13PM (-07:00)

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At Play in Pompeii Thursday, September 19, 2013

"And if there be a day when all shall wake, As dreams the hoping, doubting human heart, The dim forgetfulness of death will break For her as one who sleeps with lips apart; And did God call her suddenly, I know She'd wake as morning wakened by the thrush, Feel that red kiss across the centuries glow, And make all heaven rosier by her blush." –from "Out of Pompeii" by William Wilfred Campbell "O Muse, sing to me!" –from Book I of The Odyssey by Homer

For ages we have cornered accomplished men and women and pressed them on their pursuits. What brought you to politics, Mr. Lincoln? When did you first pick up the pen, Ernest? Why did you take to the clouds, Amelia? How’d you come to live in a jar, Diogenes?

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The questions never end and the answers crowd bestseller lists and periodically even win Oscars, proving that, as a society, we seem desperately in search of that spark which provokes greatness. Yet, the topic of inspiration rarely achieves notice in education. If so many of the Great Ones can look back on a moment or an individual that urged them forward, why are we not more concerned with providing spurs in college? The question of education’s end and the point of it all is surely a rabbit hole more convoluted than the current conversation permits, but, even in a small space, we can ponder why the notion of muses now seems as antiquated as the billow-shirted poets who once invoked them. In Greek mythology the muses are known foremost as the inspiration for great works, but it is not by accident that they were also considered the source of all knowledge. If the forefathers of western education knew that inspiration and knowledge were intimately and inextricably linked, why have we forgotten it? Let’s begin with a story. As a freshman in college I signed up for an Introduction to the Humanities course. Not necessarily because I was interested in the topic (although I was) but because it deftly fulfilled a pair of graduation requirements and allowed me to sleep in twice a week. The instructor was a medievalist, a musician, a thespian, and a bit of a globetrotter. She was also my first academic crush. It wasn’t a physical thing; she had a good twenty or thirty years on me and the kind of couture best appreciated in Chaucer’s day. Rather, I was smitten by her combination of smarts, spirit, character, and experience –what the AngloSaxons referred to as mōd. Each Tuesday and Thursday I sat spellbound for an hour as she held court at the front of the room, and as I watched the sunlight cling to her, I daydreamed of living such a life. On one day in particular, she was discussing the ruins of Pompeii. Present, of course, were the traditional background notes, slides, and literary quotes, but in addition, and in quite typical fashion for her, she served up some personal experience as well. It seems that whilst traveling Italy as a young woman she had visited Pompeii, and, having missed the bus, was forced to spend the night there alone, soul-deep in all that tragedy and history. As she spun this yarn, her eyes bloomed and her voice grew quiet, pulling us forward in our wooden chairs. Sotto voce, she told of the long shadows cast by the ruins and the many ghostly figures she could feel pulsing around her. Then, the hour was suddenly up and the spell broken by the sound of shuffling papers and sliding chairs.

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For my adored professor, this likely impromptu tale was but five minutes in a busy day of committee meetings, office hours, grading and much more staid teaching. Ah, but for me –for me this was a geological event, a great tearing of the earth wherein the previous Jason was swallowed up and a new likeness spit forth. Imbued with enthusiasm and purpose, I determined that day that I too would visit Pompeii, rub shoulders with the ghosts that haunt that sacred space, and return to tell the tale.

Five years later, lean and hungry from a month of backpacking in Europe, I arrived in Pompeii and realized my dream. I walked the ancient streets and plumbed the winding ways, breaking the tourist rules and snooping into all the off-limit shadows. And just as I was really beginning to suck the marrow, I was expelled by a gruff security guard, my hopes of an overnight sojourn shattered, but my larger triumph still intact. Despite this success, I had not yet travelled full circle. For that, I would have to wait another eight years. In 2012 I lucked into teaching an Introduction to the Humanities course, and, not far into the semester we arrived at the subject of Pompeii. After providing the traditional background notes, slides, and literary quotes, I paused, and, feeling the gravity of the moment, sat down atop an empty desk at the front of the room. I then, ever so slightly, lowered my voice, and told my adored professor’s story. And then I told mine. The earth shook and the circle closed. My students were delighted. It was a moment. Never one to trust to the winds of chance or fail to gild a lily, I then went on to briefly elaborate on the Moral of the whole bit: I was just like you, a small-town kid sitting at a desk just like that, and though it might sound a tad too much like a song by Journey, if you really want something you can make it happen. It simply takes inspiration, determination, and time. Returning now to our initial discussion, as educators, we don’t have much control over the determination of our students, or how they spend their time, but we can, perhaps, if we’re good and just a little bit lucky, provide a spot of inspiration. And the fact that we can’t quantify, institutionalize, or even necessarily plan for such inspiration doesn’t mean that it’s not worth pursuing. For, eventually the papers will all be written, the assignments all turned in, and if we are not careful, all that will be left to show for a semester’s worth of work is a grade –a tiny glyph whose entire sum of meaning is increasingly determined by hostile politicians and a disinterested economy. Thus, if we want our students to walk away with more than debt and a piece of paper, we must inspire them to act beyond the finite dimensions of our assignments and our

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classrooms. We must inspire them to read Heaney on their own, far away from campus on a bright Tuesday. We must inspire them to look at the stars with their children and talk about string theory. We must inspire them to willfully and deliberately think critically at the polls. We must inspire in each of them their own Pompeii and then turn them loose on the world. Tune in next week to find out why there is a monkey at the beginning of this blog.

Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 02:41PM (-07:00)

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A Student, Mid-Text Thursday, September 19, 2013 As I reflect on my teaching career here at Yavapai over the past ten (eesh, really?!) years, there are a number of factors that stand out. First, how much our students have changed, not only in the skill sets that they bring to the table, but also in their ways-ofbeing(i.e., their expectations, attitudes and behaviors). Now that last one is a tricky area for many college educators, but here at the community college, we were established, uh, to serve the community… Thus, it would seem there is an implied mandate that we actually do that ;-) To me, that means tuning in to our students, to not get so locked into “this is the way I/we do things” that we cannot adapt and change to the new realities that face us in the classroom each semester, every year. Throughout this 9x9x25 blog challenge, I’ll be focusing on myprocess of turning in to these shifts and changes over the last ten years.| And I’d like to start by focusing on one particular new “way-of-being” among students… Texting in the classroom. C’mon my faculty comrades, you’ve been there -- smack dab in the middle of a witty, spirited and entertaining lecture, only to witness one of your students suddenly be moved to pull out her cell phone and start texting? Happened to me last week, as a matter of fact. (It was an Honors Student texting no less.) I have learned from experience not to call her out by name in the middle of the class and say “Honors Student, put your cell phone away." (That's a story...) Nor is it my style to march up and snatch it away -- let alone, destroy it, like this guy. Instead, I wrote a Note to Self on the roster: “Cell Phone Policy,”reminding me to make a general announcement about our cell phone policy.. Which I did, yesterday… I even wrote it with a black Sharpie at the bottom of the sign-up roster, for my students to see as well. It's interesting... cell phones are almost an appendage for our students these days. Ten years ago, students would silence their phones and manage to put them away for the hour and 15 minutes we were in class. But now the urge to check one's phone seems an irresistible temptation. Frankly, that is one of the reasons I began recording my lectures. I'd tell"offending" students, “If you’ve got a lot going on and it’s difficult to focus, take the class online and watch the lecture at home.” That way I could ensure that I had everyone else's rapt and undivided attention once they were in class… (Uh…yeah, right ;-) When I prepared my Syllabi this semester and read what I had composed for a cell phone policy, a few of my friends chuckled. Distracting other students by playing with your “stuff” (phone, laptop, etc.) during class officially meets the criteria for disruptive behavior. Some suggested I change “stuff” to “junk.” I could not bring myself to do that, “stuff” was teetering on the edge to me. But the policy doesn’t seem to be enough… For the moment, I’m at an impasse, not quite sure what more to add to my policy. Yet I trust that it will work itself out, I'll think of something… And that maybe in time, if enough students take my interpersonal communication class, they’ll realize that texting when another person is talking is not only rude, but uh,"clueless.". And if they refrain from 9x9x25 Challenge

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"cognitively wandering" in PSY 101, they’ll learn that no one can really multi-task and give each task one's highest and best effort...

So you! Stop playing with your... Put your phone away. Yes you! Posted by Dr. Karly at 05:28PM (-07:00)

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All Things Considered—Spontaneity, Teaching, and the Bigger Picture Friday, September 20, 2013 I do not love to write, but as a science teacher with an hour-long commute, I have learned to love my drives between Clarkdale and Prescott. The trip is never the same, and I get to be a student along the way.

Claret Cup I get really excited about science. My drives over Mingus Mountain inspire me. Today, wild turkeys may be feeding at the roadside; tomorrow, shafts of light might illuminate Clear Creek Canyon. So it goes like this: I settle in to my car, coffee at my side, KNAU on the radio. As I head out, there is so much laid out for me to enjoy—Sideoats Grama grass, the abundant and vibrant sunflowers, and the sun struck San Francisco Peaks. Tomorrow, the Mountain Mahogany may be fully seeded in white tufts, and perhaps the deer will be on the hillside. The stage is set, and the scenery on the stage shifts every day. As I drive, I think about how I might use in my class what I experience on this drive. My mind works like this: • Turkeys→ wildlife reintroduction → agency management • Deer → hunting → historic perspective on predator control • Datura → psychoactive chemicals → nervous system function • Clear Creek Canyon → coliform → immune system I will spare you from the long list, but I couldn’t wait to discuss these in class. I am an NPR junkie. “Up next: River on Rolaids: How Acid Rain Is Changing Waterways.” (Check. Lead-in for chemical cycling in Environmental Biology) “and, later in the hour, Telomeres May Hold Clues to Effects of Aging.” (Check. Hook for cell division in Human Biology). What follows is material for later. I collect these in a mental list and then stop at the minimart to jot them down: • Marketplace, interview with a dentist • Morning Edition, Even As MERS Epidemic Grows, The Source Eludes Scientists

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• From Birth, Our Microbes Become as Personal as a Fingerprint. This one program launched discussions in Human Biology, Environmental Biology and Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology. Friday meeting on Verde Campus? No problem. Science Friday is on the playlist. And so it goes; commuting to work or just looking around and listening, I find inspiration to learn and teach and reinforce my association with nature and humanity. Connecting captivating topics (enthusiastic interpretation is a must) to our personal world stretches our minds and incentivizes learning. I was told early in my career, “Make connections with the human body, and students will relate to the information more readily, because we are so interested in ourselves.” Hmmm… well that may be true, but I propose an extended version of that philosophy. We humans are so intimately connected to the world at large that bringing nature and a global perspective along for the ride expands that personal world into an exciting place where we belong and can begin to understand our relationship to others, even to otherspecies. When we are exposed to relatively smaller bits of information, this broader view may help us see where we are headed and what a difference knowing something really makes. The reward for learning vocabulary in Latin and chemical pathways with all their little steps and electrons and hydrogen ions shooting around is to begin to see where that understanding can lead us. And that is into a beautiful ever-new landscape of many species and opportunities to feel rewarded and connected. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 02:00PM (-07:00)

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What’s in a Name? Saturday, September 21, 2013 A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet . . . or would it? What if I was Curtis Schneckenhammersbergenstein instead of Kleinman? Would it matter? I think that how we name things has an important effect on how they are perceived and the emotional reactions they cause. A course named SPA 101 , for example, might attract a few interested traditional students, but how might things change if the course suddenly became “Simple and Fun Spanish for Beginners and Transfer”. Sounds less threatening right? Nomenclature is huge! What if Apple Computers had gone with Personal Computer Inc., as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac originally contemplated? Would it have had the staying power it needed to survive? We all have seen the debilitating consequences of naming your daughter Bella just after the Twilight craze. Okay, maybe that was just my cousin Delane, but here’s something we all know and hate, Yavapai High. Unfortunate rhymes are tough to overcome, but here’s something that we can control, in today’s world—our surname. A woman no longer has to be locked into Lysochezkov, just because she fell in love with him, she can stick with Jacobson or Wilson or even Schneckenhammersbergenstein if she chooses. We finally have full control over our names. However, this subsequent control has led to some interesting names and situations over the years (e.g. Blue Ivy) and many cases-in-point live right here at Yavapai High. When I first arrived here at YC, almost six years ago, I heard everyone talking about Brent Roberts, the intrepid leader of the College Honors Program. Then, some of the older YCers would mention another man by the name of Brent Boone-Roberts. Finally I asked Brent if he knew the other guy. He said, “They are both me. When I got married I took my wife’s name, but since the divorce, I’m back to just Brent Roberts, I guess you can say, I’m back to my maiden name.” Brent is just the beginning of the interesting names that we have around here though. You got Molly Beauchman which I’ve heard pronounced in about twelve different ways, Paul Smolenyak, which is just behind Molly in different pronunciations (luckily Smo is widely accepted) and of course Tara O’Neil who leads the College in most mis-pronunciations of a first name, (it’s Tár-uh, people). Mary Verbout (perfect for an English teacher right?-“Take that verb out, that’s a run-on sentence”), and then you got the hyphenators that just roll off the tongue, Amber Davies-Sloan, Ruth Alsobrook-Hurich (which makes me always think of her name as Ruth, but also it is Brook and also it is Hurich), and Nichole StubeWilson, the last of which my students always laugh at, but I don’t really understand why. Finally, my personal favorite is my good friend Suky Waldenberger. Her name is like a good mullet (seriousness up front, but party in the back), seriousness in the waldenberger last name, but party in the suky first name. What about the names that we give things? Can our students figure out what we are talking about, or do we purposely hedge our meanings in domain specific jargon to give ourselves a false sense of authority or importance around our colleagues and students? My favorite term that is constantly tossed around is “existentialism”. What does that word even mean? You ask ten people you will get ten different answers. One of my philosophy amigos mentioned that it means, “dealing with death” and another philosophy student mentioned that it means “doing the most good for the most people”. If we don’t even know what it means, will our students? I recently read a fascinating article about academic versus vernacular language and their effect on learning. The study explained a complex topic using tons of academic jargon (control group) and one that explained the same exact content using the common vernacular (experimental group). Students 40

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performed far better when the academic jargon was stripped and just the pure message remained. What words we use and how we name things has an important impact. Don’t believe me, start a class by saying, “Put your books away; we are going to have a little pop-quiz.” Then, in another section of the same class, start off by saying, “Take the books off your desk, we are going to start with a fun learning activity” then, go ahead and administer the self-same pop-quiz. Students’ results and attitudes will be vastly different. Diane Dukevitch doesn’t have quizzes, or so I hear, she has “Celebrations” of knowledge. Isn’t that what a test is, in the end? The celebration of all that you have worked so hard to know? For the prepared student, a test isn’t a punishment, but a reward, a chance to solidify your knowledge and then showcase it for all to see. And another thing, saying the words, “you’ll turn this in” immediately changes students’ effort and participation level. Then, if you don’t want to grade it or if it was simply too informal to grade officially, you can then just toss the in-class activity in the waste basket. Knowledge is power, but language is more power! So you want to know, what’s in a name, just ask Loopy Waffle brain! Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 01:46PM (-07:00)

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The Value of Community College Saturday, September 21, 2013 Do you remember when community colleges used to be called junior colleges? I attended West Valley Junior College in Saratoga, California. As a student there, I surmised that the "junior" designation meant that indeed I was not attending a real college. Even so, I chose to attend this junior college because I wasn't ready to leave home and because my parents promised me much-needed braces if I would attend WVJC. Such a deal! The last time I requested a transcript, it came from West Valley Community College. This "new" moniker is clearly designed to reflect a different status and a different role for twoyear colleges. No longer was this to be seen as a college in training, subservient to the four-year college. Community colleges now see themselves not only as serving students, but also serving their communities. This name change broadened the scope and mission beyond transferring students on to universities. However, from my teaching experience, I feel this moniker shift also reflected a transformation in our approach to education. When I attended junior college, I did not get involved in many campus activities. Most of my classes, though small, were still based upon the lecture delivery. I could easily slip in and out of classes and on and off campus without getting to know any of my classmates. Not once did I go to an instructor's office or visit with an advisor. Now we actively promote community on campus. We want our students to get to know each other and us and to get involved on campus because we know this contributes to student success. On any given day, we can see students roaming through our office halls, gathering at the coffee kiosk, or forming groups in the quad. In my classes, I seek to create community and encourage collaboration by using lots of small group activities. After three or four weeks, I catch students conversing as I walk into class. In my online classes, the discussion boards force the students to interact with each other at least twice every week. As students share their thinking, they also begin to share snippets of their life experiences that contribute to their viewpoints. The conversations become rich with encouragement, challenges, and critical thinking as the students spur each other on to go deeper. As I see it, Yavapai College is a community within a community, and our community should always be a living and thriving environment for our students. Within the details of a busy week, I can lose sight of that vision, but it doesn't take me long to regain it as I walk from building 3 to building 19, greeting students as I go and listening to the the hum of various conversations along the way.

Posted by ENG 140 at 06:40PM (-07:00)

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Why I Dumped the Due Date Sunday, September 22, 2013 I didn’t submit my assignment. Can I still hand it in? My brother came into town unexpectedly this weekend, and I haven’t seen him in five years, so I didn’t get my paper done. If I submit my work tonight, can I still get some points? I’ve been really sick and haven’t been able to sit at the computer. Do you want to see my doctor’s note? I did the work but Blackboard wouldn’t let me upload it. Need I go on? We’ve all heard these excuses and many, many more. And I didn’t even include any of the more outré ones: the alien abductions, the crises of the soul, one roommate murdered by another roommate. (I got that one once.) There are as many reasons for not getting school work done as there are students enrolled at the college. More, now that I think of it. As I prepared to write this, I tried to think of an assignment where all my students met the deadline. And I can’t think of one. As Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, “It’s always something.” So, how to cope? The hard line, which a lot of instructors favor, is “No late work.” So sorry that X happened, but the deadline is past and that’s the way it is. But that’s not REALLY the way it is, in most cases, is it? Maybe there is the rare teacher out there who won’t make accommodations for a student who has had to fly home expectedly for a funeral, or is dealing with an imminent medical crisis, or other such emergency. Your class, your rules. However, years ago I had a student who was being stalked by an ex and had been removed from her home by police one evening for her own safety. It happened to be the evening before a paper was due, and she didn’t get it done. Am I not going to make an exception for that? Of course I will. So the next step back from that hard line is “No late work without a good excuse.” Homicidal ex? Good excuse. Child diagnosed with leukemia? You bet. Child in the emergency room with the flu. Mmmm, maybe. Oh, your first child died of pneumonia as an infant and you’re not coping well with the flu diagnosis? Well then, fine. Your family flew into town unexpectedly? Sounds fun but you should have explained that you have to write that paper. Your family flew in unexpectedly so you could spend one last weekend with your sister who will be deployed to Afghanistan next week. In that case… You see where I’m going with this. The “No late work without a good excuse” rule means we put ourselves in the role of judging which excuses are good enough. And I am VERY uncomfortable with that. We deal with a large number of non-traditional students with families, jobs, health or socio-economic issues that affect their access to education. Issues that I have been extremely lucky NOT to have to deal with. I worked hard at school, of course, but compared to most of my students I had it ridiculously easy. The point is, I’ve decided that I’m no longer putting myself in the position of judging a student’s priorities by my own standards. And you can’t BELIEVE how much that has lessened my stress level. This was a completely unexpected consequence of my shift in policy. I figured, of course, that this would lightened the load for my students. No more coming, hat in hand, to beg for an extension. No more stressing over trying to get work done at the last minute. Sure, great for them. But for me? Who know this was such a weight on my shoulders? I love, love, LOVE telling someone, “Hey, no worries. Just get it done,” instead of having to decide if it is fair to let student A have an extension and student B not. Instead of having to keep track of who got that extension and who didn’t. Instead of having to explain to student B (without violating privacy laws) why student A got that extension. And best of all, I don’t have to hear the excuses at all. I don’t care to know about your bowel complaint and how 9x9x25 Challenge

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it kept you in the bathroom all weekend. Or the intricacies of your relationship with your boyfriend or whatever else it might be. Just get the work done. I know, I know. There are a LOT of objections raised whenever I explain this policy to other teachers. It’s too hard to manage a class if students don’t all submit their work at the same time. Students aren’t mature enough to prioritize and will place playing video games or other frivolities over school work. We’re training them for the real world where there are consequences for not meeting deadlines. If you don’t enforce deadlines, students won’t work at the same pace and can’t get the most out of group work or the classroom experience. All valid points that I’ll have to address in part two of this essay, since I’m way over my 25 sentence goal already. But my core point is made. Education belongs to the students. It is their own responsibility to decide how that education fits into their lives and what is most important to them at a particular moment. Just get the work in when you can. Posted by Sukey at 11:04AM (-07:00)

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What Music Taught Me About Teaching Sunday, September 22, 2013 This post originally appears at www.salvatorebuffo.com You can comment there. As summer came to an end and although I had taught two summer classes, I was still feeling the need to regroup, refresh, and rethink about getting my Fall classes in order. What can I do differently to make the classes more interesting, not only for the students, but for myself? As educators we should always be looking for ways to improve our teaching. Repetition could sometimes be the death of us. Years ago, entering my teens I began studying music. Played in school bands, and eventually began playing in a jazz quartet, which continued into my adult years. Learning music, I found was very similar in learning to teach. In the classroom, finding our rhythm is crucial. It’s the pulse of the class that we as educators must tap into. Like in music, the rhythm in our classrooms defines its moods and climates. We are the conductors of orchestras of students, both big and small, helping to keep pace in their learning and understanding. As in music, rhythm and tempo is important for us to remember in our delivering new information to students. Let’s not forget that as teachers, it’s important to slow down and make sure our students are still with us in a lesson. Our voice is the link between our students and their auditory learning. In our voice we hope to convey a sense of strength, confidence and warmth. As in music, our tone, pitch and volume play an important part in this. This may be the notion of finding your own voice. Like in music, melody and rhythm are only successful when one compliments the other. Finding our voice in the classroom occurs when our students are in sync with the lesson and we find ourselves in flow of the class. I know this is easier said than done, but the practice of finding our rhythm and voice in our classrooms seems essential for our own personal development. Teaching should be fun, inspiring, creative, and, melodic. Yes, I said melodic, like a tune with words, rhythm, and melody that all come together we can make our teaching experience into a great song. You know the kind of tune that gets us right in the heart, that place of our passion, teaching. An old musician friend once said to me: “You know we practice not only to play better, but we practice so when we sound better, we actually feel better about ourselves… now that’s important.” Posted by Sal Buffo at 11:43AM (-07:00)

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The Importance of Relationship in the Classroom Sunday, September 22, 2013 T h i s p o s t a p p e a r e d o r i g i n a l l y a t http://yavapaiedu.wikispaces.com/Reflections+of+a+Teacher I’m the first to admit that I do plenty of complaining about my students. They turn in assignments late, have lame excuses for why they can’t come to class/complete the final/show up on time, they don’t complete their work as well as I think they should or could, some seem to need constant supervision, and others don’t participate enough in class. College instructors are all prepared to share their war stories at the end of every semester when grades are posted and students aren’t happy. But who, really, are our students? And more importantly, who are we to them? In this entry, I hope to reiterate the purpose and importance of relationships with our students, and not necessarily the traditional teacher/student role that one might often find in higher education where the instructor controls the grade, and the student does whatever is necessary to keep the instructor happy in order to get a good grade. Before teaching at the college level, I taught early childhood education (K-3). Most of the time, you couldn’t help but get to know those kids; not only did I spend more time with them (six hours a day for a year instead of 2.5 hours a week for 16 weeks), but they were all too willing to share their experiences, family secrets, buggers, etc. A class discussion about Sally’s new puppy could last three hours without teacher intervention, and may end with Xavier’s grandpa moving to Alaska. But, I loved it. I loved that they were proud and still willing to share themselves with me and with each other. Since transitioning to the college level, I’ve taught mostly online, which I’ve really come to love. But, it wasn’t until teaching my first fully in-person course this semester that I realized how much I’d missed forming relationships with my students. Many of them, although they put on a brave face, are scared to death… terrified of the teacher and their peers. It has humbled me these last few weeks to get to know those of my students who were willing to share with me who they really are and what they hope to accomplish. Our students in community colleges aren’t only traditional college age; some are single parents, grandparents, war veterans, retired business people, stay at home moms going back to the work force, mid-life people changing careers because of the economy, people with special needs… but most importantly, they all hopes, dreams for a better future. Who are we, as teachers, to them? A face, a voice, and an all knowing creator of Power Points that swoops in and displays knowledge for them to absorb, and then off to our offices we go to judge their papers/tests/ideas/submissions/opinions. This semester, I left my comfort zone and made more of a concerted effort to be a real ‘person’ to my students; to tell them things about my life that in the past I hadn’t felt they’d care anything about; in the past I didn’t want them to feel like I was too boastful or arrogant for feeling like they should have to hear my stories and see my pictures. And, secretly, I didn’t want them to know that I was a real person because I may lose that respect that I’ve tried so hard to establish. I have found that they appreciate my willingness to come off to them as a person, and in turn have been much more apt and 46

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willing to share things about themselves, which help them connect with not only me, but also one another. They haven’t lost their respect for me, but I will say that I’ve gained respect for them, and I can understand better where they are coming from. And together, we learn from one another. I’m not saying that every student is as willing to join the ‘family’. For those students who aren’t so forthcoming about themselves or willing to share their experiences, I’m making it my mission to reach them personally in some way this semester. I’m the first to admit that I’m an introvert, and as such, I’ve always been very careful to not overstep my boundaries with students; I never wanted them to feel like I was prying and it wasn’t in my nature to do so, anyway, so it was easier to blame my lackadaisical approach to these factors in the past. But true learning is personal, and often social, isn’t it? And aren’t I, as the instructor, tasked with creating the classroom climate? To accomplish the task of ‘class building’, as Kagan calls it, I’ve tried to integrate a lot of cooperative learning activities from the very beginning. And, while I felt like it was a bit time consuming at first, I gave my students many opportunities to talk to one another about themselves, and I’ve joined them. They even know one another’s names, all 25 of them, which has never happened before. And you know what? I think it’s really paid off. Now, when we do content related cooperative learning, they are all over it. And when we discuss things in class, they are (almost) all willing to share personal experiences they’ve had, which makes it so much more applicable to everyone in the class. I couldn’t have been prouder when last week, during our first group student presentation, the presenters mentioned that they were a little nervous. To my delight, more than one student in the audience offered encouragement and praise. Those self-described ‘quiet and shy’ presenters became rock stars and nailed it! That being said, I’ve recently realized the importance of not only getting to know each of your students, but helping them get to know one another, and letting them get to know you, too. Posted by Tara Oneill at 12:32PM (-07:00)

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover Sunday, September 22, 2013 My first trip to a campus book store was the fall semester of my freshman year. Up until then, the most I had ever charged to a credit card in one transaction was under $300. This changed that day when I charged $860 to card with a $1,000 limit. I sat in the car studying my receipt trying to locate the error. The error wasn’t at the level of the receipt, but at the level of the textbook publishing companies. Since I began teaching in 2007, it has been a constant struggle to pick out the perfect textbook for students. On one hand, we want the students to have access to vast amounts of knowledge bound into one nice book for their shelf, but on the other hand, we don’t want to break their bank accounts. Introduction to Psychology (PSY 101) and Human Growth & Development (PSY 245) are courses that many college students take to fulfill a requirement. At this point, I believe the textbook publishers understand this and have figured out that students will simply have to pay whatever extreme amount they ask for.

A few years ago we (myself and other PSY professors) got word of a new publisher that appeared out of thin air. They claimed to be able to provide books to our students for our most popular Psychology courses for $30-$40. We were ecstatic and switched to their textbooks. Life was good for a couple of years. We were then informed this last spring that the textbook we had been using for our Introduction to Psychology course would cost students $180 starting in the fall semester. With our blood pressure maxed out, we hastily attempted to make a drastic change with only days until our fall textbook orders were due. We decided to try to look for nontextbook books that would introduce the same type of topics to our students prior to coming to class. We settled on a pretty extreme decision in that the titles of one of the books seem a little condescending. We choose to try “The Everything Psychology” book for our Introduction to Psychology course and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychology” for our Human Growth and Development. We pulled our current students at the time to see if they would be greatly offended if their assigned book had the word “Idiot’s” on it if it were to cost them under $15. They unanimously said that it wouldn’t bother them as long as the cost was that low.

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This fall semester is under way and it appears that our students are satisfied (pending the outcome of the end-of-semester evaluations). While neither of these books goes into enough detail, they introduce the topics that we dive further into during class (or online lectures). Our PSY 101 text is now available to students for around $10 (as low as $3 used on Amazon) and the PSY 245 text can be accessed for around $15 (as low as $8 used). Both of these books can be purchased in a Kindle version for students who like to read on their tablets or iPads. In conclusion, as it stands now, we are satisfied with our decision and will most likely continue to try this until the publishers can come to a more sensible price for their books. Posted by Nichole Stubbe Wilson at 04:40PM (-07:00)

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The Journey of dotcomYOGA – 1728 to 2013 Sunday, September 22, 2013 T h i s p o s t w a s o r i g i n a l l y p u b l i s h e d a t http://dotcomyoga.com/my_yavapai_college/9_x_9_x_25_challenge The “9 x 9 x 25 Challenge” is a faculty challenge to create 9 pieces of writing with 25 sentences for 9 weeks, and the writing must be about teaching and learning. MY 9 X 9 X 25 CHALLENGE For my Challenge, I will create 9 pieces of writing with 25 sentences (give or take a few sentences) for 9 weeks that explains the Journey of creating an online college physical activity course called Online Yoga (PHE 100F), which I call dotcomYOGA. I hope you enjoy The Journey The Journey of dotcomYOGA - 1728 to 2013 ______________________________________________ Week 1 The Seed of dotcomYOGA The seed of dotcomYOGA began in the collective consciousness of humans in 1728. Yes, that’s right, in 1728, 285 years ago. Now, hold on! Don’t click out of this short article yet. I know what you’re thinking, “This guy is a nut, 285 years ago – come on, collective consciousness – huh?” But wait. Just hang in there with me. I mean, at least for this short article. And if you decide after this article the rest of my articles will be just as bogus, then just don’t read the rest. But at least give this article a chance. Deal? Deal! OK – As I was saying, the seed of dotcomYOGA began in the collective consciousness of humans in 1728 when Caleb Phillipps placed an advertisement in the Boston Gazette on March 20, 1728. The advertisement was for teaching shorthand through distance education: “1728 : March 20, Boston Gazette contains an advertisement from Caleb Phillipps, ‘Teacher of the New Method of Short Hand,’ advising that any ‘Persons in the Country desirous to Learn this Art, may by having the several Lessons sent weekly to them, be as perfectly instructed as those that live in Boston.’” Wow – Right? I mean, 285 years ago distance education was a learning concept. And what’s even more amazing is that the term “distance education” was not even a term yet. It didn’t become a term until 164 years later when it was used in a University of Wisconsin–Madison catalog for the 1892 school year: “1892: The term “distance education” was first used in a University of Wisconsin–Madison catalog for the 1892 school year.” 50

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And again, that’s right – Wow. The term “distance education” is well over a century old. Just amazing. Now, of course, I know what some of you are thinking, “This has nothing to do with online education.” And that would be true. As we know, Al Gore hadn’t created the internet yet. But this short article does show that teaching and learning has had distance education as a teaching method for all most three centuries. Now, maybe it’s just me, but WOW!!! References History of Virtual Learning Environments. (n.d.). http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/History-of-virtual-learning-environments Posted by Charles Lohman at 08:59PM (-07:00)

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Have I Learned from Teaching? Monday, September 23, 2013 Yes. This is the simple and quick answer. Of course I have learned from teaching! Who has not? Maybe a better question to pose would be, “What have I learned from teaching?” One of the best things I have learned from teaching is to listen. Listening can start with a simple question or statement. Try listening to your students for one week. Really hear what they say about your class. Involve the students with the creation of the class. Create surveys asking specific questions about class content and organization. I can remember the first online class I taught. This was way back in 2005. I was so proud; using the latest technology to lecture and provide handouts. The class was organized so even a beginning user could navigate it. WRONG. There were so many issues that I had to recreate the class before the next year! I “recreated” this class for another FIVE years; listening to the issues students had and which issues were similar. I finally decided to stop offering the course. To this day, I find myself yearning to teach it again and recreated it a few more times! Next thing I know, I decide to bring another class online; a new experience for the whole college. This one was like no class seen before and none will match it after. I was ready for any and all the problems of an online class based on past history. Off I went developing an excellent online course for all to admire! WRONG. This one had its own issues. What I did differently, because I am smarter now, was to ask the students what they thought of the class. What was their experience? Each semester, I threw a survey out to students on what they felt could be changed within the class. I even asked the same question within the Discussion Board of Blackboard, adding what their favorite assignment, or least favorite was, and why. From their answers, those things I could change, I did. The class has morphed into a wonderful opportunity to grow. It just gets better each semester! Now, I facilitate two classes which someone else created. I cannot change the content of these assignments as they follow a set degree. What I can change is how they are presented and how I can challenge the students. I just add a little “Ruth” to the class. Is this good? Sometimes it is…Sometimes it is not. The students let me know. Even with these classes, I add that “Silly Survey” and ask those same questions: • What day is best for online class meetings? • What time is best for online class meetings? 52

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• Did you learn anything new in this class? • Would you recommend this class to others? And the most important question of the Silly Survey… • What can the Instructor do to make this a better class? By leaving the survey anonymous, I have had wonderful feedback…and some not so wonderful feedback. Students feel free to express their needs. One wrote (from an older class), the assignments failed to show the worth of the program. Another stated the class

was not filled with enough academia and needed to be “harder”. Still another found it difficult to understand why the class was offered at all. There were often comments that hurt. They stabbed at the core of my existence. These comments are the ones I learn from the most. They tell me what the students are seeing and hearing within the confines of online education. These are the comments that make me a better person. These are the comments that lead to better instruction, thus making me the best instructor I can possibly be. Listening with an open mind, and an open heart, is what I have learned from teaching. Posted by rudi1234 at 08:43AM (-07:00)

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Escaping the Medieval Castle: Toward a Meaningful Grading System Monday, September 23, 2013 After almost 30 years of teaching, I am still haunted every semester by the specter of grading. I feel trapped in this medieval castle, where all the secret doors, tunnels and escape routes are labeled with huge As, Bs, Cs, Ds or Fs. I anguish over an 89 percent versus a 91 percent. I wonder aloud at the purpose of grades. Are they really for students? Employers? University Admissions committees? Scholarship boards? In the big picture and long run, does our grading system really serve our students’ learning? Or by it are we inculcating behaviors that move them to be automatons, slaves to what they think instructors want rather than focusing on conquering ideas and skills that would be really helpful? Does our current system really motivate students to learn, or is it a system of punishments and rewards that ultimately teaches our students how to “play the system,” and even cheat to succeed? What if we could make grading less punitive, and more about mastering the concepts we so much want them to learn? In this vein, I have been experimenting the last couple of semesters. Here’s the gist of my modified grading system: 1. There are four possible grades: A, B, C and U. (The “U” carries all the negative consequences of a failing grade, without the disastrous GPA consequences.) 2. Students need to complete 90% of the coursework at an acceptable level to pass the class, else they receive a“U.” 3. If an assignment is submitted that is NOT up to standards, it is returned (with comments and suggestions), and can be resubmitted within three weeks of the original due date. Students can resubmitassignments as many times as they want or need to in order to “get” the concept. 4. Student whose first submission of 90% of their work is on time (that is, 80% of all assignments) receive the highest grade. The big pro to this method is that it encourages mastery learning, not just going through motions to meet some arbitrary point value. Also, as an instructor, I don’t have to struggle over microscopic differences in points—students either master the concept or they get another shot. The big con is that I do more grading. But this really has two hidden pros: My grading goes faster because I’m not slavishly agonizing over minutiae, and I am more confident that my students are actually LEARNING! No grading system is perfect, and this one certainly is not. But neither is it as capricious, arbitrary or punitive. And most of all, it focuses on learning, not grades. So far, students seem to be rising to the challenge, and appreciating the opportunity to really learn! Posted by Mark Shelley at 12:49PM (-07:00)

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Talking Shop While Shuttling between Campuses Tuesday, September 24, 2013

So, found this new website for adjunct faculty - Pedagogy Unbound. Well, actually, it was on my Daughter’s Facebook page. It came out of the Chronicle of Higher Ed article – So, How do you Talk Shop When You’re Shuttling Between Campuses? We don’t need to reinvent anything – but, just like this 9x9x25 Challenge, it allows for conversations (inperson or online) about teaching – about ideas on solving problems – making connections with students – better teaching – better learning. As colleagues, we all have a lot of collective knowledge about ‘how to’, which we may or may not share. Whether it be a lack of time, or the sometimes ‘ownership’ of our classes and ways in which we teach them, we all can advocate and share our talents and ideas. In all honesty, I think our college does this better than most; within and outside our own departments. But…I DO think we could do more sharing as (and with) adjunct faculty – the lone rangers out there! Problem is how and where. Of course, there are plenty of places where faculty can search for teaching tips online. I refer a lot to Faculty Focus, associated with The Teaching Professor newsletter. I also use Oncourse and Edutopia, although Edutopia is mostly K-12. Many full-time faculty members engage in such talk on a daily basis, sharing teaching problems and tips during everyday interactions in the hallway or over lunch. We have adjuncts who shuttle between two campuses – or teach on campus and online. That leaves not a lot of time or opportunity to talk shop with fellow faculty. Heck, they may not even see another faculty member the whole semester. This is especially true if they teach at night and/or for more than one institution (where have we heard that before?!). Adjunct Faculty also don’t have much opportunity to attend conferences unless they pay for it themselves. (Side note here – with cuts in most institutional budgets, how do those professional conferences stay afloat?)

Pedagogy Unbound originator, David Gooblar, PhD, shuttles between two small colleges in Illinois and Iowa, teaching courses in composition and American literature, leaving him not a lot of opportunity to talk shop. According to Gooblar, “The site’s focus is on teaching tips that are (1) able to be explained briefly, (2) easy to put into practice, and (3) easy to adapt to most, if not all, disciplines.” Running since August, the site has a dozen or more categories, so I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile.

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The sorta goes with my previous post – We all Have Something to Share.So, check this out – read a topic and post something on Pedagogy Unbound.

Posted by mcheyer at 10:20AM (-07:00)

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Contacting Students by Phone Tuesday, September 24, 2013 Call me, don't be afraid, you can call me. Maybe it's late, but just call me. Tell me and I'll be around. Okay, so as faculty, we're not Nancy. Yet, students tell me over and over again how glad they are that I called them when I haven't seen them in class or heard from them in awhile. One time in the semester students appreciate a phone call is the first week of class. Especially in the online classes, students are out there struggling to get their textbooks, to learn how to receive college email, and more importantly figure out how to navigate our Blackboard courses. Each one of us has a different set up, and that frustrates some of them. So why not call a student who has not logged in yet or sent in an assignment?

After reaching students on the phone, often I will hear them say that they are okay and will log in by the end of the day to get started. But many others will tell me that they can't figure out what to do. "How do I send in an assignment?" is one of the most repeated phrases not only via email, but also on the phone. It only takes a few minutes to have them get to a computer, follow along with phone instructions, and achieve success. So what about all of the videos we create in YouTube and/or Jing to help them learn how to do this on their own? These are great for most of the students, but for the students who need a helping hand, the phone and email responses are still necessary. Let's face it. Some students haven't taken the time to locate the Announcements tab, and perhaps that isn't obvious to them either. If you wonder why I take the time to call students, I have taught GED in the past, and part of the job was to call any student who missed class for a week to check up on them and encourage them. When I moved into this faculty position, I still find myself working with the newer students to campus and feel the same treatment serves to support the students and improve retention. Oakton Community College Research agrees. So what effect has calling students had? I have had students who were dealing with death in the family tell me what was going on. Then I was able to work out a plan for them to catch up. Another student had a child in the hospital in Phoenix in a life or death situation for a few weeks. She realized that someone out there in cyberspace from Yavapai College actually cared and wanted to work with her. The student did finish the course. Other students have been overwhelmed with work, life, and other situations. Just 9x9x25 Challenge

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calling them gave them motivation to carry on. Okay, enough of the emotional reasons, right! It is just plain good personal relations for the college to call our students. When we capture the moment when a student is trying to decide if s/he should continue in the class, we can retain that student. Then we will have more students moving on to further semesters here at the college filling the higher level courses as well. We will also create a more supportive, positive atmosphere on our campus, and students will likewise share about us as a college that we are a more supportive, positive place to go to school. And we know that students have choices. Let's encourage them to come here, and to stay.

Posted by Tina's Blog at 11:39AM (-07:00)

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The Way We Sit: Physical and Social Structures of Classrooms Wednesday, September 25, 2013 I hate our classrooms. More specifically, I hate the furniture in our classrooms. Rarely do I use the word “hate,” and I don’t use it lightly. Why, at an “enlightened” institution of higher education, do we insist on herding our students into each room like cattle to the slaughter, lining them up in rows (where all but those in the front row get a fantastic vista of the back of someone else’s head), then shoot them down with our intellectual bullets (otherwise known as lecture)? And to compound the situation, for those who would like to rearrange the aforementioned classroom accoutrements, a month’s worth of weight training is required to be able to move the bulky, awkward tables, and in many rooms a sign is posted, “If you move the furniture, please return it to its original position.” (I really have no problem returning those awkward slabs to their previous locations; however, the presence of that sign is a concrete indication of how engrained this practice is!) Now the instructor doesn’t have to go to the gym, because a complete workout has been accomplished before and after class—sweat not withstanding. So why, after decades and decades of educational research telling us that, in most cases, straight lecture is NOT the most effective teaching method (just ask any student), and that such militaristic seating arrangements do not encourage student interaction (which studies show is directly related to success and retention), do we continue to allocate our precious dollars to equipment that works against learning? More to the point, why do we, as instructors, continue to acquiesce to (and thereby support) these strategies? Several reasons come to mind. The first is found in the axiom, “We teach the way we’ve been taught.” While this is not totally true for everyone, most all of us were schooled in this manner—from First Grade on up. (In my opinion, preschools and Kindergartens have it right—circle time, sitting on pillows or working at interest stations. Adults actually enjoy learning that way, too!) Sitting—passively—in rows, taking notes has been our modus operandi for our entire academic experience. Probably each of us has experienced an “exception” to that rule, and we thought it was really cool! But we fail to reproduce that experience for our own students, settling for more conventional (and honestly, less physically strenuous) approaches. In short, walking into a classroom and standing up front—the sage on the stage, with our charges perched in neat lines –is HABIT. And expected (yes, even by our students). But don’t we almost always, at least in real life, learn MORE from the unexpected? Another reason is, well… to be honest, it’s just too much dang work (not to mention it may consume precious class time) to do all that manual labor. I fall prey to this excuse—you won’t often (at least not as often as I feel optimal) find me reconfiguring the classroom gear. It means getting to the room early and staying late, with little help (since many students need to get to their next class and students are coming in for the one right after mine). In my case, the furniture itself acts as a deterrent to doing what I know is really BEST for my students. I am somewhat ashamed to admit this, but it’s true. So WHAT IF our classrooms were equipped so that our students could look at each other eye to eye, so that they could move around gracefully to form groups and pods to tackle important questions together, so they could more easily engage in the kind of Socratic dialogue and cooperative learning that begets a truly valuable educational experience? WHAT IF my students came to expect the unexpected when they walked into the classroom; stimulating their anticipation of experiencing something new from the very first second of the class period? WHAT IF I could move the tables without herniating a disc in my lumbar, and instructors would applaud—rather than criticize—efforts to at least try something new? WHAT IF we didn't wait ten years for a campus master plan to…

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Posted by Mark Shelley at 05:38PM (-07:00)

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Who should be the copyright educator for an educational institution? Thursday, September 26, 2013 I am taking a course in copyright education from the ALA, and I thought I'd share my response to a discussion question (paraphrased) here and tailored for my situation:

It's decided that a lawyer is not the right person to conduct copyright education for faculty and staff at the college. What kind of person is the right person for this role? A lawyer may not be the best person to do this kind of educational work at a school for the following reasons: 1. Unnecessary expense; legal advice should only be necessary for a school in high risk and other unusual situations. 2. Lawyers tend to the risk-averse side of the issue, in my experience, and may be less inclined to a balanced view. 3. The advice of lawyers is not necessarily better than a person well-versed in the issue, because their job is to advise, not give concrete answers, and that advice can be correct or not. Only a judge tell... In educational settings, peers are often the best people to do the day-to-day work of this sort, because it builds on a trust that hopefully already exists in relationships between colleagues. This position is always a bit delicate and has the unpleasant role of sometimes bearing bad news, so a good working relationship is essential to keeping people from "going rogue" and avoiding dealing with the topic at all. Since a good basic (and continuing) education in the subject of copyright is all that may be needed for someone in this role, anyone with the interest and inclination could fulfill it, though someone like a librarian or media specialist who is involved in the issue on a daily basis, may work out better. IMO formal training is not always necessary if the person is diligent with their self-study, but a basic course is recommended. Posted by Thatcher Bohrman at 12:12PM (-07:00)

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Monkey in the Classroom Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last week I promised to explain the monkey atop this page and why he graces the frontispiece of this very serious and academic blog. Well, besides the rather obvious curb appeal, and the fact that monkeys like to climb, he is a symbol for an endangered species in the classroom. His name is Stone Monkey and he represents the enthusiastic community college student (note that I did not say stoned monkey –we have too many of those as is). To understand the reference we must look to sixteenth century China and the folk tale Journey to the West. Although perhaps the most widely read story in the Far East (and subsequently the world), the epic remains a novelty in the US, relegated to world literature courses, such as my own (a pity, but that’s another post). The story centers around four traveling companions and their journey to India to retrieve sacred Buddhist scripture. Although, the priest Tripitika is our nominal hero, it is really the eponymous Monkey that steals the show. Fathered by sunlight, fructified by the wind, and birthed by a stone egg, Monkey is enthusiasm incarnate. Active and eager, he plunges forward again and again seeking adventure and wisdom. This is readily apparent in the scene I am most concerned with here, monkey in the classroom:

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“One day the Patriarch, seated in state, summoned all his pupils and began a lecture on the Great Way. Monkey was so delighted by what he heard that he tweaked his ears and rubbed his cheeks; his brow flowered and his eyes laughed. He could not stop his hands from dancing, his feet from stamping. Suddenly, the Patriarch caught sight of him and shouted, ‘What is the use of your being here if, instead of listening to my lecture, you jump and dance like a maniac?’ ‘I am listening with all my might,’ said Monkey. ‘But you were saying such wonderful things that I could not contain myself for joy. That is why I may, for all I know, have been hopping and jumping. Don’t be angry with me.’ ‘So you recognize the profundity of what I am saying?’ said the Patriarch . . . “What sort of wisdom are you now hoping to learn from me?’ ‘I leave that to you,’ said Monkey. ‘Any sort of wisdom –it’s all one to me.’" When reading this passage for the first time, my response was “We should all be so lucky!” Imagine a classroom full of joyful learners eager to consume that day’s offering, interested in learning for learning’s sake. I mean, that’s the City of Gold that keeps teachers hacking through the wilderness, the reason many of us signed up for this gig, and the eternal hope that allows us to overlook that short line of digits on our paycheck. Yet, we seem to be retreating from the Monkey ideal rather than approaching it. Why is this? For our part, teachers seem to moving in the right direction. We’ve exiled the “allknowing” Patriarch along with his narrow and pedantic closed-mindedness. In his place are experts of all stripes and backgrounds, a multitude of voices (none of them shouting at students). Moreover, as nice as rich attire and a fancy chair sound, we are no longer “seated in state.” Our teachers now roam and ambulate. And more than just profess like some sacred oracle at the front of the room, we practice varied approaches to teaching and learning that seek out and reward participation and active engagement. Yet, where are our monkeys? I see them in kindergarten exhibiting all the symptoms described above (flowering faces, laughing eyes, stamping of feet), but something happens to them on the way to the community college classroom. John Taylor Gatto explains much of what occurs in his brilliant article “The Seven Lesson School Teacher,” but there’s yet more to it –something specific about our classrooms– and as is so often the case, it comes down to money. Since the economic downturn I have seen an alarming rise in reluctant faces, crossed arms, and grudging voices. They all say the same thing: “I lost my last job and now I’m stuck here until I can get another one.” “I’m tired of making peanuts and so I have to get through this to something better.” “Mom said I have to go to college if I want a good job.” “I’ll get this out of the way and then go to university.” These voices concern me, for they all share the common theme of transience. At best we’re an obstacle course; at worst we’re a roadblock. Too many students attend community college as a type of purgatory, something to be endured until they can move on to that which is bigger and better. Current political trends exacerbate this scenario by denigrating the teaching profession on one end and enacting increasingly restrictive and invasive educational policies on the other. Even well-intentioned officials seek to defend the place of the community college by tying it directly to job placement, job creation, and the economy. The result is not pretty. Too many students arrive with the perception that this whole education thing is an economic exchange. As in, “I pay you tuition and you give me my passing grade. I collect enough of these passing grades and you give me a piece of paper.” Expressed as an equation it looks like this: 9x9x25 Challenge

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money+time=diploma=good job Because of the many variables and potential cross-purposes involved, this may or may not be true. However, what is true, is that it generates a damaging sense of entitlement, and in the process belittles what actually takes place in the classroom. I do believe that education makes better employees and studies readily show the dollar value of a degree, and yet the classroom is not job training, and it shouldn’t be looked upon as a speed bump or weigh station on the way to a career. The classroom is and should be a destination in and of itself, a locus of knowledge, learning, community, sharing, exploration, self-discovery, and change. These outcomes are not all measurable (much to the chagrin of the pencil pushers), and they cannot all be relied upon regularly, but even in a diminished or altered state, they are worthy pursuits. Yet, if students arrive with the perception that the classroom is just one more hoop to jump through, they risk missing out on the greater fruits of an education. So what’s the point of all this? Should we just cry and eat more ice cream? Should we curse myopic politicians and administrators to the heavens? These are attractive options, but, as always, we should focus on what's under our control. Every pair of crossed arms and disinterested eyes is a challenge, and though many students do not realize it, indeed, they have been conditioned to deny it, their hearts and minds are really piles of dry tinder just begging to be set alight. Rather than wait for lightning to strike, we need to bring that fire with us into the classroom. Be enthusiastic, be loud, stamp your feet, jump around. Be a Steve Irwin and get excited about your subject. If you want active, engaged and joyful learners you have to model that behavior. You won’t change all of them, but you’ll get quite a few. After all, monkey see, monkey do. Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 01:42PM (-07:00)

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Where Did I Put That Conversation? Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flickr image by Kris Hoet I won’t dwell on the fact that we intentionally make students do thoughtful work and then release the work into some digital outer space, never to be heard or read again. That IS what happens to Blackboard discussion forums. I’ll even play the devil’s advocate and say, “Hey, who cares? Conversations only happen once and then they are over, right?” That’s what my daughter tells me too. “Dad, it’s over. Can we move on?” But wait, what about the conversations we do have and revisit? The conversations we have had where we think, years later, “Yeah, I learned talking to her/him.” Or those conversations that are timeless and weave their way throughout our lives as new connections are discovered or once grand thoughts are thrown away. Can we keep at least some of those in our pockets? In our diaries? In our yearly performance review reflections? Our sock drawers? For better or worse, in a digital landscape things can be saved. Ideas can be recalled. Conversations can be revisited and even reborn. Not just any conversations, but YOUR conversations. Conversations you initiated or conversations you just took a part in. One of the things that computers and the internet do well is remember stuff. So finding these conversations becomes something that may be useful. And again, I’ll play the devil’s advocate and note that there are many conversations you’ll never want to revisit. There are some you will even want to forget. But like your memory, the internet just might keep those too. So where did I put that conversation? Well, maybe it is in Facebook. There are great conversations that happen on Facebook. They are usually not the ones about ham versus turkey sandwiches or the ones about the night you… But there are amazing conversations about remembering friends or family who have passed on, or childbirths or amazing people doing amazing things. Where else might these conversations live? The blogs right here in our 9x9x25 Challenge is one place. They serve as a place to see what you have thought and as a way to document where you have been and where you may be going. That is one of the topics I really hope gets moving in education land. You know, the one where teachers are continually demonstrating that they are doing better things than they used to do. And not just demonstrating the improvement in classrooms, but sharing the success and failures with their colleagues. If we all did have the time, if 9x9x25 Challenge

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we did have the skills, what would a year of professional growth or progress look like if it was written in sentences? Anyway, what about those digital conversations that are kept and stored on that thing called the internet? Maybe the comments on a piece of writing are mostly just encouragement and a positive bit of applause for your post like this from the amazing George Couros. That is good right? A little encouragement never hurts. Maybe the comments are a deep discussion about a tool used in education like this one on Jim Groom’s blog. That conversation, by the way, is all about exactly what is happening in our 9x9x25 challenge and the digital architecture that is happening on the TeLS Webletter. Maybe it is a bunch of educators having conversations about teaching and learning like those participating in this one. Maybe other teachers, like yourself, who would have never known of this conversation can now ponder some of the ideas expressed? At least the door is open. Whatever the tool, whatever the topic, and for whatever audience, the internet does allow us to have and hold ideas in a way that could be useful to others and even to ourselves. You know, like those times you think, “What was it I said?� Posted by Todd Conaway at 01:53PM (-07:00)

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Camera-Ready Friday, September 27, 2013 To those of you who record lectures and YouTube videos for your classes, a tip of the hat to you. If you do it often (and your students actually watch them), <applause>. If they reference anecdotes that you’ve shared in your videos (i.e., “that’s just like your Dream of the Giant Contact Lens”), I salute you! Because, truly, that’s what it’s all about… While the effort to capture course material on video is admirable, certainly, it needs to be a worthwhile endeavor, adding something meaningful to your class (well worth the pain, suffering, and learning curve required ;-) If you’ve ever embarked on recording for your classes, you know, the first playback is the hardest. It’s one thing to do your thang and bask in the aftermath of a “great class.” It’s quite another to watch what you just did, to see yourself as your students see you, to notice aspects of your delivery, appearance (and that weird way you hold your pen) that are just well, distracting. Truly, those are the first hurdles to get through -- to not allow our presentation-of-self to interfere with the message. If we want our message to be heard, we have to eliminate the noise, the distractions. What you might think as a “stellar moment” in your lecture may not come off that way in the playback. You might consider yourself “hilarious,” only to notice that on second view, your punch line was too quiet, that your timing was off, and that it was not quite so hilar.

It’s not easy to see you yourself as others might, to look at your lecture from the perspective of a student or a stranger -- as in, what would I think if that were my professor? What impressions would I form of him/her? Is he/she likable? Authentic? Worth listening to? Once we get past the “medium,” of course, it’s all about the message. The realcontent. Yet this can be a virtual minefield as well. For despite our personal values and points-ofview, we need to be ever-mindful that not everyone who steps into our classroom shares a similar perspective. Some were likely raised in very different households, with opposing political views, religious beliefs, and ideas about what is “right” (not to mention, schemas and stereotypes on the basis of gender, ethnicity, culture, social class, their life experiences, etc.) When students complain of “biases” (in another class, not yours ;-) it might be puzzling at first. But ah, if you had the opportunity to watch a class lecture, you would likely see their perspective on the playback. And perhaps experience a light bulb “teaching moment: to be a bit more inclusive in the future, honoring multiple point-of-views and leaving the door open (in the hopes that one day they’ll grow in awareness and realize that you were right all along ;-)

Truly, it is all about the message…and yet, we can’t ignore the medium. Video recording is like shining a bright light on your class…only you can’t be afraid to look. Be open to the feedback it offers you. No flinching! Posted by Dr. Karly at 07:57AM (-07:00) 9x9x25 Challenge

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Dean’s Perspective on Teaching and Learning #2 Friday, September 27, 2013

I remember in junior high the PE pre-test, this is where we had to run a mile around the school. The PE teacher would stand there with a class roster attached to a clip board and a stop watch and whistle around his neck. As each student would pass he would bark out the time elapsed. While I didn’t want to be last, I also knew that I didn’t want to be first. I realized that in a few months we would do the exact same thing and so I would give a mediocre effort the first attempt so that on the second test I would show improvement. It was the classic pre/posttest. It seems that as personal, community, state and federal budgets are stretched further the issue of value and relevance of Higher Education is considered more frequently. When the topic of learning is being discussed it is quickly followed by the question; “how can we tell if learning is actually taking place?” While those of us in education say yes, others are asking “where is the proof”. How is learning measured? If we are going to measure the end product of higher education then don’t we need to know where the starting point is? To use an analogy; physicians employ a variety of tools, techniques and skill to diagnose a particular condition. The subsequent treatment is based upon that diagnosis. In higher education, particularly for those of us in community colleges where open enrollment is utilized, how do we as educators know what would be the best approach in teaching our respective students? On the first day of class do we know the current educational condition of our students? What tools, skills, or processes have we, our institution, or the student utilized to see where they are? Have they been out of school for several years, do they have a learning disability, are they proficient reading at a particular level? The list of what ifs can be extensive, and many if not all of these factors can have an effect on their learning. As educators we view ourselves, as do others, as content experts, do we equally consider ourselves as delivery experts? Do we make adjustments to our delivery methods so that each student will have a better chance of learning? Each of our classes has a list of learning outcomes that we anticipate the successful student will be able to exhibit or demonstrate, as a result of taking the class. Do we even know if they could exhibit some or all of those outcomes at the beginning of the semester? How can we demonstrate that there is value in a student participating in our class, that there was some kind of improvement or progression in their learning? It appears to me that just as I experienced in Jr. High School PE, some form(s) of 9x9x25 Challenge

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evaluation taken at the beginning of a class, semester and college experience will need to be documented and compared with evaluations conducted at the end of the semester and college experience. This would allow educators to more accurately assess learning in the classroom and across the institution, as well as providing â&#x20AC;&#x153;proofâ&#x20AC;? that students did indeed learn.

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A Reminder from the Universe Saturday, September 28, 2013 This post originally appears at http://salvatorebuffo.com/weekly-insights-teaching-andlearning/ Why is it that when things go bad in the classroom, it usually becomes the best thing that could of happened? Let me explain… I tend to spend a great deal of time refining and tweaking my lectures. My wife reminds me, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” , but I’m driven at times to constantly modify, change and deliver my classroom presentations in hopes of making it more interesting, not only for my students, but for myself as well. As I was preparing to start my Counseling Skills class (which is an ITV class), a mysterious force in the universe seem to have other plans for the day. It started with the ITV connection between the Verde classroom and the Prescott classroom coming on, but the sound was not working from the classroom in Prescott. OK, I’ve dealt with this before and after getting assistance from the IT staff we had it up and running, but I was beginning to sense, after the 10 min delay in getting started, my students were feeling frustrated with the delay. I then pulled up my revised power point “The Importance of Identifying our Clients Values” and just when I was about to begin, the large projection screens began to flicker. When I had the camera in the instructor mode, it worked great, but when connected to the computer, you need a dose of Dramamine if you were to continue viewing it. At this point I directed the camera back to me and announced to my students, “it appears that the universe is directing me to forget the planned power point lecture, so let’s do something different, let’s just talk about the importance of values not only with our clients, but within the helping profession as well”. I then directed the students to put away any writing utensils and close their books. As I began discussing the importance of values in the counseling relationship, I remembered activities I used to do when early in my career as a therapist facilitating groups. These activities were based in values clarification exercises, and were activity/experiential activities. As we began doing these exercises, it began to generate a great deal of discussion and enthusiasm in both the Verde and Prescott classrooms. As the hour progressed, students that never uttered a word since the start of the semester began to dominate the conversations and the energy in both classrooms was amazing. I found myself facilitating discussions that were both exciting and pertinent to the subject at hand. You could feel the interest and enthusiasm. When the class came to an end, several students commented on what an interesting and fun class we just had. I had to agree, I was a great class. Needless to say, I will always look for better ways to teach, but the lesson I was reminded of was the need for facilitation and active learning. Remember all those good things we were taught about effective teaching styles? One came to mind was the work of Lev Vygotsky who said that the role of a teacher is to facilitate and guide students, not to direct and mold. So I continue to review my lectures and modify them, but instead of adding on to what I already have, I’m learning to make them shorter, more to the point and allow time for more interaction with students, allowing them to direct the conversations and share their ideas. In this process, I am learning to redefine my role as teacher and sometimes learning to trust what the universe is teaching me as well.

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Posted by Sal Buffo at 12:51PM (-07:00)

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Any Readers in Your Classes? Saturday, September 28, 2013 Remember when we set ninth grade reading level as the minimum for most of our Gen Ed courses? It has been over three years now. I would love to hear from instructors as to how that has worked out in your classes. Since most of the books we use are written at the 13.0 or 14.0 level (and some are even higher), that means students are facing text with a sophistication and vocabulary level that they may have never been exposed to before. Are they understanding what they are reading? Or are they avoiding the reading assigned? I have been teaching the lower level reading courses ENG 083 and 083 for four years now. During that time, I have tried Humanities theme-based readers, biographies, fiction, and actual reading textbooks. When I used the readers, many of the students could not understand the essays well enough to determine the thesis, to outline the content, and to examine the arguments. As a result, I have resorted to finding my own selection of articles and essays that I think they will be able to comprehend.

The problem with the common published reading textbooks is that they continue to review skills that the students have already grasped. For example, my students are now working with a chapter that is having them find the main idea sentence for paragraphs taken from college textbooks. How many of you as you read are tearing apart every paragraph? I certainly don't want students thinking that this is something they should be doing for every paragraph they encounter for the rest of their lives, but I do want them to be able to grasp the thesis point of what they are reading and find the main supporting points, whether they are reading a sociology textbook or a newspaper editorial. Here is the dilemma. The students in my classes have the basics down. They can read sentences and paragraphs. They can sound out words, and they know how to use dictionaries (not that they are using them frequently). However, they do not know how to wrestle with new information, with arguments, both well-founded and fallacious, and with author tone and purpose. They also do not know how to adapt their reading skills for various disciplines. Reading a chemistry textbook requires a different style of reading than reading a history book which should be read differently than a novel. Most of our 9x9x25 Challenge

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students do not have that level of sophistication. For them, reading is more passive than active, eyes moving across the page in the correct direction. Comprehension requires active reading, engaged with and questioning new information. Critical thinking needs be practiced as they adapt to new reading situations. This is not covered well in most reading textbooks. The College Reading and Learning Association just published a white paper that speaks to this very issue: An important aspect of increasing the effectiveness of developmental reading is tied to pedagogical choices. It has been estimated that as much as 85% of college learning is dependent upon active, careful reading (Simpson & Nist, 2000). The average reading load for college students is between 150-200 pages a week (Burrell, Tao, Simpson, & Mendez-Berrueta, 1996). However, much of the instruction in developmental reading courses has traditionally centered on a transmission model of teaching isolated reading skills, such as selecting main idea, identifying fact and opinion statements, and other subskills (Armstrong & Newman, 2011; Maxwell, 1997), despite calls for a more strategic or process-based approach (Simpson, Stahl, & Francis, 2004). Research results on skillsbased instruction show little to no improvement on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reading ability upon completion of these remedial courses (Merisotis & Phipps, 2000). Such an approach cannot adequately prepare students because the tasks of college vary widely across disciplines and purposes and students are expected to engage and interpret text of increasing difficulty (Attewell, Lavin, Domina, & Levey, 2006; Eckert, 2011). (6-7) After reading this paper, I was reaffirmed regarding what I was intuiting about the typical developmental reading textbooks. The approach to skills is inefficient, unsuccessful in the long run, and actually aimed the wrong direction. I and my students get bored quickly with the mundane tasks and assignments. Thus, I am ready once again to scrap the textbook for a more holistic approach to reading instruction. to me, the main goal of instruction should be to build up the reading fluency of our students. The kind of reading sophistication that our students need takes time and immersion in written text. Notice that the quote above says the "average reading load for college students is 150200 pages a week." Many of the students enrolling in our college for the first time have not read that many pages in a year, much less "turned a page" (I would include all of the good reading to be found in the Internet) during the summer prior to classes. I would propose that this is not the fault of their prior education, but a reflection of our culture: our society does not encourage reading as a valuable activity. Our students have so many more "interesting" options that are far more social in nature as seen in one of my favorites by Scott and Borgman:

I will be going back to working on building that reading fluency, using the most interesting texts that I can find that will promote active reading and enjoyment. If I can get them hooked on the value (... and dare I say "joy") of reading, then I will have achieved my personal goal for the classes. Having said all of this, I would encourage you to consider how you might utilize those first few reading assignments each semester to train your students how to read in your discipline. How does a biologist read scientific texts? How does a historian read a primary document? How does a sociologist read a research study? Trust me, our students don't know, and one semester in a reading class will not prepare them for every field of study. 74

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If you have a typical 3-5 page reading, be it an essay or a chapter in a book, that you assign to your students, I would love to have a copy to use in my classes. In the meantime, I am going to look for books and ebooks, articles and essays, that will help develop reading fluency. Posted by ENG 140 at 11:14PM (-07:00)

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Sharing Your Chicken Enchiladas Over the Internet: A Note About Cop... Sunday, September 29, 2013 For those of you who do not work in building three, I’m about to let you in on one of the best kept secrets at YC, a treason for which I may be lynched, or worse, forced to norm English essays. It’s the break room in building three. Inside the break room there is a little table right as you walk in and anything on that table, well, it’s up for grabs. When I first got hired on here, about six years ago, my tour guide was Patty Schlosberg who was the administrative assistant to then dean of Liberal Arts, Mark Shelley—my how things have changed in the administrative make-up of our division! Nevertheless, amidst all of the whirlwind of change and restructuring and VP/President searches, one thing has remained constant, that little table in the break room. “Yep, anything on this table is free, up for grabs. Some people bring in food to share, or if there is left-over food from one of the division meetings, people just leave it here” Patty said. Over the next several months, I cautiously observed this phenomenon. The little table house a veritable buffet of goodies as time went on—brownies to start the first day off right, cake on someone’s birthday, vegetable platters after a division meeting and the list didn’t stop with food. Three ring binders, hanging files, in/out stackable boxes, the table seemed to constantly display some item that was looking for a new home. One time, with arms full, I made the mistake of placing part of my lunch down on this magic table as I unencumbered myself in preparation for heating something in the microwave. I barely turned my back and people were trying to dip into my chicken enchiladas! As I scour the Internet for materials to use in my classes, I can’t help but make a connection. The little table in the break room of building three is like the Internet, once something is placed there, it now becomes public domain. Even if we want to protect it and keep it ours, like my enchiladas, it’s gone. We have been cultured to think that if you find it on the Internet, you can use it, even if the author somehow meant to maintain proprietary rights. I learned quickly that if I wanted something to remain mine and mine alone, I’d have to put it down on a different table. I think that content creators for the Internet are the same way. They realize that once they hit “upload” their content has now just hit the road, never to return. But should it be this way? The Internet allows us to share things as never before, and that gets us all excited, but many people want to make a distinction between “share” and permanently “give away”, but how can this be done? I think there are two ways, first, people need to realize that when they take something significant from someone who has posted it online, they are stealing. I remember just a few days after I really started seeing the magic break room table phenomenon in full swing I noticed a sharp looking Dell Laptop, just sitting there on the table. I looked around for an owner, and no one was to be seen. I now ashamedly admit that the thought crossed my mind, “well, it is on the table right? And I could use a new, more powerful machine since the LimeWire incident”. I can’t believe it now, but at the time, I actually thought about making off with the thing! As I was nuking my lunch and contemplating misdemeanor charges, the copy machine tech came in, opened up the laptop and started working with it. He knew nothing of the magic table.

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People online need to stop and realize when they are figuratively stealing a brand new Dell laptop. Some people take advantage of folks who naively post things online and make off with significant works that are obviously meant to stay the property of someone else. When we steal from people’s work online, we should feel like I did when I realized that making off with the Dell laptop was not a good idea. Sure, it was on the table, but I knew deep down that the laptop was not a Costco sheet cake—it was not up for grabs. The second way is Snapchat! Snapchat is an app that allows you to send information in a text/video/photo message to another phone, but it is gaining market share in that it does not allow the receiver to maintain possession of the message. As soon as the message is viewed by the receiver, it is deleted from his/her phone. This app and others like it are in direct response to people who want to put their chicken enchiladas on the table, but don’t want to see someone make off with them. We want to share; we just don’t want to give away. That’s the idea here, but hold on, once uploaded, can it really be pulled back? If you have an iphone, try this one>>hold down the power button, then hit the home button. Yep, a cool easy way to snap a quick screenshot! Now, whatever was on your screen, snapchatified or not, is now in your “photos” app. Snapchat acknowledges this however and says that it will “inform the sender if a screenshot has been taken” but the word among techies is that this feature does not work very well and even if it did, the screenshot has been taken and there is nothing that the sender can do about it! So, the moral of the story is, ponder prior to posting! If you upload it, it’s gone, and, do you want that? Sharing is fine, if the enchiladas weren’t that good anyway, but if you have something of value, maybe you want to keep it to yourself, at least until those babies start to grow mold. Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 04:34AM (-07:00)

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They Want To Eat Your Brain! Sunday, September 29, 2013

Over the past few months, I have been watching episodes of “The Walking Dead” on AMC via Netflix. Like many people, I found the story interesting and the evolution of zombies fascinating. Over the past few years, the use of the term “zombie” has gone way beyond the undead popularized by George A. Romero’s film “Night of the Living Dead” (1968). We have zombie computers, zombie systems in the brain, zombie apocalypse, zombie walks, zombie agents…you name it. The word “zombie” is no longer simply a noun. It is used to describe things that work automatically without our conscious knowledge. In my profession, teaching, a few educators have applied zombie to a certain class of students they call “zombie learners”. In “Mutant Learning – How to Develop a Social Learning Lab“, zombie learners are described as “half alive, morbidly going through the motions day in and day out. Doing just enough to get by in their job and their personal lives. Only learning when forced to attend in-person training or when regulations and law requires them to. Rarely do Zombie Learners explore the incredible universe of learning tools so easily accessible in today’s uberconnected world.”

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This description is developed in the context of social learning. It is an interesting idea, but not applicable to all types of learning and all subjects. It assumes that one must use technology to learn and to create…something I do not think we can all agree upon. If fact, we could even coin the term “zombie teacher” in the context of this description. The term “zombie” is not even agreed upon. Even aficionados of the undead have not come to a universal definition. The Wall Street Journal recently published an online article “World War Z: A Field Guide to Zombies“. This article traces the evolution of zombies and their capabilities. Do some of these zombies remind you of your students? To get a sense of what a zombie learner is so that we can claim it as our own, let’s look at some definitions of zombies. Merriam-Webster 1a : the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body; b : a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated 2a : a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead; especially : automaton; b : a person markedly strange in appearance or behavior 3: a mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice Most of this definition is not applicable to zombie learners. However, definition 2 is what we are thinking of when we see Jimmy in the front row with the blank stare in his happy place. Oxford Dictionaries expands on this notion. Oxford Dictionaries

informal a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings. Now this gets to the heart of the zombie learner. Particularly in developmental classes, zombie learners do not have an interest since they are required to take the class as a

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prerequisite for another class. “When am I ever going to use this?” is the typical question from Intermediate Algebra students. However, let’s not only go with appearances. What about behaviors? How many students have you had who simply want to do the homework and quizzes and get the grade? They can factor polynomials like crazy! They can find the equation of a line through two points! But can they use this information to make decisions about what health insurance plan would be be best for their family? What are the characteristics of your zombie learners? How would you define “zombie learner”? Posted by davidg at 07:13AM (-07:00)

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The Role of Relationship in Student Success Sunday, September 29, 2013

This post appears at http://yavapaiedu.wikispaces.com/Learning+Communities by Tara O’Neill In a recent developmental education committee meeting, it was brought to our attention that student involvement is more important than course placement in determining a students rate of success. That means that students who aren’t involved in college activities or clubs are more likely to quit coming to school than those who are placed in developmental education courses, or misplaced in courses. My last post was about building relationships with students in the classroom. This time I will focus on how we can build relationships with students before they enter our classrooms. The idea of ‘faculty advising’ has been thrown out at many a division meeting in the last few years. For two reasons- first of all we, as faculty, often end up advising students anywayespecially in complicated programs that have multiple pathways. Secondly, we know the benefits of forming these outside of classroom relationships with students, especially if we advise campus clubs. There is something so much more personal about asking a student to join or participate in a club rather than sending out a an e-mail blast asking inviting students. In a world where a student can do everything online from apply for admissions to graduate with a Master’s degree, without ever stepping foot onto a campus or in a classroom, we need to add a little bit of the personal touch back in. Auburn University has developed ‘learning communities’ for freshman students that includes a ‘student success’ type class and a section taught by peer advisors: Apparently ‘the ability to combine the benefits of the community and academic advising allows for an increase in retention efforts and student success.’ 9x9x25 Challenge

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Additionally, ‘through advisor-led learning communities, incoming students are not only given the tools to be successful in the classroom but have a better understanding of the requirements of their chosen profession. Involvement in a learning community is a timesaving strategy for advisors who can advise in a classroom setting. The learning community also provides a venue for creating more informed students as advisors explain university policies and procedures’ - See more at: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/ViewArticles/Advising-in-Learning-Communities.aspx#sthash.Fpf5PEwB.dpuf Although they don’t use faculty advisors, I still think this is a model worth considering. I think back to my college experience and imagine how wonderful it would be to have a person that I knew well enough to feel comfortable with advising me, on a consistent basis, not only in what courses I should take, but also what things I could be doing on campus to get to know others or grow as a student. As a club advisor, I am constantly creating events for students that would be of benefit to them; fund raising efforts to teach them how to plan and implement a community event, professional development nights with local guest speakers, putting groups together to attend community events of interest… I know the value of these things, but sometimes I don’t feel that they do; in fact, I’m not even sure they read that e-mail blast that I send out with all the fancy graphics intended to get their attention. They just think ‘I’m busy and it’s not required’. But I know for a fact if I were able to sit down and talk to them, they’d know the benefits and would attend for intrinsic reasons, not because they could get extra credit or skip out on a future assignment. Are students getting everything out of their educational experience at YC that they could be? And, whose job is it to reach out to these students and offer support? I know the task is large, and we are all doing our part to try to meet that need, but maybe we need a more formal structure in place. Posted by Tara Oneill at 07:21AM (-07:00)

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Who can be an online student? Sunday, September 29, 2013 Can any student be an online learner? If you ask any instructor of an online course this question, the answer will undoubtedly be, “No”. It is no mystery that there are struggles with online students. I hear these all the time from one-on-one encounters with other instructors as well as in any meeting every attended. The current thought is that there should be a mandatory training for a student to complete prior to enrolling in any online (or even hybrid) course. The other side to this coin, is that many believe (with good reason in my opinion) that instructors should also be required to complete a mandatory training prior to teaching any online or hybrid course. I agree with both of the previous statements, but will only address the student side today. While so many agree with having a mandatory student training, I believe that this may be a few years out for our institution. Teaching my first online course back in 2008, I learned a lot from just one semester. There were a number of non-passing grades in that first semester, but I was convinced that some of these had to be due to technology issues (where a student did not have or understand how to manipulate the technology necessary). After thinking about this, I began doing what I call a “Multi-Part Assignment” for all of my online students. This is an introductory assignment that students MUST complete in order to remain in this course. The design of this for my course ensures that students are able to manipulate / access all technology pieces that will be required to succeed in THIS course. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, it is designed just for my courses. If I will require that students post and comment on the discussion board, they must do this during the Multi-Part assignment as well. If I will require that students save a file in Rich Text Format, this will be necessary also. If I require that students view my lecture videos, they have to be able to access the Welcome video which is in the same format as all lecture videos. This continues on for every piece a student may encounter in my course during the semester. I do not assign any points to this assignment, rather they have to complete it to remain in my course. While I still will receive some emails that first week (“I hit the back arrow and now I can’t go back into the quiz”), these emails don’t continue throughout the semester. Rather, students get the opportunity to make the mistakes on this initial assignment that isn’t worth any points and therefore learn from their mistakes before they begin with the content of the class. I ensure that students complete this by password protecting the first “content” assignments. They obtain the password when they complete (successfully) the final piece of this multi-part assignment. I have embedded the password into the feedback of the final quiz (which just includes questions about the syllabus and set up of our course). This means that students must answer the questions correctly, and be able to view their feedback in order to continue. This assignment has helped me out drastically. Like I mentioned before, it allows me to deal with the “technology” emails at the beginning of the semester, rather than during the entire term. In addition, it helps students feel confident in continuing with this course knowing that they can do / access everything they will need to be successful. Furthermore, it has helped with those later emails we all receive that look like, “I didn’t realize that this assignment was due yesterday…..” I am able to access their Multi-Part assignment to show them that they did know because they were able to answer questions about due dates from the syllabus that very first week. My point is this: While it may be a long wait before we see a mandatory training for all online students, we can devise our own orientations that are specific to our courses. I would still like to see a required orientation, but in the meantime, I have a set up that allows me to implement this for students in my online courses. 9x9x25 Challenge

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Posted by Nichole Stubbe Wilson at 11:29AM (-07:00)

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A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Post My Blog Sunday, September 29, 2013 Students blog in every one of my courses. As part of the class. I have been asking students to use this tool for quite a few semesters now. I find it facilitates teaching across the curriculum, a phrase I first came across when (back in the old days) we adopted “Jurassic Park” as one of our texts. Most of us ask more of our students than simply learning (simply??) the main subject of the course (in my case biology). Students not only need to “learn the material” to achieve course outcomes and go forth academically, but it is increasingly clear to students and faculty alike that many more life skills are important to navigate the world of learning. I think blogging has the potential to enhance teaching and learning any subject. What are the “take-aways”? Sure, recognizing the characteristics of life would be nice or appreciating that the living world is composed of cells could be hoped for. Even a working knowledge of nerve impulse transmission or the electron transport chain could suffice. How about developing creativity, being more confident with technology, and archiving a record of learning? We expect students to manage their time, demonstrate personal responsibility, develop disciple, and utilize campus resources. I think asking them to create a blog site and post assignments fits right in. Each semester varies, but this time, I ask students to post what I call pre-class assignments to their blog sites. They earn points and (I hope) gain satisfaction from reading about or “handling” the coming week’s topics. This takes many forms—watching a video about probability and responding with muddiest points, finding a cartoon that relates to ecosystems, choosing an organism and describing its role as a keystone species, and lots more. In any case, the blog lives and grows with the student and takes on a personality of its own as more than an assemblage of assignments. Forgive me, biology colleagues, for the metaphors. I see students developing: • Accountability for appropriate content • Adaptation to new technology • Adherence to deadlines • Archiving • Creativity • Online presence • Digital literacy • Discipline • Enjoyment in completing assignments • Personal responsibility • Portfolios • Pride in their work • Sharing with classmates And wait; there’s more—contributing to a knowledge source and to others they might not even know! Here’s the proof:

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Built right into this model are lots of opportunities for one-on-one conversations and trouble-shooting sessions with students. So now we talk technology and biology. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cool and the reason behind the title to this piece. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 05:08PM (-07:00)

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From TV’s Jack LaLanne to dotcomYOGA Sunday, September 29, 2013 This post appears at dotcomyoga.com In 1900, the first known use of the word “television” was used by Russian Constantin Perskyi at the World’s Fair in Paris. Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to bore you with a history lesson of the television, especially a lesson that I have no knowledge of its subject. Rather, and more on target, I’m going to fast-forward to the year 1953 when the University of Houston offered the first televised college credit course through KUHT: “The University of Houston offer[ed] the first televised college credit classes via KUHT, the first public television station in the US.” (History of Virtual Learning Environments, n.d.) Now, maybe you knew that the first televised college credit course began in 1953, but for me, before I wrote this short article, I had no idea the first televised college credit course began 60 years ago. To me, this news is just amazing. And, as an online physical activity instructor, what’s even more amazing and something I did not know, as well, is that the first televised exercise program also began in the early 1950s; and by who else, but the beloved American icon Jack LaLanne, who presented fitness and exercise advise to millions across the Nation: “. . . by the early 1950′s he [Jack LaLanne] was given the opportunity to utilize the new medium of Television, where he reached out to millions of Americans with his gospel message of get out of your seat and onto your feet. His motivational message spread across the country like wildfire and his show was an instant nationwide hit!” (Jack LaLanne, 2013) And as seen in the following video not much has changed with televised exercise programs: I mean, how can it change? It’s a simple concept. Someone exercises on TV while someone follows along. But I guess the question here is – What makes such a simple concept a college credit course? Well, that’s simple too. With the invention of the internet, the student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction is now possible. However, the details of the “hows” of dotcomYOGA as a college course is a future short article. References Jack LaLanne. (2013). http://www.jacklalanne.com/jacks-adventures/king-of-fitness.php History of Virtual Learning Environments. (n.d.). http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/History-of-virtual-learning-environments Posted by Charles Lohman at 08:29PM (-07:00)

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Leveraging Opinion & Belief: Why Should They Care? Sunday, September 29, 2013 Let me start by saying this: as an adjunct instructor for psychology and sociology at Yavapai College, I have the opportunity to teach really interesting subjects. I know, I know. You have a particular affinity for your own field(s), too. In fact, for most of the instructors and professors I know, the path to academia looked a little more like this:

Than like this:

Still, I'll make no secret of the fact I think my own subjects are the best, and I'll tell you why: every single student in every one of my classes has some level of personal experience with the subject material. Every student developed in the womb, was born, and - for better or for worse - grew up in some sort of family system. Each of them has interest in sex and sexuality (though their levels of knowledge and experience in this area vary wildly). I have yet to meet a student who hasn't known someone who died or loved someone who has a mental illness. And almost all of them have wondered at some point how anyone could possibly care enough about high school sports to kidnap a rival's beloved mascot. Because my fields focus on the scientific study of human behavior - our development, motivations, beliefs, and interactions, as well as how we perceive and organize the world around us - what students learn in my classes exists on more than just a theoretical level.

In order to get students to recognize the truth of this statement, somewhere along the line I realized I could capitalize on their natural tendency to offer their opinions and beliefs 88

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when presented with a given topic. Every instructor has had the frustrating experience of trying to reach the odd obdurate individual who is overly wedded to his or her preexisting belief system. But the fact most students have their own thoughts and opinions about the material presented in your course doesn't always have to be a bad thing! As an instructor, you can actually use this reality to your advantage.

I have found this is particularly true of online students, who are often fairly tech-saavy and come into the online classroom with a fair amount of experience stating and defending their thoughts on every online forum from Facebook to Popular Science. The key, obviously, is to demand a higher level of rigor than those students are used to, and to require their sources include (or, perhaps, are confined to) the textbook and/or articles you've assigned for the course in which they're enrolled. Here are some ways in which I've used this phenomenon in my classes: â&#x20AC;˘ Rather than asking students to discuss which individuals are most at risk for HIV/AIDS and why, I'll ask them to take a position on the FDA's banning of men who have had sex with men from donating blood in the United States, and to defend their position using sources provided in the class. â&#x20AC;˘ Instead of requiring students to describe the impact of age-related changes to vision and reaction times, I'll have them propose laws regarding older drivers. Or for that matter, younger drivers. â&#x20AC;˘ Should teens have to do service-learning to graduate from high school? Should parents be prohibited from spanking their children? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of Little League baseball for kids? If it was your job to revise standardized testing, how would you evaluate the quality and effectiveness of public schools? If you could wave a magic wand and everyone would make the same amount of money for full-time work, how difficult would it be to recruit doctors and other professions that require considerable educational and cognitive investment? Students care about these types of questions. Often, they have already thought about the issues. My husband, Jason, recently encountered an English 101 student who stated that since she'd posted an adequate result on her AIMS test in the 10th grade, she hadn't had any quality composition instruction since. Can you imagine the thoughts she might be able to offer on how to revise standardized testing? And that's just one example! This approach has two added benefits. The first, obviously, is for the instructor. While I do use some easily-graded measures like true-false, fill-in-the-blank, or multiple-choice questions, I really feel that essay and short answer are where it's at. Supposedly it was Einstein who said something to the extent of, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." I like essay as a tool for assessing student learning. But let's face it: reading and grading 48 essay responses comparing and contrasting the theories 9x9x25 Challenge

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of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky can feel downright painful by the time you're reaching the end. On the other hand, reading the same number of nuanced arguments about MSM blood donations is a lot more engaging for the instructor.

The other benefit is for the student. Although I'm bound to have my own feelings and opinions about what they write (HIV testing has, after all, improved to the point where many nations allow MSM to donate blood under certain conditions), no matter which answer a student gives, I'm going to argue with it when I provide feedback. If there's anything I want students to get out of their college education, it is the understanding that the world around them exists in a thousand shades of gray. And ultimately, I'm far more worried about the students who come out of a classroom feeling like they've mastered the course concepts than the ones who come out feeling like they've been left with more questions than answers. Posted by ewhitesitt at 08:57PM (-07:00)

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I Should Do What?! Monday, September 30, 2013 In this fast paced world of technology, you can bet that I have MANY blogs out there; some of these are up to date with the latest and greatest; some, not so much. I can remember someone responding to one of the posts on a “personal” blog that I was not following proper “Blog Protocol”. When I read this person’s response in telling me how to make sure I had images and links for readers, some very bad words flew out of my mouth. In fact, I responded with wonderful links just for that reviewer. There was even an image added of a universal sign language which we all can understand! Oh yes…Videos were even presented to support this action. Sometimes, adding all the technology to a blog is not needed. In fact, isn’t blogging a way to express yourself? Isn’t a blog YOUR idea of what is true? Do we really need to add links, and videos, and images to every post? What if you are expressing just a thought or a need to release an inner emotion? What if the words are there just for you to learn from yourself? Sure, we all know how to create links.We even know how to add videos to posts. Images are my favorite media to add; as they usually express the feeling I am portraying the best. Yes Todd, some of these words are focused at you in response to the request for links, images, and videos. I know you can take this rant as a grain of salt, and you know I can bring the best of the best forward in these writings. These posts are not what this challenge is all about. This is about sharing ideas, dreams, and tools to make our teaching and learning experiences better. Do all the extras truly make a better post? If you ask students to do blogs in the class, will you expect “blog perfection” from them? Will adding videos, images and links to every post help students retain information, or will this just cause frustration and anxiety? Will you be able to read students words without judgment if they have no links, images, or videos? If reading the written word is not exciting enough, or a need for interaction to stay focused is the only way to capture a viewer, then maybe blogs are not the thing for us. Maybe we need a Learning Interaction Website. Did you learn anything about me in this post, even though there were no links, images, or videos? I am certain you did. Some of you may even be furrowing your brows. I promise that next week’s post will have exciting links for ideas and tools to be used in classes. Maybe, I’ll even add a video. Until then, read on. Posted by rudi1234 at 09:31AM (-07:00)

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The Aesthetic of Classroom Experience Tuesday, October 01, 2013 Any one experience is made up of many smaller experiences. For example, jumping into cold water is not just the experience of “wet.” It is made of many sensations from cold, to wet, to weightlessness, to moving vertically down and then up. It has emotions like exhilaration or fear. The water may taste salty and the sounds may be muffled. All experience has other elements attached. Reading for example is made up of some words and some thoughts. It is made up of the physical sensations of where the reader is sitting. It is made up of feeling developed both from the reading and feelings that were prevalent before the reading started. If hungry, the reader is also experiencing hunger as well as the content of the reading. Have you ever been reading and then all of a sudden realized you have been thinking of something entirely different from the words on the page? The reason our living rooms are not just featureless and bare walled rectangles is because we want to create an experience for people, namely ourselves, when we inhabit the space. The stuff we put on the walls changes the way we interact with the environment. Colors, textures, windows, open space and narrow spaces, all of these things change the very nature of how we experience the event of standing there in the room. Blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean. Right?

In the world of school, much of what we get to do is read words. That’s cool. Words are useful. I love words. I like them so much I became an English teacher. My house is full of them. Some are pages full of nothing but words, but some are books with illustrations. Now why would people want to mess up some perfectly good words with pictures? Maybe they were told, “A picture paints a thousand words.” So either they were lazy authors and figured they could tell the story without cramping their hands writing so many darn words just to explain something? Or maybe their publishers thought the story sucked so they thought some other medium might make up for the crappy story. Who knows, but I know, from personal experience, images can help tell a story because they, like the experience of jumping in the cold water, add another dimension to the experience. It is not necessary. But it does make the experience different. 92

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So what about the classroom? So if we believe that what a place looks like can shape the experience of a person, what do we think a classroom might do for a student’s experience? Let’s go back to your living room. What is the purpose of the framed painting you have there? Is it to distract people away from the worn carpet? Is it to inspire? Is it there to create a sense of calm? Is it there because it is the only piece of art you have and that seemed as good a place as any to hang it? Let’s look close at this classroom.

As we know, all experience is made up of smaller sensory and emotional events, how does this classroom shape the experience of the learner? Maybe it says, “Hey, there is nothing going on here so focus on the teacher and the Powerpoint.” Maybe it says, like an uninhabited home, “No one lives here.” Or, “No one owns this place.” Who’s job is it to put stuff on these walls anyway? The presidents? The students? The teachers? Well, I am just going to sit in my office with all these images on the walls that help me feel like I have some history, some connection to “the real world” beyond these walls, and be reminded of a favorite bookstore (City Lights) a favorite photographer (Ansel Adams) a favorite author (Robert Louis Stevenson) and a former student who passed away many years ago but is still close to my heart.

For myself, I already added some stuff to the walls of the college. That is, like, totally

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against policy I might add. Does it make any difference? To student number 63 or to teacher number 4? To me? Why yes, yes it does.

Let’s take a vote. Do you prefer blank walls in the classroom or walls with stuff on them? Sorry I can’t be more specific about “the stuff” but let’s just assume it is a few framed “average” pieces of art or cheezy inspirational/motivational posters. I suppose it could even be hanging plants. Imagine that! Posted by Todd Conaway at 10:33AM (-07:00)

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You Gotta be Ignorant to Learn Tuesday, October 01, 2013 So, I was having a conversation with my granddaughter Sunday night after some frustrating homework and instructions from teachers. She made the comment, “Why don’t some of my teachers know that before you learn you have to be ignorant? Not stupidignorant, but not informed, not aware, or that you just don’t know and want to know”? I asked her what she meant. Here’s the gist of her response: “To learn something, you have to not know anything. Not knowing about something gives you questions that make you want to find out? What if early people looked at up at the stars or the moon and already knew how they worked and why? What if no one wondered how the human body worked, and why just making people bleed did not make them well? Being ignorant creates the need to want more information about something. Getting part [of the information] make you have even more questions, which makes you want to find out more, and so on. Sort of like genealogy. You want to find out about your ancestors, so you start looking. The more you look, the more you want to know. School should be like that. I have one teacher [History] that reads from the textbook, shows a video, and then we have a quiz. Most everybody does not read the chapters, fall asleep in class, and don’t do well on the quizzes. We’re bored! We don’t know why this class matters. We don’t care. My art teacher lets me decide what my focus is this year, and how many items I make is up to me. We watch videos, but we also go to see art; feel art; want more art. It matters; what do we want to know more about this work. We don’t have quizzes either. I wish more of my teachers were like this”. Well, this got me thinking! I wondered if there anyone out there is teaching ‘ignorance’. Guess what? Turns out there is! Dr. Stuart Firestein.

Dr. Firestein is a professor and a lab director of Biological Sciences at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Firestein mostly teaches Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, but has delved into the subject of knowing more and ignorance. His course is called SCNC 3490, Ignorance.

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According to Dr. Firestein, The class will, in contrast with a more typical science class, focus particularly on what we don’t know. This is, after all, the essence of science as practiced daily in labs and in our heads. In his Nobel Award remarks David Gross, this year’s winner of the Physics Prize, noted that “the most important product of science is ignorance”. Can we communicate this vital perspective to students, who I fear currently believe that science is only a game of facts? In contrast to courses and media that address the “Big Questions” of science this course is to be a detailed investigation of ignorance as a creative force in science. It will approach ignorance through a series of ‘case studies’: interactions with working scientists discussing the immediate questions that they are working on in their laboratories. Why do we need to know these things; what can we do if we know them; what can’t we do if we don’t; what are the obstacles; what are the solutions? We will be interested in hearing what is important to the individual scientist and how these questions came to be central to their laboratories– whether by accident or by design, whether because of their solvability or their intractability, whether by budgetary considerations or by imagination, whether because the field demands answers or because the field is otherwise ignoring these issues. Or some combination of these and other factors. I also found a TEDTalks by Dr. Firestein’s called, The Pursuit of Ignorance. His comments, toward the end of the talk on Ignorance about where he thinks this will play out (in education), really struck a chord. He says, “We just can’t sell facts for a living anymore. They’re available with a click of the mouse, or if you want to, you could probably just as the wall of one of these days, wherever they’re going to hid the things that tell us all this stuff. So what do we have to do? We have to give our students a taste for the boundaries, for what’s outside that circumference, for what’s outside the facts, what’s just beyond the facts”. It made me think about my granddaughter’s comments on her History teacher. Remember, memorizing those dates in school? We didn’t know why those dates mattered to anyone, but it mattered that we knew them. We just took a test; 20 minutes later, we forgot everything – why? We didn’t get asked the next question. The teacher didn’t create a new ignorance. The answer on the History test should not be 1492. It should not be 1941. It should be – What your evaluation of the event? Why does it matter? Do you want to know more? Where should we go from here? What is the next question? So, let’s have a conversation on ignorance and about what those next questions continue to be.

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Posted by mcheyer at 10:50AM (-07:00)

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Constructivist Theory and Web 2.0 Technologies Tuesday, October 01, 2013 Constructivist Theory (http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) focuses on a way of learning where students construct meaning by going beyond what they are taught. The new Web 2.0 technologies that are emerging today certainly can facilitate constructivist thinking and learning. The students and teachers are responsible to create this reality for themselves and their classrooms respectively. Learning will not likely take place regardless of the learning tool without desire, discipline, and dedication. Each of the Web 2.0 tools we read about in Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning by George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger create the connectivity to allow for better teaching in hybrid, online and the face to face environments. Social learning can be greatly enhanced when using Wikis. Barb Davis created a vocabulary Wiki for her class last semester. The students chose their own words they came upon while reading The Kite Runner and loaded them into this Wiki. At the end of the semester, the instructor used these words for the Vocabulary Final Exam. Matt Pearcy created a Facebook account to give his students a creative way to access him throughout the semester. I created the http://thinkingcritically.ning.com/ site to allow students to access diverse resources to support learning the Critical Thinking terms and concepts from Richard Paul and Linda Elder's materials. Since this information is housed at Ning, it continues to be accessible after Blackboard closes its doors for the semester. Situated learning can be enhanced using YouTube videos. Many instructors create these videos to demonstrate how to complete assignments. Artists can show students how to paint, draw, sculpt, and so on. English teachers can show students how to write various types of papers, and math teachers can demonstrate solving various math equations. Tegrity and Camtasia are other video tools that have even greater potential since the students can view the demonstration as well as a slideshow to narrate the main ideas. Reflective learning is another benefit of Web 2.0 technologies. I have personally polled my own students asking them how they feel about using discussions in college online courses, and the majority prefer these over face to face discussions. The more quiet students have the time to think and reflect on what they want to say without being in “competition” with those for whom words come quickly and easily. Many students feel they have more time to give a well considered response and to listen to their peers. Very few students actually would confess to preferring the classroom situation where they can jump in and “monopolize” the discussion.

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Multi-faceted learning relates to Multiple Intelligence Theory where proponents believe the more options instructors give students to access curriculum, the more likely students are to gain understanding of the material. When we add the visual aspect of video and other computer-based graphical interfaces, the aural aspect of recorded messages and text readers, and the kinesthetic aspect of interacting with a computer through the keyboard, mouse, and various drawing and selection tools, we can only increase the likelihood that students will engage in the material being presented. How much more interesting is it to study and learn while watching, listening, and keying into a computer device over reading a textbook! Oh, did I really say that?

I have purposefully created this learning situation in the GED classroom. Students would come into the room and work out of textbooks for part of the class time, listen to a short lecture, and then participate in groups. Finally, students would get onto a local computer to study through software programs, computer math games, and more. Students who were mostly playing with their pencil during the first part of the class period still found the program worthwhile because they knew that more engaging activities would follow. Students who preferred working in the book often returned to the book refreshed after the various activities as well. Indeed emerging technologies deserve our attention as serious tools to enhance learning for students of the 21st Century. Posted by Tina's Blog at 07:56PM (-07:00)

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Can I Dump the Due Date Too? Wednesday, October 02, 2013 The great thing about participating in the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge is this: not only do I allow myself the time to reflect on and share aspects of my own teaching experiences, I've also been inspired to see what my colleagues are up to (and 9x9 gives me an easy way to do that). Over the past week, I've spent a lot of time pondering YC Humanities Instructor Sukey Waldenberger's recent blog post regarding why she dumped the due date.

I had never even considered dumping the due date. Not once. When I put together my very first syllabus at YC in 2010, my policy took the form of a hard line: no late work. No exceptions. Period. The rationale, in my mind, was that it would be better to take a firm stance on the front end and then grant exceptions as needed. And so my syllabi for this semester's classes look largely the same as all of my syllabi have since with regard to the issue of deadlines.

"But," to quote Sukey's post directly, "thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not REALLY the way it is, in most cases, is it?" No, it's definitely not. Over the past 16 terms, I've granted more exceptions for visits to urgent care, out-of-state funerals, volleyball games, and court dates than I can count. And a funny thing happened when I thought about what it meant to ask for and receive an extension: I started to remember what it was like to be an undergraduate student, holding my hat in my hand as I meekly asked for another week, hoping whatever my excuse was, it was good enough to make the cut.

Even still, my natural reaction was to reject the idea that due dates don't matter. I mean, how much more work would it mean for me as the instructor if assignments started coming in willy-nilly? What about the fact that without a due date, many students could fall so far behind it could be all but impossible to catch up? Also, I paid my dues. I had to

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do it when I was in college, after all... and it benefited me later during the eight years I worked as a victim advocate, where meeting inflexible due dates for grant proposals and updates was an essential component of the job.

Upon more consideration, though, I realized that the majority of my initial objections relied on the type of paternalistic, intuitive (non-evidence based) argument for which I would gleefully nail one of my students to the wall. I decided to toss this around with Jason, who is a professor in Sukey's department, and he pointed out that like so much in academia, most deadline policies are based heavily on very old traditions; if we were to sit down and reconstruct policies and procedures based on what we now know about teaching and learning, they'd likely look very different. But, he cautioned, each instructor's due date policy fits into their broader approach to each class and subject, as well as their own individual style, and it might not be possible to implement a "no due date" policy without making other major structural changes to the course, which may or may not be a step that a given instructor is ready to take. It was a decent point. I like the way my classes are structured. I pride myself on websites, syllabi, and assignments that are clear, unambiguous, and visually appealing (hey! perhaps that'll be my next blog post!). I don't want to tear it all down and start over... yet. So maybe I'm not ready to jump in head first. Still, I'm tossing ideas around in my head. For my part, I'm tired of judging excuses too, especially since they're all-too-often intensely personal and realistically, I'll grant an extension for almost any reason. I also like the idea of treating students more as they'll really be treated in the workforce, where if a deadline involves true penalties it must be met, but if something comes up, a little common courtesy is usually enough to get an extension. With all of that in mind, I'm considering a spring policy that looks a little more like this: â&#x20AC;˘ Topic-specific grading measures (attendance, discussion board posts, peer reviews, etc.) must be submitted on time or will be subject to a 50% late submission penalty. â&#x20AC;˘ All other grading measures will have a "suggested deadline" with a 24-hour grace period. Any student who contacts me within 24 hours of the suggested deadline will be granted an extension with no penalty. No excuse is required, just provide a reasonable date (not "sometime around July of 2017") by which the assignment will be submitted.

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I feel like these measures also more closely approximate the standards to which I hold myself. As an adjunct, I am not allowed miss a class without losing some pay - certain requirements are time sensitive and must be met. But if I'm going to miss the 7 day grading turnaround I typically offer my students, which is a flexible deadline, I usually make (or post) an announcement to that effect, and include when I expect the grading to be completed. Common courtesy. Is this change going to mean a lot more work for me for me as an instructor? My natural reaction is to say yes, but the truth is, I don't know... which is precisely why I'm going to try it! If it doesn't work, I'll have a tough semester and go back to my old hard line. And if it does, maybe I'll say good-bye forever to hearing about students' explosive diarrhea or feeling guilty about the fact they're begging for extensions from their iPhones in the ER waiting room. Because when it comes right down to it, students who lack discipline and motivation are not going to change along with my deadline policies. They're already asking for extensions, and more often than not, I'm already granting them. Students who care about their learning and want to succeed won't change either. I rather expect they'll get their work in "on time" as they always have, only with the knowledge that this time around, the choice is in their own hands. Posted by ewhitesitt at 10:55AM (-07:00)

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What music taught me about teaching Wednesday, October 02, 2013 As summer came to an end and although I had taught two summer classes, I was still feeling the need to regroup, refresh, and rethink about getting my Fall classes in order. What can I do differently to make the classes more interesting, not only for the students, but for myself? As educators we should always be looking for ways to improve our teaching. Repetition could sometimes be the death of us. Years ago, entering my teens I began studying music. Played in school bands, and eventually began playing in a jazz quartet, which continued into my adult years. Learning music, I found was very similar in learning to teach. In the classroom, finding our rhythm is crucial. It’s the pulse of the class that we as educators must tap into. Like in music, the rhythm in our classrooms defines its moods and climates. We are the conductors of orchestras of students, both big and small, helping to keep pace in their learning and understanding. As in music, rhythm and tempo is important for us to remember in our delivering new information to students. Let’s not forget that as teachers, it’s important to slow down and make sure our students are still with us in a lesson. Our voice is the link between our students and their auditory learning. In our voice we hope to convey a sense of strength, confidence and warmth. As in music, our tone, pitch and volume play an important part in this. This may be the notion of finding your own voice. Like in music, melody and rhythm are only successful when one compliments the other. Finding our voice in the classroom occurs when our students are in sync with the lesson and we find ourselves in flow of the class. I know this is easier said than done, but the practice of finding our rhythm and voice in our classrooms seems essential for our own personal development. Teaching should be fun, inspiring, creative, and, melodic. Yes, I said melodic, like a tune with words, rhythm, and melody that all come together we can make our teaching experience into a great song. You know the kind of tune that gets us right in the heart, that place of our passion, teaching. An old musician friend once said to me: “You know we practice not only to play better, but we practice so when we sound better, we actually feel better about ourselves… now that’s important.”

Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 11:10AM (-07:00)

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A Reminder from the Universe Wednesday, October 02, 2013 Why is it that when things go bad in the classroom, it usually becomes the best thing that could of happened? Let me explain… I tend to spend a great deal of time refining and tweaking my lectures. My wife reminds me, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” , but I’m driven at times to constantly modify, change and deliver my classroom presentations in hopes of making it more interesting, not only for my students, but for myself as well. As I was preparing to start my Counseling Skills class (which is an ITV class), a mysterious force in the universe seem to have other plans for the day. It started with the ITV connection between the Verde classroom and the Prescott classroom coming on, but the sound was not working from the classroom in Prescott. OK, I’ve dealt with this before and after getting assistance from the IT staff we had it up and running, but I was beginning to sense, after the 10 min delay in getting started, my students were feeling frustrated with the delay. I then pulled up my revised power point “The Importance of Identifying our Clients Values” and just when I was about to begin, the large projection screens began to flicker. When I had the camera in the instructor mode, it worked great, but when connected to the computer, you need a dose of Dramamine if you were to continue viewing it. At this point I directed the camera back to me and announced to my students, “it appears that the universe is directing me to forget the planned power point lecture, so let’s do something different, let’s just talk about the importance of values not only with our clients, but within the helping profession as well”. I then directed the students to put away any writing utensils and close their books. As I began discussing the importance of values in the counseling relationship, I remembered activities I used to do when early in my career as a therapist facilitating groups. These activities were based in values clarification exercises, and were activity/experiential activities. As we began doing these exercises, it began to generate a great deal of discussion and enthusiasm in both the Verde and Prescott classrooms. As the hour progressed, students that never uttered a word since the start of the semester began to dominate the conversations and the energy in both classrooms was amazing. I found myself facilitating discussions that were both exciting and pertinent to the subject at hand. You could feel the interest and enthusiasm. When the class came to an end, several students commented on what an interesting and fun class we just had. I had to agree, I was a great class. Needless to say, I will always look for better ways to teach, but the lesson I was reminded of was the need for facilitation and active learning. Remember all those good things we were taught about effective teaching styles? One came to mind was the work of Lev Vygotsky who said that the role of a teacher is to facilitate and guide students, not to direct and mold. So I continue to review my lectures and modify them, but instead of adding on to what I already have, I’m learning to make them shorter, more to the point and allow time for more interaction with students, allowing them to direct the conversations and share their ideas. In this process, I am learning to redefine my role as teacher and sometimes learning to trust what the universe is teaching me as well.

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Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 11:12AM (-07:00)

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Why I Dumped the Due Date (part 2) Wednesday, October 02, 2013 "I got my [assignment] done. Sorry about the delay, things are tough, I'm figuring it out. Part of life, right? Or all of life? I certainly appreciate your setup right now." I got that email from a student this week. It really made me feel good. My student completed the assignment of reading the week's materials, posting a question for exploration in the discussion forum and responding to other students' questions. Would it have been better if she'd done that work in week five, when the conversation was at its peak? Well, sure, but better late than never! If I'd enforced the due date, she wouldn't have done the work at all and would have missed that material entirely. I don't know what is tough in her life, and that makes me feel good, too. Not that she's having a hard time right now, of course, but that I don't have to evaluate whether the situation is tough enough. And she didn't feel like she had to convince me. Who am I to judge? Things were tough, she's working on it, and she got the work done when she could. Good enough for me. Or...maybe she's making it all up. We've all had our share of dead grandmothers. But I don't think she is, because she doesn't have to. Why do so many grandmothers die during midterms? Because that's an excuse that just about everyone will accept. (Or used to, anyway, before the modern plague of dead grandmothers!) But my students don't have to make sure their excuse meets my personal standard of "bad enough." I leave that to them. Sure students will abuse the freedom to skip a due date (or two, or three, or....) But they penalize themselves by doing so. It's harder to catch up in a class than it is to keep up. And my grading system STRONGLY encourages keeping up, without penalizing those who have one or two late assignments. I don't feel the need to exact an additional penalty. Okay, I'm supposed to be writing about how I counter objections to my "no penalty for late work" policy, so here goes. It's impossible to keep up with 100+ students' work without due dates. I have a lot of sympathy for this objection. It drove me crazy when a student would hand in a late paper when I wasn't prepared for it. I'd usually stick into my bag or tuck it into a book and hope would make its way to the stack on my desk that I'd collected last week. I still remember the frustration of trying to keep track of the flood of papers coming and going between me and my students in the bad old days BC (before computers.) Ah, but that was then and this is now, AD (after digital.) And here I will shock everyone by saying something nice about Blackboard. Students all submit their work via Blackboard and all I have to do is open the grade book and there it all is. I grade each class once a week. Anything submitted that week gets graded. I don't have to remember if I gave someone an extra three days. I don't have to remember if I gave that extension three days ago or four. If the student does the work, I give them feedback on the work and the student learns something. Students who don't do assignments don't learn from them. (I also color code my gradebook to help me easily distinguish a pattern of late work indicating trouble ahead. Maybe I'll write a blog post about that one of these weeks.) So I keep up quite easily, far MORE easily than if I had to keep track of individual exceptions to a "no late work" rule. I also discovered that I prefer the variety of not grading 25 or 50 or 100 of the same assignment, all at once! 106

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Some students aren't mature enough to set their own pace in a class. True enough, but I prefer to treat them all as if they are rather than treating them all as if they are not. I do have some policies that I use to prod along the slowpokes and chronically disorganized, such as the grading policy mentioned above. I also grade each week and email those who are falling seriously behind. And I withdraw any student who hasn't completed at least half the work required by the student withdrawal deadline. If you are THAT far behind, no matter what the reason, you won't catch up and it's better to cut your losses now. If you don't enforce deadlines, students won't work at the same pace and can't get the most out of group work or the classroom experience. That is an excellent point, and I addressed this point to some extent above. It's a trade-off. If I enforced due dates, perhaps more students WOULD keep up and get more out of the class. But those who miss the deadlines would get nothing out of the assignments they were unable to submit at all. Is it worth cutting some students off from the work entirely to encourage others to keep up? Which of those options you choose depends on the value you put on that immediacy of interaction. But I do think there are coming changes in education that will tip the balance more and more toward giving students access to the class work at their own pace and in their own time. Increasingly, educational technology is being designed to allow students to work at their own pace, to move ahead if they find the material easy or to slow down and concentrate on a topic that has stymied them. Classes where everyone is required to move at the same pace, regardless of whether an individual student has mastered the material or not, are going to seem more and more anachronistic to students used to being in control of their own learning. We're training them for the real world, where late work has penalties. Coincidentally, two days after I published my last post on Why I Dumped the Due Date, Anthony Aycock wrote an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education called "Don't Be Hard to Get Along With" in which he contrasts his experiences as an employee and most students' experiences in the classroom. While I don't agree with everything he wrote, he makes a very good point. Do we working professionals adhere to a "no late work" policy and expect tangible penalties if we don't meet them? Should I ask the division Admin Assistants what they think about professors' abilities to meet deadlines? Hmm? Now, it is true that not all workplaces are as accommodating, and that's too bad. Perhaps we aren't living in "the real world." But it seems pretty real to me. I really value working at a place where, if I forget to fill out my textbook orders until Holly reminds me that I missed the deadline, I just get it done and the order goes in. (Sorry, Holly!) And I choose to run my classes the same way. There is one more objection that I didn't anticipate when I wrote last week's blog post. I discovered it as I read the comments to Aycock's article and it isn't very pleasant to contemplate. I was really shocked by the number of commentators who expressed undisguised anger and contempt about their students. Lazy. Manipulative. Disrespectful. "Unique little snowflakes." Often these epithets are coupled with the assertion that it is our responsibility to teach these brats respect. Especially respect for their professor and his or her rules. But that just seems self-defeating to me, and I noted how often it was those who were most vigorously defending firm due dates who had stories of the most outrageous student misbehavior. Treat students like they are incapable of conducting their own educational lives and I guess some will strive to live up to that assumption. I'm not fond of trendy slogans, but I do try to be the "guide on the side," and that include 9x9x25 Challenge

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ceding as much responsibility as I can to the students themselves. Some might (and do) argue that setting and enforcing due dates IS teaching responsibility. But I'm after a more fundamental accountability. As my student said, "things are tough, I'm figuring it out." Nobody's setting any due dates on that. It's all up to her, and I'm glad I could help. Posted by Sukey at 07:59PM (-07:00)

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Digital Narcotics: How Electronic Addictions Undermine Student Suc... Thursday, October 03, 2013 We're all aware of the distractions electronic media can create. Has anyone not been annoyed by someone else's cell phone use? Or put off by another's texting instead of engaging in the conversation at hand? It may be unfortunate that we have, even though occasionally irritated, grown to accept these interruptions as innocuous and commonplace. I was shocked into reality when students in my College Success class responded to the prompt, "What is your biggest time waster?". Out of 21 responses, only 3 journaled that it was NOT some form of digital technology. Eighteen reported various degrees of distraction by cell phones, Netflix, video games or social media. The number of hours spent on their devices, and their self-proclaimed obsession with them, was an eye opener. Here are some of their reflections: · "I waste a lot of time on my cell phone when I’m texting. I practically text every day and all day except when I’m in practice and class. On my free time I’m usually switching back and forth from a text to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.... " · "I would have to say my greatest time waster is probably social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The stuff is so addicting but totally useless. I constantly find myself on it and not totally realizing that I am just wasting time.... I could probably just delete it from my phone and not have to worry about going on it. BUT IT'S SO HARD. I can't just delete it.” · "I would have to say that biggest time waster is watching [a certain series] on Netflix. That show is really addicting to watch, so every time I get a chance I am on my computer watching it... The only thing I can think of to get me to stop watching it 24/7 is to take away my Netflix account/take my computer away from me when I don't need it." · "My biggest time waster would have to be, by far, video games. I spend far too much time on my video game and by the time I am done, hours have passed by.... Video gaming to me is a way I cool down and relax. There is so much to do when playing video games that help me keep my mind off of what's going on around me." · “My biggest time waster is my iPhone. I'm up on my iPhone all hours of the night and I'm also on it when I should be doing homework.” What these samples reveal at is pretty self-evident. Even some possible causes are hinted at—fear of “missing” something, personal insecurity, escapism, inability to manage time. Dare we say “addiction”? Note taking, test taking strategies, reading skills, class attendance--all these are important elements of college success. But I wonder... if the elephant in the middle of the room isn't something more, well, electronic? Responses from my students have moved me to engage in a more formal and extensive study of this issue on our campus. I feel compelled to try to find some way to help our students use this technology to their advantage, not to their detriment. Yet, in saying this, I am keenly aware that I am (and perhaps all of us are) also susceptible to the lure of the buzz, ring or song in the pocket. Posted by Mark Shelley at 11:09AM (-07:00)

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How Much is That Textbook in the Window? Friday, October 04, 2013 “Wow. I didn’t know our textbook was THAT expensive!” Have you ever heard that “rude awakening” comment on the first day of class -- students lamenting the price of their book at the bookstore? That’s the thing about textbook publishers. As faculty, we are pitched every day -- in phone calls, emails, postcards inviting us to adopt their latest and greatest editions… Publishers pitch us on the content -- as well they should -- but never mention price. Nor is it typically mentioned on their web sites, when we read sample chapters and peruse ancillary material. Sure we can search on sites like Amazon and can deduce the price based on the used market…but figuring out the new book + required CD/DVD “package” can be a challenging endeavor. Perhaps publishers have the best luck with “newbies” -- those new to teaching, who are starting fresh and have the freedom to adopt their book of choice. Seasoned faculty can get a bit set in our ways though. We do the initial exhaustive search and find a book that works for us. We tailor our lectures, assignments, quizzes and Blackboard shells to it. So it takes effort -- sometimes a little, sometimes a lot -- to persuade us to choose another text. A few years back, I took the bait and actually made the switch -- even talked about it in a Faculty Showcase… http://www.telswebletter.com/faculty-showcases/ I was lured in by an open source publisher, offering free access to their texts for SOC 101, PSY 101 and Social Psychology. I eagerly adopted all three texts… went through all of the time-consuming changes to update the course sites and PowerPoints and quizzes and assignments for each class… Only to have the open source publisher come back last spring and begin charging students a fee to access the material online…and a bigger fee for a hard-copy text. This fall, there was an even more dramatic change: no hard copy texts -- only a card to purchase an access code at the bookstore. Talk about a nightmare. We didn’t learn that there would be no physical text -- just cards -- until the first week of August. The ol’ bait and switch. So…looks like I’m ready to begin the selection process again. The open source content was great when it was free… but not what I would choose now that we have to pay. To those of you who build your classes without a required text, wow. I salute you. Not so easy with a 101 in the social sciences though. I’ve mused about writing a book for my 101s, but which one to start with, PSY 101 or SOC 101? And eesh, after writing a book for my communication class (which needs updating), I’m not so sure I want to take this on again… I wonder…is there another alternative? We need a text as a baseline… is there a way that we as a class can collaborate on content? I tried this successfully with my own communication text in last summer… (More on that next week…) What do you think… is there “open source” content out there that will work? Suggestions, please. I welcome any 110

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ideas you haveâ&#x20AC;Ś Posted by Dr. Karly at 08:32PM (-07:00)

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The Battle Rages On or Inbox Ping Pong Sunday, October 06, 2013

Email Softly and Carry a Big Paddle I like to slip in early, when, around this time of year, the air is still heavy and cold and a subtle blue hue is still resting down on the field before the sun rises with warmth. I slip into the quiet command room and snap to life the war machine. It hums reliably, booting up for another day of danger. The display flickers, dark at first, then into a full textual moon, chasing away the dark air of the morning. The sharp prick of sweat wets my palms as I grab my Dell Power-scrollwheel rapier that’s been my right hand since I got the Outlook commander post. A nervous dread washes over me, as it does every morning, when the first reports come in. Yep. Like I thought. Lots of movement during the night. Lots. Four second tier priority attacks slipped in, students, the most formidable enemy. Can’t be ignored. Not without compromising my satisfaction ratings at least. Two top tier priority attacks came in, commanding officer, Jill, must be dealt with. And wow, the infantry was busy, attacks from all sides there. Cengage is making a move along with faculty senate and NEWSFLASH. Pearson is trying to flank from the top down and a conference about The Message in Germany has once again flummoxed the first line of defense, special agent Barracuda. Cuda has lost a step, I think as I triage the mess and assess damages. It won’t be long before it’s replaced, but with what? But that’s not my call, out of my hands. My focus has to be with my commanders, namely, Junk Folder, Waste Basket, and To Be Read Later . When forces are completely overwhelmed and agent Barracuda has done all that he can do, some adopt a “priority first” strategy, not me. I sum up the situation and pick off the week ones first, the stragglers, the conference invitations and meeting minutes attachments. This serves a double purpose; you get quick kills under your belt which immediately fills you with a sense of accomplishment and it imbues energy to take on more formidable opponents. But most importantly, it quickly creates a visual cue that says, “look how much good we have already done, just a few skirmishes to go and this mess, that seemed uncontrollable at first, will soon be mopped up”. Bam, take that Ducksoup, vanquished with the help of a covert attack from special agent Waste Basket, here’s another one, News From The President, killed again by Waste Basket, uh. . ., I mean, coronel To Be Read Later. Time Sheet? Taken care of! Next, I move onto tier two, Students. Luckily, these infiltrators into 112

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my sacred territory, Inbox, can usually be thwarted by pithy responses of just one word, syllabus. Which I do on this bloody morning with three of the foes and the fourth gets nothing but, see the grade center. Top tier now, deans. Jill is the toughest, typically. A defense strategy often takes time and serious contemplation to protect against mistakes that can be catastrophic. Spring schedules, or performance management interviews often confront me, bristling. But today, to my surprise, the defense is short and effective, No, I don’t have any board highlights because I’m too busy fighting these battles to do anything of real value around here, and yes, to answer the reminder, I have confirmed my spring schedule with Holly by October 10th. And, to my surprise, just like that, I have taken back Inbox, my infiltrated territory. But I am ever vigil! Throughout the day, I discipline myself to take watches on the bottom right corner of the battle field where newcomers try to infiltrate my land. They’ll never learn! Whenever possible, out of the corner of my eye, I’ll catch the enemy before it has time to fully instantiate within Inbox and I’ll kill it from the getgo. Take that invitation to meet new employee X who is coming to us with 15 years of experience in higher education purchasing at Southwestern Oklahoma State, vanquished by a swift swipe from my Dell Power-scrollwheel saber, not in my house! Email, of course, does not really fit this metaphor. First of all, this little comparison has made email sound fun, something it most definitely is not. But, on the other hand, comparing email to warfare maybe isn’t such a bad move. No-one wants war, I think we all can agree on that, just like email, but I guess sometimes it is a necessary evil. I mean, we can send a message to a crowd of people, just like that, but my question nearly always is, should we? Not long ago, I went around asking some of my colleagues who pre-date email if we are better off now that we have it. Does it really make us more effective? No one was really sure. Everyone agreed that prior to email, in the days when someone actually mailed out memos, through campus mail mostly, they felt less connected, but they were only bothered by the most important issues. Otherwise, each faculty member was left alone to teach. Many said, “Since contacting people was more work, we figured stuff out on our own more and we had more power to make our own decisions.” Most also said that they used the telephone a great deal more, but when pressured whether they are more efficient now that email is everyone’s companion, most weren’t sure. “It seems like I spend all of my time just answering emails these days” most said, and I think that we’ve all been there. Yet, on the other hand, they all seemed pretty reluctant to give it up. The last time that I got excited by email was 1998. I set up a Juno account and went to my grandmother’s house or my friends’ houses or the library to use it—the three places that I knew of that had an Internet connection. I felt chic and cutting edge and I eventually started clandestinely exchanging messages with a girl that I was interested in at the time. The novelty didn’t last long, neither did the relationship. Fast forward a few years, and a few million messages responded to with one word— syllabus later, and you have a society cumbered with email. We all dread booting up our machines in the morning because we know that there a number of brainless emails to delete or worse, actually contemplate. Truth is, we don’t have time for email anymore. In a world of microblogging in 140 characters or less and Instagram, talk is cheap, especially talk smattered within a lengthy email. You know the type that always send those lengthy emails that you try your best not to read. Here’s the problem, we don’t read anything anymore, not unless it’s a really good novel. But even then, we get bored and we stop and just wait for the movie to come out. This blog post, for example you probably won’t read. You’ll do what people do in our society now, you’ll skim and look at the pictures, that’s it. That’s why email, especially lengthy ones, even if they are well thought out and articulate, just doesn’t work. When looking at a website we skim and view pictures, but when an email is laden with 9x9x25 Challenge

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text, we feel held hostage. We feel like, I never have to read this much on my own websurfing, but because this is sent by someone I know, I have to read it all. Some of us let those feelings govern us and we actually read the whole thing grudgingly, but most of us, in this day and age, simply skim and file it away. In grad school, I would get so frustrated with my professors. I would craft a well thought out email, sure a little lengthy, but then I would send it off and I’d get an immediate reply that was very short and it only answered one of my many questions. The answers often came with further questions from them. Now I understand why they did it. They were engaging in what I often call Inbox Ping Pong. They were just doing what we all do, trying to keep their inbox as free from clutter as possible and as soon as a message came in, they overhand smashed it back my way, not in order to help me, but to reach their own objective, an empty inbox. By answering one of my questions and by presenting me with their own questions, the ball was smashed into my court and they no longer had to deal with me, their conscience was clear, until, of course, I responded back with my answer and more insistent emphasis on my yet unanswered questions. I hated when professors played inbox ping pong with me and didn’t listen to me via email, yet, now with my own heavily laden inbox, I find myself engaging in the same ping-pong tactics. The problem with email is that the sender and receiver have two totally different objectives. The sender wants answers and the receiver wants to be free of email. Email inherently struggles to be effective because of these contradictory objectives. Email claims to want effective communication, but the users of email have a different prerogative; they just want an empty inbox. When communicators have these disparate objectives, communication breaks down, as seen by those who have, like me, fallen victim to inbox ping pong. I recently sent a well thought-out but purposefully short email, as you might imagine, something that is difficult for me, asking for help. I thought, “they’ll probably consider the answer for a few days before they get back to me, and that’s okay”. To my surprise, within five minutes all the copied receivers had responded with links to shoddy solutions from a five second Google search, the likes of which I had already found on my own. In their defense, maybe they figured that I didn’t know about Google searches, but more likely than not, I’d just been inbox ping ponged. I had invaded their inbox, and they wanted me out, as soon as possible. I was hoping for a thoughtful reply with some great tools from the insiders, what I got was a quick response with info that I already knew about, in an effort to be done with me. A perfect example of the sender’s goal (my desire to get good info and tools) being met with the receiver’s contradictory goal, breaking off communication with me quickly through an empty reply. I can't complain though, I pong, just as much as I'm ponged, maybe more!

In a Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest ruled world, we want things today “text light” and “picture heavy”. Perhaps that’s why the meme was created. It mixes the two in an unobtrusive way. We feel a little bit good, because at least we are reading something, but it’s mostly visual, so we’ll actually stop our relentless scroll down and focus on it for about .5 114

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seconds. Young students are the most prone to not reading. Here’s a NEWSFLASH (pun intended), they don’t read your emails. Many of them probably don’t even know how to check their YC email account. Most of your youngest and least experienced YCers don’t even use email. It’s gone. Text is where it’s at. I teach one high school class this semester. I asked my students, “when was the last time you sent an email to your friend?” The response was a resounding “Never”. When pressed about it, I learned that they don’t send emails to anyone but when doing something “official”, “usually when communicating with teachers” or when verifying something for a website they are registering for or when they buy something online. That’s it. Text messaging on the cell phone has taken over, oh and Facebook, which is accessed through, you guessed it, an app on the phone. I am amazed at the dexterity of a young student who has grown up with an iphone in their hands. I can type about sixty five words a minute, but I think that many of them can thumb text messages out faster than I can type; sur, it lks lik dis, but theyr darn fst! Really fast. They navigate a phone like most us do a computer, maybe faster. I told my YC class that “I just sent you an important email with your assignment” and no one moved. They told themselves, ‘after class, I’ll look that up’. My high schoolers, when told the same thing, immediately pulled out their phones and found the assignment and seconds later were asking me questions about it. They didn’t even think twice. They acted as if it were instinct, the normal thing to do. They have lived in a world, their whole lives, where information is readily available, in their pockets, and they want access to it NOW. We cannot ignore the cellular phone as an important educational device. I have my students use a lot of technology, but many of my high schoolers complain. “I hate your assignments because I can’t do any of them on my phone” they say. And they are right, most of my assignments use webservices that have not, at least not yet, created an app. Students today want an app. There are apps for everything they do in life, yet not for school, I guess, at least not good ones. Not yet, just wait though. In fact, that email from Cengage that you just deleted without reading, it talks about an app for education that they are developing. Who knows, maybe it’s a good one. Maybe you should go back and read that email. I think that it’s funny that we tell students to check their YC email through the very email environment that they don’t use in the first place. We’re not getting it! We need to start “apping up” education so that the rising generation will be engaged, email and other antiquated technologies are not good enough anymore. If it doesn’t get to the cellular phone, it doesn’t get to my high school students. Period. Despite my pleadings. They treat their phones the way we used to treat our computers, like it’s the device needed in order to get work done, but we in education, are, as always, one step behind the curve of what’s trendy and what’s useful. So how do we escape antiquity? We ask our students. I asked, “if you never use email, how do you ask the key questions you need to ask?” “If I can’t get something done via text message, like if text is taking too long” one of them said, “I just call the person [outright]”. Maybe we should put down the “Send” button and pick up the phone again. I just received a lengthy email, that I actually read through and to which I felt that I needed to respond quickly and effectively. I did so, with a lengthy response of my own highlighting all of the points in which the sender was wrong and I even started CC-ing the world, all of which were important people that I knew would back up my position. It was one of those messages meant to squash the sender’s idea and eradicate it before it went any further and got out of hand. Jenny Jacobson saw me typing away, asked what had gotten me so fired up and encouraged me to put the email away and just call the person. 9x9x25 Challenge

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“He’s very reasonable, you just have to talk to him about it,” she encouraged. Mostly to appease her, I did call, but I saved a draft of the all-important email too, just in case. To my surprise, Jenny was right. The matter was cleared up in just a few minutes and I ended up really liking the guy on the other end. I even was more able to understand where he was coming from. Tone is hard to convey in an email, but easy to pick up in my new friend’s voice. Another way to get away from responding to a bunch of emails is simply by not sending any! The fewer emails you send, the fewer you receive, imagine that. We need to use Remind 101 and other services instead of email for weekly email blasts and reminders to students. There are two advantages to this, (1) students will actually receive and read them and (2) you won’t get flooded with inconsequential responses. Additionally, Remind 101 does not allow students to respond to you via text message! Isn’t that beautiful! The communication only goes one way! No more ping pong for you! I read an interesting Huffington Post article recently which is linked to (with a nice picture) at the bottom of this post, that decried the email anachronism in higher ed. The article highlighted a rogue professor who swore off email and promised never to send any again. When asked “how will you stay in the loop about important departmental policies and changes” the professor, nearing retirement, just smiled wryly. What “important” stuff will you be missing if you kill email? I’m looking at you Ducksoup! Technology and the College Generation

Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 06:52AM (-07:00)

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The First Personal Ingredient of dotcomYOGA Sunday, October 06, 2013 This post comes from dotcomyoga.com With some of the general history of distance education and the technology that have influenced distance education behind us, I feel it’s time to start tapering down to the personal influences that have gone into the creation of dotcomYOGA as an online college Yoga course. So for this short article, I will share the first influence, aka the first personal ingredient that most likely comes from a correspondent course I took as one of my first college courses 20 years ago, History 121. To be honest, the layout of the course is sort of blurry 20 years later, but I do remember the course having a very systematic, simple layout. So systematic and so simple I dropped the course a few times receiving a few “Ws,” failed it once with a big fat “F,” and then finally passed it with the average “C.” And yes, this is all true because I just looked at my transcripts, and honestly, when scrolling through my transcripts, I literally laughed at myself, my 20 years ago self. I mean, I remember failing the course, but I don’t remember dropping it so many times. So how did withdrawing and failing the History 121 correspondent course 20 years ago become an ingredient in the creation of dotcomYOGA as an online Yoga college course today? Well, looking back, the answer lies within the struggle of why I couldn’t stay in the course nor pass the course. And the why is that the course was too systematic, too simple, having no personality, with no student-to-student interaction or student-toinstructor interaction. In short, you simply watched a series of televised PBS history programs, and three times during the semester you went to the college and sat in a gigantic auditorium type of room, surrounded by complete strangers, aka your fellow classmates, and the instructor, who was also a complete stranger, passed out a scantron and the paper exam, and the timer started. You took the exam, turned it in, and left, waiting for the next scheduled exam date where you did the same. And of course, you were supposed to watch the televised PBS history programs at specific times so you could pass the next exam, which I often did not do, and which is obvious when looking at my transcripts of so many ‘W’s and an ‘F’ for the course. So what are the specifics that have influenced dotcomYOGA as a college course today? Well, there are two main ones. One, I do not give traditional exams like the History 121 course did. But rather I have the student’s interact with each other and with me, as the instructor, throughout week via blackboard. Now, to be fair to the History 121 course 20 years ago, the instructor couldn’t have used the internet for weekly interactions, but the instructor could have made the exams different than the three multiple choice exams. Two, unlike the History 121 course, where the proctor for the exam was not the instructor on the videos, but just some stranger who passed out the exams, I am the instructor on the dotcomYOGA videos and the instructor in the online Yoga college course. However, through my interesting journey to creating dotcomYOGA as a online Yoga college course, I was not always the instructor on my Yoga college course videos, which I will explain in a future article. Posted by TeLS at 08:30AM (-07:00) 9x9x25 Challenge

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Bringing the Community into the College Sunday, October 06, 2013 We discuss the benefit of service learning often, and I couldn’t agree more that service learning should be integrated into courses whenever possible. Implementing SL into a variety of courses would provide students multiple perspectives and experiences. Sending students into the real world, or at least the local community, and asking them to make connections to our courses helps make learning authentic and meaningful. What about bringing the real world to our students?

Last week, for the first time ever, I invited a local criminal defense lawyer into my critical thinking course to have a debate. We called it ‘Are You Smarter Than a Lawyer?’. I split the class into 4 teams with approx. 6 people in each group. They were given a list of debate topics and they chose which was most interesting to them. They were also given some class time to collaborate and research pros and cons. Then, each group had 15-20 minutes to debate with the lawyer, Emily. I didn’t really know what to expect because I’d never tried anything quite like this before. Some students wanted legal advise or asked totally unrelated questions, but Emily played along (thankfully) and I tried to gently get them back on track a number of times. However, it occurred to me that the benefits of this exercise exceeded by original expectations. At first I wanted them to see an example of critical thinking in practice, someone other than myself giving examples. But then I noticed that they were sensing a whole new perspective, a different way of thinking. Although I try my best to display critical thinking from a variety of perspectives, it’s not possible for me to have all of the background knowledge or experiences needed to do so all the time. In addition, I sometimes feel that in my attempt to create a comfortable and inviting classroom atmosphere, I turn into a ‘parent’ to my students, which creates the sort of situation where students don’t listen as much or as well to me as they could, just as we take our own parents for granted. Or the opposite, students are afraid to debate or disagree because they think it might effect their grade (no matter how many times I tell them it won’t). For students to gain ideas and insight from someone else, especially a professional in the community, is so much more meaningful to them. I enjoyed having Emily come to my class and I, too, learned a different way of thinking. I intend to utilize guest speakers as often as possible because those in the field, or in the professional community, have so much insight and experience to give our students. In fact, I think offering a class taught by a number of different professionals from a variety of 118

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perspectives would be worthwhile; I would have enjoyed such an experience, especially as a student who didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite know how to think or view the world yet. Here are some further ideas for using guest speakers: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching/tips/tips_1001.cfm Posted by Tara Oneill at 08:55AM (-07:00)

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Intelligence…What does that really mean? Sunday, October 06, 2013 During a discussion in my PSY 245 Human Growth and Development class about intelligence and how we measure it, I asked students to share their feelings about the notion of IQ testing. Many share their thoughts about the need for testing and what does it really mean to have that magic number that tells everyone how smart we are. When students were asked what intelligence meant to them, many expressed that intelligence was deeply ingrained in their own thinking, we are brought up with the idea that we can learn new things and the more we learn, the smarter we get. Then a voice from the back of the room blurted out, “having a high IQ is like having a car with a big engine.” Hmm, good analogy, but is bigger better? I ask the question, “does higher IQ predict success like the cars with the biggest engines, does that guarantee winning the race? Is it the car or the driver that wins the race?” I decided to run a little experiment in the classroom; I took a short survey and asked these two questions. - If we have a certain amount of intelligence, can we really change how we think? - If we learn new things, are we changing our intelligence?

Interesting that many of the students felt that intelligence was for the most part fixed and inflexible. Everyone seemed to agree that learning was important, but did just learning make them smarter? As the discussion progressed, a student suggested that maybe it wasn’t the notion of intelligence, but more importantly, our thinking skills, how we perceive and apply cognitive skills and problem solving skills that are the components that really define the notion of intelligence. So here is that “Ah ha” moment that we teachers live for, the notion of intelligence is alive and well in the classroom; thank you. It seems like a basic concept, yet a difficult one for many. The idea that intelligence is not how much you know, but rather how you use what you know and your ability to modify how you think about what you know. 120

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The lecture on intelligence was sounding more like a lecture on perception and philosophy, and rightfully so. Intelligence has this quality of either you have it or not. It doesn’t take into account our learning is based on experience and how we perceive the world we live in will vary with our individual perception of it. Helping students become more aware of their thinking and their own personal perceptions should always be at the core of how we assess their level of understanding. Information can be memorized, but learning how to become more aware of what we learn is directly connected to our perception of it. Heightening a student’s perception is where the thinking process begins. We know in early childhood, children need to be challenged and engaged in their discovery of the world. Learning is lifelong and the same rules apply as we get older. It’s not how smart we are, but our awareness of our own thinking and our willingness to question the world we live in. Maybe the question we should be asking our students is not how much do they know, but what’s their perception of the problem and how did they come to that understanding. If we encourage students to be divergent thinkers, than we should be willing to become divergent in our teaching as well.

Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 10:53AM (-07:00)

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Education: A Distraction to Their Distractions Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Friday morning Student Success class was rolling along. Scott Nardo, the adviser connected to our class, was presenting the dilemma of distractions as we discussed time management. The students had brainstormed in small groups, sharing their most common distractions to studying. Now they were reporting out to Scott who was madly writing on the whiteboard all of the typical culprits. "Cell phones!...Netflix...Video games...parties....women! (snickers around the room)...pizza....Internet ...Facebook...jobs..." Once the contributions began to wane, we ended up with about thirty items on the board. Then Scott said, "Let's prioritize these distractions. Which ones would you be willing to give up?" Utter silence...blank faces. Here is an issue we face as instructors working with the new generation: What we see as distractions they see as integral parts of their lives. When asked if he would be willing to turn off his cell phone to get uninterrupted sleep, one student replied, "I can't. It is my alarm clock." And yes, he admitted that, if the phone pinged at any time during the night, he would respond to the text before falling back to sleep. For whatever reason, the distractions can't (or won't) be shut off, put away, or ignored. Their lives are filled with entertainment and connections 24/7. When they were in high school, their time for these distractions might have been limited by high school schedules and parental guidance. Now that they are in college and looking at all of that free time in their schedules, is it any wonder that students report playing video games for twelve to twenty hours a week? To these students, college becomes the distraction. Annie Murphy Paul is quoted in the article as saying, "Multitasking while doing academic work â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which is very, very common among young people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; leads to spottier, shallower, less flexible learning" (Sullivan, NBC News). My point is not to gripe. Rather, in light of this, we need to consider how the distractions impact our classrooms. In one sense, we are challenged to create assignments and teach in ways that reinforce the intrinsic value of learning. Students don't arrive on campus already knowing this. Rethinking our instructional modes is not an overwhelming task, but it does require that we be more mindful of how we utilize the time within and 122

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beyond the classroom. We cannot deliver the same content in the same manner as years past and assume that our students will get caught up in the spell of our enthusiasm. One quote I gleaned from a CCSSE presentation at the 2013 FYE conference speaks to this: "If a student has never experienced high levels of engagement in high school, how can we assume that all of a sudden they will be highly engaged in college?â&#x20AC;? Many of our students have misguided ideas about education in general and about college specifically. It is up to us to communicate the new expectations. If there ever was a course that students would consider a distraction, it would be the Student Success class. We are asking them to take three credits out of their already busy schedule to study something that they think they already know how to do. During the first few weeks of class, that attitude accompanied many of the students as they slouched into their chairs and tried to surreptitiously check their phones. Not all the students, mind you-some came with a desperate hunger for ideas that would help them succeed in this new college environment. However, in either case, I knew I needed to make the course lively and practical, switching up activities, throwing in good videos, promoting self-reflection, etc., but as entertaining as that might be, it could never be enough. I think one of the most important things I do is the intentional infusion of the reasoning behind every activity. These students need to know that this class is worth their time above and beyond Netflix and video games. With each new class, attitudes are coming around because more and more students are getting the idea, not only about the value of this class, but about the value of choosing to devote time to their college education. My point is these students do not know how to be college students. We need to "convince" them that time spent focused on their learning in college is worth the distraction from all of those other "distractions." In high school, most of their learning took place within the walls of their classrooms; college is the opposite. They don't arrive on campus knowing that we expect most of the learning to occur on their own time and are shocked as the assignments and reading pile up for each class. One of my STU students told me he did not have time to do my assignments because he was already loaded up with work for other classes. When I looked at his weekly diary, he had studied 12 hours that week for five 3-credit classes. He had also played several ping pong games, viewed a couple of movies, and had time to hang out with his friends. His choices reflected the fact that he was not willing to give up any of the latter in order to study more for his classes. That is the lingering attitude coming onto our campus. Thus, part of our job has become helping students understand the culture of this society called college. I wonder if in our attempt to "market" college we have given the wrong impression of the purpose of and commitment to a quality college education. No matter the answer to that, we instructors need to be diligent to prepare our students for the requirements for being successful not only in our specific classes, but for all their classes. Posted by ENG 140 at 11:35AM (-07:00)

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The Semi-flipped Classroom Sunday, October 06, 2013 I learned in what could be labeled the traditional way. I sat in a chair and took notes on what the instructor said (We were coached on using colored pens for note-taking, and even now I remember the evolution of jaws because my drawings were in green ink.) as two overhead projectors hummed in the front of the class. Labs, we all agreed were the most enjoyable. Were we aware that that was likely where we did our best learning? Probably not. So I began teaching how I was taught. Since I had respect and even admiration for a few of my college and university instructors and did not fare badly learning this way, off I went. Then over the years, frankly, I became less and less interested in lecturing. I saw glimmers of the directions learning could go if students found their way to conclusions and understanding. I ran out of time for what I thought were real learning activities—“field trips for the mind.” I considered flipping. I stopped talking so much and stepped back. And then I read that the President of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society “… drank the Kool-Aid.” You can see his blog at HAPS Blog. A flipped classroom is one where students learn the basic content outside of class and then engage in group projects, discussion, etc., during in-class “lecture” time in order to dig deeper and make connections between concepts. Techniques vary for this style of teaching but student-to-student interaction is key. A face-to-face flipped class might be similar to a hybrid that meets twice a week. Low bar assignments (for points) precede classroom activities that move the thought or skill ahead. Developing the curriculum for this can be challenging. The trouble is the same trouble most of us experience–where is the time to do this and do this right? At this point I implement a mild version of true flipping. This is what I do in my face-toface classes. Students complete pre-class assignments that are due two days before the first class meeting of the week. (Part of me…honestly…wants to ditch the due date and yet….) For example: • Name and describe five formed elements of the blood. • List three reasons the human population is increasing exponentially. • Define the four components of biodiversityStudents post the responses to their blogs from where I can evaluate them and anyone can read them. This gives students a little bribe to look ahead into the coming week’s material and gives me some insight into their understanding. Then I can take that topic and find an element to expand on personally or ask the students to investigate. Mostly the interaction takes place in the form of a lab activity or discussion. Google Earth, for example is a great tool for Environmental Biology topic discussion. For advice from the experts visit the Flipped Learning Network.

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The challenges? Developing the curriculum. Time management. Evaluating the learning. Adapting. Collecting fresh information to share. Still, I am looking forward to dipping another toe in the river. Field trip! Posted by Joanne Oellers at 08:37PM (-07:00)

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The (E)mail Bag Edition: Wherein I relate a mistake, vent in the gu... Sunday, October 06, 2013 I made a rookie mistake this week. Entering my office on Monday, I flicked on the computer as usual, paid my two minute dues to the start-up gods (I shudder to think what the temporal sum total of this tithe might be over the course of a lifetime), and, like all good little white-collar workers, set about my emails. I scrolled down the long list of black subject lines, all the while resisting the urge to answer them Strong Bad style, and arrived at the oldest missive, from HelloCitty88, descriptively titled “Issue.” This can’t be good. “The video for week six doesn’t work.”

That’s it. Possibly this student was fleeing a burning building and time was a factor. Alternatively, he is a superhero of some renown that must closely guard his secret identity. Regardless, without any identifying information, I must locate and fix the video. This is my job. Fifteen minutes later I have checked the clips in each of my four online courses, both in Firefox and Explorer (thank you, free market) and determined that everything is hunky dory (a very Monday phrase). I then write back to HelloCitty88 the standard it-must-be-your-computer-contact-the-Help-Desk-for-assistance-and-keep-meposted response. Twenty minutes after opening Outlook I now move on to the second email. Easy one. Zap! I get lucky with the third and fourth too. Zap, Zap! Email number five is from HelloCitty88 again: “Nevermind. I figured it out.” Over several years of anonymous abuse I’ve learned the hard way to look for multiple emails from the same address and begin with the newest, but occasionally I like to forget this lesson and start my morning with frustration calisthenics:

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I’m sure your own emails periodically inspire similar exercises. Indeed, any instructor (and especially those that teach online) can relate gruesome tales from the Inbox, and as tempting as such swapping is (either in this format, on Facebook, or in the breakroom) I think most of us eventually outgrow the desire to share or vent about it. While student emails are regularly rude, demanding, grossly informal, panicked, grammatically inscrutable, and inadvertently funny, they ultimately come from a position of subordinance, and it helps to remember this power differential if a response is necessary. When confronted with a particularly loathsome specimen of online epistle, I often compose two responses: the one I want to send and the one I do send. The first is pedantic, chiding, and chock full of ten-dollar words sure to test the perspicacity of any college freshman. It usually contains phrases such as “It’s in the syllabus” or “do you kiss your mother with that mouth?!” As a parent, a teacher, and a fellow human being, this email feels good. However, like so many things that feel good, it can get you in trouble. Thus, the second email. This missive adopts a professional tone, politely points out where the requested information was initially available, provides said requested information, and gently requests that future communiqués come equipped with a greeting and identifying information. Occasionally it is necessary to also include a cordial addendum on netiquette and what it means to write in all caps. The "old-school" might bristle at such coddling and kid-gloves, but I’ve yet to regret being kind and polite. I can, however, recall a small handful of sharp responses I’d like to take back.

If I can now draw these threads together, let it be said that it is not always and entirely necessary to respond to student emails at once. Delayed replies offer reflective time for both sender and recipient (time in which frayed nerves may calm) and inspire students to avoid Escalator Syndrome and even problem solve on their own. That being said, during the week, I keep banker's hours on the web, and endeavor to reply to student emails quickly. I am consistent about this and work hard to establish a responsive reputation that 9x9x25 Challenge

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my charges can rely on. However, unlike many of my colleagues, I do not check my email on weekends and holidays. This separation is the result of a promise I made myself and my family as a working graduate student years ago, and it's been a delight to honor this pledge. I've found that cultivating this bit of distance provides a healthy psychological harbor for myself and encourages my students to be proactive with questions and concerns. It does create a larger workload the next week, and occasionally an important and deserving email must linger, but in general the policy has weathered the years quite well -even if does occasionally result in a rookie mistake.

Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 09:01PM (-07:00)

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Creating a Blackboard Course Website that Works Monday, October 07, 2013 I mentioned in last week's blog post that I feel really good about my Blackboard websites. I may be a quivering jello mold of uncertainty when it comes to a few of my other teaching-related skills and abilities, but I pride myself on setting up online courses that are highly navigable, unambiguous, and visually appealing. It pays off, too: almost every semester, I get a good deal of positive feedback from students to that effect. Being a digital native probably hasn't hurt; having been born on the border between generations X and Y, I've spent more than half my life on the Internet. I have clear ideas about what makes a website attractive and easy to navigate. Still, I don't think any major degree of experience with technology is required if you want to develop a solid but simple website with Blackboard. It all boils down to one simple concept - economy - and this will apply to virtually all aspects of your website. If you've been looking to give yours a makeover, let me break down a few issues I've encountered navigating some Blackboard course websites, and offer a few things to consider if you're looking to improve yours. TOO MANY BUTTONS When I open a Blackboard course website and find more than ten buttons on the left side of the screen, I immediately feel overwhelmed... a feeling compounded by the fact some of the buttons usually have the same (or similar) names, and/or take you to the same location. Why is this a problem? Simply put, because a good website feels intuitive. You and your students are accustomed to easily finding your way around a website.

Many times, I have logged into a new Blackboard course and found a list of links that largely resembles the one on the left. What are your first impressions? Does this list appear easy to navigate? Would you be able to find what you're looking for if you had only, say, ten seconds to do so? Is it visually appealing? For me, the answer to all of these is "no." This is a green screen of death. There are two 9x9x25 Challenge

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"Tools" buttons, two "Resources" buttons, and separate buttons for Course Information, Syllabus, and Calendar. The buttons are in no particular order, and are not well differentiated from one another. Fixing this involves two major considerations. As always, the first is economy. Think about how many buttons you absolutely need, and then find a way to eliminate one more! Shoot for about eight total, combining items whenever possible. I usually put quizzes, tests, and other assignments all under a single "Assignments" button and combine my syllabus and schedule into one button as well. The other thing to consider is ordering. For my part, I like to keep the buttons that are used every week ("Assignments", "Discussion Board", "PowerPoints") right next to one another. The as-needed ones ("Grades", contact information, and "YC Support Resources") get grouped together too. Alternately, you could alphabetize your buttons. What you name and include under each of them isn't a major concern. Prefer videos to PowerPoints? Scrapped your discussion board in favor of VoiceThread? Awesome. Just use as few buttons as you can get away with, name them appropriately, and put them in an order that makes sense. If you're afraid to actually delete buttons (it has backfired on me too), you can hide them by turning on edit mode, clicking the inverted chevron arrow next to the link and selecting "hide link". TOO MANY (OUTDATED) ANNOUNCEMENTS I know it seems like a lot of work to go through and redo all of your announcements each semester, but it is work that must be done. Sometimes I'll run down a list of announcements on a course website and find links pertaining to events that took place four or five years ago, and rarely do the links still work. Alluding to "upcoming" presidential elections and court cases that were long ago settled, leaving outdated announcements on your front page, and/or not removing broken links tells the student that some of these resources don't matter, which puts them - not you - in the position of judging what's important to read. That's BAD, because you want them to read everything.

But what about all those cool things you run across throughout the semester that seem so relevant?! For my Human Sexuality class, I recently happened across private parts dye and could hardly wait to share. I settle this in one of two ways, depending on the class. Here's the first: every Monday, I 130

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always post a weekly announcement and include those types of interesting links in it. If I run across something later in the week, I'll either send an e-mail to everyone, or I'll post a second announcement with the following disclaimer:

At the end of the semester, I take all of those mid-week announcements and incorporate them into my weekly Monday announcement for the next semester. That keeps it nice and clean, and also gives me the opportunity to double-check all of my links and update all of my announcements. The other way I've handled this is to include an "Additional Resources," "Suggested Resources," or "Funny Links" button. OVERWHELMING THE WHITE SPACE Incorporating images, videos, comics, and other non-text content on your website is not only good, it's pretty much essential. With that in mind, consider trying to keep them together in one or two announcements (rather than posting dozens, each with one or two images/links), and if you use a banner, consider keeping it pretty small. For my part, I like to be able to see the beginning of the course announcements immediately so that I can tell right away if there's something new. My intro page for this semester's course looks something like this:

Think that image is a tad racy? Check out chapter 11 of the book! Whew! TOO MANY THEMES OR COLORS When it comes to your themes and colors, once again, think economy. Sticking to a single palate or theme gives your website a more pulled-together look. Using too many different colors or themes can make it appear mismatched. I usually like to use shades of blue, blue-gray, or blue-green, since blue is easy for the human eye to process. In fact, the color blue has been used in various settings throughout the world to prevent crime and suicide, and is also the most popular color around the world (42% of Americans and an estimated 35-40% of people worldwide describe blue as their favorite color). With those stats on my side, I can safely assume it will appeal to many of my students. If you're skeptical about the impact of color - pseudoscience, much? - check out this SciFri clip. In any case, it doesn't much matter which color palate you use as long as you are consistent. Not sure how to add a banner or change your buttons? Go to your class website, scroll down to the Control Panel menu on the left, select "Customization" and then "Teaching Style." There is literally a button library. It's so much fun to play with too!

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I know for many instructors, this is all basic Blackboard stuff. But if you're stuck in a rut and looking for some tips to get out, think about ways you might be able to economize your website and make it more visually appealing through simple changes like adjusting your ordering and colors. Happy creating! Posted by ewhitesitt at 09:05AM (-07:00)

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It’s All About the Brain Monday, October 07, 2013 So what are we to do about zombie learners? Are they a lost cause or can we reach them?

Movies and television tell us that there is no hope. Shoot those walkers! I don’t think that would be an appropriate teaching strategy. But that is what happens in many classes when we drone on for 50 minutes or more. They either get it or they don’t. Just as “real” zombies are killed by a shot to the head, zombie learners are best dealt with by a different kind of shot to the head. We need to arm ourselves by examining how the student brain works to process information.

About two years ago, I first encountered Brain Rules – 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. This book describes twelve rules for optimizing how the brain learns. Here are the rules. 1. Exercise boosts brain power.

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2. The human brain evolved, too. 3. Every brain is wired differently. 4. We don’t pay attention to boring things. 5. Repeat to remember. 6. Remember to repeat. 7. Sleep well, think well. 8. Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. 9. Stimulate more of the senses. 10. Vision trumps all other senses. 11. Male and female brains are different. 12. We are powerful and natural explorers. These rules may seem obvious. However, you need to interpret them correctly. On the surface, Rule #4 may might make you think that you need to practice your Jay Leno skills to keep your students attention. And certainly some of us can entertain students consistently for at least 50 minutes. But what about the lowly mathematician? Not only are we blessed with a very intimidating subject matter, the students in our classes do not really want to learn the material. They are not interested nor do they think it will ever be useful. In a typical mathematics classroom, students frequently check out for periods of time ranging from 15 seconds to 5 minutes. I can see them looking at their phone under the desk or glancing over their shoulder at the clock for a time check. I envy psychology teachers who have a subject matter that most students can relate to. Listening to my students talk about their lives, I think they live abnormal psychology day in and day out. And reality TV contributes even more…it is the abnormal among us who make it onto reality TV. When did students go from aspiring to be doctors and engineers to aspiring to be famous on a reality show? Many years ago, I tried incorporating humor and popular culture into my classroom. It certainly helped keep their attention and the research cited in Brain Rules shows me why. But in my mind I wanted the humorous 5 or 10 minutes I used in each class back. Could I figure out a way to keep their attention and incorporate it into the class content? How long is it before students lose attention in class? What are the “tells” I can use to determine when they are beginning to “check out”? Could I utilize some of the social traits of this generation of students to keep their attention? In my next post, I will elaborate on my classroom strategies. I will explain how I fine tuned my attention grabbing strategies to teach deliberately and to dezombify my students. Posted by davidg at 09:43AM (-07:00)

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Bursting the Bubble Tuesday, October 08, 2013 OK. We are all writing these blogs to encourage teaching and learning; to share the good and the bad of Higher Education. I am here to tell you that I still get excited about sharing new ideas. So excited, I (and TeLS) even offer trainings throughout the semester to share wonderful information. In fact, my training today (as of this writing 10-3-2013) to share with Faculty was titled The Top Three Tools used in My Online Classes.

Excitement in sharing tools that bring functionality and humor into the class was at my heels. This emotion quickly burst when no one attended the training. How can I share these great tools with others if they choose not to participate in trainings?! Oh, hey…I know! I can add images, and links, and videos to my blog post of said tools. Maybe someone reading this blog will take home a great tool to use in their class. Let’s talk a synchronous chat tool. Remember Meebo? I loved Meebo. It was a great disappointment when Meebo went down. Guess what?! Zoho has a Chat feature as well! That’s right! You can have a one to one chat or a classroom chat; just like Meebo had. How’s that for a great idea for online classes?! I embed the one on one within my announcements so students can see if I am logged in upon entry to the course. The Classroom Chat is added to a Discussion Forum titled Student Lounge. This way, whoever is logged in to Blackboard at the same time can chat with one another. Simple. Sweet.

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What are some other tools which can be used in the online environment you are asking? Get your answer by attending a TeLS training. My 25 sentences are up. Posted by rudi1234 at 07:33AM (-07:00)

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Classroom Discussions Tuesday, October 08, 2013

This post originally appears here by Tara O’Neill I enjoy nothing more than a great discussion, especially in my more ‘controversial’ classes. The question is, how do I get students talking, and once talking, how do I keep them on topic and ensure that comments are appropriate? I recently read an article by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo that gave some great ideas. As a second grade teacher, it was sometimes difficult to keep a meaningful conversation on track. I’ve found that to be true in some classes at the college level. First of all, we should teach students how to discuss in class; this is something I took for granted. Bambrick-Santoyo says we should teach them ‘the effective skills for listening, articulating, exchanging ideas, and synthesizing new knowledge.’ He goes on to say that we should ‘make eye contact, speak audibly, and clarify arguments’. We need to be demonstrating these skills to students and allowing them to practice them in class. Secondly, we need to ‘hook’ students into the discussion, sometimes by playing the devils advocate or throwing controversial subjects out there for students to mull over. Don’t expect a lively conversation at the very beginning of a class, take the time to do a review or ask how their weekend was; students need to feel settled before jumping into a discussion. It’s easy, especially when teaching adults, to assume that students know how to articulate opinions in an appropriate way. One semester the college Pride Club was invited by student presenters to do a open dialogue question/answer session. Right away, one student asked a question that was inappropriate; I knew where the student was coming from, but obviously the club members, who didn’t know her background, did not. From them on, a negative tone was set and students in the club had their guard up, and I couldn’t blame them. The discussion continued but not much ground was gained. In this situation, it would have been wise to ask students to submit questions beforehand. Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of ‘wait time’. It’s okay for there to be some 9x9x25 Challenge

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bouts of silence; sometimes those students who don’t normally speak up in class feel the urge to do so. Instructors shouldn’t feel the need to fill in awkward silent periods. Sometimes I’ll ask a question and then set a timer for one or two minutes before beginning the discussion, or have students write down a few ideas before the discussion ensues to get them thinking. But, it is a good idea for instructors to prompt students to tell more – e.g. ‘what makes you think that?’, ‘why is that important’, etc. Then, as students share past experiences and perspectives, they feel valued and part of the class community. As for those that don’t seem interested or invested in the conversation… what are some ways that we can help them benefit from the discussion? Well, sometimes I’ll call on them at random; ‘Todd, what do you think about this’? or ask them to quickly turn to their neighbor and repeat what was just said. There are fun little tricks to keep them on task. If I’m having students discuss in small groups, I may use ‘talking chips’, a structure coined by Kagan that requires all members of the group to participate equally And then there is the ever-famous ‘ticket out’ in which you ask students to jot down the ideas mentioned in that days class discussion, or list at least 5 ideas they agree or disagree with. Implementing some kind of review and evaluation on a regular basis reminds all students that they need to be involved and that the content is meaningful. Lastly, it’s important to make sure that students know how the discussion is linked to the course outcomes of your class, otherwise they may not see the relevance. It’s a good way to keep on track if you are constantly reminding them that ‘you are learning this because’ or ‘we are discussion this because’. It’s easy for us to find connections, because we are so familiar with our content areas; students don’t always make those connections as easily. As Banbrick-Santoyo says, ‘In discussions built on the foundation of great habits, students blossom into their own as speakers, listeners, and thinkers. And when they need those skills even more- in whatever hundreds of things they choose to spend their lives learning about- they’re ready.’ Posted by Tara Oneill at 03:13PM (-07:00)

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Reacting to the Past: Looking Forward Wednesday, October 09, 2013 This week I started a new unit in both section of my HUM 205: Technology and Human Values. Last January I attended a training conference on a game-based pedagogy called Reacting to the Past, and I’m ready to give it a try myself. I think... Reacting to the Past is a teaching method that uses elaborate role-playing games set at pivotal points in history to allow students to explore the “big ideas” of the humanities. There are games set during the French Revolution, the trial of Galileo, the struggle for Indian independence and at the Council of Nicea, over twenty in all. Students take on specific roles and work to achieve individual goals within the context of the game, by researching the issues and making both written and oral arguments to persuade others of their point of view.

My students and I are playing “Rage Against the Machine:Technology, Rebellion and the Industrial Revolution," set in 1817 Manchester, as the advent of factories disrupts the home weaving industry there. We’ve already spent seven weeks discussing the issues that technology raises in modern society: the paradoxes of isolation and connectivity, the demands of the clock imposed on the rhythms of life, the rise of the individual over the collective. Now they are being asked to take that new-found understanding and use it to deconstruct, or rather RE-construct, a time and place where crucial attitudes and assumptions about the relationship between man and machines were being developed. My hope is that by inhabiting the characters and “living” the issues, my students will deepen their awareness of the complex relationship we have with the technology around us. I’m especially eager that they recognize that this relationship isn’t something imposed upon us by the technology itself, that the machines are not in control. I want them to understand that this relationship is created from the decisions and expectations that we bring to technology. And in the next four weeks we will play that out, allowing competing needs and desires to determine the outcome of the game. Will the weavers prevail? Or will the merchants succeed in establishing factories that destroy the home weaving industry? Will we allow child labor? A minimum wage? What is best for the artisans who come from the working classes but may secretly (or not so secretly) aspire to the middle class? How will the gentry maintain control in an era of merchant wealth? And what will the vicars say about all this in their Sunday sermons? Some students are thrilled. They are excitedly discussing costumes to wear or Machiavellian plots they’d like to put in motion to win the game. Others are confused or disconcerted by the requirement to be someone else, to learn by playing a role rather than through a more conventional means. A few are skeptical. But almost all are getting into the spirit of the game, which means taking this all very, very seriously. After all, a game only works if all the players agree, for the duration of that game, to act as if the results have meaning and consequences. So this scheme will succeed to the extent the students buy into it and are willing to accept that “playful” does not mean “trivial.” TuesdayThursday Session 1: Introductions of Players and Agenda- Setting – 10/15 Session 2: Wage Negotiations – 10/17 Session 3: Market Day - 10/22 Session 4: Town Hall – 10/24 Session 5: Market Day – 10/29 Session 6: Town Hall – 10/31 Session 7: Market Day / Town Hall – 11-5 Session 8: POST-MORTEM – 11/7 Here is the tentative class schedule. On "Market Days," everyone meets at the Village Green to buy and sell, settle accounts, socialize and scheme. Everyone can (and all students are expected to) make short speeches on the topics of the day. The two newspapers will also be distributed on Market Day, filled with short (500-word) essays 9x9x25 Challenge

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that various citizens have submitted for publication. (Students must write two persuasive essays for publication over the course of the four weeks, arguing for or against a proposed law, advertising a new machine for sale or positions to be filled at the factories, or on any other topic that might concern their characters.) Town Hall is where laws are passed. Everyone is free to propose a law, and everyone can and should speak for or against those proposed laws, but only the gentry can vote.

The game will unfold over the next four weeks, ending with a post-mortem on November 7, and I aim to take the 9x9x25 opportunity to write up my impressions several times as we progress through the game. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll keep you posted! Posted by Sukey at 10:09AM (-07:00)

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Quiet Zones Wednesday, October 09, 2013 Ok, with many of the posts last week on being connected (and some overwhelm), I thought this story on NPR,Enter the Quiet Zone: Where Cell Service, Wi-Fi are Banned, was quite interesting. It seems that there are no physical signs you’ve entered the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia, but somewhere around the Virginia-West Virginia state line, smartphone services and Wi-Fi stop. There’s zero service except for one small radio station, which broadcasts at a low enough frequency to avoid being banned. So, why is everything else banned? Because they sit within a zone designed to protect the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope, a sophisticated radio telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, protected from interference by federal and state laws, located in sparsely populated area to avoid electromagnetic interference. (NOTE – the link above will not work because of Government Shutdown, but you can find information on the Telescope here –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bank_Telescope) “

We still have communications. I mean, it’s just … older. Dial-up telephones. We still have phone booths,” says an engineer for the NRAO and a volunteer at Allegheny Mountain Radio. Seems that for most of the area, life is at a slower pace. Instant messaging and texting are something to see on television or out of state, but folks seem content to stay disconnected. At least for now. I smiled. This story made an impression because while I like being connected with technology and students, being on Facebook with family, texting my granddaughter, and enjoying my Netflix, I also want to just run away sometimes. I suspect students do too! We throw both content and technology at them at once. Are they ready? Sometimes, I just cross my fingers and hope so. (Oh, a good reminder to look back once in a while to make sure.) I remember dial-up phones. I remember writing a note to someone (still do), or sending a real birthday card (still do). I like holding and reading an actual book (I still do!) What I 9x9x25 Challenge

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really remember is the human, face-to-face and listening communication. I could see how someone was reacting to conversations. I heard happiness or sadness in their voice. It was more important to be tactful and watch words, or to soften a tone of voice. I could tell when a student was stressed – both by body language and voice. I think it’s harder to tell this online – well, until a student attacks another student in the discussion board, or acts out in class. So (as Mark Shelley blogged), is being connected 24/7 a good thing, or a bad thing? Maybe we need to make sure that we not only show and interact with technology with students, but also to find and share Quiet Zones; places to disconnect and slow down. In my 60′s language, it’s “dropping out” for a while. I know I need it, and I can’t help think that students do too. Maybe we just need to model good behavior and give students tools to find their own personal Quiet Zones. Are there Quiet Zones on campus? • • • • • • •

The Library (one of my favorite places) The Learning Center? The Sculpture Garden The Art Gallery Outside! (Especially this time of year) Mingus Mountain Anywhere but here (?!)

Posted by mcheyer at 11:26AM (-07:00)

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Do We Behave Like “The Best Things in Life Are Free?” Wednesday, October 09, 2013 Yesterday I spoke with Mary Bart from Faculty Focus and asked her for some “vendor swag” for our 9x9x25 Challenge. I asked because our Challenge is short a week or two of weekly rewards. After I explained the Challenge to Mary she said, “Great idea. Sure, I’ll send you some stuff,” and she said I should write up the process for a future Faculty Focus article. I will do that. The college and the 9x9x25 Challenge get some airtime on Faculty Focus, Mary gets good content for the Faculty Focus and other institutions and teachers get to learn along with us. It is win/win for both of us. What other places, people, and companies might we work with? I was also left wondering, “Why not help each other as we try to help ourselves?” We are writing with and for our faculty, but what about the broader audiences we might reach and the professional groups or companies we could learn from and share with? (These concepts are currently trending as words like “collaboration” and “partnerships” )

Anyone ever been to an EdCamp? I went to my first one in Phoenix last year. It was a great opportunity to share ideas with other educators and be ACTIVE in each session. The event really promoted another awesome word to use in academia these days, “engagement.” Here is some language from EdCamp: Mission: To support free edcamp unconferences for educators to exchange ideas and learn together. Edcamps are: • • • • • •

free non-commercial and conducted with a vendor-free presence hosted by any organization interested in furthering the edcamp mission made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event events where anyone who attends can be a presenter reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs Our 9x9x25 Challenge has some of these characteristics. “Free.” Up to this week, week four, it has only cost the college a bit of my salary for organizing and clicking some buttons. Everything else, from the Webletter to the teacher’s blogs and the weekly rewards, it has cost the college exactly NO dollars. That is interesting to me. Really interesting! At the risk of sounding like an article in the Chronicle, I’ll say, “Damn, that is efficient.” And like the EdCamps, the 9x9x25 Challenge also asks participants to be ACTIVE. They are not just participating in the event. They ARE the event! I was warned yesterday by a concerned colleague not be pushing for the “no cost to the college” agenda out of spite. And truth be told, there is a part of my puzzle that wants to

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“prove” that there are ways of doing thing better than we currently do them, for way less money. I even remarked yesterday at the Arizona Town Hall gathering that some of the best things TeLS has been able to accomplish for/with the college have been things that were done outside the parameters of college resources and funding. The Cybersalon is a good example, as is the Webletter itself. They don’t have the often crushing weight of college bureaucracy, policy, and regulations to hinder them. Yay! Personally, I am hoping that we can all say at the end of this adventure that we have created some meaningful work, both to each writer and to those who read the work. I am also intrigued by making the Challenge something that can be run without college assistance and seeing if it can be replicated (or a similar structure) in a K12 environment or at another college. Getting the 9x9x25 Challenge to be self-sufficient where money is concerned would be a good thing. Imagine being able to say “Look at the great work we have created and it cost the college nothing!” I know our bean counters would be happy. Who might we approach to share these ideas with and what groups or organizations might we provide assistance to in our sharing of ideas? What might they be able to contribute to our goal of writing and honoring our teachers? I am going to be looking for these opportunities for next year and the 9x9x25 Challenge. As for the spite and my journey where sweaty dollar bills are concerned I am so aligned with the themes and issues in video below, I fear I’ll never recover. But as long as the guitar still sings, who cares? Posted by Todd Conaway at 11:51AM (-07:00)

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LUV Lessons–Airplanes meet Academics (Part I) Wednesday, October 09, 2013 From 2001 through 2005, I had the very fortunate life experience to work as a Customer Service Trainer for the most successful airline in aviation history: Southwest Airlines. (I was also teaching full-time, and I would not have taken on the job if it wasn’t extremely rewarding, given the stress of juggling two full-time jobs! I literally cried when I left that company to come to work here at Yavapai College.) “LUV” is Southwest’s “ticker name” on the stock exchange. But a very special kind of “love” permeates the airline’s culture. Interestingly enough, I learned a lot about higher education from this aviation enterprise; lessons that are perhaps worth sharing. So here’s what I took away that I think applies to us as college. 1. THE CUSTOMER DOESN’TALWAYS COME FIRST. More than any other airline, SWA consistently wins the award for the best customer service in the business. So, one might assume that they embrace the conventional notion that “the customer comes first” or "the customer is always right." Not so. In fact, the company is adamant that their EMPLOYEES come first! When a customer is wrong or abusive, leadership backs their employees almost 100% of the time, and we employees knew that. When a crisis occurs (such as it did on 9/11/2001), the safety and well-being of employees came before customers and even profits. Since 1971, the company has never laid off an employee due to difficult financial times, organizational restructure, change of leadership or any other external reason. The positive morale this creates is literally indescribable. That confidence turns itself into quality productivity. 2. FINDING A WAY TO SAY “YES.” Many places I’ve worked (including some colleges and universities) have been riddled with negativity. Often there is the assumption that something CAN’T be done because “of course” organizational or personal barriers will “inevitably” be encountered. Launching hundreds of aircraft a day out of four dozen or so locations nationwide and trying to coordinate arrivals, departures, personnel, mechanical issues and weather may be the most unpredictable working environment that exists, short of a military at war. Stuff happens… frequently! Flights get delayed, aircraft become disabled, crew shortages occur, bags get lost, people misconnect with their next leg of their journey. The list is almost unending. But Southwest Airlines doesn’t see these as obstacles, but opportunities. Numerous times I found myself saying to a distraught (even angry) customer something like, “We can’t get you on THIS flight, but we CAN get you to your destination today!” Turning negatives into positives, always finding ways to say YES!, was a linchpin in the Southwest Way. It bred goodwill between employees and customers, line workers and management. I rarely dreaded going to work. 3. “ON TIME” IS A REAL WORLD CONCEPT. The bread and butter of airlines is performance in the “Triple Crown”: Accurate baggage handling, customer satisfaction and on time performance. Outside of academia, there are very few occupations where time isn’t of the essence (because time is money, right?). Nowhere is this more true than in operating an airline. Now, I realize I’m about to step on some toes here. I have some very dear colleagues who discuss and write about what to do with due dates, etc. This is meant as no disrespect to any of you, my friends. But here’s my perspective: NEWSFLASH—Being on time matters! It’s a highly valued quality in the workplace. (In a quick survey of online articles, “managing time well” comes out high on the list of attributes employers are looking for. This includes showing up regularly and on time, as well as getting tasks done in a timely manner). Flight delays cost money, LOTS of money. A sense of punctuality and urgency, tempered by reason and compassion, is the order of the day when unloading and loading 137 9x9x25 Challenge

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passengers out of and into a flying sheet metal tube in under an hour. And because timeliness is an important value, Southwest expects it, and rewards employees who demonstrate it. Those who have “perfect attendance” in any quarter (including being on time) receive two free, round-trip priority passes (which they can use themselves or pass on to anyone else, employee or non-employee) to anywhere the airline flies. Conversely, if an employee is late or absent three times in any quarter, they are dismissed from the company on the spot: no discussion, no excuses, no questions. Needless to say, Southwest Airlines does not have much of an attendance problem. And they are the most on-time airline in the history of modern aviation. So I muse… Are we doing our students any favors by “dumping due dates”? I think not. Don’t we have a responsibility to help our students develop their time management skills, so they can be successful in whatever fields they choose? Ultimately, won’t they thank us? (To be continued…) Posted by Mark Shelley at 02:48PM (-07:00)

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I Went to the Conference and… Thursday, October 10, 2013 Next week I am in Anaheim at the Educause Conference. I get to see Sir Ken Robinson and Jane Mcgonigal as keynotes! Sir Ken’s TED talk on creativity still ranks as one of my favorite. I am excited! Educause is a pretty big event in the educational landscape. I have attended and presented at some great conferences by the League for Innovation and CIT, Sloan-C, and USDLA, but this is kinda, “the big one.” So I will go to the sessions and I will take notes like any good conference goer. No doubt I will reflect on the meaning and implications of the topics covered and the thoughts expressed. I will ponder them in the sessions, chat about them with other conference goers, and even wonder about them on the plane flight back home. I will go to work and I will write up my “conference report” that is not exactly required, but sort of expected. I think it is only expected because we used to have to submit them to the Yavapai College Staff Association when we received funding from them. Now that they no longer pass out conference monies, I am not sure why I will write the “approximately one page” report. Habit, I guess? For faculty is seems that they are to give a “write up” to the Professional Growth committee and perhaps share their findings in a division meeting. I asked a teacher a moment ago about the expectations and the reply was the description of requirements above followed by, “I don’t know of anyone who has done it.” On the Verde Campus, back when we had campus meetings, we were given five minutes to present what we learned to our colleagues. I know that because I was terrified to find that Utpal Goswami was going to be that the meeting I was going to deliver my report to about the League for Innovation conference I had attended. It was the first conference I had attended as a Yavapai College employee and of course he was sitting in the front row. I spoke over these slides. Joint Division Meeting from Todd Conaway I just looked at the slides. Damn, I was smart back then. What if the “conference reports” in whatever form they are in, are shared by faculty much as the writing in the 9x9x25 is being shared? Ok, I dare you. Next time you attend a conference send me, todd.conaway@yc.edu the report and I will happily add it to the webletter. More importantly, what if you add it to your home on the internet? Where is your home on the internet? Facebook? A website? Blackboard? Do you have one? Should you? When I look around at our teachers that do have places on the internet that they operate from in various ways I think that in 2013 we all have digital presences whether we want to or not. Do you control it or does someone else? We have teachers who are exploring owning the space they work from. • Sal Buffo • Dave Graser 9x9x25 Challenge

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• Kelly Trainor • Gino Romeo • Karly Way So what I have done is add my “conference reports” and what I will do with my “report” from Educause? Well, I am adding them to my “home” on the internet. You can see one here and another here. I am excited to see how our experiences here in the 9x9x25 Challenge inform how we see our responsibility to each other in sharing what we learn when we attend conferences. What we learn each year or month as we grow as educators. How we share reflections on classroom teaching and how we share ideas we find valuable in books we read. It took a long time for the college to recognize and accept “probationary faculty portfolios” done in a digital space. How long will it take us to tell the stories when we go to conferences and I… Posted by Todd Conaway at 10:23AM (-07:00)

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That Ning Thing Thursday, October 10, 2013

A number of years ago I took a great class from Yavapai College's TeLS staff, ENG255, and in that class I found a tool that I thought would transform the online experience for my students. Its name: NING. Also, I was so glad that I got the domain I wanted: Thinkingcritically.ning.com . For years all of the ENG140 students created their own pages here. Students had access to Critical Thinking videos, pictures of charts for the Elements of Thought, Intellectual Standards, and Intellectual Traits. Students also had a link to Richard Paul and Linda Elder's Critical Thinking site where they could see even more electronic tools to help grasp the concepts for critical thinking, download further books, and have access to other material available to instructors.

One day Ning decided that FREE wasn't going to continue. Ning decided to charge for this service. Suddenly FREE was converted to $2.95 per month. Along came Pearson who decided to pick up the tab for deserving educators. I was one of the blessed. For the next few years, Pearson paid the fee for Thinkingcritically.Ning.com as well as a number of other educators' sites to remain up for the students. And then it happened. Out of the blue I was sent a message that I had a bill of $5.90, and that I would be turned over to the creditors if I didn't pay. I was informed that I had been sent a number of bills and reminders, and that I needed to pay up. A few days later, ZAP, right after the students posted their pages for the semester, Thinkingcritically.Ning.com 9x9x25 Challenge

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went down. In the next few weeks, I pondered what to do. During the last few months, not only had I NOT been told that Pearson had pulled its funding, but at the same time, I was getting bombarded with all kinds of requests for all kinds of people with weird email addresses and addresses from around the globe, literally, to join the site. Seriously, I did not want a bad credit rating, but would anyone deny loaning me money to buy a car just because I hadn't paid a $5.90 bill for Ning??? Seriously??? And how could they do that anyway since I hadn't agreed to anything personally. I talked to Todd about it since he also had a Ning account, and I found out he was having a similar situation. Previously, he had told me how to change the settings to the account to limit the visibility of my site, so I had already taken care of that issue. No new strange people were sending me requests, which was in fact becoming a burden to this online instructor who gets plenty of email every day anyway, especially at the beginning of the semester. I would personally rather focus on my students. Since his previous advice had worked, I asked for more. Todd encouraged me to talk with Dean Holbrook, which I decided to do. Dean was gracious and is covering the $5.90 previously billed along with the $2.95 through December so my current students can enjoy their Ning site. Yeah! No more threats of destroying my credit, and my students can see their site again! However, at the end of the year, the site will go down permanently, and all of the students who have taken the class all of these past years will lose access to all of this information. Their pages will go away. So what. Really. Did the students actually go use the site after class ended? Did they ever go in and look up old classmates and reconnect? Did the students taking the class find it useful? Honestly, I didn't do the research. It just seemed like a great idea at the time. It was a great way to preserve some of the learning we did as a class, which was shared with later classes. And it was awesome to have something left of my students after the class was over. The best part of all is that students had a place to post images of themselves, their families, anything they wanted to share so we learned more about each other than just a name in a Blackboard shell. Was the Ning thing worth all of my time and effort, and that of the students? You decide. Signing off. Tina Posted by Tina's Blog at 09:06PM (-07:00)

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The Milk for Free? Friday, October 11, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read all About It (online)! Lloyd’s List, widely thought to be the world’s oldest daily newspaper, is going out of print in December. Granted, this may not seem as significant as the folding of Newsweek last year, or the many other metropolitan dailies that are dropping like the flies they once swatted, but Lloyd’s has been spilling ink since 1734, and whenever a ducentenarian dies, we should take notice. The reasons behind the fall of newspapers are multiple and varied, but certainly the most efficient executioner has been the internet. After all, why should I buy the cow when I can get the milk for free? A quick internet search will literally put thousands of news stories at my fingertips without once having to venture onto the driveway in my bathrobe or send Junior to the corner market. And best of all, they come in at the low low price of:

Or course, it wasn’t always this way. If you can imagine it, once upon a time you may have had to pay for the privilege of reading my words right now. However, today there are something like one billion blogs to choose from and instead of you chasing material, I’m chasing readers. And just in case you think this discussion is merely academic, let’s ride that word to my next point. This is now happening in higher education. Looking at the two models, one can see that they are actually quite similar. A fee is paid (via subscription or tuition) and in return access is granted to expertise and information. Having completed the process, one then walks away an informed individual prepared to engage fruitfully in the important discussions of the day. Yes, you in the back, the liberal arts instructor; I see your desperate look. This is a reductionist comparison that denies 9x9x25 Challenge

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recognition to the richer and deeper aspects of a broad education, but I will dismiss this quibble with a dollar. From a business standpoint the two are close enough, and the market bears this out. The interwebs are full of canned classes, online “degrees,” massively open online courses, and free information. Ask yourself, what can you tell your students that they can’t find in a Google search?

Sadly, we are already seeing the negative consequences of this. Academic decisions are made based on market forces. We offer dual enrollment free to high school students inside local high schools, not because it is the most rigorous education, best practice, good for the student, or the ideal environment for college learning, but because if we don’t, some other institution will come along and steal that FTSE. Moreover, students are no longer limited by geography. Here in Yavapai county, they can attend the local community college, but Grand Canyon University, Rio Salado, and the University of Phoenix are also available and will gleefully accept as much federal aid money as they can get. Like my blog analogy above, students now have a multitude of choices, and, as the law of supply and demand dictates, institutions must now begin to cater to students to survive. Education meet free market. To capture those students we’d best pour money into advertising and make sure that our medicine doesn’t taste too bad. In other words, add sugar and remove rigor. And that’s assuming that individuals even want to formally attend college. MOOCs, Google, the Khan Academy and other enterprising groups can provide education and knowledge without any monetary transactions whatsoever, and if we truly believe in the long term social and individual benefits of learning how can we begrudge a movement working toward a free and readily available education for all?

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Is our profession doomed then? Are our already tiny budgets and puny paychecks in danger of disappearing completely? For an answer we must return to the newspaper industry. Some venerable and worthy papers have been forced to fold or downsize into insignificance. Attempting to compete with free online sources, they made maladaptive moves to shorten story length (you know, because of attention spans), cover more fluff (the Roman bread and circuses stuff), and cater to entrenched political audiences. While this Faustian bargain worked for a select few, it murdered the majority. In watering down their product they turned away from their strengths (embedded reporters, in-depth investigative journalism) and ensured a slow (or not so slow) extinction. Visit any tourist spot and you will see a similar phenomenon. Shop after shop hocking the exact same cheap baubles and tee-shirts. None of the owners runs a successful business (most cycle out after 1-2 years), but each ensures a grudging, temporary survival by selling the same safe (albeit crappy) product as his neighbor. I argue that if higher education wants to survive and thrive in the next hundred years it must do more than offer the interchangeable kitsch of the tourist shop or the diluted product of the failed newspaper. We must narrow our scope and turn to what we do best. Steve Student can find out anything he wants about Beowulf on the internet, but I am going to sit down beside him and make it come alive. I’m going to recite parts of it in Old English. I’m going to get excited when Wiglaf brings forth the treasure, and, using my own idiosyncratic education and experience, share more relevant historical and literary explanations and real-world hyperlinks than even the most dedicated programmer could provide. And what’s more, I'll do it real-time and adapt to that student as I go. When I see the face brighten, I’ll dive in. When I notice the eyelids droop, I’ll pull back. Google can’t do this. The University of Phoenix doesn’t want to. However, I can, and if we want community colleges to continue to perform their unique and important social role one hundred years, even twenty years, from now, then we need to invest in what is unique and rewarding -what cannot be replaced. We need to invest in ourselves.

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Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 11:26AM (-07:00)

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Making Connections Count Saturday, October 12, 2013

When I was teaching composition classes, I required that my students conference with me at least once during every essay cycle. This helped me to develop a mentor/student relationship. As a result, the students learned to trust me as I critiqued their papers and suggested ways to improve how and what they were communicating. Yes, it took time out of my busy schedule, but the pay off was priceless. I had the opportunity to encourage them one-on-one in their skills and to watch them develop as students. Not only this, but the students better understood and accepted that any failure fell upon their shoulders, not mine. I too have experienced the horrors of being yelled at for some poor grade or some lost points, but those episodes have come from the students who never came to conferences...which supports my argument for making student connections. When I switched to teaching reading classes, I no longer had a reason to conference. I found that because of this I was not getting to know my students as quickly, and it took longer for them to trust me and to figure out the value of the class. If I only conferenced with students who were doing poorly, we were already in a perceived adversarial situation. I realized that I needed to make connections with these students as much as with my composition students. This has become one of the cornerstones of my teaching style. I found this to be especially valuable because not only do I teach those required courses that many students don't like, I also teach those courses for which grading gets disputed. Students understand when they get a math problem wrong; they do not have as clear an understanding when they are told their arguments are weak or their answers are incomplete. The stronger connection I can make with a student, the more the student accepts my standards and requirements. Thus, I am going to incorporate conferencing into all my classes. The traditional student is coming from a generation who want to relate, who want a voice in their education. Although they will settle for walking in and out of class without getting to know their fellow students or instructor, they enjoy developing those connections and a sense of community within the class. When I have utilized small group discussions and activities, which I do a lot, students have reported this has caused them to come out of their shell and has helped them to realize that they do have something to say. As they get to know me as their instructor, I have found students generally become more participatory in class and take more pride in their work.

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This is for me one of the added benefits of teaching in a community college, rather than a large university. If we take advantage of this, we can help students adapt to the college culture. In many universities, it is "sink or swim." Some of my daughter's classes at UA had her sitting in auditoriums filled with 100-300 students, and her work was graded by TAs. Education factory style! I did not go into teaching in order to lecture to large groups; I am here because I want to see individual students succeed. I have discovered added benefits for making these connections with students. One is that it gives me the opportunity to change the consumer mentality that some students come with: Since they paid for the course, they deserve a good grade. As we communicate one on one, they learn the importance of their personal commitment to their courses. It also helps students to see the value of attending a community college where they can get this individual attention when needed. I have also found that it gives me a chance to do casual advising, even if this is simply recommending that they see their advisors. A personal benefit is that this connection keeps me motivated as an instructor when I hit those mid-semester slumps or overwhelming weeks. Knowing my students as individuals keeps me focused on giving them my best effort. And these connections remind me that the few times I do have difficulties with particular students are the rare moments, not the norm, in my semesters. Now the issue becomes learning to keep my schedule open for students, which means saying no to other things. Posted by ENG 140 at 12:31PM (-07:00)

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The Joy of Mapping Storms Saturday, October 12, 2013

The term brainstorming always seemed odd to me, the truth being; I love a classroom that’s in that brainstorming mode. You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty cool, ideas being generated, creative thinking in an unstructured manner and lots of participation. The goal of brainstorming is to generate many ideas in a short period of time. One of the key elements in brainstorming is a term I recently learned, “piggybacking,” or the use of one idea to stimulate another idea. Not only are ideas being tossed around, but you can feel the energy in the classroom change and there is almost this electricity that’s gets people restless in their seats. During brainstorming sessions, it important to record all ideas on the board, having no idea disregarded or criticized. When I began writing everything down, it was sometimes difficult to keep up with the students and I realized I needed to find a different and easier way in documenting those sessions. I began using Mind Maps and the more I used them the easier and visually effective they became.

Mind Mapping involves putting ideas in the form of a visual map that shows the relationship among these ideas. You start with a main idea or topic, and then draw branches off the main topic which could represent different parts or aspects of the main topic. A topic may have four or as many needed branches (sub-topics) and each of those branches may have branches and, well, you get the picture. As the brainstorming progresses and ideas are being added to the Mind Map, a visual map and if you want to really be creative, a very colorful and cool map covers you whiteboard. Not only do I like 9x9x25 Challenge

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the creativity of Mind Mapping, but how it easily brings in important attributes which are associated with creative problem solving skills. Such as: 1. The ability to generate a number of ideas which then brings an increase of possibilities. 2. The ability to have a different perception of a problem, yielding other possible solutions. 3. The ability to add or build off an idea. 4. The ability to create new ideas 5. The willingness to be brave…suggesting something out of the norm We know that most students retain information and have better retention if learned by both visual and verbal presentations, but having students be part of the creation of the Mind Mapping, becomes not only effective, but fun. Also, students that may have learning challenges benefit from this type of visual aid. So, I’ve become a map maker, charting today’s lesson and creating a path as I go. It’s true, “it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters.”

Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 06:26PM (-07:00)

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The Accidental Textbook Sunday, October 13, 2013 I never intended to write a book for my communications class. Scratch that… there must have been an intention somewhere… I just don’t recall the exact process… All I know is that is that when I began reviewing texts for my interpersonal communication class, I was somewhat surprised to discover a number of theories from social psychology, psychology and sociology presented in the texts. And well, they were kinda sorta accurate in their overviews … but there was so much more context to reveal and discuss. And since many of my communication students were “cross-sells” from my sociology and psychology courses, I initially sought to make the transition seamless, to build on what we had already covered in earlier social science courses. So my “project” started as “supplemental” material. And then I just kept writing. Telling my stories, recounting the many communication mistakes I had made in love, life, work (eesh!); what I had learned (and was still learning). There was much to tell… and interestingly enough, my “project” was supercharged by insights gained through a yearlong, 500-hour intensive yoga teacher training program that I went through in 2008. As I neared the completion of my writing project, a publisher cold-called late one afternoon during my office hours. They were asking for a book, and by Joe, I almost had one to send along. By that point, I was staying one step ahead of my students, making copies of each book chapter just prior to class. (Yes, I was that 11th hour student, too ;-) Suddenly, I had a book contract… and I vividly remember reviewing my final galleys in Heathrow, on my way to India that year… Fast-forward more than three years and I’ve fulfilled the initial terms of my contract. My students have given me great feedback, but most importantly, my self-disclosures and communication mistakes seemed to have taught them something ;-) There have been more developments over the last few years. (1) I’ve realized it’s high time for a rewrite (there’s more to share ;-) and (2) I’ve become increasingly sensitive to the high price of books -- even mine -- as I wrote about last week. Last summer, I decided I’d dragged my feet long enough. I ended up giving my students my book, chapter by chapter, with embedded prompts highlighted in red, asking them create Wiki pages with specific examples of say, how they had been erroneously stereotyped, or how their perceptions differ from someone close to them, or how they tried a new strategy to navigate through that difficult conflict. The next part of the assignment was an experiment, I have to admit. I had them review each others’ Wiki pages, post the requisite substantive peer feedback on three… and then I asked them to rank the top 10 Wikis (for more points, of course). The top votegetter would earn 10 extra credit points, the second would earn 9 extra points, 8 for the third most-voted-on, you get the drift. And you know, it worked -- just that little incentive prompted them to create amazing Wiki pages… but I digress. The major leap forward for me was the possibility of collaboration on course materials (even a text!) as a class… Has anyone else tried this? Posted by Dr. Karly at 03:17PM (-07:00)

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Don’t Go Bananas, Check In With Students Sunday, October 13, 2013 Those end of the semester evaluations. Do they serve us well? Give us valuable feedback to shape our teaching? In my experience, the responses are weak, hostile, or non-existent. At best, a constructive response comes too late for any thing to be adjusted, if appropriate. I take action to remedy this for myself. I started collecting student input three or so times a semester at the same time I started my students started blogging. This began as a request for students to write a blog post answering these simple questions: 1. What are two aspects of the assignments you’ve submitted or activities you performed in this unit that you are most proud of? 2. What could have been offered to you to help you learn the material more effectively? 3. What about these four weeks surprised you the most? 4. Please include any other comments about anything. 5. Thank you! Have a fun summer! I know, I might not have taken much of a risk with that list, but I asked those questions with the intent to respect students’ experiences, get to know them better, and have an opportunity adjust my teaching, if warranted. With the goal of better collecting and visualizing responses, I have just started using Survey Monkey instead.

Ginger Monkey Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons by Rob of Cambridge MA Last week, as a pre-class assignment, I included the survey link in the weekly materials. It was voluntary and anonymous. I told students that it would help me to improve or adjust and it would help them because I would take their responses seriously and really would incorporate feedback. Out of sixty students, I received 43 responses. That is pretty good! These are the questions I asked: 1. How much did success in the course depend upon understanding ideas, rather than memorizing facts? 2. Which assignments were most useful? Why? 3. Which assignments were most useful? Why? 4. Which assignments were least useful? Why? 160

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5. Did your instructor give you too many assignments, too few assignments, or about the right amount? 6. How many hours a week do you use to study for this course? 7. How many hours during this unit did you study with a partner? This survey was easy to implement, and I received useful feedback. One interesting outcome was the almost perfect bell-shaped curve from the Likert-style responses for question number 3, above. The best part, personally, is a consistent and useful tool for me to see how I am doing. Try the free version at www.surveymonkey.com. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 08:58PM (-07:00)

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#backinstyle Monday, October 14, 2013

I remember it like it was yesterday. Our elementary school had a computer lab bursting with Commodore computers, boasting more than one per student. I was amazed as I entered the simple command language to boot up games on the old 5.25 inch floppy disks. You know the games, Turtle Talk a Commodore commands typing tutor, and of course, everyone’s favorite, The Oregon Trail. Our one trip down to the computer lab a week was one of my favorite days. Computers have always fascinated me.

The idea of the Oregon Trail, of creating a whole life for yourself right there on the screen, in pixels, a second life so to speak but a digital one, that idea amazed me. So, you can imagine my surprise when our school purchased and set up its first IBM computer, complete with a multi-color display and mouse interface. Wow! It was in our tiny library and the librarian demonstrated the way it would revolutionize the way we would find books in the future. When she couldn’t get it to work, she went back over to the card catalogue, you know, the tiny file drawers full of 2” X 3” index cards that libraries used to have, and she used it to track down the book for story time. But as she read from Where the Sidewalk Ends, all I could think about was the fancy piece of machinery that she had just abandoned in frustration. After she’d put Shel Silverstein down and set us loose to roam the library in search of our “one book per week” reading quota, I made my way to the boxy grey computer set up in the corner at the foot of the stairs. My hand trembled as I grabbed the mouse. As I moved it, to my utter consternation, a tiny white arrow emerged, seemingly from out of nowhere, and began tracking my every move on the screen. I was shocked. As I moved my hand to the left, the little white arrow followed me, tracking my movements. I sped up and slowed down and the arrow matched me. I couldn’t shake it. It was as if the machine’s display were a digital version of my moving hand—I got the metaphor right away; it was my index finger, digitized. I felt what the 162

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designers wanted me to feel, as if the computer was a reflection or maybe extension of myself, my digital self. In subsequent trips to the library our cutting edge librarian introduced us to something that she said would be magical and would change the world and how we do things and think about things—the keyword search. She was way ahead of her time. She said that soon we wouldn’t worry about where we put things or how we organized things, we would simply worry about how to name things, because computers would be able to find them, as long as we knew a few words that the computer could search for. These keywords would help you locate anything. Fast forward 25 years and she was right! Everything we do centers on the keyword concept that we now call “tags”. There is so much out there on the Internet that organization is no longer relevant. Search is relevant and we search through tags. In fact, we’ve suddenly become, once again, in love with this all-powerful organizational tool. You’ve all seen the way hashtags have come into vogue. #Hashtags are simply the repackaged version of my elementary school librarian’s keyword searches that she predicted would change the way we live our lives. Hashtags and other tags have infiltrated our social media, been the basis for commercials, influenced late night comedy sketches and controlled the way we find almost everything on the Internet. Mrs. Moore, you were right! But keyword searching repacked into hashtags are not the only piece of technology that has made a comeback. I was born in 1981, so this was before my time, but many of you remember the age of mainframe computing. Ike Whisenand (spelling?) in IT, reminisced about the day in which you would work out all of your programing by hand on a punch card, then you would turn it in where it would go into a queue awaiting its turn to be processed by a mainframe computer that was usually housed somewhere offsite. The large mainframe computer would be the power behind all of the computing that was done for an entire campus of programmers. The mainframe computing model was largely replaced in the ‘80’s as personal computers began to become affordable and take over the market. Nevertheless, today, the mainframe model is back. As some of you may have noticed, around campus, many of YC’s computers no longer have any sort of “computer” attached to them. They all have a mouse, a monitor and a keyboard, but the “tower” the brain of the computer is gone. We have returned to a mainframe metaphor in which our server rooms “push out” as I believe the ITers call it, an instance of a desktop, basically through the cloud, so that we see a desktop displayed on the monitor, but there’s no hard drive there for students to use. To save info, the student must save to the network drive which is like our version of saving work to the cloud. The mainframe structure has returned, where all of the computing is done in the server room and nothing is there for you, locally. This is why the servers can “serve you up” an instance of Windows Seven, or Eight, based on your preference, it’s just a matter of pushing out your preferred OS back in the server room. Ike if you’re reading this, I hope I got that right! Another technology that’s back in style is also changing the face of all that we do, but in reality it’s a new take on an old idea. Apps! They are our mirror in a busy morning, our distractions on an annoying flight and our banking interface when buying a new car. There are literally millions of apps now and they all direct us to a tiny section of walled off Internet that a particular company or app developer wants us in touch with. They limit the Internet to a walled garden of content that is curated and filtered by the app company. One of my favorites is Flipboard, an app that utilizes your preferences to load you up news content that fits your lifestyle and interests, all the while keeping you locked in to an aesthetically pleasing walled off version of the Internet, tightly controlled by Flipboard ltd. Apps seem like new little pieces of C++ Internet heaven, but they are really another new take on an old idea. I remember six years after my first run in with the IBM in my elementary school library, seeing commercials for the Internet. Yes, commercials for the 9x9x25 Challenge

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Internet! There was a little girl walking on a beach while her narrated voice rambled about a coming “information super highway” in which all computers around the world would be interlinked in one vast networked community. It would use hypertext transfer protocol (http) and it would be labeled the World Wide Web. The first Internet service providers, like Netscape and AOL were much like the app store or Google Play. They would provide you with a list of common or most requested features that utilized the Internet for their functionality. They’d offer email of course, a sync-able calendar feature, contacts that were sync-able as well, some online games, but that was about it. Again, the idea was first marketed that the ISP could provide you with a walled-off garden of tightly controlled features that would meet the needs of most users. Yet, even in the early days, brave consumers were offered a way to escape the fence of the garden and to venture out into the raw Internet and explore the World Wide Web on your own. Web browsers and search engines soon became the norm however, until, once again, the safe walled garden returned in the form of tiny programs we lovingly label apps. The Internet has become so vast, and often, so dangerous, that many of us don’t want to venture out on our own anymore, away from the safe confines of our curated websites and apps, for fear of virus or identity theft, or even worse, possible unwitting Patriot Act violations (nobody wants to stumble onto the wrong website and end up on some government watch list, am I right? It’s hard enough to get through security for a Southwest flight). The idea that I’m getting at here is that nothing that we see today is truly truly new. We think it is, but it’s usually not. I’ll pull up a new song, for example, that I’m into and I’ll play it for my dad who is kind of a music guru, in his genre anyway, and he’ll point out to me that my “new song” is actually a cover that he used to listen to in its original format. “Really, no way!” I’ll say. And he’ll insist and I’ll have to pull it up and sure enough, it’s been done before. I bet most of our students don’t even realize that many of the songs they love are really remakes of songs my dad loved. What educational trends have made a comeback? Do you see them manifested in your day-to-day teaching? In the ‘50s and ‘60s B.F. Skinner and behaviorism were in full effect. His idea was that individualized instruction that was highly prescriptive would replace the one-size-fits-all classrooms of the time. Students could work on what he labeled “programmed instruction” independent of their classmates and with minimal guidance from an instructor.

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Using the behaviorist paradigm and technological advancements, Skinner felt that giving students a “teaching machine” that would slowly mete out a steady stream of simple individualized steps that were easily achievable would eventually lead to one’s ability to achieve some greater whole. A macro-level learning outcome could be achieved by shaping a student into its mastery by first guiding the pupil through miniscule steps that could be combined through “chaining” into the desired learning goal. As it turned out, despite Skinner’s belief, students were not motivated to work on a clunky teaching machine in relative isolation for some 8 hours a day. Moreover, fitting small goals together, lock-step, one by one, did not always lead to the mastery of the greater learning goal. As critics like Noam Chomsky would later put forward, behaviorism’s metaphor of students coming to the learning table like an empty vessel waiting to be filled did not match reality. Behaviorists did not take into account the vast knowledge structures that students already had prior to interacting with the teaching machine. Additionally, Chomsky and others argued, rightly, that not all learning can be measured through overt observation. The human mind was more complex and filled with experience and behaviorism refused to account for it. Jerome Brunner, in 1966 started pushing back on Skinner when he published Towards a Theory of Instruction, which was essential in launching the cognitivist movement and a new learning theory, cognitive science based instruction, was born. This theory changed the metaphor from, a glass to be filled, to a vast neural network of synapses that are filled with prior knowledge and learners must integrate new target information into this network by making new connections all over the brain and tying new knowledge to previous experiences. These connections are made in working memory and stored in long term memory, where, if enough connections are made, it can be easily called up and processed again in working memory.

In the ‘70s the educational community began to increasingly move away from behaviorism and into cognitivism. Some even moved into radical cognitivism or what many label today as constructivism, in which learners are left to “discover” on their own with minimal guidance, new target structures because, after all, only the learner’s version of new knowledge will be remembered and integrated into his/her unknowable milieu of past experiences. Although I cannot support all of the tenants of a minimally guided classroom, mostly due to the constraints of working memory and cognitive load, I firmly support the move away from behaviorism and behaviorist methodologies, yet, behaviorism, once thought dead, is definitely back! With the advent of massive open online classrooms (MOOCS) in which Stanford professors imperiously shovel their

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content onto the Internet under the guise of free education for all, from, and smug smile wrinkles at their lips as they type it, the best instructors the world has to offer, I find myself shaking my head. We design really poor online courses that are isolationist and behaviorist and we marvel when students don’t achieve as well as our dynamic, interactive, in-person classes. The ‘50s and ‘60s taught us that Bandura and Vygotsky were right; we need to interact with others in order to learn. Doing mindless work in a checklist-type format, does not lead to real learning. Real learning demands dynamic interactive discussions that spark the recollection of past experience and that sticks new learning to that experience, eventually leading to integration and resistance to forgetting. Yet, MOOCs, and most of our online classes adopt the idea, “here’s the content, it’s out there, watch the video and you’ll have it learned”. We know that that’s not the way we learn, yet we are turning our backs on that knowledge and we go through with it under the banner of “accessible learning for all—anywhere, anyone, anytime”. Computer adaptive technologies, the Internet, gaming technologies that teach for mastery without considering achievement, have all brought behaviorism back into the limelight because we need some type of learning theory to back up the decisions that most administrations want to make, decisions that thrust education increasingly online. These decisions, as we all know, are really fueled by the bottom line, dinero, and not by what’s right for students. Dusty old learning theories (e.g., behaviorism) that don’t work should be left in the closet. They don’t need to be taken off their hangers and brought out again just because they make fiscal sense. It would make fiscal sense for me to pull out my old Christmas sweaters now that it’s getting cold, but I think the zombie apocalypse will be upon us before those are back in style. Which is a shame; I really love the one with the light up Rudolph nose.

Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 01:46AM (-07:00)

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My Thoughts From 2002 Becomes dotcomYOGA Tuesday, October 15, 2013 This post appears at dotcomyoga.com From early 1990 to 2002, 12 years or so after I dropped History 121 a few times and failed it once with a big fat ‘F,’ I became adjunct faculty at the same college I took History 121, Tidewater Community College (TCC). Besides teaching many physical education courses for TCC, I had always thought about teaching an online college Yoga course. Since online courses were becoming popular at TCC in early 2000, I used to wonder how Yoga could be taught online or any physical activity course for that matter. And 3 years later, while living in Tallahassee, Florida, I did just that. In 2005, I was living in Tallahassee Florida. My wife was attending Florida State University (FSU), and I was about to attend graduate school. We had money from a house we just sold in Virginia, money from student loans, but I needed some more money. So for money, and yes, it was all for money, I called my dean at TCC, with whom I had a trusting relationship, and I simply asked could I teach an online Yoga course for TCC. Without hesitation she gave me the OK with the words, “Send me an outline,” and that was basically it. At the time, I remember thinking, “Huh? Shoot, why didn’t I ask earlier.” But I didn’t. So with all the thinking from 2002, I quickly organized an outline for an online Yoga course. To create the outline for my dean, I found Yoga DVDs (Total Yoga: The Flow Series by Tracey Rich and Ganga White) at the local bookstore. I looked for the Yoga routines that the students would follow, and then I outlined how they would perform each Yoga routine three times a week and write a Blackboard message about each specific routine they did. These blackboard messages were the bulk of the course and had to follow specific guidelines, which I share HERE. Posted by TeLS at 08:38AM (-07:00)

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Cultivating the Instructor-Student Relationship Tuesday, October 15, 2013 The instructor-student relationship has been a central theme of several 9x9x25 posts I've read over the past few weeks. Whether it's a matter of controlling textbook costs, responding appropriately to e-mails, or implementing due date flexibility, it's clear Yavapai College instructors' concern for their students extends beyond assigning a grade for the work each one has completed throughout a given semester. But what exactly is the nature of our relationship with students? What should it look like? What does it look like?

Despite the fact we often take a parental sort of interest in them, college instructors don't have a substitute-parent relationship with our students resembling the one K-12 teachers have with theirs. We insist students are responsible for their own grades. They get what they earn , not what we "give" them. While we anticipate respectful behavior in our classrooms, we also recognize it's not our job to teach students social skills in a broader sense; nobody's going to get a check on the board next to his or her name for good behavior. For some students, college may be preparation for the real world, but for others, it is the real world, especially when it's community college. About half my students are older than I am - they have families, careers, and life experience - indeed, they often hold degrees in other fields!

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At the same time, college instructors vehemently resist the idea we have a service industry-type relationship with students. We've all encountered a student who has adopted the idea that by paying tuition, he or she was paying for a degree, diploma, or grade in a particular class. Instructors are very sensitive to (and disturbed by) this belief system. If a degree is paid for instead of earned, it lacks credibility. After all, I wouldn't want a surgeon with a diploma mill degree digging into my skull (would you?). To be clear, I am not diminishing the relationship between income and higher education. After parents' level of education, income is the second-greatest indicator of whether a young adult will attend college. Paying for a sheepskin and paying to earn one are two very different things. Unfortunately, we've also seen how this "service industry" mentality has corrupted other institutions whose primary purpose is other than making consumers feel happy. Employees at many hospitals, for instance, are instructed to treat patients as if they are staying at a 5-star resort.

On second thought, maybe that's not so outlandish. When I took my two-year-old to the ER this spring for a scalp laceration, our out-of-pocket expense for the two-hour trip was roughly equivalent to a night's stay in a king room (Central Park view) at the New York City Ritz-Carlton... plus valet parking.

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I digress. As instructors, we occupy a strange sort of middle ground. We call the shots, but only take responsibility for our portion of the relationship. We create the courses, provide the materials, and grade the assessments, but ultimately it's the student who determines how well she or he is going to do in the class. Our role is that of a facilitator, and our relationship with students is best considered a partnership - we are not their parents, we are not their bosses, and while we do provide a service, our job is not simply to serve them. Using this lens can be incredibly helpful for an instructor when trying to cultivate relationships with students. If, as a facilitator, my job is to assist students throughout the process of their own learning, then I have rights and responsibilities in that role.

I have the right to set boundaries about how I want to be treated by students and what I expect a student's contribution to look like if she or he wants me as a partner. This includes communicating my expectations for e-mail etiquette, classroom behavior, and participation. At the same time, I have the responsibility to treat students as adults, partners in learning, and above all, as people. This often means giving them the benefit 170

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of the doubt, and parsing out behavior that is inappropriate and entitled from behavior that is merely panicked and overwhelmed. Here's an example. I once received an e-mail from a student complaining it was "unfair" I had "given her" a zero on an assignment she had not completed. As a facilitator, I had done my job - I had provided the assignment and graded it as I would have for any other student. In her role, she had two options: to complete the assignment, or not to complete the assignment. Since she had chosen the latter, this e-mail represented a clear violation of boundaries for me. Rather than taking responsibility for her role in the partnership, this student attempted to shift responsibility to me, which I was unwilling to assume on her behalf. On the flip side, I frequently receive e-mails from students who acknowledge they have missed assignments but want the opportunity to complete them late. This is not necessarily a violation of (my) boundaries. So long at the student adopts responsibility for his or her own portion of our relationship, I am usually willing to provide accommodation at my own discretion. Incidentally, "it's in the syllabus" is a fairly common refrain and like most other instructors, I'm too-often tempted to use it with students. But when one stops to consider that the YC syllabus template alone - not including any course-specific information such as learning outcomes, grading criteria, or course content - is six pages long, I'm hardly surprised many students don't read five syllabi in their entirety every single semester.

Ultimately though, as an instructor, I really am a facilitator. A helper. An enabler (though not in the colloquial sense of the word). A mentor, at times. And in this role, it's important to remember that students aren't an obstacle - they are an objective. We are in a partnership, which is a two-way street, and I think it's only fair that I make an effort to hold myself to no greater or lesser a standard than I hold my students. I will keep up my end of the bargain as I expect them to keep up theirs. I will treat them as I want and expect to be treated myself. And the fact of the matter is, if we want to have jobs and create a better world, we need them as badly as they need us. Posted by ewhitesitt at 11:23AM (-07:00)

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Slay the Beast! Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If we can’t keep the attention of the zombie learner, we have no hope of getting off the shot to the head. Brain Rule #4 is critical for all teachers. 4. We don’t pay attention to boring things. If our students are texting, sleeping, or otherwise occupied, there is no hope that we will be able to transmit the information in the course. Without their attention, the communication channel is broken. So how long do we have before their attention begins to wander? John Medina relates several studies that indicate that you have about 10 minutes before their brains check out. This applies to even the best lecturers. Unless we do something to regain their attention, we’ll lose them to the undead! Several years ago I decided to see how accurate this statement was. The first day of class should be a day where I have no problem keeping their attention. All of the students are brimming with enthusiasm. The content I deliver is incredibly important…what are the course policies and how will their learning be assessed? On this particular first day in College Algebra, I delivered my typical first day material. As I did, I watched my audience for “tells”. These are the behaviors that indicate that they are no longer paying complete attention to what I am saying. Things like looking at their cell phone, glancing at their watch or the clock in the classroom, or looking at the attractive coed in the row in front of them. After about eleven minutes, one student glanced twice over their shoulder to check the time on the clock. Sure enough, I had lost that students attention! I needed to do something to regain that attention. In fact, every time I drone on for more than ten minutes, I see these signs in my students. And when I deliver presentations at conferences, I see the same signs…the zombies are everywhere. Medina designs his lectures with four principles in mind. 172

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1. Emotions get our attention. I am not exactly the best at remembering details of past events. Several years ago while on vacation in Alaska, I was attacked in a campground as I slept. The attack was very traumatic…waking up with someone screaming at you outside your tent definitely stirs many emotions. I was tackled outside my tent by several assailants, but managed to break free. To this day, I can remember every detail of this episode…including how the gravel felt on my bare feet as I outran my attackers. Medina enfuses emotion into his lectures. This helps keep their attention and allows information to flow in the communication channel between the teacher and the learner. However, what is emotion? Do you need to relay traumatic life changing events? Funny stories? Medina suggests that all is needed is emotional “arousal”. He points to this commercial as being perfect for its ability to keep the audiences attention. 2. Meaning before details. For a small number of students, it is enough for me to simply explain how to calculate slope and they pay attention to what I am saying. The vast majority could care less about slope unless they know how they can use it…what it really means in their everyday life. Medina says:

The more a learner focuses on the meaning of the presented information, the more elaborately the encoding is processed. This process is so obvious that it is easy to miss. What it means is this: When you are trying to drive a piece of information into your brain’s memory systems, make sure you understand what that information means. If you are trying to drive information into someone else’s brain, make sure they know what it means. If I can also explain how slope relates to health insurance plans or how fast college costs are rising, it is easier to keep their attention and encode the details.

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3. The brain cannot multitask. This is hard to sell to students. Most of them seem to be able to listen to music, text message, do homework, chew gumâ&#x20AC;Śall at the same time. In fact, I am sure each of you is able to carry out many tasks like walking and talking at the same time. But are these tasks that require your full attention? When we try to do several tasks simultaneously that require our attention, we make more errors and it takes us longer to do them. So if you are texting and watching my brilliant lecture, you will make more errors in your text message and make errors in learning the content. Attention needs to be focused on one thing at a time.

4. The brain needs a break. The attention span of human beings under good conditions is ten minutes. For college students in a classroom or online students at their home or Starbucks, it is probably less. To account for this span, we need to regain their attention with narratives that are rich in emotion. Many social science instructors are well versed with this technique. I sat in on a psychology lecture in Nichole Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s class several years ago. Whenever she would relate case studies about abnormal psychology or psychiatric disorders, she grabbed her audienceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention. They volunteered their own experiences showing that they were into what she was relating. Now that she had their attention, she could continue with her 174

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lecture knowing the communication channel was open again. Unfortunately for me, students donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to have the same interest in abnormal mathematical operations that they do for schizophrenia. These four principles can help us to design lectures that are more engaging to our students. In my next post, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll relate the techniques I use to keep the attention of my students. Posted by davidg at 11:30AM (-07:00)

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More on (my) “Ignorance” Tuesday, October 15, 2013 As a continuation of my previous post on “Ignorance” (You Gotta Be Ignorant to Learn), my new ignorance comes from Iain Davidson in the TeLS office. Not that he announced my ignorance, but rather gave me a new awareness. Each week on various days / time, we have an Adjunct Faculty “Alternative” Small Group Meeting in the GIFT Center on the Prescott Campus (will expand to other campuses next semester). We have anywhere from 2-6 people who attend and have great discussions with campus staff, administrators, and faculty about various subjects that pertain to teaching and student learning.

Last week, Iain Davidson, Instructional Support Specialist, came to talk about Blackboard – some tips and maybe how to better utilize it in all types of our teaching – online, F2F, and Hybrid. We talked a lot about how online classes are set up; how many buttons are too many; or if should the class be by week or by module. We also talked about really using the gradebook to keep students involved in their classes, creating tests and surveys, and why a Blog or Wiki may be good for a study guide. But…the BEST information that Iain shared was for all of us to be in a “ state of ignorance ” when setting up our courses. That is, be a first-time online student. A neophyte in an online class who knows nothing about navigation, discussions, or online assignments. Iain challenged us to really think consider the following: • The overall look of the initial page – what should it be? A bunch of instructions, or something to welcome students? - Oh, and the announcements from last semester really should come off. • Navigation Buttons – How many do you really need? - If you can’t keep up, you can bet your students can’t either. • Can they find your assignments? - How many clicks in each button must the student make to get to the assignments? Really? - Does it seem like it’s a secret to find it? If it’s too frustrating, guess who won’t do it. - Does your grade book have duplicate (and triplicate) assignments that you’ve copied? • Have you ever considered asking students what works and doesn’t? - Iain had some great advice for us – keep a running conversation (Discussion Board, Wiki, Blog) of questions students have had and have been answered. You might see a pattern there. So, maybe after a couple of semesters teaching the same class, it pays to be more “ignorant “and look at your class with the fresh eyes of the student. Thanks, Iain!

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Posted by mcheyer at 03:21PM (-07:00)

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LUV Lessons: Growing Great from Within Wednesday, October 16, 2013 In my years working at Southwest Airlines, it struck me that one of the primary ways they built a strong, productive organization was what I call "growing from within." This took several forms, and I'll share three of them here. LESSON #1: Trust your front line workers. Southwest's training of their employees is thorough and extensive, but I was very surprised at how much POWER those on the front line had! Customer Service Agents (those people who check in your baggage and give you your seat assignments) empowered to make many decisions--including those dealing with thousands of dollars for oversold flights--without even consulting as supervisor! Sure, there are some rules and guidelines for such situations, but the agents themselves can determine how to apply the rules. And when they made mistakes, they weren't chastised or fired. They were mentored and taught. Putting this kind of TRUST in the employees that dealt with the public made for an efficient and effective workflow. In an industry as highly regulated for safety as the airlines, there were of necessity lots of checks and balances. Most of these were done behind the scenes, and rarely brought to the attention of staff unless specific action was required. Stephen Covey talks about The Speed of Trust (Free Press, 2008), and Southwest Airlines is a fine example of this. Trust becomes the basis for creating a sustainable, genuine culture of success. LESSON #2: Promote from within. Almost everyone at SWA started out at some "entry level position" or has worked for the company for many years. Agents become supervisors, then managers, then directors, etc. This provides a continuity of culture and leadership that serves as a foundation for growth and productivity. Part of this is a result of their hiring practices--in almost everyone they hire they see the potential for upward mobility. It also results in good relationships between management (administration) and workers (faculty), because they already know each other. That doesn't mean things always work out perfectly, but while many people move around in the airline industry, Southwest's turnover is among the lowest in ANY industry. In an educational setting, this would be an incredible asset. LESSON #3: Seek innovation from everyone, especially those on the front line. One might think that hiring from within would result in a kind of "corporate incest." (Many educational institutions don't hire their own graduates or promote long time employees fearing this.) Such has not been the case for SWA, partly because they encourage ideas for innovation from EVERYONE in the organization, especially those in contact with their customers. (In education, this would be staff and faculty who have the most interaction with students.) For those who have flown Southwest and any other airline, it is apparent that Southwest does things differently. Many of the efficiency-related improvements germinated from the perspectives and suggestions of customer service and operations agents themselves, and were eagerly adopted by management. Rarely does Southwest Airlines use consultants, because they feel their employees are their best and most insightful critics. What would happen if Yavapai College would adopt these practices? How might that change our organization for the good? Posted by Mark Shelley at 09:55PM (-07:00)

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Continuing On… Thursday, October 17, 2013

What a semester! I cannot believe that Spring 2014 classes are already available. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed here. When I saw the list of classes for Spring 2014 appear in Blackboard, I thought to myself, how am I going to have enough time to do everything I need this semester, as well as get those Spring 2014 classes ready ?! There’s Winter Institute to work with right now; the Summer Institute 2014 to schedule via that wonderful 25Live system. The Spring 2014 Student Orientations to Online Learning workshops to think about. The new “First Year Experience” workshops added into the mix of things. A new Zumba® class I’ll be teaching on Fridays at noon (which I still need to create routines for). I had to throw that plug for the class in there ;-D So, when I thought about writing this blog post, I felt that I may not even have it in me. What in the world was I going to say?! What would I share with such wonderful people who I admire greatly?! Well, how about this… You know that BORING old syllabus you’ve been creating each semester? I kept stating I was going to create a comic version of it for I thought students would be willing to read it further than the first two words. Finally did it! OK, it’s not really a comic per se; but, a colorful rendition of the black text on white paper. It holds everything that is required via the Syllabus Police. It has a childlike quality that gives you that feel good approach. By using mostly primary colors, I have attracted the viewer to read further than they ever have before. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have time to add the characters that act out the Syllabus Drama. That is my ultimate goal. This will just have to wait for another semester. My time is filled with other events. And now, so is my 25 sentences ;-D Posted by rudi1234 at 10:26AM (-07:00) 9x9x25 Challenge

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Writing Curriculum: The Experience Thursday, October 17, 2013 This month I have been working on curriculum for a new English class here at Yavapai College. I have been trying to create a meaningful 200-level linguistics class, ENG220: Grammar and Usage, to help English majors get more variety in their second year. Currently we offer second year creative writing and literature classes.

The purpose of this new class is to give students confidence in grappling with phrases, clauses, sentences, and grammar in general. Students will also study dialects, history of the English language, and a few other topics to prepare them for the university environment. Potential students for the class will not only be those who want to gain more confidence with writing, but also those who need a 200-level linguistics class when they transfer to Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. The class may also transfer to other state university programs. We also hope that some students will take our course who attend other schools since the class will be offered online. Why would we put this class online? So we can draw from the entire county as well as from our own students who have transferred to a four-year school and who feel the need for some fortification of their writing once they arrive. First I searched the Web sites of both Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Arizona State University (ASU) thinking these were the two most likely places our Yavapai College students would go. Neither site gave access to outside individuals to see their Course Outlines. I could find some program-level information as well as a list of classes offered at least for the next semester, but that is not what I was looking for. Next, I contacted one of my former professors at NAU, and she referred me to a linguistics professor there who taught the equivalent course at that school. The professor sent me a copy of his syllabus. I also contacted the NAU English Department, and the office personnel sent me a syllabus from his course as well as that of another professor. Now I was in business. After having such a positive experience with the NAU English Department staff member, I contacted ASU and found that English department helpful as well. I received a syllabus for their equivalent class. When I had these three syllabi, I started creating Course Content and Learning Outcomes as a blend of what these professors' courses offer. I 180

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also wrote a Course Description. Then I sent out the draft of the Course Outline to Burt Coffin, our ATF representative; Keith Haynes, English faculty assisting with developing new classes; Joani Fisher, Faculty President; Dean Holbrook, Division Dean; and Laura Cline, Curriculum Committee representative. These interested parties gave me feedback, and I continued working on the outline. Laura also told me that I would need to fill out the curriculum form, and I chose to use the Permanent Course Proposal since I would like this class to count as a Written Communication course in General Education. While writing the Permanent Course Proposal, I decided to see if I could find a similar class offered at the University of Arizona (U of A). This time I called the English Department without doing an extensive search of the Web site and was emailed Course Descriptions the same day. I included the course number of the most similar class offered at the U of A into the Permanent Course Proposal and hope that the new ENG220 class will articulate.

After rewriting the Course Outline and creating the Permanent Course Proposal, I sent the two files to both Laura and Dean. Laura sent me a message saying that I needed to check one of the verbs to make sure it was on the approved list for Learning Outcomes, and I did make the change. She said that I could send it on to Patti Schlosberg to get the articulation with other universities taken care of. The Course Outline and Permanent Course Proposal have been sent on to Patti, and now I can sit and wait to see how the course is received, how it will articulate, and to see when the new class can be developed. I look forward to a positive reception from our Yavapai College English Department for this new class, and I wish the first instructor well as s/he develops this class online. Blessings! Tina Posted by Tina's Blog at 09:31PM (-07:00)

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Playing Rain Thursday, October 17, 2013 I started a new video game yesterday. It's the middle of the semester and I needed a mental vacation, so I bought Rain for my Playstation 3. It's a puzzle game with a visual style reminiscent of French noir films. A young boy pursues a shadowy girl though the rain-swept streets of a deserted urban landscape, while both are hunted by ghostly monsters. The game play revolves around the fact that every being in the world is invisible unless bathed in rain. Hiding is as simple as ducking under an awning. To progress, you have to figure out how to climb, crawl or run through the urban maze, while using your invisibility and cunning to avoid frightening skeleton animals and the primary antagonist, called the Unknown. The game received largely positive reviews, mostly for the artistry and storytelling. The only real criticism has been that the game is really pretty easy. And it's kicking my butt. You have to understand, I don't play many video games. I don't like them. I don't want to play war or be a criminal or a cop. I'm turned off by the misogyny and violence that is packed into just about every game available. The fact that the pinnacle of video game achievement is expressed in Grand Theft Auto V infuriates me. I want striking graphics, complex storylines and, most of all, a positive and engaging emotional arc. So games I'll spend my time on are few and far between. In fact, I've only found four so far I've liked enough to buy: Flower, Journey, The Unfinished Swan and, now, Rain. So, I'm far from an expert gamer, something that I'm reminded of every time I play. While game reviewers (master gamers all) dismissed Rain as not challenging enough, I'm sometimes brought to the point of apoplexy by my confusion. Because I don't know the rules. Not the rules of the game system (push this button to jump, this one to run.) Those are presented clearly at the beginning of the game. And not the rules of the world in which the game exists (monsters will be attracted by footsteps splashing in water, you can track your progress while invisible by watching the litter stirring on the ground.) The game is designed to teach you those things as you play. What I don't know are the underlying rules of how video games are structured and presented to the players. I just haven't played enough games, racked up enough experience, to know the way the (virtual) world works. This means I don't see the only possible exit from an alleyway because every possibility looks plausible to me. Oh sure, it's clear after I've found it (or looked up the cheat to find it.) But I haven't evaluated enough game situations yet to recognize the signs that indicate "important" details from "background." It took me a couple of hours of play to realize that a shift in camera angle was signaling a significant element in the environment. Or that the cutscene that introduces each new chapter contains foreshadowing of events to come. How many other clues am I missing as I play, leaving me blundering about hoping to run into the thing I need by sheer chance? How many times have I died in the game so far (dozens!) because I just didn't know what I was supposed to be doing? Many of our students arrive at college in the same state of bewilderment. The vast majority aren't master students, and many are first generation college students, venturing into a world as strange and alien to them as the sodden streets in Rain are to me. They don't know the unspoken rules that underlie our world. They haven't read enough to know how to distinguish the important ideas in their readings from the supporting text, so they highlight everything...or nothing. They pack up their books as the clock winds down, already looking ahead to what's next, and don't heed those reminders at the end of class that are critical for keeping up-to-date with the work. They don't see a quick visit to a professor's office hours as the quickest way to dispel confusion. Of course it is obvious, 182

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when you know the way college works. It seems ridiculous to even have to explain it. But if you don't know how to filter the significant information from the clutter? Well, at least you don't die, as I have so many times on a dark and dirty virtual street. But on the other hand, death in a video game is never final. I can always try again, and again, and again, until I figure it out and move on to the next challenge. The consequences of a student missing the unspoken rules of college life can be far more permanent.

This is why I'm so interested in how learning takes place in video games. Because you DO learn the rules of the game as you play, or else you'd never be able to move up to more challenging levels. And unless you are a hyper-analytical college professor, you're not even aware that you are learning. You just get better, bit by bit, until the tasks that stymied you when you started to play are now effortless. Those skills are now so much a part of you that you don't even have to access them consciously. Nearly every time I encounter a new challenge in Rain, I fail it. I die. And it is SO frustrating! But the game doesn't stop there. I do it again. And again and again, until I've got it. I'd like to see our students "play college" in the same way, to absorb the rules as they go, trying and failing and trying again without fear and without penalty until they can't even remember what it was like not to know how to play the game. Posted by Sukey at 10:29PM (-07:00)

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A Better Learning Lifestyle and the Grammar of Education: A Treatis... Friday, October 18, 2013

(I love what she says at 1:17, classic student-view of what dual enrollment is). Did you know that our curricular standards at YC are actually quite low? I didn’t know either. Basically, as most of us know, we throw about five objectives on there (with no less than three and no more than about, ten, mind you) with a rushed rationale that basically boils down to the idea that the course will make the College money and BAM! your idea is now a course. In reality, effective instructional design is so much more than this. A well designed course deserves a complex and iterative process that entails such concepts as: task and learner analyses, problem definitions, need/goal and performance assessments, objectives, sequencing decisions, development decisions (i.e., do we have the technology/knowledge to pull off your idea), content decisions (i.e., facts, concepts, principles/rules, procedures, etc.), context decisions (problem based learning, real world situations, etc.), message design decisions and evaluation decisions (formative and summative). Our curricular mapping requirements are helping with the evaluation component, but many of these important aspects of designing an effective course/program are completely omitted from our process. This is one aspect of course design that is not controlled by state articulations and/or other state mandates, and subsequently, colleges across AZ are all over the board regarding what they require for a course to become a course. Some are stricter than us and some are, shudder at the thought, even less strict. Why does this point matter within a dual enrollment discussion? Here’s the rub, without adequate and official definition of what a course is, third parties who will deliver our content (e.g., dual enrollment instructors) are free to take a very liberal interpretation of our learning objectives and standards and our hands are tied when it comes to correcting them. Let’s take just one case in point—our objectives. We basically want to know just one thing when we write objectives here at YC, what is the learner able to do by the end of this course? When writing effective objectives, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s say that the objective is, by the end of the course students will be able to, “use formulaic expressions in written Spanish”. Sounds like something we might say, right? Well, in their well respected instructional design model,

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Morrison, Ross, Kalman and Kemp (2011) suggest that objectives should not only include what the learner should be able to do, but the level at which this should be performed and the context within which this performance should be showcased. When we just include the action verb and leave off the level of expertise and context, we leave our classes open to interpretation and suddenly a dual enrollment teacher accepts a student’s use of the only phrase he learned all semester, “¿dónde está el baño?” as evidence that the learning objective “formulaic expressions” has been mastered. Here, I might ask for an essay that would showcase “multiple formulaic expressions that would come up when you presented your friend to your family members last summer (past tense)”. Both of these instances “use formulaic expressions in written Spanish” but the level and context for these uses is very different. My level and context are much more advanced and suited to a college-level classroom and the dual enrollment instructor’s level and context are novice and suited to the classroom of high school students. Let’s take a step back. I think that level and context are very important in the dual enrollment debate. There are those that state that students can learn college content. That would be the “use formulaic expressions” part, but do they learn it at a college level? Do they learn it in a college context? For the first time in my life, I have become a dual enrollment instructor and I can safely say that the answer to this question is a resounding “no”! I guess, technically, I am a concurrent enrollment teacher. I teach a class that is composed of all high school students from the Arizona Agriculture and Equine Center High School (AAEC) and the class is offered on the PV campus. The students there are learning the content relatively well, but they are not learning at the same level and no-where near the same context as my other sections of SPA 101 taught here on campus. After hearing the horror stories of working with these students, I told myself resolutely that I would not change a thing when teaching them. If this is a college class, I’m going to teach them like college students. So that’s what I did. I teach an 8am 101 course, then a 10am 101 course, both here at YC, then I go out and teach at 1pm at PV with my AAEC students. Since I see these three classes back-to-back-to-back every T/R (sorry, I’m not going to let Banner’s idiotic system control me here, let’s label it, T/Th) it’s very easy for me to compare them to one another. I told myself, for a long time, that I would treat each of the sections exactly the same. It didn’t work. At about week 6, I was pulling my hair out with the AAEC students and I was amazed by the YC students. I currently have probably my best 8am class ever here at YC. Usually a number of 8am students drop out due to the sole fact that they didn’t realize an 8am class would be so hard to get up on-time for, so, soon they withdraw. That hasn’t happened to any of my students this semester and 9x9x25 Challenge

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I’m having a ball with them. Contrast that with my AAEC students. I tried to treat them like adults, but they couldn’t handle an “adult” context. For example, I always try to speak only Spanish in the classroom, the YC students rose to the challenge, the AAEC students giggled uncontrollably and couldn’t believe I was doing it. Another simple but everyday example: I often tell my adult students to turn to a partner and begin “telling him about what you wore to the last wedding you attended” to practice grammar and vocab within the context of spoken Spanish. My YCers turn and try their best with their partner, my AAECers turn to their partners and use only English to make jokes, call other members of the class names for the “slutty” apparel that they are wearing today and to fall out of their chairs. In my 7 years of teaching college, I have never once seen a student fall out of his/her chair, two weeks ago, I looked out into the dual enrollment audience, three students had “spontaneously” fallen out of their chairs and were laying on the ground, and the rest of the class was laughing uncontrollably, all within the context of a normal speaking activity. Occasionally, with great effort, I can squeeze some group work out of them, especially when their constant question, “are we turning this in?” is answered with a “yes” from me. (As a side note, in my college classes, I can probably count the number of times I’ve been asked, “are we turning this in?” on one hand [and this is usually because they want to know if they should work on an activity in their notebook or on a separate piece of paper]). Are they getting the content? Yes, probably (well, maybe, I’m not sure yet), but are they getting it at the level of my college classes, are they getting the content in an adult-real world context? H. E. double hockey sticks NO! So, I’ve lowered the level and I’ve made the context, not real world and applied (higher level of Bloom’s taxonomy)—like I do here at YC, and as I was taught to do in order to facilitate the most effective instruction in grad school—but abstract and simplified. I’ve made the class what I have always eschewed, recall driven and rote, same content, just recall and rote methodologies. This is the level and context that high school students can handle. Last week I talked about learning theory. High schools, and by association, dual enrollment classes, are still, unfortunately, employing a very behaviorist learning theory paradigm, despite our advances in learning theory. They look at the learning context as students who come to them like empty glasses and education fills them up with content. Simple brushes with content should add to the glass and begin filling it. Rote learning and recall driven methodologies are synonymous with behaviorism. I’ve been reading a great book lately called Visible Learning by John Hattie. He talks about the grammar of education. In my college classroom, the grammar of education is advanced learning theories, in a word, cognitivism, in which students use their advanced prior knowledge/life experiences and metacognitive strategies that they have honed over time through life experiences and education and they work together to negotiate meaning and coconstruct knowledge, integrating new concepts with previously acquired material. New content is fully integrated within the brain and shares links across many avenues of experience and becomes, in this way, very sticky—easily recalled, very meaningful, readily applied and very resistant to forgetting. This is the grammar of education in college. This is how we run our show, or how the way most of us run our show, and it’s the best way. It leads to real learning, effective learning, and love of learning as the neural network, within certain schemata, starts to expand, in some cases, exponentially. Student in college are used to this way of learning because they get it from their other college professors and it’s all around them. Some call this OEL or open ended learning. The locus of control rests with the learner and he/she thus feels empowered. This is our specialty. Some of our students struggle with it, especially if they are new to college and tainted by the behaviorist paradigms of high school (you know the type). But, that’s why 186

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we are college, we have fewer students than high school and smaller class sizes and we can take the time to slowly guide the learner to this new and better learning lifestyle. Even our “bell schedule” (or better put, lack thereof), exemplifies this open ended power in the hands of the learner. Contrast this with high school. Students are controlled by a bell schedule (stimulus and response), when it rings they move, when it stops ringing, they better be in their seats. High school educational grammar is behaviorist, for good reason. The locus of control in high school lies with the faculty and administration, students are told what to do and where to do it and when. The system of high school lends itself to behaviorism. HS students simply have less prior knowledge (and what prior knowledge they do have is usually greatly influenced by One Direction and Miley Cyrus and the like) to draw upon and within which new knowledge can be integrated. So, it’s just easier to treat them as if their prior knowledge does not exist and make them learn, through rote/recall methodologies, the new stuff that we need to fill their minds up with prior to the AIMS exams. Their own learning interests and motivations don’t matter, because there is very specific content (or core standards) that must be reached and they’ll have time to explore their own interests in college. The overworked high school faculty know there is a better way, but when they try to employ more effective learning paradigm driven activities they are met with many challenges, such as the short school period, the core standards that must be met, students that cannot handle a greater portion of the locus of control, reduced planning time (a dynamic constructivist activity takes lot more time than copying sentences from a white board) due to IEP meetings and faculty duties like babysitting the hallways. Perhaps the biggest reason is their lack of time. They see their students every day, five days a week, and all that is learned, pretty much, is expected to happen right there in the classroom. It’s hard to be constructivist five days a week for 8 hours per day! Students are not assumed to have responsibility over their own learning at home and are not given the responsibility of using dynamic web-tools. Many high schools are not even allowed, under most circumstances to require a computer’s use, as some students are assumed to not have access. Rather than going home with a headache each night, fighting these windmills, the dynamic high school teacher looks across the hall and sees quiet classrooms where students are dutifully copying sentences from the board and she figures that maybe her noisy interactive classroom is just not sustainable. She backs down and gives in to the behaviorist system. When I finally had enough, I made the switch myself. I now use the grammar of education that my high schoolers understand. I’ve gone behaviorist with them. I’ve lowered the level and context standards and now all they get is the same content that I offer to my other YC classes. Instead of standing in front of the class and describing a picture of their father in his work clothes, and fielding questions, in Spanish, about why he dresses that way as a veterinarian, now students are copying vocab items from the board and trying to write sentences that contain these items. The once noisy, hectic and migraine inducing class has now become quite. If you walked in you would see students dutifully doing what they do best, copying sentences and working within the grammar that they understand. When students are presented with this option, they readily accept it, they actual prefer it. They used to ask me, “how come you never give us worksheets to do?” now I give them worksheets. It’s the grammar they know and understand, and worst of all, it’s mindless, seat-time related (a time-honored tradition of high schools) and does not award achievement. In sum, I think that in many cases where, “getting the content” is important, like maybe in foreign language and probably in math, dual enrollment can work. I think that students 9x9x25 Challenge

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can probably, even through copying sentences, begin to understand our college content, but I doubt whether they can truly grasp the college level and context, and those are important. Think about math for a second. Everything that is taught in YC-math is also taught at the high school. Did you know that? Save, maybe, advanced calc classes and perhaps some stats classes or something, our product is pretty much given away for free in the public schools for high school students. It’s always been this way. But now, as you’ve noticed, dual enrollment has caught on, all over the U.S.

Public school administrators love the idea of touting their high school as college-prep and the addition of even one dual enrollment class can make this dream a reality. I don’t know who informed these principals about the fact that the algebra they teach and call Alegebra II is the same as what the colleges are calling College Algebra, but this realization has dangerous implications. Yes, the quadratic equation is the quadratic equation is the quadratic equation, and this concept is taught at the high schools, but as I mentioned above, we teach these contents in very different ways. Yet, high school principals now feel empowered to award their students college credit any and every time they brush up against content that is also taught in college. How far can we take this? We teach semi-colon use in college, should we award a high school student .25 college credits every time she uses a semi-colon correctly in a composition. How far down does this articulate? So in a system like this, how has the math department here survived for so long? After all, nearly everything they teach could be dual enrollment, couldn’t it? Yes, it could. As we know, math is surviving based on the fact that many students simply did not learn the required content in high school (surprise, surprise, ehem, behaviorism doesn’t work). So, they take it here as a refresher. Many students are dual enrollment students and don’t take math here, but math will always survive because there are lots of people who got GED’s that are re-enrolling and some people need higher levels of math than what they got in high school, etc. Nevertheless, the demographics of the YC math student have changed somewhat over the years, thanks to dual enrollment. Additionally, math is instantiated within the AGEC and so it is very robust. By the same token, so is English. Yet, ask the English faculty and they are not happy about the marketshare that dual enrollment occupies here at the college, nearly 43% of our English courses are now dual enrollment if my memory is correct. This is fine for math and English, they’ll survive regardless because everyone and their grandmother (especially if she wants to get her allied health degree) needs to take those courses, but what about courses on the fringes that offer dual enrollment? We are under increasing pressure to offer dual enrollment in foreign language here at YC. If you didn’t know, I am in a department of two. Jared Reynolds and I are the only full-time foreign language teachers at YC. We fall into the loathsome category of folks 188

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that have their content given away at the high schools, but as mentioned, in a different context and at a different level. Like math, we have students that come to us after extensive Spanish instruction at the high schools and yet, surprise surprise, they place into our beginning level course, SPA 101, on our placement exam. Hmm, guess they didn’t learn much in high school under the behaviorist big-brother context. Yet, the administration here at YC, despite our outright refusal, for the reasons mention above, has for all intents and purposes told us that, ‘we will be doing dual enrollment in Spanish’. This worries me. Students who need to take my class to actually learn some Spanish, will likely now, not take my class because what they didn’t learn in high school will now count on their college transcripts and they will totally bypass me and head straight to ASU upper division Spanish. This is okay to happen here and there in math, but in Spanish, how might this affect such a small division? I asked my colleague how dual enrollment was going at Mohave community college. She answered with one word, “growing”. When I asked how her on-campus classes were going, she answered with, “what on-campus classes?”. At Mohave, at least at the campus where my friend teaches, she mentioned that dual enrollment Spanish had completely replaced on-campus Spanish. No on-campus Spanish classes were offered and my friend now simply oversees dual enrollment. What would this look like in a larger market? One of the experts of the dual enrollment game is Rio Salado. Angela Felix teaches Spanish for them and oversees dual enrollment and as she is also mi amiga, I reached out to her and picked her brain. When I got on their website, I was surprised to see that Angela is the only full time Spanish instructor at Rio. I couldn’t believe it! How? Rio is so much larger than us and we have two? Nevertheless, I called her and she blew my mind. I asked her how many Spanish classes she teaches at Rio and she told me, that she teaches about five usually, a manageable number. “I just want to get a scope for this. How many dual enrollment instructors do you oversee in Spanish?” I asked. “Oh, it’s way down now, probably about half what it used to be. Rio was the only one that did dual enrollment before, but now the state has mandated that we break it up and now just about every community college in Maricopa does some. But I’d say that I oversee about 60 instructors, with some 8,000 FTSE per year.” Did you hear that? Eight thousand, for one person! I get maybe, 200 FTSE per year and I teach a lot. “How do you oversee all of that?” I asked, incredulous that she actually observes these folks. “Oh, I put a lot of miles on my car and I drive all over the valley.” Wow. One instructor overseeing 60 plus high school Spanish instructors operating under a behaviorist paradigm, trying to oversee college content designed for a dynamic cognitivist/constructivist classroom while, at the same time, teaching your own 5 courses and overseeing a herd of adjuncts at your own institution. One instructor, to guide 60 plus teachers in the process of improving themselves in order to teach more dynamically and interactively in an attempt to reach college-level standards for 8,000 students per year?!? That sounds like a recipe for success and effective teaching.

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Perhaps the worst part about dual enrollment, according to Angela, who is, despite everything, a big proponent of dual enrollment, is the fact that staffing considerations are also out of your hands. At the college we are very selective about whom we hire as adjuncts and even more so about whom we hire as full-timers, but at the high school, turn-over is rampant and two dual enrollment Spanish classes are on the books for the Spring, ‘so, despite the fact that our awesome Professor Salazar quit last semester to take a better job, we will fill the position with someone who is shadily credential-able and a horrible instructor’ and Rio can’t say a word about it. Like it or not, that horrible instructor, by course’s end, will be pumping out Spanish graduates complete with Rio’s stamp-of-approval. Angela mentioned to me that, at times, once dual enrollment starts, it tends to take on a life of its own in this way. I bet our English faculty never thought that nearly half of their classes would be taught off-campus in a dual enrollment environment, yet here’s the reality. If Spanish is forced to teach dual enrollment, it will grow, and Spanish and other foreign languages, will one day be gone here at YC proper. Why the pressure then? DE is obviously bad for students and bad for instructors, everyone knows that, then why? Search your heart young Skywalker, all along, you’ve known why—$. Both the College and the high school earn FTSE money (or whatever the high schools call their filled seat state attendance funds allotment is called), yep another gubernatorial double dip! We should feel dirty! You know Rio loves that extra 8,000 FTSE and heck, they might even award Angela a hefty stipend for her trouble, so you know she ain’t saying a word about the possible pedagogical drawbacks of the system. But wait, it gets worse. We only give our high school dual enrollment instructors some $900 per class. That’s right, they teach our content and we don’t even have the decency to give them real adjunct pay. Now I feel even worse. But, they also get their normal pay from the high schools (double dip #2), so they are often doing basically the same job that they’d be required to do anyway and now they get about $900 extra for their troubles, so you know that they ain’t saying a word either. Why don’t they teach here at YC as adjuncts?, you might ask. Because a course that they teach here is an addition to their normal working day. Yes, they get more money for it, but they also have to teach one extra class beyond their working load, so it’s a trade-off for them. So, what can be done in a department of two where mandated dual enrollment will soon blot you right off of the curricular map, well, here are some options that are actually good for students and don’t involve dual enrollment, yet they cater to prepared high schoolers that want to take our courses: --take an online YC class. --take a night or late afternoon YC class, following the normal high school day. --take an AP class that gives YC credit for real achievement (dual enrollment totally steals the thunder of a rigorous AP curriculum—what happened to the high school curriculum anyway? Don’t they want to teach the stuff that they designed instead of the stuff that I designed for them?—Yikes). --take a CLEP exam—if you can excel in college content, prove it! We have always had ways for students to prove their competency and CLEP is a reliable way to do it. --implement a greater collaboration with high schools in which 10 seats are saved for high school students motivated to take college classes.

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These are just a few options, if pressed, I’m sure that I could come up with some more. Finally, what about our psych and sociology courses and critical thinking and humanities courses? YC professors of these disciplines have looked on smugly when the likes of me complain about dual enrollment, because these courses have not been incorporated into the high school system . . . yet. Unlike math, these professors cannot find their content offered at the high school in any way shape or form. The first time students brush up against this content is in college, with good reason. As I’ve mentioned, content is one thing, and math content can probably be grasped at many different levels but context and level are not part of math’s learning outcomes and so dual enrollment programs skimp on the whole “college level” and “real world context” whenever they can, often through no fault of theirs, but as I mentioned, due to the system in which they find themselves. It is not possible to skimp on level and context in courses like “AIDS the Modern Plague” or “Human Sexuality” or even “Human Growth and Development”. This is because CONTEXT and LEVEL are very important aspects of these courses, and these aspects are built right into the learning outcomes themselves. I asked Dr. Jacobson why her sociology courses are never pushed out into the high schools and she said that “Are you serious, we talk about racism and sex and gender. You think they want that in the high schools?” Maybe not yet, but soon they will. This semester I had an interview with the principal at AAEC and he mentioned that next semester he would like to offer dual enrollment psych and sociology on M/W to offset the schedules of their “advanced students” who have Spanish on T/Th. Look out Jacobson, they’re coming for you! Learning the quadratic equation is one thing, but learning about human sexuality and their implication on society at large, is quite another. In courses where content is key (e.g., math, foreign language), dual enrollment barely sneaks by as it is, but in courses where context and level are key players, dual enrollment will flop. High school students simply can’t handle it! Don’t believe me? Perhaps you don’t remember your permissionslip-matriculated high school sex-ed courses then, complete with the snickering and dirty jokes. As mentioned, dual enrollment is an issue that we all must face, even the liberal arts gentry. We should be talking about it in articulation task forces and making shared governance proposals in faculty senate. Otherwise, what is our role in teaching lower division courses that house content that is already disseminated at the high school level? Last semester, at graduation, we had at least two students, maybe more, who graduated from AAEC and YC in the same month—many of their “college courses” were taught right there on the AAEC campus. I think that as a college, we have to assert our reason to exist. Otherwise, maybe our new college masterplan should include more YC campus shutdowns and a bigger allocation of funds for a future AAEC-Yavapai building. AAECYavapai, it has kind of a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Just be sure to watch where you step, they take the equine part very seriously out there. Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 01:19PM (-07:00)

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Yep, Once in a While a Not-So-Good Day Friday, October 18, 2013 Ugh – what do you do when your day just does not go the way you thought it would go? Even worse – what if your class does not go the way you want. As Sal Buffo blogged, in his Reminder from the Universe, sometimes it’s a good thing in retrospect to just let go. Okay, I get it, but for those of us always want to be in control, it may be a little more difficult. OK, I think none of us really blow it entirely, but when the technology ‘farts’, or we forget most of our notes – always across campus or left on the kitchen table – or the video blew up and you get totally off topic. Worse, students look at you like you’re from Mars, and have no clue as to what you are trying to tell them – it can be a little unnerving for the best of us. Here’s another scenario: the first half of students entering class tell you how confusing that last assignment was – they didn’t do it. So what to do? 1. Admit that some things are not controllable – most students probably liked being off topic a little, and that the discussion may have been more lively than normal. Stop and ask students if they have ever had any bad days. (Caution here – you may get some opinions on your assignments!) 2. Admit that others may have questions (comments) on that last assignment. Perhaps clarify what and how, and have the assignment orally that class. 3. Find the positive in the situation. Maybe that confusing assignment becomes the best discussion in class you have ever had. I asked students what I could do to turn this around, and if they would rather have an oral assignment – yep! After that, Voicethread was utilized, and I asked for more interpretation of the assignment. 4. Add some humor – not the self-deprecating sort, but maybe have others tell how they got out of a jam when having a not-so-good day (not ‘bad’). Not every day can be perfect. If you learned something about yourself or the world, consider it a good one. 5. Be flexible and don’t give up (frankly, you can’t until the end of the semester). The not-so-good day may turn into good days; days that you remember when things seem to not work and yet it become one of the best days. 6. Have faith in yourself. Truly, you know what to do, and you are not the only one that had one of those days. If it’s really not a good day, watch Rita Pierson’s TEDTalk. You’ll be inspired.

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The Structure of 9x9x25 Saturday, October 19, 2013 What is being done here could be what is happening in your courses. Work could be shared and reflected on in a public place. You know, like the internet. It could look more like you and less like Blackboard or some other boxed LMS. Because you chose to make it look like you want, you would have more “ownership” of it. You know, like your living room. You could have it around even after all your classmates/students had left. You now, like your resume. You could craft your own space and you could show to others and say, “This is what I do.” The Space The digital space is a WordPress blog with the FeedWordPress plugin. FeedWordPress is a syndication tool that allows the blog to go and get content from other blogs and add it to the blog, the Webletter in this case, as a post. The webletter is a domain I own and is hosted by BlueHost. The theme is a very minimal free theme and over the last five years we have not changed it much. The pages and rss feeds have remained more or less the same. We are trying for some strange minimalist branding…

I have seen a space like this one being used two times. One is in Lisa Lane’s amazing Pedagogy First class that she has been running for the faculty at MiraCosta Community College in California. The class is open to anyone who wishes to participate. It is a beautiful example of how the web can work as a learning environment. The other is the infamous ds106 that Jim Groom brought to the attention of the world a few years back. It uses the same structure of WordPress and FeedWordpress with numerous other features that I cannot create. Alan Levine, Tim Owens, and Martha Burtis have all had a hand in crafting the amazing ds106 space. The Rewards Everyone likes to be rewarded for what they do. A small token of appreciation or a big ol’ end of the year bonus, we all like to be acknowledged for our work in some way. Intrinsic rewards are not something that other people can control; it is up to each person to find those rewards all by their lonesome. The books were purchased by the Gift Center and the Viticulture t-shirts were provided by the Yavapai College Greater Verde Valley Foundation. The Ben and Jerry’s and the certificates were privately funded. The Faculty Focus stuff was provided by Mary Bart the editor at Faculty Focus. The flash drives were provided by TeLS. The lunch with the president was also provided by TeLS. The 9 Weeks x 9 Posts x 25 Sentences 9x9x25 Challenge

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That came from nowhere. I suppose there was some thought as to the length of the thing and how much could be expected without losing everyone. Thatcher had suggested making the sentence requirement 11 sentences. As a former English teacher I laughed. I am writing this during week four and so far there have been very few complaints about the length of the challenge or the length of the writing. We shall see what folks have to say nearer the end. The Open Web The writing is shared on the internet. Unlike Blackboard where we ask students to write and submit work, this open “internet” allows us to share with a broader audience. Audience is important in writing. Do we write differently if we know only our spouse will see what we have crafted? Do we a different amount of energy into work crafted for a global audience? There are differences. It happens that October is “Connected Educator” month and there is a very active hashtag on twitter (#ce13) for connecting with other places and educators. That was just coincidence. But I think we can leverage the audiences that the ‘Connected Educator” already has. For Next Year

We are discussing a “Race bag.” For those of you that enter races, particularly running races, you are familiar with the race bag and the goodies it contains. Some energy gel, some flyers about local businesses, some anti-rubbing gel, a t-shirt maybe, and some other vendor related stuff associated or not with running. Well, how about next year if you participate you get a “Challenge Bag” that has some useful items in it. One might be a “My Dog Ate My Blog Post” certificate. It could be used when you need to turn in your post late. How useful would that be? How about a really nice laminated sign for your office door that says, Ask Me About The 9x9x25 Challenge.” As I discussed in a previous post there are many options out there for connecting with vendors and things we can get. Whether we have the same rewards as this time, who knows?

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Other Institutions Doing the Same Thing? Just this week Northwestern Michigan College started a very similar challenge with their teachers. Pretty cool. Take a look. http://teaching.nmc.edu/?p=2236 Posted by Todd Conaway at 09:30AM (-07:00)

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No-Compete Clause Saturday, October 19, 2013 I ended my blog last week with the “glory-be” epiphany of discovering that if I assigned students to rate each others’ Blogs and Wikis (for points), they would have to read (and hang on) every single word posted by their classmates! (Well, that was the theory anyway ;-) My “Rate Your Classmates” assignment was a work-around to deal with a common issue that I’ve heard with online discussion boards: e.g., that students will only read a few posts -- the latest ones, with no replies -- and then respond only to those to earn their peer post credit. I wanted my students to read and covet every word of work submitted by their classmates (as we faculty do ;-) More importantly, I also wanted to set them up so they could provide meaningful feedback to their classmates (because doesn’t everyone want to hear, “out of everything I read, yours was most awesome!” ;-) So here are my actual assignment instructions: Rate Your Classmates’ Blogs: After the Chapter Blog deadline has passed, I’ll open up a survey assignment so that you may rank the top five Blogs for each chapter (yes, you may vote for yourself ;-) As part of this process, you’ll post substantive comments (four to six sentences, worth three points each) -- on the top three Blogs, according to you (and yes, you may comment on why yours is amazing ;-) To earn maximum credit, you'll need to copy/paste your substantive comments in your survey assignment to me (including the name of the student you posted them to) and then your remaining rankings, #4 through #10 (name only). The “top finishing” students will earn extra credit points: 10 points for the highest votegetter, 9 points for the second, 8 points for the third, 7 for the fourth, 6 for the fifth, and so on. My vote will be the final decider. Before I launch into the “interesting” feedback that I received on this assignment last week, let me disclose up front that I frequently pick up the odd adjunct teaching job here and there to “make ends meet.” (My previous career was in pharmaceutical re$earch. When I made a “quality of life” change and accepted a full-time community college teaching position, my annual income was one-third of what it had been in my previous life.) But at least I can feel that I’m contributing more good than evil to the world now ;-)) I must admit, I was feeling that this ranking system was a stellar new strategy -- THEnew strategy for all of my classes…but alas, as I discovered last week, not all of my students everywhere feel the same way ;-) Here is an excerpt from an actual email that I received last week from a student, enrolled in my Drugs and Society class (at an unidentified institution ;-) "My current GPA is 4.0 and I am very hard on myself. I feel this class curriculum is overwhelming for me at this time. The competing Wiki pages made me panic. My entire life I've had to compete in business. School is a place I do not want to compete for a number one spot. I think the need to be number one can actually cause substance abuse. I'd remove that from the course but you are obviously very talented and smart." Presidents Club - Top 2% USA <Insert Company Here> Realtor Ay yi yi eesh! Asking students to rate each other’s Wiki posts could drive someone to substance abuse? Wow. But even more wow, I think she was serious! Alas, we can’t make all students happy all the time… but she actually dropped my class because of this assignment (well that and she couldn’t figure out how to use the Mashup button, it was entirely too stressful, even with my video tutorial…) 196

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Given my work in the social sciences, I am highly sensitive to not creating undo stress for my students. In fact, I do agree with this student on one aspect of her concern, that yes, the “world” is competitive enough already. Even when we don’t ask for it, others will compete with us. And one needn’t look far to notice that snarkiness is in bountiful supply these days. We can’t control that…but we can control our reactions to it. Not to digress, but....I’m fascinated to hear water-cooler talk that rails against “trivial” concerns of the Great Unwashed, like reality TV and celebrity culture… as if gossiping about coworkers is somehow “better” and more elevated, a holier pursuit... Honestly, I didn’t envision the “Rate Your Classmates’ Wikis” as a competition. I just intended it be good clean fun. Seeing what others are doing/writing/posting, what matters to them, what they perceive to be meaningful, what’s happening in their worlds and how they string sentences together… much like this 9x9x25 blog experience … ;-)) Et vous? ### Posted by Dr. Karly at 12:16PM (-07:00)

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My Brain Is Full Saturday, October 19, 2013 A student walks into the classroom and seems somewhat distraught. She quietly sits at her desk waiting for class to begin. I look up and greet her and ask her how she is doing; “I’m doing OK, but sometimes I feel my brain is so full of stuff, it’s getting hard to remember everything.” This reminded me of a Far Side comic by Gary Larson of a student coming to class who has an exceptionally small head asking his instructor to be excused since his small brain reached its limit and was “full.”

Our brains consist of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or an ISB drive flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage. But the way we use ours brains today is much different compared to how we used our brains 100 years ago. The digital informational age we live in today has radically changed how we think, retain information and communicate with each other. The interlinking of humanity began with the emergence of language and now has progressed to the point where information can be transmitted to anyone, anywhere, and at the speed of light. We hear more and more about the global network, linking the billions of minds together in a single system. It’s beginning to sound more like our planet (Gaia) developing her own nervous system. The parallels between this global brain and the evolution of our own brain hold many similarities.

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The WWW, has become the repository for all human knowledge. Data is not located in any single place, but is distributed among tens of millions of host computers across the planet. There are many similarities in how the WWW and our brains function. A link on the hundreds of billions of pages on the web will call up some or associated page , just as human recall may take the form of a thought, a visual image, a sound, or some other modality, a link on the web may call up a text, images, sounds, video, or some combination of them. So what does this have to do with a student who claims their brain is too full to learn anything else? Well, it not about not having enough memory to remember things, but it may actually be the inability at times to process excessive amounts of information presented in this technological world due to lack of learning how to use more effective memory skills. Early studies showed that people could remember a lot, but it was assumed that we did it by remembering abstract descriptions without too many details, but given the right setting, the human brain can record an amazing amount of information. Remembering details becomes more effective when conscious reminders are given. Telling a student to actively try to remember details and giving them familiar examples which draws upon their previous memory or understanding reinforces memory and promotes more learning. Like the computer which relies on semblances of information, so does our brain. To prove this in the classroom, I give students a simple memory exercise. I display 20 random objects on the projected screen and give students 1 minute to memorize all 20 objects displayed. Most students remember about half of the objects shown and seem disappointed in the results. I then instruct the students to make up a story for the next different 20 objects shown on the screen and see if their memory improves. Most students are able to remember the 20 objects with 80% to 90 % accuracy. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the ability to draw from our own experience and associations that our memory relies on.

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Yes, technology has changed the way we live, communicate, and learn, but equally important, technology has changed the way we think. The notion of how we develop more effective learning skills and how we can expand our memory may be in our in our understanding of how technology is creating what some refer to as “The Global Brain.” Just where this digital revolution will take us is up for discussion. Let’s remember that just 15 years ago when the WWW was just starting, no one realized the impact it would have on human society. Yet today we are able to see the changes it has already made in our world. As we encourage our students to learn and think for themselves, synthesize information and form new associations, let’s not forget this is what technology should support and we as educators should apply this technology knowing it will affect not only our students, but teaching as a whole

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Thank Goodness We are Finished With Chemistry Sunday, October 20, 2013 We’ve discussed science, practiced interpreting charts and graphs, looked at atomic structure and chemical bonding, and studied the synthesis and properties of biological molecules. Students: “Thank goodness, we are finished with chemistry!” Me: “We are not finished with chemistry.” Chemistry is one of the most important topics a student will learn. It builds bodies of all species, drives environmental systems, gives us our genetic traits, explains the transmission of disease, and is involved with, well, everything. Students: “But I can now finally identify with biology because we are now discussing whole organs.” (Substitute “animals” or “plants” according to the course.) What is it about the little, invisible parts of the world that can baffle students? These ubiquitous particles run everything with beautiful simplicity. Take muscle contraction. The action of muscles results from an interplay of ions. Movement of sodium and potassium ions initiates the electrical impulse stimulating muscle contraction. Calcium ions are indispensable for the contraction itself. Can students appreciate the ions given they move muscles, something that is visible and can be experienced first-hand? I am working on it. And then there are the hydrogen and hydroxide ions with their role in acidity or alkalinity of solutions in organisms and ecosystems. Certain concentrations of tiny hydrogen ions (simple protons, actually) make lemons sour and bleach slippery, and more importantly, disrupt enzyme action or change the shape of plant pigments. Can students appreciate these ions given they can be sensed? I am working on it. Most people are unfamiliar with thinking about the abstract physical world. Some really resist thinking this way. It is a new way of thinking. In Einstein’s early scientific career (first decades of Twentieth Century), the atomic nature of life was still being argued. For most of our existence as a species humans only had our senses—vision mostly—to interpret the world. That dimension is very limited. Does it follow that we are abstractly (non-visually) recessive. Gregor Mendel in his classic monohybrid cross might refer to this phenomenon as the visual perception of the world dominating the abstract perception of the world and the abstract perception receding behind the visual perception. Both perceptions are, however, present and available to us. Abstract concepts can be foreign, difficult and/or incomprehensible (fill in other descriptors or “I just don’t think that way!”) and, at the same time, important and necessary to appreciate a particular mechanism or to make a decision about our bodies and the environment. Learning is diluted without honoring the particles that control all the systems around us. Oh, I am not asking students to understand them, but simply trust in their existence and power and, perhaps, enjoy a sense of wonder while studying science. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 09:45AM (-07:00)

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Moving the Statue Sunday, October 20, 2013

Read through the 9x9x25 archives (yes, we’re big enough to have archives now -woot!) and you’ll notice several blogs devoted to the composition and aesthetics of learning spaces. These posts offer apt reminders on the psychology of setting and nicely provoke instructors into taking more ownership of their surroundings –the ultimate goal being an atmosphere more conducive to teaching and learning. However, how can we translate these important considerations to online courses, where we have little or no control over the given locale? The first and most obvious step in this direction is to design attractive, intuitive, and effective dashboards using our LMS or website of choice. Erin Whitesitt (yes, a shameless family plug) has already offered a fine blueprint in this regard, yet I often find myself worrying about the bigger picture. As an English major, I was trained to evaluate context, and as an English professor, I’m haunted by the unknown compositions surrounding my lessons online. When a student logs onto Blackboard, what lies beyond and around that little rectangle of learning, informing, supporting, or undermining my instruction? My greatest fear is that it’s this:

Now, before addressing this den of depravity, I want to travel back several thousand years to the ancient Greek Festival of Dionysus. Likely no event in history better evinces the importance of ritual and symbolism better than the Dionysia, the progenitor of all Western theater and drama. And though we could spend a great deal of time discussing the significance of this toga party, let’s focus just on its initiation. Several days prior to the holy fete, an acolyte would carefully remove the sacred statue of Dionysus from the 202

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temple. Then, on the first day of the festival, in what was known as the pompē, the citizens of Athens would march the statue back to the temple on the Acropolis in a ceremonial procession. Due to their historical prevalence, such religious activities don't strike us as odd, but consider that the sole reason for the statue's removal was just so that it could be returned again. There is no logical impetus for such an action, but there are deeply important social and psychological purposes behind the ritual movement. What does this have to do with learning? When a student attends college in a traditional classroom, he/she travels through multiple ceremonial spaces that lend significance to what is about to take place. He leaves the comforts of home, jockeys through the streets of society, and arrives on campus. The campus itself is a location that denotes learning via its unique physicality. Despite sharing traits with many other large collections of buildings, it cannot be mistaken for a hospital or governing complex. It is quickly and easily identified as a college, and as the student steps into this space, she is subtly prepared, through a lifetime of conditioning, to begin learning. This preparation is heightened when she arrives at her specific destination. This is my Sociology 101 classroom, her mind and body tell her. This is where I learn about sociology. Looking around she sees other students operating under the same geographical mindset. Although they may fiddle with their phones, or talk with their neighbor, they are in a dedicated space historically and culturally prepped for learning and new ideas. This truth is telegraphed by each of the five senses.

Sadly, this is not the case with online learning. With the click of a button, a student can move from Facebook, Netflix, or worse, pornography, to my English 101 course. How can such a casual juxtaposition not subtly devalue education? Lacking all locomotion, there is no physical reinforcement of change, and there is no demonstrative spatial indicators that states “learning is afoot.” Instead, the student is surrounded (most often literally) by all of the comforts of home, and although that picture of grandma and those footie pajamas may feel good, research supports the notion that we often learn best when we are on the edge or even slightly outside our comfort zone. There is a social aspect to this as well. While a student may hesitate to rail against the “liberal agenda” or to denigrate “all them feminist” in a physical classroom (where an accepted atmosphere of civility and professionalism generally reigns), that same student will feel far less restraint in his own bedroom. Whereas a college campus supports and encourages progressivism and new ideas, our homes and personal effects, even our family members, generally cast a conservative aura: this is who I was, this is who I am, and this is who I will be. Such an environment lends itself to intransigence, and, coupled with even a notional anonymity (Ha! You can’t see my face!), sometimes results in troll-like behavior. Add to this the typical distractions of being at home (crying children, blaring televisions, annoying siblings/roommates, the smell of dinner, the lure of that Playstation) and the result is not exactly an immersive learning space. In other words, there is no sacred temple. 9x9x25 Challenge

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So what can we do about this? Well, to some degree, nothing. When teachers talk about the indefinable â&#x20AC;&#x153;magicâ&#x20AC;? of the classroom, they are partly alluding to what I have discussed above. No matter how far online education advances, it will never be able to fully replicate the physical act of moving through space in order to gather in a ritualized location to engage in something as a group. Humankind has been doing this for thousands of years, with varying motivations, and with powerful results. However, online education is not going to disappear, and so we need to seek out ways to improve the medium. I encourage my students to develop dedicated work times and spaces even for their online courses. The coffee shop or the attic may not be as conducive as the classroom, but over time they can come to mirror some of the same associations. Todd Conaway argues that we should send our online students on field trips. Regardless of how we do it, we need to develop new and innovative ways to move the statue. What are your ideas? Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 11:20AM (-07:00)

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What’s More Important; What We Teach, Who We Teach, Or Ho... Sunday, October 20, 2013 At a recent Articulation Task Force Meeting for Elementary Education, it was brought to our attention that one of the state universities, in light of the new Common Core State Standards, will be changing some of their Elementary and Secondary Education Degree graduation requirements. For the community colleges, this meant re-articulating two courses. But the catch was, only one of the three state colleges wanted this change; the other two wouldn’t accept the new courses yet.

With close inspection, it was realized that the learning outcomes for the new courses weren’t all that different from the current courses; in fact, even the wording was very similar. In the world of ‘Common Core’ teaching, we place so much emphasis on what we teach that we often forget the importance lies more in how we teach. It’s much simpler, and time effective, to adapt our teaching strategies rather than to re-articulate courses on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to revisit our course content on a regular basis to ensure it’s marketability and relevance. However, that shouldn’t hold us back from considering how we teach the material. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Most people don’t realize that Common Core is actually simpler than the old state standards; there are fewer standards but they leave more room for interpretation, which makes standardized testing quite difficult. It is a shift in thinking about what and how we teach, but it doesn’t turn the previous model on it’s head by any means. As teachers, we get so hung up on the details; I think it’s time to stop and ask ourselves whats really important. Knowing the content of our courses is imperative, but what’s the use in knowing what we are teaching if we still can’t teach it? The push for higher standards and more critical thinking should inspire teachers to revisit their pedagogical foundations and adjust accordingly. We can’t continue to teach how we’ve been teaching, even if we are still teaching what we’ve always taught. And, at the same time, we can’t change what we teach, but not change how we teach, and expect better results. And, to throw in another variable, shouldn’t who we teach be considered? Do we always take the time to adapt our content to the students that are in them? Lisa Delpit in ‘Other People’s Children’ argues that who we teach, not necessarily what we teach, should determine how we teach. She believes that some students of color may 9x9x25 Challenge

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need direct instruction more than the open-ended, whole child, process-type approach that most pre-service teachers are trained in. So, I leave you with this thought: be sure to value, utilize and update the learning outcomes for your courses; they are important. But donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let them drive how you teach. Consider letting who you teach, in addition to pedagogically sound strategies, determine how you teach. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let the learning outcomes of your courses limit the potential you have to inspire students and encourage them to think critically. Posted by Tara Oneill at 11:20AM (-07:00)

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Reading, Writing and Rrrr…eality Sunday, October 20, 2013 "The majority of Arizona high-school graduates’ scores on two popular collegeadmissions tests — the ACT and the SAT — indicate that the students are ill-prepared for college and would likely need to take remedial classes once there, according to reports from the groups responsible for administering the tests. Of the more than 31,000 Arizona high-school seniors who took the ACT last year, only 21 percent stand a strong chance of earning a C or higher in first-year college courses related to math, science, English and reading, according to one report." Karen Schmidt. Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic--the three basics that have been the foundation of our education. All three have been affected in interesting ways with the advent of technology. I will leave the math instructors to address the impact of calculators and computerized math programs on their field. We college English instructors are dealing with the impact of the Internet and technology upon reading and writing. Yes, students are actually reading and writing more than was predicted at the advent of the technology. However, the nature of both has changed drastically. We saw this in the essays written for our composition classes for several years. When texting first became available through the number pads on those old cell phones, we read many essays using "i", "cuz", and many other abbreviated words. I still have a copy of an email that I had trouble deciphering because of the text-speak used. The development of those small keyboards helped because most students returned to typing whole sentences instead of chopped up phrases. Now smart phones automatically capitalize the first letter after a period for those people who can't be bothered or, in the case of some of our students, may not know that is how you begin the next sentence. Student writing is also impacted by the fact that texting and Facebook encourage short messages. As a result, students facing academic discourse must adjust to writing longer "text" that reflects more complex thinking. This only comes with practice, practice, practice--something most of our students have not had enough of when they enter our classrooms. What has affected writing has also affected reading. Students are not accustomed to reading longer text. Since their technological world is adapted for short, quick reads, they are losing the attention span for sustained reading of longer paragraphs and multiple pages of text. And they assume that the reading skills they use for the Internet and texting are sufficient for academic text. As a reading instructor, my main learning outcome for students beyond the stated learning outcomes of my courses is to strengthen this attention span for longer interaction with text. Because of this, I want to use books and readings that will grab the attention of my students. If I can get them to re-discover the joy of reading, I can reach that outcome. Thus, I must be very careful about the material I choose. I am always looking for new books to use in my reading classes that will engage my students in ways that will prepare them for this sustained attention. For ENG 082 and 083, I have to be very careful about the reading level because I want the book to challenge the students without discouraging them. Thus, I seek out books that they will find interesting and approachable. Once I find a book, I design my assignments to encourage students to become active readers. One book I have used is October Sky by Homer Hickham, a great selection because his memoir focuses on his high school experiences--some humorous, some sad, some 9x9x25 Challenge

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inspirational, and some touching. Every student can compare his or her teenage years to Hickham's. Because of this, I have been able to design the reading responses to be both personal and interactive with each new section of the reading. Rather than asking short answer questions about content, I ask students to write two detailed paragraphs. In the first paragraph, they give their reactions to the reading: Was anything surprising or unexpected? Did they find the section boring or interesting? For the second paragraph, I have them interact with content specific within the chapters. Sometimes they are asked to compare their experience to Hickham's. Other times, they might compare their education to that of the 1950s. This allows them to bring in their own knowledge and experience while showing me that they indeed read the assignment.

A book I am using for the first time this semester is Havana Real by Yoani Sanchez, an award-winning blogger out of Cuba. My motivation for this choice came from reading Generation on a Tightrope by Arthur Levine, et al. In this compilation of survey and interview results from current college students, the authors conclude that this generation is globally more aware but internationally ignorant. When I found Havana Real, I was attracted to the short, personal blogs of a woman who chose to return to Cuba in hopes of bringing about change. The added benefit is that she is still actively blogging whenever she can, so my students can read what she is currently posting. Through Sanchez, I and my students are learning about daily life in a Communist country while making a personal connection to the author. My students can view the inside of a country that they have only known before through history books. With the added benefit of technology, students can also view YouTube videos of Sanchez, read blogs by other Cubans, and research Cuba with the motivation to learn personally. And they are being challenged by the courage and audacity of this woman, and her fellow bloggers, who dares to speak across the Internet. As a result, not only are my students getting hooked on active reading and proactive research, they are also becoming more aware of the ordinary people living in other countries. As with October Sky, the reading responses ask for personal interaction with the text and critical thinking about the content. I tell my student throughout the semester three important results from active, habitual reading, the kind in which the student becomes immersed in our written language: â&#x20AC;˘ The more you read, the better you read. I am convinced this is why most of my students test into ENG 082 or 083. Our culture does not encourage reading for pleasure. Most students will confess to their loss of reading pleasure around seventh

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or eighth grade. Part of this is the educational shift in these grades to more nonfiction such as textbooks; part of this is because this is when the students' lives get filled with other time options such as sports, video games, etc. â&#x20AC;˘ The more you read, the better you write. This was the conclusion of my research for my Masters degree. The premise is that fluency in any language requires immersion in the culture. Students who learn a language through grammar drills, test really well, but lack fluency in speaking. Students who are immersed in the language, usually by moving to the country, speak fluently even though they may not test well on specific grammar functions. This same principle holds true for reading and writing. The more students immerse themselves in our written language through reading, the more fluently they will be able to express their ideas through writing. Thus, trying to teach students to write better without having them read will be a very slow learning process. This is why some colleges are now moving toward combining developmental reading and writing into one course. â&#x20AC;˘ The more your read, the better you think. We humans are wired to interact in very interesting ways with words on a page. This activity actually develops our ability to think critically, even from childhood. For example, in Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think and What We Can Do About It by Dr. Jane Healy, a chapter discusses the importance of reading for children. Reading stories during a certain age range promotes imaginary thinking, a stage which is vital to later development of critical thinking. If children watch the movie (Thank you, Disney!) instead of having the book read to them, this imaginary thinking is not developed in the same way in the brain. But all is not lost if a child is never read to, as long as that child develops into an avid reader later. None of this comes from the passive activity of the eye tracking words across a page. Yet how many of our students think that this is all that is necessary to get those reading assignments done? Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic: 12+ years of education to prepare students for college. Technology has changed the lives and habits of our students, but it does not prepare them for the expectations of college learning. Many are shocked to discover how much of college learning is expected to take place within the pages of written text. They will continue to balk at the reading until they become engaged in the subject and until they can sustain the attention for longer texts. "According to a similar annual report on the SAT, Arizona high-school seniors who took the test last year scored an average of 1498 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; below the benchmark of 1550 that predicts students will achieve grades of a B- or higher in their first year of college. Students who meet the benchmark are more likely to earn a higher GPA in their first year of college and more likely to graduate, according to the SAT report." Karen Schmidt

Posted by ENG 140 at 06:27PM (-07:00)

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Becoming the Guy on the DVDs of dotcomYOGA Monday, October 21, 2013 This post appears at dotcomyoga.com Ever since my initial thoughts of dotcomYOGA, in 2002, and teaching the online Yoga course for Tidewater Community College (TCC), I always wanted to be the guy on the DVDs that the students followed. However, during early 2000, this concept was not as easy as it is today, or at least, didn’t seem as easy. Many times, I looked into creating professional Yoga DVDs while living in Tallahassee, so I could be the guy on the DVDs. However, the video studios where charging an arm and a leg to create professional Yoga DVDs. I even looked into creating them myself: buying my own professional camera, a wireless mic, lights and all, but professional equipment was just too expensive. And in all honestly, the concept of just amateur Yoga videos did not even seem as doable in early 2000 as it does today, at least to me it didn’t. Then in 2008, during a TeLS’s Winter Institute, making Yoga DVDs seemed more doable. In 2008, I was hired by Yavapai College (YC) as fulltime HPER faculty. And during my first year, I attended my first TeLS Institute at YC. I took a workshop with YC’s video guy, Thatcher Bohrman. At the time, I didn’t know Thatcher was the video guy nor did I take the workshop because it was about videoing. Actually, I don’t even think it was about videoing, but regardless, I took the workshop, and during the workshop, somehow, and I don’t remember exactly how, it became clear that this guy Thatcher was the guy to know if I wanted to create Yoga videos for a future online Yoga course for YC. So after the workshop, I introduced myself to Thatcher, and we talked briefly about the possibility of creating Yoga videos for an online Yoga course at YC. I explained how I teach an online Yoga course in Virginia using commercial Yoga DVDs. I explained that I wanted the Yoga videos to be of me as the guy on the DVDs. And, in short, Thatcher agreed to make the videos. However, it took close to two years later to eventually have my dean, at the time, give me the OK to bring my online Yoga course to YC, and it was with one stipulation. I could not have student’s purchase any material for the course, which included commercial Yoga DVDs, and this one stipulation forced me to be the guy on the DVDs of dotcomYOGA. Posted by Charles Lohman at 08:34AM (-07:00)

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World War “V”: Effectiveness vs. Efficiency Monday, October 21, 2013 Apologies to Brad Pitt and a million or so zombies. But something has been stirring in my gut the past few years, and I think now I know what it is. It’s not that new, but it may be reaching a crescendo. ”V” in the case is not for “Vendetta,” but for “Values.” Every action—especially organizational action—is decided on (whether we realize it or not) based on some value: That idea which we believe is more important than others. In the past couple of decades, Higher Education (at least it seems to me) has crossed a line. We have moved from a system we believed was to be based on “effectiveness” to one who’s prime directive is “efficiency.” Let me explain.

Efficiency has to do with production over time. It’s about getting the most of something—like credits, students or money—in the shortest period of time. In fact, an almost unqualified belief in efficiency has as its corollary that anything of value can be quantified. A measure, statistic, metric or number can capture the “essence” of the thing. And, if a digit can’t be attached to that “thing,” then those holding a strong belief in efficiency question aloud if there is really anything valuable (at least in the “real” measurable sense of the term) about that activity. Or that if the number is “good,” it MUST be valuable. Effectiveness , on the other hand, is about whether a thing is done with —if, in the execution of that thing, we get what we want with the level of results and satisfaction we desire. Quantity is less important than quality. But effectiveness is much more subjective and difficult to measure than efficiency. There are more “human elements” when looking at effectiveness, because by its very definition its measurement is dependent on a goal which most of the time is not clearly or exclusively numeric. I’m not a statistic hater—in fact, I teach statistics from time to time. Numbers aren’t evil or bad. But any quantitative measurement, while clarifying one thing, obscures the other characteristics of the thing we are considering. Metrics tell part of the story, but not the whole story. The Achilles’ heel of quantification is that it whatever we are thinking about into a single term. Of necessity, other facets are left out. Metrics can be useful, but they don’t measure everything—especially when it comes to determining how effective something is. Higher education, it seems to me, is being driven more by the efficiency than effectiveness. Numerous examples come to mind, but let me share just three. Online Courses: In a conversation this weekend, I was talking to a fellow faculty member who is pursuing a doctorate in Instructional Technology. She used the phrase “robust negative findings” to describe the effectiveness of much online education. Again, not all online education is inappropriate or ineffective. One thing we can say for sure is that it is wildly efficient! But consider this: In the past year, we have heard from multiple student groups that they desire more face to face courses than online. Yet, there are key courses for several of our degrees that are not even available face to face. Students don’t have the option to take it in person even if they wanted to! In the past few weeks, several students have expressed frustration at being “forced” to take online classes because a classroom version isn’t available. They said things like, “I finished the class, and I got an A, but I don’t feel like I really learned what I needed to.” If students want face to face classes, why do we refuse to offer them (or enough of them)? The answers are legion, but none that I have heard really address “effectiveness” adequately.

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Dual Enrollment: Clearly, this is about “efficiency”—getting the most credits so I can get the credential (the degree, meaning the piece of paper) in the least amount of time. So we “double dip” high school and college credits. (See Curtis Kleinmans’ 9x9x25 blog last week, “A Better Learning Lifestyle… “ for an excellent firsthand account and critique of dual enrollment.) With all we know about educational psychology, learning, social and emotional development, why do we insist that this is good pedagogy and good for students? The answer: It’s efficient. It makes money. And we value efficiency, above all. [Please note: Some high schoolers are ready for college, and that’s why they can concurrently enroll at YC. But don’t confuse concurrent enrollment (college content at college level on the college campus taught by college instructors) with dual enrollment!] Information Technology: Computers and all our digital technology are wonderful tools—but they are only tools, UNTIL the “technological tail” starts wagging the “pedagogical dog.” Again, we could come up with many examples, but I will select one—the limitations put on being clear about course offerings in Banner (or at least that is what we are told). Take a look at how hybrid classes are formatted in our schedules. Every semester, students show up (or not, because the descriptor of the combination of “online” and “classroom” is absolutely confounding), complaining that this is NOT what they signed up for (although we who understand the “code” INSIST that it is indeed exactly what they subscribed to). We have been told that Banner “can’t” make it any clearer, so this is what we (and more importantly, our students) are stuck with. However, this claim is only a half truth. Banner—AS WE HAVE PURCHASED IT—can’t do it better. But, if we would choose to pay for some additional “programming,” we could make it say exactly what we wanted. I know—I was part of the groups that previewed this product BEFORE we purchased it. But, it is EFFICIENT (but absolutely ineffective) to list our courses this way (read: it doesn’t cost any more to do it this way). So, we “settle” for confusing students (and even blaming them for not being able to figure out technical lingo that most faculty have troubled deciphering!). Ah, but (you say), can’t we have both efficiency and effectiveness? SURE, in an ideal, theoretical world that would be so nice. Who wouldn’t want MORE of a GOOD THING? But in the real world of human lives and values, we must prioritize one over the other, even as we strive for both. Either efficiency or effectiveness will drive the bus. Excuse my verbosity this week, but this issue is MUCH MORE than “academic.” Because we value efficiency over effectiveness, student learning gets compromised. There, I said it. We run “scared” of Rio Salado and Grand Canyon University, because if we don’t join the “hit parade” with more and more online courses and dual enrollment, “they” will get the numbers. Really? Are most of our students that driven? Sure, a few will migrate to other institutions, but—and we need to really pay attention to this—OUR STUDENTS DO TRUST US! They believe we have their best interests in mind; that we want to deliver an EFFECTIVE educational product. But, what do we REALLY value? Posted by Mark Shelley at 08:57AM (-07:00)

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What I have learned about teaching and learning from Athletics Monday, October 21, 2013 With over 25 years of my professional life involved in Athletics I have come to realize that what happens between a coach and the team closely resembles what is happening between faculty and their students. So here are some of my observations from Athletics that have implications for Teaching and Learning. Objectives, Goals, MissionSuccessful coaches and teams have a crystal clear, undiluted and unwavering understanding of what their objective is. They are to compete against a competitor and win, each and every time. They talk about it before each practice, each contest, day in and day out, week in and week out. In the locker room there is a sign posted in a conspicuous place where all can see their progress. Everything they do has a connection to their ultimate goal. Implications for LearningStudents should be aware of what the course goals are; are they frequently reminded that what they are learning will have an impact on their next assignment, quiz, test, final grade and degree. Do students get the connection between the class they are in and how it contributes to their preparation for a career, education and their own contribution to society? Do we help them make those connections? PracticeThere is a cliché that states; “practice makes perfect”, which many coaches have modified to state; “perfect practice makes perfect”. Coaches realize that it is a waste of time and effort if a practice is unorganized, and aimless, with athletes just going through the motions. Successful coaches have a practice plan with activities planned down to the minute. The purpose of practice is to mimic the conditions of the competition. If they don’t see the intensity and engagement necessary to improve skills, then often the practice is halted to “realign expectations”. Implications for TeachingAs instructors do we plan each class session down to the minute so that each student stays engaged? Are there some class sessions where our students are just going through the motions? One of the concepts commonly associated with success is ‘student engagement”. Should we call a timeout in the middle of class when we observe students starting to “disengage” to “realign expectations” ? Do we use each class session to disseminate more content and then test or are there times where we can review and allow students time to practice what they have learned? CoachingSuccessful coaches develop a rapport with each athlete; they know their strengths and weaknesses. Some practice sessions are designed to strengthen and improve

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weaknesses, giving the athlete confidence to perform. Years later athletes can look back and describe their various coaches with vivid memories, with some describing that they would have run through a wall if asked. Great coaches are masters at motivation; the great John Wooden has been widely praised by psychologists at his mastery of using sophisticated methods that for coach Wooden were adapted from years of coaching, which produced unparalleled success. Implications for TeachingLike great coaches, great teachers are remembered years later for the interaction and relationship they developed with their students. Developing a rapport with each student should be the goal. Being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of students can greatly aid in their learning. Knowing how to motivate a student who is challenged can aid them in â&#x20AC;&#x153;getting over the humpâ&#x20AC;?. I have additional observations that have application, and may share those at another opportunity.

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Attention! Monday, October 21, 2013

As I described before, John Medina plans his lectures around four principles. 1. Emotions get our attention. 2. Meaning before details. 3. The brain cannot multitask. 4. The brain needs a break. With these in mind, he plans each class meeting in ten minute segments. That is about the maximum amount of time that the brain can pay attention before it wanders off on its own. This ten minute segment covers one core concept. The core concept is chosen so that it can be fully explained in one minute. Then the other nine minutes in the segment may be used to explain how the detail relates to the core concept in simple, direct way. By making direct connections with the core concept often, the brain does not have a chance to start asking, “What is the point?” or “How is this useful?” Pondering these questions while trying to pay attention to the lecture is multitasking…we need the learners to avoid this type of behavior. When the meaning is provided in the first minute followed by details, the brain is able to build a hierarchical structure of the core concept. The brain want to know why and segments give it exactly what it wants. Constantly providing the connections helps the brain to stay focused on the lecture.

Once a segment is complete, Medina needs to get the attention of his students again. Their attention is dropping rapidly. Simply continuing the lecture would be like talking into a a two way radio I found on the side of the road. It seemed to work when I turned it on. 9x9x25 Challenge

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But if the another two way radio is not turned on and on the right channel, anything I might try to communicate would be lost. As Medina says in Brain Rules,

What do they need? Not more information of the same type. That would be like geese choking on the food with no real chance to digest. They also don’t need some completely irrelevant cue that breaks them from their train of thought, making the information stream seem disjointed, unorganized, and patronizing. They needed something so compelling that they blast through the 10-minute barrier and move on to new ground-something that triggers an orienting response toward the speaker and captures executive functions, allowing efficient learning. Medina uses “emotionally competent stimuli” or ECS to hook his students into another 10 minutes of attention. His hooks have the following characteristics. 1. Hooks trigger emotion. 2. Hooks are relevant. 3. Hooks go between segments. Using these characteristics, he is able to keep the attention of his students through a 50 minute lecture. A neurologist like John Medina has a wealth of interesting information at his disposal. Everybody has a brain! Everybody is interested in how it works and how it can work better. But mathematicians have their work cut out. In many classes, we hear students every semester say, “I have never been good at math.” It is as if they are making excuses before they even get started. I employ a flipped classroom where students do a lot of work outside of class. This opens up the lecture time in class to more active forms of learning. Students are often reluctant to participate and prefer their zombie learner roles over active roles in the classroom. Since these active forms of learning are based on Medina’s Brain Rules, I use Medina’s Brain Rules as a hook. This is what motivated me to look for the “tells” I mentioned earlier.

Many of the 10 minute segments I have students participate in amount to what I call collaborative board work. Using an online homework system, I am able to diagnose what topic they are having trouble with prior to class. In class, I send the students to the white board in groups to do similar problems. Working together allows students to make 216

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mistakes and correct them in a nonjudgemental forum. It also follows Brain Rule #1, “Exercise boosts brain power.” Working at the board forces students to move around in the classroom…it is what Medina calls “cognitive candy”. Let me give you an example of one of my favorite ten minute segments and the hook Iuse to introduce it. I start by handing out the worksheet below. • Verizon Rates Worksheet As I hand it out, I ask how many of them have a wireless phone through Verizon. In most classes, a good half to three-quarters of the class have Verizon phones. If so many people use Verizon, would it make sense that Verizon might be a good investment? Generally a lot of the students nod their heads in agreement. At this point, I have peaked their curiosity and I talk a little bit about owning stock in publicly traded companies. before you invest, you must analyze the company’s corporate reports to ensure the company is growing leading to dividends or increasing profits. Verizon’s growth is dependent on the growth of its revenues and the number of customers. This worksheet let’s you calculate the rate at which revenue and subscribers is growing over time.

On the first page, students are given instructions in red to help them calculate the appropriate changes in revenue and time. Usually they ask if this is like calculating slope and I say “Yes!” After a few minutes, they have filled out the first two pages of the worksheet. I often assign different time periods to different groups. From 2006 to 2008, the revenue and number of connections are increasing (the rates are positive).

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Now letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look at 2008 through 2011.

The revenue and connections are still increasing, but now they are increasing even faster. The revenue went from 5.65 billion dollars per year to 6.97 billion dollars per years. The corresponding numbers of connections are also getting biggerâ&#x20AC;Śgoing from a rate of 6.5 million connections per year to 11.9 million connections per year. Is Verizon starting to look like a good investment? The revenue is growing faster and faster and the connections are growing faster and faster. Call my broker! But this is not the whole story. Now I have the students calculate the rate at which revenue is changing as the number of connections changes. Here are the numbers they get.

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Over 2006 to 2008, revenue is changing with respect to connections at a rate of 0.869 thousand dollars per connection or $869 per connection. This means each additional connection increases revenue by $869. That seems like a reasonable number considering how much each of us spends per month on our wireless bill. But over the following period, 2008 through 2011, each additional connection yields only $585 in additional revenue! Is the hook for this activity emotionally charged ? Yes! Students are always surprised that revenue and connections are growing, but the company might not be the best investment. I this activity relevant? Yes! I use this activity in a Business Calculus class to introduce rates of change. This audience usually has a predisposition to material from business. They want to know how they could apply calculus in their careers. I have also used it in College Algebra successfully. The activity preys upon their desire to make money. Its relevancy grabs their attention and keeps it. As Medina says,

The more a learner focuses on the meaning of the presented information, the more elaborately the encoding is processed. This process is so obvious that it is easy to miss. What it means is this: When you are trying to drive a piece of information into your brain’s memory systems, make sure you understand what that information means. If you are trying to drive information into someone else’s brain, make sure they know what it means. The directive has a negative corollary. If you don’t know what the learning means, don’t try to memorize the information by rote and pray the meaning will somehow reveal itself. And don’t expect your students will do this either, especially if you have done an inadequate job of explaining things. This is like looking at the number of diagonal lines in a word and attempting to use this strategy to remember the words. This activity incorporates the meaning first, then moves on to details as the activity evolves. At the end of the activity, students know exactly why rates are important. The details need to be filled in to show them how to calculate similar rates when the information is given in different forms…graphs, formulas, ect. Posted by davidg at 10:48AM (-07:00)

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Learning Unplugged Monday, October 21, 2013 There is no such thing as multi-tasking. The brain has to switch or toggle between different single tasks or thoughts. There are a number of articles about research that may indicate that our traditional aged students may not be able to focus on singular tasks for very long because they have been raised in an era of interruptions. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926111901.htm http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 http://hechingerreport.org/content/the-new-marshmallow-test-resisting-the-temptations-ofthe-web_11941/ http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/students-cant-resist-distraction-two-minutes-neithercan-you-1C9984270 Students may be better learners if they are able to minimize the number of interruptions and distractions. While we may not have much of a say when they are out of the classroom, what kind of learning environment due we create in the classroom? Some researchers are even studying the accumulated effects and interruptions and how to restore the attention span and ability to focus. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051474 It is called Attention Restoration Theory, using places to unplug, unwind and get away in an effort to restore the ability to think, contemplate and learn. YC has attempted to provide some spaces around campus both on the Verde and Prescott campusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; where students can go that may contribute to fewer interruptions. YC even offers several classes that may also assist in this area; Mindfulness, Hiking and Backpacking to name a few. So if our students seem distracted, perhaps we should suggest that they get unplugged for better learning. I would even advocate the same for faculty and staff. (Due to the number of associated articles, this post is shorter)

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Reacting to the Past: Week One Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Last week was my first experience with running a Reacting to the Past game. After a week and a half of preparation, it was time to trust in the system and let my students loose on the material to see what would happen. And it was so great!

Day one was introductions, to ease everyone into the idea of playing a role. All the students were asked to do was to research their character so they could each give a short introduction to the class. While a few students are playing historical characters like the industrial reformer Robert Owen and the inventor and capitalist Richard Arkwright, most were assigned types rather than specific people: weaver, blacksmith, magistrate. The roles are pretty generic, but many of the students weren't satisfied with that. Nearly everyone has chosen a character name. One student decided he was an immigrant from Ireland and did his entire introduction with his best Irish accent. Another (a quiet girl who rarely speaks in class) decided she was an orphan now sixteen years old, newly released from the workhouse and ready to fight for the rights of the child laborers. Several came in costume, including one determined student who did extra research to convince me that a baronet's widow might run his estates after his death. When she arrived in class in a full 19th-century gown, I understood why she was so determined to play a "Lady Farmer" instead of the "Gentleman Farmer" as written. As the introductions proceeded, the working class grew lively, applauding those who expressed sympathy for the factory workers and hissing the gentry and merchants, who largely maintained a haughty calm. As soon as the introductions were over, the class exploded into clusters of conversation as merchants bargained with the gentry to rent land for factories, the vicars and newspaper editors solicited souls and submissions respectively, and the weavers withdrew to the local pub, The Whorl and Spindle, (the classroom next door) to plot their strategies. They were tasked with developing a proposal for establishing a minimum wage and

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arguing for it at the Town Hall the following class period. In both classes (Tuesday/Thursday day and Tuesday night), the weavers were fired up and ready to fight for their rights and a living wage. But while the night class had faith that their cause would prevail via legal means, the day class weavers are more bloody-minded. I suspect Ned Ludd will ride in Manchester before too long. The second class period of the week was held at the Town Hall, presided over by His Honor the Magistrate. As usual, I found it hard to keep my mouth shut, but I really tried, letting the magistrate run the show, organize and regulate the speeches and determine the rules of the debate. And they didn't need me at all. It was obvious that most of the students had done their research, bringing up events, laws and statistics that highlighted the misery of the weavers' life or (from the merchants) the promise of industrial production. The arguments were passionate and the concessions hard-fought. Both sets of weavers won a pay raise, though not nearly what they were requesting. How will this affect production? Only time (and the game master) can tell... So the energy in the class is really high and everyone is "playing along." My concern that my students would be too cool to commit to role-playing have been allayed. I'd seen the videos from the Reacting to the Past Consortium, chatted with other professors in the RTTP Faculty Lounge on Facebook, and even played a game myself at last January's conference. I knew the games COULD work. But it's a relief to see it working before my own eyes, with my own students. More than a relief, actually. I was euphoric as each class ended last week. It was so much fun to see my students so engaged and passionate about class. About nineteenth century economic and social strife, no less! That beats a lecture, any day! Posted by Sukey at 12:43AM (-07:00)

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To Dream Again Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First, I had gone to school to be a medical secretary. Yes, we still used the word "secretary" in 1976. My parents thought that was the perfect career for a young woman who wanted children. I took Medical Transcription and Medical Office Procedures at Pima College. After working a few years doing accounting, secretarial work, and other odd jobs working for the government and private industry, we got a break financially, so I went to college and earned a one year Certificate of Accounting. I really liked the whole way numbers worked together and came out even, if I didn't make any mistakes. So I worked in accounting for a number of years, and my husband went to college to pursue his dream: becoming an Elementary School Teacher. A few years later our family of two grew to three, then four, then five, and then six as our children were born. My dream of being a stay-at-home mom had become a reality. When the baby went to kindergarten, I decided I no longer wanted to work with numbers, but with words. My dream to be a writer was born. Yes, I even published a poem and a cover story in a magazine. With all of this sudden success, I panicked. I didn't want to be a good writer, I wanted to be a great writer. I started taking English classes and other general studies classes right here on the Verde Valley Campus. My instructors were folks you know: Ginny Chanda, Terrence Pratt, Di Dwan, Paul Ewing, and Jon Frericks. I felt like someone had given me the world. And eventually I was asked to apply for the All USA Scholarship and received it. The whole family said, "Go, get your education." I couldn't tell if they were encouraging me or trying to get Mom out of the house. Either way, I went. Four years later I returned to Yavapai College asking for work, and I was rewarded.

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First I worked for Terrence Pratt as an English adjunct faculty member as well as for Northern Arizona University. Next, Barbie Duncan hired me to run the Learning Center half time. Then I was hired as the Verde Campus GED Coordinator and had a great time working with the students. Finally, Connie Gilmore hired me to be English faculty. What a ride! I was so excited, and I still love my job. But it is time to dream again. No, I am not saying I want to stop teaching. Heaven forbid! I am saying I still want to write. Writing these blogs has been great fuel for the fire. I have also been working with a woman in Prescott Valley editing her children's book. Seeing her go through the process has been a delight. And reading about Karly's book and having another gentleman I know give me a copy of his second novel last week, well I think there is a message in here. If any of you have a hidden dream, start polishing the metal in your spirit and go for it. I don't care if it is hiking the Grand Canyon, flying a helicopter, getting a degree. Whatever your dream is, pursue it with all of your heart. Who knows what great things lay ahead for those of us who dive in and believe. Wishing you all the best as you too, dream again. Posted by Tina's Blog at 11:56AM (-07:00)

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To Be Online… Tuesday, October 22, 2013 …or Not To Be Online.

Yesterday (Monday, October 21, 2013), myself, and two other colleagues (Sukey Waldenberger and Thatcher Bohrman), were conversing on the topic of online education. It seems there are a few mysterious questions that surround this cyber world. Why does it have such a horrible stigma attached to it? Why are so many against this form of education? Before I move further on this discussion, I must clarify that I am a proponent of Online education. Without it, I would not have been able to achieve my higher degrees. This world of higher education created for me, a wonderful opportunity, the ability to teach. This is what I truly love to do. This is what I should be doing; but then I digress. What was discussed between the three of us was the fact that many students we meet hate online. When asked why they hate this style of teaching and learning, many refer to the interaction of classes. Some speak of the design of a class; loss of finding information. Because of my full time staff position here at Yavapai College, and because of the many courses I view to assist students, I cannot blame them for this hatred. There are some very bad course designs out there. Many instructors use the same class set-up that was created in 2000 (or earlier). Just because it worked then, does not mean it works now folks! Please, if you teach online, come by the TeLS office and we will be happy to provide constructive feedback on what works in the class, and what does not. Trust me; we all need this critique process. I go through this process every semester; EVERY SEMESTER. By NEVER copying my class over into a new shell, I am able to evaluate each component of the course content. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I have this amazing class and everyone should follow my work. That’s not it at all. In fact, I am my worse critique! What I am trying to say 9x9x25 Challenge

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here is that I break down the course content each semester. This way, I can fix due dates, misspellings, wrong, or outdated information. I can add, or subtract text that clarifies assignment issues. I can re-evaluate what worked in the class and what did not…and make a proactive step to make the course user-friendly.. You can do this too. Start with the navigation. Are there too many links to the left? Do students have to leave a weekly folder to find videos, documents, or lectures? If they do, re-think the class content structure. Place everything needed for that topic/unit/week/module/whatever you call it into ONE FOLDER. Make the course clean. If you have copied your class over into a new shell more than twice, that is just wrong. Sure, the information may still be pertinent to the class, and that’s OK; use it. No one is telling you to recreate the wheel; just make a fresh start. Learn how to work with multiple browser windows and copy/paste what you need one step at a time. If you are in doubt as to how students feel about taking online classes, enroll in one for yourself; one that is not in your discipline. See the world from a student’s perspective. We all know that not everyone was meant to utilize this world of ones and zeros. Just because you are an excellent student in a face to face class does not mean you are meant for online. This applies to teachers as well. The best of the best in the brick and mortar world cannot transfer their art to online. Online takes training. Online takes dedication. Online takes time. Online is always changing; evolving. On that note, I say to never be afraid of who’s behind the door… Posted by rudi1234 at 01:16PM (-07:00)

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The Last Week of the 9x9x25 Challenge Saturday, September 14, 2013

We have 16 Yavapai College teachers participating and 142 pieces of writing from them in just eight weeks! You can read more about the challenge here. The challenge will last till November 18th. Please read what your colleagues have to share and please take time to comment on their blogs. You can do that by clicking on the post title and you will then be redirected to the the author’s original site. Please note that at the bottom of the page is a “pages” icon. You can see more 9x9x25 posts by clicking on page two. Posted by TeLS at 08:31AM (-07:00)

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EDUCAUSE 2013 Overall Reflection Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It was great to be in the environment. By that I mean there were ideas wandering around and people who had little to do other than wonder about them. I was able to spark up many conversations before sessions, after sessions, and at lunches and dinner. It is always nice to be in that kind of space. My proposal was not accepted, but I would be willing to try again. I will. On the whole I think that I saw and heard some new ideas, but mostly, as usual, I seemed to cement some of the ideas or opinions I already have. That may or may not be a good thing, but at Yavapai we have so many good things going and if we are lacking, it is just because we are not quite “there yet.” What does that mean? Mandatory Training to be Teachers (not just “online” but…) We are not quite there yet where our online teaching guidelines and faculty expectations regarding them. We are behind when it comes to having a mandatory plan of training. Our biggest problem is not that we “don’t have one” but rather that no one, or no group, has been willing to get out there and demand the implementation of some formal and required training. Most colleges at this point do have mandatory training of some kind. Most are 2 months or longer. Most involve a pass/fail and the result of failure is that you don’t get to teach online. The end. As much as I hate to use the words “hybrid” and “blended” we also could use a bit of clarity when it comes to what those things are and how we go about doing them in classrooms/online. It is as if the words themselves create barriers to opportunity for students and teachers. In many cases, teachers and students just go around the words and use what works. At the base level, grading is a good example. We market F2F classes were tests must be taken online or at the very least, you have to go online to see your grades. That seems more like “hybrid.” Anyway, there was much conversation about the notions of blended learning and what it is and how it works. More than any particular strategy the conversation seems driven by the realization that most schooling is done in a blended environment whether we want it to be or not. If that is the case, we are back to, “What is best practice.” OER I had drinks with Lisa Young, Sian Proctor, and several of the teachers from Scottsdale Community College. My big takeaway from that was that Lisa is heading up a district wide OER implementation plan. She now works part time in the district office and the rest of the time at her position as a faculty/instructional designer. Maricopa is going full ahead with OER after the success of Donna Gaudet and the math departments successful creation and use of the resources. I attended three OER 228

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sessions, one included some conversations at a “vendor party” at a room in the Hilton. There is a pretty big movement in that direction at many schools and it seems like it is slowly coming out of the woodwork. Yavapai College would be wise to get some folks, both instructors and administration, to advocate for a broader approach to the use of OER content at the school. Lisa said that they started with Donna and her division in math at Scottsdale and a president that was “interested.” By seeing what had happened for students savings on textbooks, the president finally became a believer. We need one of them. Vendors… The Next Music/Textbook Industry? The vendor booths at this conference were unreal! Many, many of them were as large as the entire TeLS office area. Maybe larger. There were literally cheerleaders in uniforms and dancing dinosaurs! The glitz and glamour was pretty sad. The anxious faces of salesmen eyeing you like a frosted cupcake was troubling. I guess that is how they all are, but this conference had by far the most massive displays and the most salesman. I spent very little time in the exhibit hall. It was uncomfortable. Ken Robinson and Jane Mcgonigal It was really powerful to see Ken Robinson. I sat in the front row! For both speakers I was in the front row! I took the picture below. I was that close! And it was a packed room. There were 6,000 people at the conference and I bet most were at Ken Robinson. Slightly less for Jane Mcgonigal.

Ken Robinson was motivating and he shared a bunch of stories that seemed unrelated to the conversation about creativity. When he did start looking at the nature of creativity it was from the perspective of “freedom to create.” He pointed out that developing creative habits comes from allowing ourselves to become unchained from “default” structures and “collective norms.” I suppose for me I am doing more of that, or I am trying to. Jane Mcgonigal has a great message to the overly structured, grade as goal oriented classroom experience so many students face. Back in the day, Prescott College was pretty clear on “it’s the journey, not the destination” being applied to all aspects of the class. The notions of gaming and the emotions tied with it bring some of the process as content back to the world of academic experience. How do we keep people engaged in the learning?

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It is a tough sell in a time when so much rests on prefabricated courses and objectives and even tests (you can see that most clearly in Common Core type top-down administrative policy pushes) where the goal becomes less about the process of learning and more on “data” in scores accumulated at the very end of the event. I met the keynote speaker for the upcoming SILT conference in Flagstaff. In fact, I had lunch with him. His name is Chuck Dziuban and he is the Director of the Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness at a university in Florida. He even has an award named after him?

The poster sessions were done digitally and he had one of them. The poster sessions have some materials found here: http://www.educause.edu/annual-conference/postergallery The sessions with the “View Poster Session Resources” actually have handouts and other material. Kinda nice. They also have some recordings available to the public. You can see my complete notes from the sessions I attended by clicking here. You can see oodles of tweets from the conference below. Tweets about “#edu13″ Ken Robinson played the following 2 minute long video to illustrate what happens when there is too much structure or pre-arrangement of stuff in learning spaces, and how we often prompt the “correct” answer with our policy, rules, and classroom expectations. Posted by Todd Conaway at 08:43AM (-07:00)

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Keeping Taylor Swiftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Attack Dogs at Bay or Tomabo&#... Friday, October 25, 2013 If you're like me, you need to download content from YouTube! If you're like me, you wonder why YouTube makes this process so difficult! So much content is on YouTube, much of it is educational, stuff that you want to use in your classroom tomorrow, but you can't because, so many bozos out there put questionable content on YouTube (I think we all know that I'm talking about cat videos), that your school/church/business' firewall blocks YouTube. So, you can't stream a darn thing. Why doesn't YouTube allow folks to post items for download? It would be so easy! When you upload your videos, you simply click a check-box, "Make this video available for download? Yes | No ". I would love to have this feature in YouTube, mostly because everything I put on YouTube (200 videos strong now) are about my Spanish classes, all filled with instructional content for my students (okay, so there are a few vids on my channel of me dancing to the Fox Song, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m human!). I'd love for my students to download them, put them on their iPods and actually watch them every now and then. But, of course, YouTube can't do this because, bozos will post their phone recordings of the last Taylor Swift concert that they went to, and then people will be able to download Taylor's highly commercialized private content. Then YouTube would have to defend itself against vicious Taylor Swift lawyers in court, and then. . . you can see where I'm going with this, things could get messy. YouTube knows that it can't officially allow downloads, in order to protect authors' copyrighted material, but at the same time, it also knows that people want to download the videos for offline use, some for perfectly legitimate educational uses, and definitely not for watching flash mob vids during office hours. So, Google allows third party vendors to create YouTube video downloader programs that can access the videos and download them from Google's YouTube servers. Google, in an half-hearted attempt to keep Taylor Swift's lawyers at bay, changes the codes from time to time so that these programs have to constantly stay on their toes and updated, but that's about all that YouTube does. The result then is a market flooded with YouTube video downloader apps. The bigger problem is that malicious software program developers (probably funded by T-Swift herself) love the YouTube video downloader market. They pack their apps up with addware and malicious software and the nerdy Spanish teacher that is just trying to download a quick video about stem changing verbs for class the next day, suddenly finds his computer infiltrated with ads about Snuggys and Groupon banners. So, what's a guy to do? Enter: Tomabo's YouTube Video Downloader.

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This is a YouTube video downloader that you actually can buy from a legitimate vender for a fair price! Its interface is simple and functional and it allows you to download YouTube videos in multiple formats, including mp3 if you only need the audio. The best part is, Tomabo doesn't load a lot of junk onto your computer! You can update the app too, so that you always stay ahead of YouTube's code monkeys. Now, you can download the videos that you love and need quickly and easily. If you want my videos, for example, take them and use them to get people speaking Spanish! But be sure to use Tomabo to do it! Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 10:45AM (-07:00)

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Putting a Face on Online Learning Friday, October 25, 2013

“It is common knowledge that a well-bred man should as far as possible have no face. That is to say, not so much be completely without one, but rather, should have a face and yet at the same time appear faceless. It should not stand out, just as a shirt made by a good tailor does not stand out. Needless to say, the face of a well-bred man should be exactly like that of other (well-bred) men and of course in no circumstances whatsoever should it alter. Naturally houses, trees, streets, sky and everything else in the world must satisfy the same conditions to have the honor of being known as respectable and wellbred.” -- Yevgeny Zamyatin, Islanders And, The Fisher Of Men Given the above quote, I’m pleased to report that your online courses are populated by heaps of well-bred individuals. Indeed, judging by the general pervasiveness of facelessness, your rosters must read like a regular roll call from Burke’s Peerage. What’s that you say? This isn’t true? As much as the anglophile in me might wish it otherwise, Zamyatin’s notions of decorum are, of course, at odds with the realities of anonymity and internet trolldom, and sadly, even our best online courses seldom resemble the staid intellectualism of a British tearoom. Our students often appear faceless but seldom exhibit the haute mannerisms associated with being well-bred. Thus, lacking any real hopes of emulating Downtown Abbey, I say we just go ahead and give our online students faces. Really, it isn’t that hard.

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You begin with a video. All good instructors should model the lessons and attitudes they want their students to adopt, and so you should start the semester by immediately pulling back the wizard’s curtain. "Here I am. Your instructor. A real person. I have a voice and a face; I am human." This sounds silly, but lacking an introduction video, you are perceived by your students only as some digital force of nature, expressed in text, putting forth commandments and judging your followers. As tempting as this minor deification can be, I recommend you avoid it. The image of Godhood is simply too difficult to maintain over a long semester. Plus, there is always the tiny possibility of committing a mistake, and then the whole mythology might crumble down around you. This can be very bad. Once you have presented your face, it is time to solicit the same visual presence from your students. In a physical classroom most everyone spends the first day eyeballing their compatriots, and it is only fair that we provide them with the same opportunity online. Fortunately, the prevalence of modern technology makes video introductions easy to construct, and posting them quickly results in a far greater sense of community. You also get to see them in their natural setting. This can be fascinating. Now that you’ve met each member of your crew, it’s important that everyone create a face to take with them on the journey. In many of my own courses, I have replaced the ugly, text-based enthusiasm-slayer known as the Discussion Board with Voicethread. Voicethread allows your students to upload a picture of themselves, and that picture is present whenever they interact (through video, voice, or text) with their fellow students. Providing ocular identity clues can completely change the nature of online interaction. George Smith the name is rescued from the land of bland (and sometimes destructive) anonymity, and is reborn in your course as George Smith, the guy with black hair and a nice smile. This Smith is statistically more likely to be kind and helpful, and he is easily recognized by his classmates. “Oh, George, you’re always so funny,” they say, and, “Ah, George was the one talking about stem cells last week. I wonder what he has to say about this.” As human beings, we are evolutionarily primed to remember and appreciate human faces, and including them in online interactions greatly benefits the resulting dialogues.

Of course, students sometimes choose to represent themselves with avatars and thereby mask their faces. While this can result in some protracted anonymity, I remind you of Oscar Wilde’s words: “A mask tells us more than a face.” When a student represents herself as a castle, a sunset, or a dog, she is making a statement, and though we must be careful not to get too Jungian, this statement is open to interpretation. Specific avatars can also result in a fair amount of mirth. Last year an exceedingly bright student chose a picture of her six-month-old baby for her Voicethread profile. Thus, 234

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throughout the semester we all enjoyed nuanced literary comments and in-depth discussions on symbolism originating from the picture of this little sage in a onesie. Welcome to the 21st century.

Regardless of the chosen image, a visual identity is created and a face given to that student, a face capable of holding positive or negative associations, a face we can become comfortable with, like a neighbor, or even (gasp!), like a classmate in an actual classroom. Beyond the intuitive benefits of all this, I offer one final anecdote of the change online faces can elicit. At the beginning of each semester I have to clear each voicethread discussion of the previous semester's comments. This is a labor intensive endeavor that requires me to click on each student’s face and then select a trashcan button. When selected, the trashcan asks me, “Are you sure you want to delete this?” When I first went about this task, it presented a surprising existential crisis. “No,” I said, “I don’t want to erase Sally. She’s come so far. I loved her thoughts about Wide Sargasso Sea.” This shows just how potent these images can be. Seeing the student, she becomes more than just a name on a course roster. She becomes an individual and her various thoughts, ideas, and emotions accrete to her given icon. More than mere glyphs on a screen, she is a person, and whether well-bred or not, I’ve come to like that face.

Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 01:09PM (-07:00)

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Something Else Friday, October 25, 2013

Study Partners We want our students to think, not memorize facts. We want them to make connections between organ systems, trophic levels in an ecosystem, or change in chemistry and disease. What if they seem to have no experience with this sort of thinking or no confidence in their ability to analyze or compare? Perhaps it is “what other people are good at” and seems out of reach for them. Settling in to the comfortable realm of memorization or stuffing in information is the default. Often students just simply study too much, but not effectively. I had this experience in high school. I was an average student who struggled to earn Bs and Cs. I was cursed with best friends who were the rare breed of student able to read information and remember it well enough to earn high scores on exams. They just read it and knew it! I thought that was how most people learned. That did not work for me, so I felt very inadequate. Yet, I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t remember any teacher helping me navigate my coursework. I just continued to struggle, working very hard to be average. At Yavapai College in Ken Abbott’s zoology lab (circa 1980!), we were all required to get one of those chunky pens with the different ink cartridges that could be pushed down alternatively giving us 8 or so colors for note-taking. I remembered answers on exams because I could recall the color of the notes I took. Wow. I discovered that I just needed something else to help me learn? How can I help students find their something else? One student might perceive time used color-coding notes effort deflected from real studying. Another feels self-conscious reading a chapter aloud even though she or he knows it will help make connections. Even Highlighting or note taking in textbooks is effective for learning, but that rental book must be kept mark-free. And what about rewriting questions, sketching concepts (aside from being required, as I often do), or stopping by my office to ask for clarification. Nope, not most of the time as far as I can see.The answer lies in my trying something else. Capitalizing on my own experience and modeling strategies to the students could be a start. Now where did I put that old pen? 236

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Posted by Joanne Oellers at 08:43PM (-07:00)

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An Ode to the Discussion Board Saturday, October 26, 2013 I initially encountered Yavapai College's course management system, Blackboard, about four weeks before I taught my first class for YC. I was nervous, overwhelmed, pregnant, and had never even taken an online course, let alone taught one. "Don't worry," Jason said. "Blackboard is very intuitive. It will be a piece of cake. I'll help you." "That's nice of you," I said. "Okay, first question: what does this Discussion Board tab do?" "It's intended to help simulate the feel of a classroom. It's an online forum that allows your students to have... well... a discussion." "Huh. Do you use it in your classes?" "Of course! It's best practice." "Can I NOT use it?" He shrugged. "It's best practice." I used it. This was back in 2010, better known as the Stone Age, and Jason has long since moved on to using VoiceThread. He actually wrote about it in his 9x9x25 post this week, a coincidence I did not discover until I sat down to write my own highly original post regarding the online discussion board. But as for me, I've continued utilizing the same, lame, old Blackboard version. And honestly, I still kind of love it. The key with Blackboard's discussion board, at least in my own experience, is to make sure every single question or topic proposed by the instructor is sufficiently engaging, unique, and debatable to entice participation from most of the students in the class, but to accept that even with my best efforts, my worst nightmare will often come true. Many students, with the goal of achieving no more than half credit, will log on three minutes before the due date/time to offer a few vaguely acceptable (though wholly unoriginal) sentiments, and follow that up by responding to a couple of classmates with the bare minimum: "Great post, I totally agree." Obviously, even if a topic or question is appealing or interesting - even if it's bordering on offensive, which I may or may not have tried there are students who will participate in this manner. I've learned, though, to content myself with a reminder that many of these students participate only minimally in other grading assessments, too, and their final scores generally reflect this laissez faire attitude toward participation. Were it an in-person class, they might also be the type to skip sessions, surreptitiously text their friends in class, or otherwise refuse to participate. For my part, I find it freeing to consider these students as only hurting themselves.

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On the flip side, posing a question that is too controversial is never a good idea. Moderating comments more commonly (and more appropriately) reserved for the comment section below news stories involving the latest racist or misogynistic slur issued by some pill-popping talk radio troll is not an activity I want to spend my late-night hours engaged in. I have enough trouble falling asleep. The key is to find a middle ground: topics and questions that will engage students enough to participate, but will still allow for a range of acceptable feelings and opinions to be expressed. It is also helpful if the topic requires the student to demonstrate a good deal of thought, rather than knowledge or ability. Some of the best discussion board questions I've had have been centered around online exercises I've asked students to complete (or videos I've asked them to view) then return to the discussion board and share. As a sociology (mostly) and psychology (sometimes) adjunct, here are a few of the online activities I've used that have resulted in excellent discussions on my online discussion boards:

Spent, where students complete the activity and share their experience. This exercise challenges students to get through a month with $1000, and poses various dilemmas which involve making hard choices about how to spend it - do I take my child's birthday money? do I have the dog put to sleep? - leaving enough to finish out the rest of the month. There are always students who disclose this exercise resembles their real life, which tends to inspire empathy (and second thought) in others, who might be tempted to view the results as unrealistic.

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The Race Card Project, developed by NPR host Michele Norris, where students are asked to come up with their own six words to describe race in America. Some of the online examples on The Race Card website include black babies cost less to adopt and at the height of public awareness over the death of Trayvon Martin - 57 years later, another Emmett Till. This is a great exercise, because students who have a better grasp of issues related to race and inequality come up with amazing examples, while students who are newer to the subject can still come up with examples that represent their own feelings. The Pew Forum's Religious Knowledge Quiz, an abbreviated version of the one administered to a random sample of over 3,000 Americans in 2010. After completing the quiz, I ask students to discuss how they fared compared with how they thought they might (they do not have to reveal their results), how knowledgeable they think the average American is about religion, and whether it is important to be knowledgeable. Because religion is an issue around which many people create their identity, students often enjoy the challenge. A range of religions are included, and the discussion is generally positive.

An edited clip about the life of David Reimer. This is a new one I tested out in Human Sexuality this semester. Because students universally regard David's story as extremely tragic, there is a great deal of room for agreement. At the same time, David's story opens the door for a discussion around gender as fluid, fixed, or somewhere in between. His story inspires compassion, and also encourages students to see the gray areas involved with gender and sexuality. After viewing the video this past semester, I had one student come out openly on the discussion board as transgender, one as a drag entertainer and gay male, and a couple others as gay or lesbian. And then something really amazing happened: those students took it upon themselves to offer to answer other students' questions... and their classmates started asking. A Living Will Generator, which I ask students to complete (again, they do not have to share their results) and then come back and discuss the way they felt as they filled out the form. I make sure to point out this living will is not legally binding, but rather is a good jumping off point for decision-making and discussion with their loved ones. Students enjoy this exercise, even when they hate thinking about it. Will I ever give up the discussion board? Maybe I will, maybe someday, maybe once I figure out a better way to do it. But not yet. For the purposes of my online courses, it's too valuable. Often, I wind up observing better discussions in my online courses than I do in their in-person counterparts. And in the rare cases when anonymity can actually be a

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good thing, it's important to put it to use. Posted by ewhitesitt at 11:40AM (-07:00)

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What Would Captain Kirk Do? Saturday, October 26, 2013

My first experience teaching an ITV (Interactive Television) class was terrifying. The idea that there was a group of students in another class, in another campus, in another town, relying on me to press all the right buttons, adjust the microphones, adjust the cameras, and, I almost forgot, teach a class. This was surely unfamiliar territory for me. Just days before my first ITV class, I had a very quick in-service about what does what, but that first day of class, you become that Captain Kirk at the podium, plotting your course, making sure everything is turned on; Boldly Going Where No Teacher (at least this one) Has Ever Gone Before. As the screens light up and the images of students on the Prescott campus appeared, I thought, I got this, what’s the big deal. The clock struck 3:30pm and it was show time. I began talking and I could hear the students on the Prescott campus stating they couldn’t hear me well. I fumbled with the volume controls for a few minutes until I realized I forgot to turn on my mike. Since I joked about feeling like Captain Kirk before class started with students, a voice echoed from the back of the classroom, “that’s Ok, Captain Kirk was only human too.” Compassion in the classroom, you got to love it.

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Back on course, the rest of the class seemed to go without any more incidences, but I was beginning to realize a big challenge teaching an ITV class, the lack of mobility. I like to walk around the classroom unless I’m using the whiteboard during class. During class discussions, I walk around, getting closer to the discussions floating around the classroom. Students don’t seem to mind and for me it’s became part of how I delivery a lesson. In an ITV class, this becomes impossible. You must remain in the camera view. I found I needed to adjust how I delivered a lesson staying in one spot. Another adjustment I had to make was, I couldn’t clearly see the faces of the students in the remote classroom. I mean, to really see their faces. I began to realize how important that was. To see students’ reactions, body language, all those cues we get in the classroom that tells us if they’re bored or really listening and understanding the material. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but even with all the advantages it provides us in making our lives easier, it does present challenges. One of the biggest challenges has been getting to spend face to face time with my students. This is why I decided that with my ITV class that meets twice a week, I spend one class meeting on the Verde Campus and the other class meeting on the Prescott Campus. This has made not only a tremendous difference in my interaction with students, but students appreciate the opportunity to have that face to face with their instructor. I believe that challenges make us better at what we do. The more adjustments we find in adapting to something new, usually we gain a better perspective in what we are trying to accomplish. I think the challenges I faced in teaching in an interactive video classroom has made me more confident as an instructor and continues to challenge me in developing more effective ways of delivering a lesson in an ITV environment. So stayed tune for the continuing voyages of the SSBuffo traveling through space, virtual space that is.

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Oh, I almost forgotâ&#x20AC;Ślive long and prosperâ&#x20AC;Ś

Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 05:58PM (-07:00)

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I Am Haunted! Sunday, October 27, 2013 It's true! Every semester I am haunted by one or two students who fill my waking hours with ponderings, prayers, and perplexities. At the community college level, we encounter many different students from all ages and all sorts of background experiences and capabilities. We never know who may walk through those doors the first day of class. I have had students from 16 to 75 years old, students with learning disabilities of various kinds, students who I swear were brighter than I ever could be, students who have disappointed me, and students who have surprised me. Often I find myself praying for my students as they face unexpected circumstances beyond their control and as they attempt to overcome whatever obstacles have sidelined them in the past. So I am going to be personal with this blog and introduce you to some of those students who have haunted me--with pseudonyms, of course. One of the first students to haunt me showed up in my Business English class at College of the Redwoods over 15 years ago. "Shawna" was in her late twenties or early thirties; it was difficult to tell because she had experienced all the physical ravages of meth addiction. Having completed rehab, she was now pursuing an Associates degree, engaged to a wonderful man, and finally raising her two children. As I worked with her in and out of the classroom, I was struck by her immaturity. There was one particular incident that mystified me early in the semester: she approached me after class to get clarification regarding an assignment from our textbook, which was to write a business letter requesting further information from a company. As I spoke with her, she began to point more and more vehemently at the page in the text, asking me to explain word for word what should be in the letter, from the date to the signature. As her frustration surfaced, her voice rose. It was then that I realized that she wanted me to tell her exactly how to do the assignment, without incorporating any thinking on her own. Perplexed, I consulted one of my psychology colleagues who confirmed my thinking: meth can stunt the maturation process. Shawna was exhibiting the maturity of the thirteen year old who existed before meth took over her life. With my new understanding, I was able to adjust how I communicated with her. I still meet other Shawnas from time to time as I teach. Then there was "Stuart" who was a star athlete from a private Catholic school. He thought he should have been at a university, but his parents sent him to a community college instead. This became the chip on his shoulder exhibited during every conversation we had. When Stuart wrote his narrative essay, he talked about the impact of the accidental death of his older brother, his only sibling whom he adored. Although the accident had occurred at least four years prior to his entering college, it was obvious that he was still processing through his grief. His entire football career was in honor of his brother, and I think he may have perceived, imaginary or otherwise, that he needed to live up to his brother's image. That is quite a burden to bear. He failed the first semester with me because he did not come to class, and he refused to write his essays according to the assignment instructions. During that semester, he accused me of disrespecting him. The following spring, he showed up in my class again; I assume this may have been required by his parents. The same pattern continued with the absences and writing whatever he felt like writing. When once again he was facing a failing grade, he accused me of not having read any of the papers he turned in. Stuart perplexed me continually. He tried to maintain a tough veneer which expressed itself in a superiority over his classmates, but this veneer was crumbling around the edges in ways he could not control. I hope that he is doing well and has come to believe in his own personal value, 9x9x25 Challenge

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not as a substitute for his brother. I also met an amazing young woman "Elizabeth" who took several of my classes while enrolled at College of the Redwoods. She had already earned a BS, but she lost all that knowledge when she was run over by a tank in a North African desert exercise while serving in the Army. With a mangled left hand and a loss of long term memory and struggles with her short term memory, she decided to enroll in college again even though her neurologist told her not to. When she shared with me that she was forgetting her assignments by the time she would get to her apartment, we started working together regularly, and I asked her to teach me about brain trauma. Elizabeth was an amazing student! She not only learned to adapt by typing one-handed, she also learned to make up for her memory shortages. Her neurologist began having her accompany him to conferences to talk about the "miracle" of her recovery. I keep the photo of Elizabeth in her graduation regalia on my bulletin board to remind me of how amazing we humans can be. I just shared her story and photo with my students in the Student Success course in hopes of inspiring them to set loftier goals for themselves. A few years ago, I had "Michael" in one of my composition classes. An absolutely brilliant older man! He had attended one of the military academies until drinking and drugs brought his college career to an end. From there, he moved around from the East Coast to the West Coast, and everywhere in between, living for the next high until he got caught in the middle of a drug deal gone bad and almost lost his life. Through rehab he got clean and decided to try college again. The man was humorous, wise, and compassionate. I saw him around campus helping disabled students struggling to maneuver our hills. Unfortunately, he found out that he could not pursue a nursing career because of his past. He kept taking classes for awhile, but then he disappeared. I fear that he may not have been able to give himself permission to succeed. I still think about him and hope that he will find himself. "Trevor" took two of my classes. Not fitting into the regular high school, he had been sent to an alternative school where he was told not to pursue any education past graduation. he had spent his four years of high school in special education classes. Even so, after graduation, he decided to give college a try. My summer class was his first exposure to college. Although his first couple of weeks were rocky, he began to figure out what he needed to do. His scores continued to rise as he got the hang of the reading, thinking, and writing. Through sheer determination and a lot of extra effort, he ended up with a B in his first college course--the kid who was labeled as "insufficient" to attempt college. Trevor is now pursuing his BA at Grand Canyon University. This semester I once again have students who haunt me. Some I worry about, and some just irritate me for various reasons. Some are going to make it and do really well, others maybe not. Some aren't ready yet, and some are more than ready. Every semester is different, every student is unique, and every prayer for students is offered humbly in hopes of making a difference in each life.

Posted by Schafer's Blogs at 12:30PM (-07:00)

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Trust the Process Sunday, October 27, 2013 I’ll never forget my first day of graduate school at Goddard College. Granted, I knew from the college web site that Goddard was “a special kind of place.” http://goddard.edu/ But I was completely unprepared for how Goddard College would turn everything that I’d experienced previously at my conventional, "staid" university upside-down and inside-out. As an undergrad, I had been on a single-minded mission to earn my bachelor’s degree before I turned 20. I was -- like many young students I still see -- extremely attached to completing classes and checking off boxes on my degree planning sheet. Learning would happen, I was convinced, but it was more about “getting through” semesters. (I would officially become my parents' daughter once I earned a bachelor's degree ;-) There was not a lot of intrinsic motivation happening at that time. Which was a shame, because my childhood in Vermont was all about intrinsic motivation. My teachers were incredibly creative and dedicated to nurturing our innate talents. Sherburne Elementary was a tiny school -- 8-10 students in each grade -- and we were grouped in two giant classrooms, one holding grades 1-3 and the other, grades 4-6. There were few rules -except study what you love. We were even charged with arranging our octagonal desks and room dividers in a style that was conducive to our particular type of learning. And I thrived. But somehow that love oflearning for the sheer joy of it became lost when we moved across the country, to Allen, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I attended a conventional public school for the first time…and so began my indoctrination into checking off boxes and “getting through” my classes. Public school was incredibly boring. I joined everything I could think to get out of it -swimming, track, band, choir, and something called “Declam” (kind of like a one-person theatrical performance). It morphed into a pattern: “Get through” the class and check off the box. (Daydreaming was A-OK, particularly if I had a less-than-engaging instructor.) But Goddard changed all of that. At my first practicum, I was told I would be writing my own curriculum. I was to study whatever intrinsically motivated me, whatever I wanted to learn about. That first day, I had no idea of what to do, what to think. I was so used to being left-brain linear, being told exactly what I needed to do… And all of a sudden I was given no plan. I had to come up with one on my own. I remember being at a complete loss, utterly confused. My graduate adviser kept telling me to “trust the process.” I had no idea what the H that meant. All I knew was that I was in between two worlds: the left logical and linear brain that got me through all things academic to date… and this very interesting right brain world… that felt comfortable, familiar and exciting…but also scary and dangerous. Yet once I got over myself, began to open up and trust the process, I did my very best academic work at Goddard (my master’s thesis research was published as my first book). Perhaps what was a most valuable takeaway, I learned that you can start with a plan and midway through semester, new discoveries can emerge to take you in an entirely new direction. That’s how I ended up in sociology, as a matter of fact. My undergraduate major was communication and I loved writing -- especially about topics that really mattered. At first I thought it was psychology…but as I began taking courses in sociology, I quickly realizedthat was my niche, what I loved exploring the most. You just never know where a journey might take you. So begins the advice that I give to my own students now, who stop by during office hours, wanting to know exactly what courses to take… to earn this degree or that one. 9x9x25 Challenge

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I tell them (to quote my all-time fave Thoreau), “March confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Take classes that pique your interest... Give each your full attention...and then process, ponder, reflect....begin to rule out those fields and subjects that just don't resonate... Over time, the path will narrow...and you'll know exactly what you were meant to do. I remind them (and myself) that we can’t force outcomes in anything in life… No matter how hard we try, we won’t ever have a precise plan with the exact details completely worked out well in advance. But we can aim the camera toward a Monet-like view, several F-stops away from focus. And in time, everything will happen, exactly at it is supposed to unfold. Just trust the process. ### Posted by Dr. Karly at 11:11PM (-07:00)

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It Never Ends Monday, October 28, 2013

The great thing about teaching and learning is that it is never over. I can’t think of a situation where a student or instructor, both sides of the same coin, can ever say, I’m done, I’ve learned/taught it all, there is nothing left to do. I have mentioned this previously in another post, and was reminded again after reading an article on student success, the irony in higher education is that faculty in preschool through high school are required to have formal instruction on pedagogy for their respective level, but at the college and university level there is no such regulation. One can be hired with no formal pedagogical instruction or experience, other than what they experienced as a student. College faculty can have advanced degrees, extensive research and publication vita’s but how are they at educating others? For those that have been teaching for years, do they ever get to a point in their profession, where they have it all figured out? Or should there always be a sense of uneasiness, what I like to call ” a hunger”, that despite how things went this last semester, this last class, they want it to get better. I have met and seen interviews with septuagenarians and octogenarians that while age has slowed their physical movements, their emotional and cognitive functions show no signs of aging. The remedy seems to be a continued curiosity, engagement, and interest in not being satisfied. They show a curiosity about things, they challenge themselves in different ways. So for us that teach, we should always be a student.

Posted by sfarnswo at 12:06PM (-07:00)

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Mirror Mirror Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mirrors are pretty powerful. Sometimes they show us what we don’t want to see and other times they might reward us for perfectly reflecting the person we believe ourselves to be. We know the reflection is unbiased, and unable, to alter the truth we are. People are different. Often people will tell you what you want to hear or you will not accurately interpret what they are saying to you. Writing is a way to taking to yourself and making the thoughts you have reflect back your ideas. Reflection in words is a great way to better understand a conversation you are having inside your head, because like a mirror, it can put those ideas before you in a physical form. Like looking at yourself in a mirror, you can learn from the experience. At Prescott College I got a boatload of “experiential learning theory” in all of my classes. Not just in the way the course were delivered, but in how we were asked to reflect, in our journals, about what we had seen, felt, and wondered about. And you can imagine how that looked in the classes I took called educational psychology, curriculum design, educational methods, alternative methods in higher education, group processes and a number of education-like classes. In those classes the amount of thinking/reflecting/writing about the Kolb model (experiential model) was not only what we did, is was in many cases what we were studying. No wonder my head is still spinning trying to figure out what works best. At Prescott College they told me, “We will explore how writing shows us who we are. Writers do not sit down to the page simply to “write about something” but rather to “understand something.” In the 9x9x25 Challenge we are not just sharing ideas, or writing about a thing we do. We are writing about it and coming to a better understanding of it and how it works. I think that some of the participants have already told me this and that the value of the personal learning it creates is clear to them. Part of me wants to jump for joy at the amount that 250

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has been shared in the Webletter, but another part of me wants to focus on the learning that each writer is doing as they write. Of course this all takes practice right? I mean it is exactly what we ask our students to do: write something to show me your understanding. The fact that all this work is shared and a way for others to learn is secondary. It is that mirror that is really the most powerful part of the challenge. I mention all this because I am already pondering how the 9x9x25, if it is even called that, will look next year and how it will be presented. I am wondering how to leverage these reflections that are created by our faculty into something that is transformative. Something that makes a difference. Something that gets tried, and used, and reshaped. There is simply letting it go and hoping that some of the writing has legs and gets talked about in hallways and a meeting or two. And there are these few interactions that have happened with the Northwestern Michigan College instructors. How dos the interaction with them shape our understanding of teaching and learning? Might they simply share a good idea? Might one of them become a person who we interact with in other ways? How can these instructors help us next year? How might we help them? What about other schools or other writing venues like Faculty Focus? Will any of the participants next year submit the writing they do to be published by Faculty Focus? We will see where it goes. And most importantly we will see how we have changed when we gaze into the mirror of our writing. Writing has worked for me as a student at Prescott College and as an English teacher. As a teacher I was able to help students be in wonderful places to write. Below are some of them.

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Posted by Todd Conaway at 09:09AM (-07:00)

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Learning Hope From a Fudged Grade Tuesday, October 29, 2013 This writing originally appears here at dotcomyoga.com As college faculty, the most important part of my job is giving hope, even if the hope comes from a fudged grade. That’s right. You read that right. Giving a student a B when they earned a C, for example, may encourage more learning than the earned C. OK. Now, I know I’m out on a limb here, especially, in a society that drills in our heads mottos like “You get what you earn.” But maybe, we, as teachers, and society are missing an extremely important teachable aspect called hope. “We’re all looking for something. We’re all looking for hope. Hope you can’t just have just because you were born with hope. No. We’re born with pain. We’re born and live through difficulties.” Nick Vujicic (TEDx Talks, Overcoming Hopelessness) Now, for me, this teachable ascpect called hope is not some theory, if I can call it that, I got from the above video, saw in the stacks or in a google search. It’s a theory based on my personal experience from taking two college summer courses in 1992 that literally changed my entire life, and it was all because a professor taught me hope through a fudged grade. During the two semesters prior to the college summer semester of 1992, I dropped all my courses for both semesters. And believe it or not, I wanted to be in college; I wanted to take the courses, and I wanted to pass them. But, in short, I dropped the courses because I couldn’t get myself to do the work that I wanted to do. Now, technically, there were many other reasons why I couldn’t do the work, but the main reason, and in scope of this specific writing, I was a typical college age student. I was hanging out with friends, had a girlfriend, and school was just not a high priority. Now, back to the college summer semester of 1992, I was taking 2 college courses: public speaking and psychology. Because of the two failed prior semesters, I promised myself this time I would put everything that was not school related second. So I went to every class, studied the best I could, and every once in a while, I put hanging out with my friends or girlfriend first. OK. So I broke my promise. But overall, I did my absolute best I could at the time. And I earned a C in public speaking and a C in psychology. But the C earned in psychology was fudged to a B. And this fudged B literally changed my life. OK. So, here’s the story of how the professor taught me hope through the fudged grade. It was the last day of class. After the final exam that day, we were all standing in line waiting to walk up to the professor’s desk to learn of our final grades. Now, I knew my final grade was a C because I knew my final exam grade and my other grades. And I just knew that the professor was going to tell me my final grade was a C. I remember, and yes, after 20 years, I still remember feeling sort of disappointed. It was the same old feeling of “You get what you earn,” which society taught me so well. Eventually, it became my turn. I walked up to the professor, and he showed me my final exam grade; he did the math of all the grades on a sheet of paper, and it was a C. Then he wrote down in his grade book a B, and he said, something to the effect, “good job.” 254

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The feeling this fudge grade gave me was overwhelming with hope. I literally remember thinking, and, again, yes, I still remember, 20 years later, “I can do this!” And “I can do this!” sparked my love for learning, allowing me to earn three college degrees, with a 4.0 GPA in my master’s, and it’s the same exact “I can do this!” feeling I want to give all my students. Posted by Charles Lohman at 10:02AM (-07:00)

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Yet Another… Wednesday, October 30, 2013 I was planning on creating a how to video and walking you step by step through the process of creating a comic strip on Bitsrips (Daily Funnies starring YOU!!!) this week, and lo and behold…this is what I get!

So now I must switch gears. Really?! Now?! This is a first for this site in the past, I don’t know how many years, I’ve been using this awesome tool. So, I am going to show something else to use in your classes. I am not going to freak out because the FREE tool I’ve used is not available. I am just going to stay calm and move forward. WHAT?! No way! I am going to unleash the rants here. Why is this happening now?! I feel totally violated. I cannot even get to my cartoons! All those that have been embedded via the server do not display on websites, or blogs, or wikis, or even Blackboard. I NEED MY BITSTRIPS! This is technology folks, and technology fails. Be prepared to go somewhere else when your system fails. Let students know what will happen in that “just in case” moment. Explain that there are forces out there that we cannot control. Move on. Move forward. Find another tool! With that said, the FREE tool used to catch the screen for this post was Jing. I use Jing a lot for images. This tool has allowed me to show students where they need to fix a small error.

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It also allows me to show quick “how-to’s” and provide pertinent information.

I like the image side of Jing better than the video, for I can save and place these images wherever needed. Of, course, it is nothing like Bitstrips. You can only add so much to the image; but then I digress. If you are like me, and need that comic look RIGHT NOW, there is always ToonDoo. Now ToonDoo has its ups and downs, as does all FREE applications. It is slower to process. It does not have as much play with the characters as BitStrips does; however, it is the same simple drag and drop creation process. This tool can also be used to introduce events, topics, assignments, and more.

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It can even create Comic Style Books! So, now, because of a glitch in one system (WHEN WILL I GET MY BITSRIPS BACK?!), you have heard of THREE ways to add images to your classes (or handouts). Go forth and create! Posted by rudi1234 at 12:00PM (-07:00)

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A Scary Story Thursday, October 31, 2013 It’s nearing Halloween, so I thought I’d write about something scary this week. How about “States Demand That Colleges Show How Well Their Students Learn”? Or “Not enough to graduate college: Now there’s an exit exam.” Perhaps this will send a chill down your spine: “Assessment: It’s the Law,” an article on the new requirement in Iowa for annual review of university assessment data by the College Board and the state legislature.

We’re probably all familiar with No Child Left Behind and the measure and punish strategy it instituted in K-12 education in the US. The demand for “accountability,” with the underlying assumptions that teachers can’t be trusted to do what is best for their students, has been a favorite political theme for over a decade. While NCLB has largely been considered a disaster by teachers, parents and students, vilifying teachers and schools has been a winning strategy for too many politicians. And nothing succeeds like success, right? So we’d better be ready. It would be nice to think this won’t happen, that state and federal busybodies, and the public at large, will take our word for it when we say that we know our students are learning. That learning is so ineffable an achievement that it can’t be measured by anything other than the finely-tuned instincts of a professor. Trust us. Yeah, good luck with that. The only way to head off the ham-fisted efforts of those who believe that anybody can teach, that teaching is nothing more than measuring test results, is to get ahead of those efforts and bend them in the direction we want them to go. No one is more concerned about the effectiveness of our efforts than we are. No one. But without clear, tangible, convincing and continuous evidence to that effect, we’re vulnerable to claims by educational profiteers (financial AND political) who can point to the all-too-real shortcomings in student achievement and then, rather than accounting for the many variables that affect student learning, simply point at us and insist we do a better job. One big obstacle to a greater understanding of what we do and how we go about it is the solitary nature of teaching. While it may not SEEM solitary to be interacting with over 100 students every semester, the fact is that the vast majority of those interactions take place in a federally-protected private place, a black box, as far as the general public is concerned. Students go into the class, and they come out with a letter grade. And the “trust me, I’m the professor” argument is quickly losing its magic. The push to develop learning objectives for classes and programs is one recent and widespread effort to counter that “black box” effect. And assessment reporting can be another, if we make it what WE want it to be, rather than letting some political body define it for us. If WE define the goals we consider most useful and valuable for our students, and if WE choose the assessment methods we think best suited to demonstrate the achievement of those goals, assessment becomes our process and our achievement. But if we want to keep the beast from the door, the only option we DON’T have is to do nothing at all. Posted by Sukey at 10:10AM (-07:00)

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The Tour de YC: Over the Mountain and through the Rocks Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mark Twain is quoted as saying (as my friend and colleague Curtis Kleinman reminds me), "Don't ever let schooling stand in the way of your education." So we didn't. Now, please understand that Curtis and I have been known to do things that are... well... a bit crazy at times. Last November we rode our bikes from Prescott to Phoenix via Wickenburg, some 113 miles, in one day. We both were a bit disabled for the next day or two. So for this year's big adventure, we thought we'd scale it back a bit. We decided we'd visit all of our campuses--from the Chino Valley Ag Center to the Sedona Center for Arts and Technology--on two wheels, christening it the "Tour de YC." And we were able to coax my neighbor and riding buddy, Bruce, into going part way with us. (The engineer is evidently smarter than the college professors!)

On Friday, October 11, my wife Carolyn helped me shuttle my truck to Sedona, where it would be waiting to take us home on Saturday. That morning Curtis came by my house, we loaded our bikes in his truck, and Bruce, Curtis and I headed off for Chino. We departed the Ag Center about 7:30am with the temp in the high 30s, and while pedaling down Highway 89 we spied a herd of antelope to the west. 260

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Thirteen miles later we pulled in front of CTEC for a photo op. Another 9 miles found us in front of the Prescott campus, where we shed our cold weather gear. Bruce (wisely) left us at this point and glided to his house. Curtis and I pumped over the hill by the Gateway Mall, enjoyed a nice downhill coast into Prescott valley, and devoured a few corn dogs at Maverick on Glassford Hill on our way to the Prescott Valley Campus. We'd trekked about 31 miles at this point, having visited half of the campuses--but not yet half way to our final destination.

Since we were close, we stopped by Curtis' house to drop off some gear. His young boys came out, and I had a great time answering questions about my bicycle: "How do the gears work? Those are funny pedals. Cool colors!" A good break, as the most challenging part of trip lie ahead: The climb over Mingus Mountain.

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Now Curtis, being half my age, beat me to the top by about 15 minutes. But we both made it to the 7,000'+ summit. The next 12 miles were breathtaking! We zoomed down the winding roads going faster than most of the cars. Red rocks, gray slag from the mines, the eclectic shops and winding streets of Jerome seemed almost surreal on the bike.

Just before we reached the Verde Valley campus, my rear tire went squishy. The first of my spare tubes had a defective valve stem, and eventually I had to change it out again. Not to be deterred, we climbed Black Hills Drive to the campus--33 miles after leaving Prescott Valley.

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pretty easy. Again, we were wrong. The path is deceptively difficult, with rolling hills and some formidable stretches of uphill. We were both wearing down. Just before sundown, we rolled into the parking lot at the Sedona Center. Total time pedaling--7 hours and 42 minutes; time elapsed after leaving Chino Valley--10 hours and 15 minutes. Total distance traveled--81.5 miles. Thus the first annual (?) Tour de YC was completed.

There are a number of great things about working at Yavapai College. One is that we have some really unique and beautiful campuses located in some of the most picturesque scenery in this country. But the best thing is the collegiality we share. Like doing crazy stuff with colleagues. Supporting one another when hard times and tragedy strikes. And the faculty's unwavering, total dedication to their students.

Sedona Sunset at the end of the 1st Annual Tour de YC Posted by Mark Shelley at 11:10AM (-07:00)

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How Do You Flip A Zombie? Thursday, October 31, 2013 It is almost Halloween and I can forgive you if the title makes you think about this type of flipping zombie. I want to talk about flipping the zombie learner. Since about 2000, I have been implementing various techniques to engage students in the classroom. Initially I used a great number of relevant problems…modeling data to solve real world problems. This evolved into full blown project-based learning and eventually the happy place I now live and teaching in. The projects helped to add relevancy to the course and counter the “When am I ever going to use this?” question. The problem was that I was still lecturing on very basic algebra and calculus problems. And I had to lecture to cover the amount of material required by the syllabus. In my mind, the content had to come out of my mouth for me to hold them responsible for it and to assess them on it. When I look back on this, I realize that students were often absent or not paying attention. Even though it was coming out of my mouth, they were not tuned in. In effect, it was not coming out of my mouth for a large number of students. In 2006, the Mathematics Department at Yavapai College began to experiment with MyMathLab. This gave students the opportunity to do homework and quizzes online. Their work was scored on the spot and they were given the opportunity to rework the problems. The system provided a huge amount of help in the form of worked examples. Suddenly students did not need to wait several days to have me score their work…it was done instantaneously. Not only did this lift a huge grading burden off of me, it also let me track how students were doing before the next class and deliver just in time advice on the problems. I could emphasize points the students were weak on and go more rapidly over the points they had no trouble with. This allowed me to spend more time on applications and using technology to solve those problems…but I was still lecturing. If I lost their attention during the lecture or they were absent, the information went into the void. I still had the glassy eyed stares indicating a lack of engagement. Through the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges, I began to learn about active learning strategies that could be used to engage students in the classroom…techniques like collaborative learning, discovery-based learning, and hands on learning. These techniques turned my classroom in a student-centered classroom. Students were able to think more deeply about what they were learning. However, I still felt that content had to be delivered from my mouth to their brains in order for me to assess them on it. In that sense, I was still very teacher-centered. At some point I began to make videos for my online students so they could watch the same lectures my face to face students attended. Initially they were a class period long. Now they have evolved to shorter 5 to 10 minute segments. I noticed that my face to face students used these videos a lot. In fact, I saw a decrease in class attendance because of the videos. They were able to get through the homework and quizzes using MyMathLab and video, but that is where their knowledge ended. My students were really good at solving standard problems, but they could not apply that knowledge to solve the projects that were really the most important part of the class. Hmmm. They can do the homework and quizzes without coming to class?

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Perhaps my role as the holder of mathematical knowledge was in danger. Why not use the class time for active learning? Use the online materials to teach the basic concepts and then utilize the class time to apply the mathematics to solving interesting and realistic problems. Perhaps this had potential. This was my flip of the classroom. My lectures are now designed to be watched outside of the classroom. Unlike the flipped classroom envisioned by many other faculty around the country, I do not bring in the homework in place of the classroom lecture. Doing homework in class is too passive. I wanted the students to be doing something real. Moving around the classroom. Talking to each other about mathematics. Working together to solve tough problems. If they are learning the basics outside of the classroom, it gives me time to dive into activities like Average Rates of Change at Verizon. Their time in class is interesting and adds value to the course. Of course, there are logistics. And selling this format to the students. After at least twelve years of a traditional classroom, most students are not ready for the expectations a flipped instructor has. Luckily, most of them welcome the chance to do work online. I tell them that if they can master a concept online, there is no need to cover it in class. However, if they do have trouble we will attack it in class and make sure they get it. Typically about half of one class each week is dedicated to going over problems they had trouble with.

Here is a portion of the calendar from my Survey of Calculus class. All of my classes work the exact same way. Look at Week 6 in the middleâ&#x20AC;Śthere is a lot going on that week. Class meets on Monday and Wednesday at 2pm. That week they are covering Section 11.4 in the textbook and using video. I might give a 10 minute segment on what to expect in that section during Week 6, but not the standard one and a quarter hour lecture I used to give. They cover the content in Section 11.4 on their own during Week 6 and turn in the homework on Monday of Week 7. The class time during Week 7 is

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dedicated to answering questions on the homework and applying the concepts from the homework to real problems. At the end of Week 7, they complete a quiz on the Section 11.4 to demonstrate their understanding of the section including the applications.

An application where students model and compare health insurance plans. Throughout the class, they complete technology assignments that keep them on task with their projects. That helps to ensure they are meeting intermediate goals on the project. If they get stuck, I can help them early on and not right before the project is due. The downside of this type of flip is that it puts a huge burden on me to come up with interesting applications, worksheets, activities, ect. They must be engaging and give students a reason to come to class. Luckily, I enjoy creating these items and sharing them with the students. For instance, my students and I have worked on modeling health insurance plans this semester. With all of the currents events surrounding health care, it is fairly easy to engage them. Terms like deductible, coinsurance, and out of pocket maximum are completely foreign to almost every student. But learning what the terms mean and relating them to the mathematics they are studying seems to strike at their inherent curiosity. It also shows them how much they can save in premiums when they make healthy lifestyle choices. This will stay with them much longer that learning how to take a derivative or factor a trinomial! Which is more important to you? The meaning of the mathematics and how it relates to healthcare or the details in computing the equation of a line? They are related…but I am guessing you would have an easier time with the details if you understood the big picture better. Thank you John Medina for alerting me to this notion! Posted by davidg at 03:45PM (-07:00)

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What’s the Point? Friday, November 01, 2013 I have a confession to make: I hate the exclamation point. This is, of course, an entirely inappropriate disclosure for an English professor, and I sincerely apologize for denigrating the archetype, but it’s true. I dislike it for all the same reasons I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s rude, indiscreet, unsophisticated, and a bit pushy. As Peter Griffin would say, “It insists upon itself.” Or, to quote a more traditional literary figure:

And like all good bigots, I’m passing my intolerance on to young people. Include an exclamation point in your English 101 essay and you’ll likely earn this comment in the margin: “Avoid exclamation points. If the writing is strong, the reader will recognize the emphasis without being instructed.” Burn, right? Call me a pedant if you like, but unless we’re in a Monty Python skit, we don’t go around shouting at one another in casual conversation, and so why should we do it in our writing? A screamer-free piece of prose is a civilized piece of prose. It exudes grace, speaks eloquently, and requests attention. It does not simply hand everything to you, crying in its best subaltern voice:

Lookie here but rather engages you in polite and meaningful conversation. Perhaps I’ve gone too far. Regardless, the point I’m trying to make (emphatically as I can –if only there was some way that I could indicate how strongly I feel in a concise way, maybe even with a single mark. . .) is that I do not like exclamation points. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. And yet, I use them. I use them in a very specific way and for a very specific purpose. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I strongly encourage enthusiasm in the classroom. After all, if I’m not excited and interested in the material, how can I expect my students to be? Thus, when at the front of the room, I speak louder and with emphasis. I move around. I gesticulate. I smile –all the opposites of Old Man Stein. Enthusiasm is more than just good modeling though. At its best, it’s charismatic and inspiring. Do you remember Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter?

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As his '80s predecessor first taught us, there are a number of khaki-clad Australian men happy to wrestle reptiles for a camera crew, but what earned Irwin worldwide fame was a level of boyish enthusiasm that was obvious and attractive. He loved what he did and that love inspired others. I’m not entirely saying that we should all adopt this Trix Rabbit personae in the classroom, but if we can show excitement and energy to our students we are far more likely to garner their interest and engage them in the material. In other words, know your stuff but don’t be afraid to be a fool for the subject. That's all well and good in the classroom, but how do we accomplish this online? One solution is simply to create videos, and I highly recommend this approach. However, it’s not practical or even best practice to film everything, and so one must resort to, sigh, distasteful measures. One must resort to exclamation points. Though I loathe them in serious or professional prose, I use them dozens of times daily when interacting with online students, and it makes a difference. Because I cannot be physically there to smile at them, welcome them into my space with body language, and create a comfortable atmosphere with my demeanor, I compose emails like this:

"Good morning, Sally. I received your assignment this morning and can’t believe how much improvement you’ve shown! Some work still needs to be done on the analysis portion, but you are headed in the right direction. Keep it up! Next week we will be looking more at punctuation, so feel free to get a jumpstart on that reading if you can. Until then, good luck and have a great week!"

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Those three exclamation points are more than I would use in three years in my personal writing, but here they do good work. They convey positivity, congeniality, and encouragement. As human beings we often overanalyze written communications borne of a power differential: “Does my boss really think it’s okay that I come in late on Monday?” Or “She seems to be excited for our date, but I really don’t know for sure.” However, there is little chance of misinterpreting my example above. The exact nature that makes exclamation points boorish in serious writing equips them perfectly for interacting with students online; they are overly clear and a bit Pollyanna-ish, and this pair of traits perfectly suits them for teaching. If enthusiasm evinces happiness and interest in the classroom, then the roots of the exclamation point express how the excited little glyph accomplishes this in writing. The best origin theory states that punctuation derives from the Latin exclamation of joy (io), written with the i above the o, and when the mark first appeared in English printing in the 15th century, it was known as the “note of admiration.” Though some serious students may find my liberal use of the punctuation a little over-the-top, I’m happy to err on the side of joy and admiration, and I think that's something worth shouting about! Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 10:56AM (-07:00)

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Learning and Exercise Friday, November 01, 2013

When each of use were in grade school, the school day was interrupted with recess. It allowed students and teachers to take a break, run around a bit and get the wiggles out. Fewer and fewer institutions are requiring PE as part of their curriculum, and yet have the benefits of regular exercise changed? There are many societies, including our own, that are facing health epidemics in what is called hypo-kinetic diseases (low activity- obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, to name a few). Aside from the health benefits of regular exercise I want to focus on a growing area of interest; the beneficial affects of exercise on learning, cognition and memory, Differential effects of acute and regular physical exercise on cognition and affect. Hopkins ME, Davis FC, Vantieghem MR, Whalen PJ, Bucci DJ. Neuroscience. 2012 Jul 26;215:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.04.056. Epub 2012 Apr 30 Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Erickson KI, Voss MW, Prakash RS, Basak C, Szabo A, Chaddock L, Kim JS, Heo S, Alves H, White SM, Wojcicki TR, Mailey E, Vieira VJ, Martin SA, Pence BD, Woods JA, McAuley E, Kramer AF. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 15;108(7):3017-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015950108. Epub 2011 Jan 31. Impact of aerobic exercise training on cognitive functions and affect associated to the COMT polymorphism in young adults. Stroth S, Reinhardt RK, Thöne J, Hille K, Schneider M, Härtel S, Weidemann W, Bös K, Spitzer M. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2010 Oct;94(3):364-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.08.003. Epub 2010 Aug 26. There is a growing body of evidence that exercise can actual contribute to learning. So what do we do about it? Get ready for a shameless plug- perhaps we should be 270

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encouraging our students to take one of the many activity classes offered at YC. As faculty, we could also use the benefits of regular exercise, again, we can take advantage of the many different classes offered. There is not enough room in this post to review all the benefits of exercise both for students and faculty, other than to remind all of us that we should be doing something. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that we workout a minimum of 20 minutes for at three or more days per week, where we are able to raise our HR. So as we contemplate success in learning and instruction, exercise should be one factor that is not overlooked.

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The Academic Double Standard or How the AGEC is Cripling the U.S. E... Saturday, November 02, 2013 Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fishby its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. - Albert Einstein Almost no-one in the world is bilingual. Did you know that? The true definition of bilingualism is that a person can navigate equally well in both Spanish and English in every context of language use. Well, I’m pretty good at Spanish, but when I’m working on the car, I have a hard time remembering what “spark plugs” are in Spanish. But, if I could work on the car equally well in English and Spanish, I’d be totally bilingual. For our argument though, let’s assume that I’m bilingual, in the vernacular. I’m pretty good at both English and Spanish. I’m applauded for that in some circles (through no artifice of my own mind you, I simply spent a lot of time in a foreign country), but you know who is applauded more than me, my six-year-old son. He’s not bilingual in the technical sense of the term, but he’s pretty good in both. I only speak Spanish to my young boys at home and they navigate both languages well. So, at school, you better believe that my son is lauded for his “accomplishment”. To be honest, the kid hasn’t accomplished anything. We just made him watch Barney and his other shows in Spanish and I was just diligent at only talking to him in Spanish throughout his whole six-year life up to this point. He has no idea why he knows Spanish and he has asserted no effort in obtaining it, much the same way your children don’t know why they know English. Fact is, we learn languages, at least when we are very young, simply due to exposure. So, for the long and short of it, my son Nathan has “learned” Spanish, which came as no real surprise to me. If you talked to his teachers though, you would think that he single handedly ended World War II. He is given to help ELL students and has obtained a certain measure of prestige in his class. Why? Why does he get this special treatment, when he has classmates that navigate a second language just about as well, or, truth be told, much better than my son, and they are in his same class? The answer is, wait for it . . . the academic double standard. Nathan happens to navigate English best and Spanish okay. His classmates navigate English nearly (and nearly is an important word here) as well as Nathan, and their Spanish skills are far superior. In short, they are much more bilingual than Nathan, yet, instead of applause, they are looked down upon, tracked into remedial classes and made the subjects of special meetings. When a student does not have a perfect grasp of English, or even speaks English with a twinge of an accent, we have a problem. When my son speaks Spanish at school, we have a gifted child. Academic double standard much? Who said that Spanish is an inherently worse language than English? Is their research on that? Here’s another example. I taught at Flagstaff High School for a time. There we had a foreign exchange student who came from Germany. Being a German, he spoke some French, but mostly German, and he had some halting English that he used to sneak by with in school. His efforts were applauded up and down. He was lauded by everyone for his tri-lingualism. Contrast that with the quiet Hispanic students that I observed in advanced French. They defended themselves rather well in their advanced French course, they spoke fluent Spanish at home and their English skills, among their predominately white friends, were second-to-none. Unless you asked their French teacher, very few of the teachers at the high school even knew their names. A poll of the teachers all resulted in knowledge of the fine and bright German boy and the shame that it was that he’d only be staying for one semester.

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Spanish has been selected by society as low in academic value, at least here in U.S. culture. What else has been excluded? Academics are replete with unfounded value systems and double standards. Look at our AGEC for example. What courses have the enviable position of being included on the AGEC and why? Here’s an example, AZ students need to take 6 arts and humanities credits (AGEC requirements), yet the individual community college has the opportunity to decide which are the courses that qualify as arts and humanities credits. My friend at Eastern Arizona College (EAC) wisely recognized the situation and fought to have foreign language classes included as arts and humanities classes. What is a humanities course, you might be asking. The dictionary labels a humanities course as a course that “studies the human condition,” yeah, open for a lot of interpretation, right? Well, the interpretation swung to my friend’s favor at EAC. Since adding my friend’s foreign language courses to the AGEC, as you might imagine, enrollments have been up. However, here, Arts and Humanities are like an iron gate, and the gate keeping is fierce. It’s tough to get a course listed as an arts and humanities course and subsequently, foreign language is not listed and I’ve been told that there’s really no chance that it will ever be listed, so, basically, give up trying. So, the double standard is once again employed. Foreign language courses are important and lauded at EAC. They meet important AGEC requirements, but not here. As it turns out, YC has implemented a very parochial view of what Arts and Humanities classes can be, and here’s the comprehensive list:

Yep, art history, English, humanities, music appreciation, philosophy and theater history, that’s it. You know what’s ostentatiously missing from our “arts and humanities” courses, yep, you guessed it, “art”. Where’s the Life Drawing, or Photography, or Acting I, or Concert Band-the actual, “art” production classes? Sure we have the academic-y art classes like art history, but doesn’t Ceramics have at least some value, at least in the “arts and humanities” category? You’d think so. Many community colleges split arts and humanities and they tell their students, “take three credits of art and three credits of humanities” instead of all humanities credits, as we have done. What about the humanities angle though? Out of the thousand-plus courses that we offer here at YC, these 35 courses are the only ones that study the “human condition” as we have defined it? Really? I guess that’s just it, how we define these concepts really matters a lot. How we define an “educated person” includes/excludes certain courses and contents, yet, the definition that we often come up with is arbitrary. Really, truly, based on nothing. The U.S. for example, President Obama specifically, emphasizes math and science as we have done for many many years. Why? They argue that we need engineers and physicists to meet the demands of our economy. I see that, I really do. We need these Engineers to be able to take that job at Apple designing the new iPod, so that we don’t have to outsource it. That’s key, that’s important, and I see that. But, why do we have iPod’s in the first place? Oh yeah, it’s to play those Bob Dylan songs that we love so much and that got us through our first divorce. I’d be lost without Dylan man! With or without the iPod, society would 9x9x25 Challenge

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find a way to value Dylan, even if it’s on a vinyl record. We’d find a way to value poetry, and a poet, at all costs, Apple and its army of engineers be-damned. What would’ve happened if Dylan had been forced to study accounting or math/science? Would you have gotten through your last divorce? Every discipline is valuable, and yet we arbitrarily apply unequal weight to each course and to each content and often, this unequal valuation is based on no-solid evidence. If people never had a love for poetry and music, there wouldn’t be an iPod industry-humans are complex and we need every aspect of human nature and talent if we want to add beauty and value to this world, yet, so often the message that we are sending students through our instantiated values, like the AGEC, is that what they are interested in, does not matter, and that they’d be better off doing something else. So how do these double standards get so instantiated? I think that someone who is very into math/science would also, intrinsically, be good at navigating the nuances of politics and so, math/science-type policies are often the ones that successful math/science-type politicians pump out. When an arts or humanities person like me tries to stand up for himself, they push some bar graphs at us and throw around words like “economic outlook predictor modeling” and bam, we’re out of the game. We’re stupid, they’re smart, so they must be right. Right? Well if they’re so smart, how come they lost their house in 2008 just like all us arts fartsy people, shouldn’t their “economic outlook predictor” have saved their hides on that one? Maybe we are going far afield here, but the point is, we desperately need everyone. Einstein said that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Are we telling our fish students with a proclivity for poetry that they are stupid because they can’t climb our math trees? Do we tacitly suggest this when we tell them that earning a degree at Yavapai College means that there are required math trees to climb, but no required poetic waters to swim in?

In a famous TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson says that we are inherently creative and we have that creativity beaten out of us in school. The creative people we see in society are coming up with creative ideas and innovative directions not because of their schooling, which perpetuated their creative genius, but in spite of their schooling, which sought to suffocate it. We need to change the culture and applaud all intelligence. I’m not saying applaud everyone, because not everyone deserves applause! There are lots of folks that are, simply put, low achieving-Jersey Shore watching-wastes of humanity. Their contributions have no value! Intelligent people profit off of these people like graft and it’s sad, but sometimes I think we value the truly intelligent artist’s product just as lowly. Fact is, intelligence is valuable and working to become intelligent, in all of the varieties of inquiry, 274

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is even more valuable, and we need all of this intelligence to be a great country. In fact, the best innovations come from those who draw upon what I term “conflated intelligence”. Society labels us as either “right brained” or “left brained”, “artsy” or “Englishy” versus “math/science” smart. It doesn’t have to be either/or? We can have both and when science and art come together, that’s the only time when true revolution emerges. Look at the iPad in its sleek and elegant, artistic design, and revolutionary science-based multitouch functionality. Apple has become the most valuable business in the world from putting value on science and art, shouldn’t we? Look around, everything that truly works and trends today, is able to blend both of these important aspects of humanity-Apple, Ikea, even In and Out Hamburgers, with their attention to detail, clean-artistic store design and elegant/nostalgic product layout. People that value science and art are those who get-it, and society is finally paying them back. Artless products work and survive (Wal-Marts the world over), but we support them grudgingly, because our pocketbook forces us to sacrifice our ideals, but if we had our way, we’d support something better. We must avoid these arbitrary valuation systems that emphasize the sciences and eschew the liberal arts. A great TED Talk by Liz Coleman spoke to this recently and it changed the way I value intelligence. Now I try to value intelligence and achievement in their own right and avoid qualifiers and categories. Now, I try to get to know the Spanish speakers in my son’s class. I ask them how their English is coming; “Bien, pero es difícil” the reply will come, and then we’ll chat for a time in English. I’ll applaud them for their bilingualism and encourage them to continue, despite the teachers that track them into ELL classes and remedial math. “Poco-a-poco” I tell them, “tú eres muy inteligente, pero ellos (glance toward the female, white, forty-something, teacher standing at the front of the room) se darán cuenta después”. A tear will often well-up then, because, for adults at least, up to now their life has amounted to nothing more than a giant ELL problema. And, hopefully, they will go on and succeed, you know, if you help and I help and everyone helps change the culture. Nothing would make me prouder than to see one of my son’s Hispanic friends take over my job one day, because let’s be honest, there are way too many six foot, four inch-white guys of Germanic decent teaching Spanish in the southwest anyway. Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 12:12AM (-07:00)

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Can I Dump the Due Date Too? (Part Two) Saturday, November 02, 2013 During the third week of the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge, I composed my blog post around the notion of dumping the due date and allowing students the opportunity for excuse-free, guilt-free extensions on most assignments when they needed them. By the time I had finished writing, I was completely sold on the idea. It seemed so innovative and so student-friendly, I could hardly wait to get started... ...and then I asked some students for their thoughts. It began innocently enough. On a whim, I sent an announcement out to the students in my online Human Sexuality class - we've developed a surprisingly strong rapport considering how few of us have met in person - asking for some feedback regarding a more relaxed deadline policy for future classes. "Would you find it to be advantageous to your experience as a student?" I asked. "Would you be motivated to stay on top of your schoolwork? Would it create needless confusion? How often do you think you might take advantage of a more liberal policy?" A response to my query was totally optional and, I explained, would earn them only my sincere appreciation and the opportunity to voice their opinions. Four days later, five of the 23 class members had already sent e-mails to express their thoughts, and all of them contained roughly the same message: don't bother.

"There's no reason other people can't turn their stuff in on time," one student grumbled. Another agreed: "...[this] is hardly grueling work." "I haven't had all that much trouble keeping up," the third e-mail stated. "If a student can't make it through this class, they will never make it through an intensive writing course," opined a fourth. By this point, I was becoming downright insecure. Had I made the course too easy? In addition to each week's discussion board and timed quizzes, there are weekly chapter readings, PowerPoint presentations, and video lectures, as well as broader grading measures such as mid-term essay exams and a final paper. I have never been accused of being an "easy" instructor in any of the other four courses I've taught for Yavapai.

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Upon consideration, though, I did recall that my own undergraduate Human Sexuality course, "dirty 330" (damn you, YC, for giving us the eminently boring course number of 277), was by far the easiest class I took at the University of Idaho. In fairness, I suspect human sexuality is somewhat unique in this regard because most people can't get enough of the material (or, for that matter, its application). Those who wrote to offer feedback had other points to make, too. "I think that sometimes students can be insensitive to the fact that a professor has a life too that doesn't revolve around WORK," one wrote, and others offered a similar sentiment: why create more work for yourself? When I wrote my original post, though, I had already tackled these considerations. Nothing within the student feedback I received directly countered my current policy or my proposed policy. Further, all of those who had taken the time to offer their thoughts fell solidly into the camp of overachievers, having never submitted any late work, while students who were sitting on late and missing work were not-so-mysteriously mum.

There was a missing piece, and when I went back to re-read those student e-mails, I realized what it was: until now, I had not asked students what they want and need. When I set out to create a more student-friendly policy, I based it on what I thought students needed, not what they were telling me they needed. Luckily, the students who had contacted me were not shy about describing what they personally would have found helpful or reasonable:

"There are times when I knew I had a very busy week coming," wrote one student. "Maybe consider opening the following week's assignment that Saturday or Sunday. That way a student with a ridiculous schedule like mine could get a jump on it. This is a first world problem and not that serious." And they also had suggestions about other ways to create a student-friendly late work policy:

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"Another professor I had had what was called "late coupons", where you were allowed to have three late assignments in the semester by emailing the professor. I thought this was very intelligent. If a student gets lax and uses all of their "late" coupons right up front and then has an emergency, that is their problem for not doing what they should have when they had the opportunity, but gives those who are completing their assignments a safety net without the worry of getting too lax." "I would say if you do offer an extension make sure you either limit how many times a student uses it or deduct 10% of the points. That way no one is taking advantage." "Perhaps it would be a good idea to say this is the due date for full credit and every day after that you lose x amount of points. That way the people that really want the good grade will never take advantage unless it is an emergency and the people that are either really busy or lazy can decide on how important their grade is." Isn't it crazy how when we take the time to ask people what they think, they'll tell us? So it's back to the late policy drawing board for me. Do I still think mine needs tweaked? Definitely. I discovered through the process of asking for feedback that, to at least one student, "thesyllabuscame across as though you were a little mean andintimidating and I was scared I wouldn't enjoy this class but over theweeks I personally dig you. I think you are fair and I think that you are open and create a good atmosphere foreveryone to learn." Although I was obviously pleased by her eventual conclusion, I realized this is NOT the way I want to begin my relationship with students, especially since I have reconfigured my mental image of myself-the-teacher as a facilitator. Ultimately, it is clear to me that I need to put this incredibly helpful student feedback to use and make some changes. And perhaps most importantly, the process has underscored for me the importance of just asking and listening. Posted by ewhitesitt at 01:36PM (-07:00)

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Wishful Thinking Saturday, November 02, 2013

Have you ever hoped for the best, believed no one would notice, counted on someone having a good day and thus overlooking your lapses? Or just showed up and wanted that to be enough? Or turned in a project way late? As I approach the last weeks of the semester, I provide my customary reminders, calculations, and, stopping short of nagging, encouragement to students “to get ‘er done.” What is the story for students who attend class regularly but have trouble making deadlines and yet want to succeed? I offer three hypotheses for this phenomenon. 1) This has worked before. Perhaps students have experience performing at a low to medium level and it was enough to pass or better outside of the points they earned. (I was awarded an A for an NAU science class but really (point-wise) earned a B. I have no idea why.) 2) They are asking for help but don’t know how to ask out loud. Students offer a glimpse of themselves with patterns of lateness, incompleteness, or nothingness. Suggestions like “how about we talk at break” and subsequent conversations can break the cycle and give a student extra personal attention they need. 3) Successfully participating in the class has simply become too much. Life has happened and won’t give the student a break. And yet this class is the doorway to a dreamed-of career or to an achievable position in the near future. In any case, there is no substitute for a one-on-one dialog. That, however, does not always alleviate my after-hour “coulda shoulda” ponderings, so here is a little of my wishful thinking. I wish students would learn to not make being in college harder than it really is and for them to understand the value of the struggling to learn new ideas. So on one hand “don’t struggle” and on the other hand “struggle.” I think it makes perfect sense, since saving one’s mental strength (working with other students, knowing and acting upon one’s learning style, for example) for what’s important—systematically stretching one’s mind and being willing to put in the time and work to do so—offers deeper rewards than a lucky “C.” I think the answer lies in embedding student success techniques within the content. 9x9x25 Challenge

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Then I can be reasonably confident the student has at a minimum been in contact with useful tools. Okay, so Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll use Charles Darwinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous talent for procrastination to reinforce study skills as we head into the topic of evolution. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 02:52PM (-07:00)

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Student Success Skills, How Much Should I Help? Saturday, November 02, 2013 Having taught in the public school system, I can tell you that there are some major differences between senior level high school classes and freshman level college classes. One of the main differences is that in high school, teachers are pressured to ‘hold students’ hands’ and help them ‘succeed’ (or pass). At the college level, we figure it’s the student’s choice to come and participate. Our paychecks aren’t determined by the number of students who pass standardized tests, and nobody is judging our ability to teach based on our students success rates. We gain comfort in knowing that students who slack off aren’t a reflection on us. And, to an extent, this allows us the academic freedom to teach and assess in creative ways and ‘weed’ out those students who don’t plan to participate fully so that we can focus on those that do, which is opposite of the K12 school system. Should we be doing more to help our struggling students? They can’t all be slackers who need a good dose of motivation. As pointed out in an abundance of developmental education literature and studies, including this review about an article in the Chronicle Of Higher Education called ‘Tactics That Engage Community-College Students Get Few Takers, Study Finds’: students often come to us lacking basic college survival skills. Are we throwing those students into shark infested waters by not giving them the lifeline they need to develop basic college survival skills before holding them accountable for them? Hopefully, with the implementation of Common Core Standards, students really will come to us ‘College and Career Ready’. However, many community college students aren’t ‘traditional’ students; some have been out of any type of school system for years, and others do have valid disabilities and gaps in learning that will impede their ability to be successful at the college level. If we are truly meeting the needs of our individual students, we should be helping, to the best of our ability, each student what he or she needs to be successful. This may mean creating a Student Skills type course, which YC does have, to help give students a good foundation. Research shows, however, that few students who would really benefit from such a class rarely take it. Is making it mandatory the answer? Or would it discourage students if they had to take such a course? Are there ways that we could embed these skills into every course? In my EDU courses, I would like to start asking students, individually, what their strengths and weaknesses as a student are, and what goals they have- not only for my class, but for their college and career endeavors as well. Part way through the semester, I’d like to meet with them to find out how things are going and what help they may need. Then, at the end of the semester, I’d like every student to reflect on what they did well, and what they could work on. And, when I notice a student struggling in class, I’m going to try to dig a little deeper to find out what help the student may need; Note taking? Time management? Study skills? Comprehension of material? I know that it isn’t my job to ‘baby’ college students, and they do need to gain independence and accountability. My standards will not change, but I’ve come to the realization that I can’t assume that every student who isn’t passing my class is lazy, unmotivated or incapable; I want to know for sure when I post that grade that I did everything in my power to encourage their success. I’m learning that some students know

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they need help but don’t know who to ask; others don’t realize that they need help until it’s too late and they’re already frustrated; and still some don’t set long-term (or even short-term) goals, which are proven to be necessary for success. If students don’t know where they’re going, they won’t be too motivated to get there. In short, I’m hopeful that the next struggling student who seems to have a number of excuses for why he or she isn’t doing well in your class isn’t automatically written off. We should start taking the time to ask students: What are your goals? What are you doing to reach them? And how can I assist in helping you learn the skills you need to be successful? We shouldn’t wait until students are placed in two or more developmental education courses before recommending a Student Success course, we should be embedding support for those skills into every college level course. Posted by Tara Oneill at 07:15PM (-07:00)

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Writing to Think Sunday, November 03, 2013 I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living. Anne Morrow Lindbergh I have taught the same course, ENG 140, online and face to face for the pasts three years. As I developed the online course, I tried to ensure that the students in both deliver modes would receive similar experiences. One of the ways I accomplish this is through weekly discussion boards that mirror the small and large group discussions I have in class. In the online class, students are required to post at least a paragraph to the discussion prompt, and they must respond to two other students in a way that furthers the conversation. In my face to face class, I give the students the prompt orally and have them discuss their answers in small groups before they reported out to the larger context. It didn't take long before I noticed an interesting trend: â&#x20AC;˘ The online students are forced to participate if they want to receive their points. The classroom students can keep quiet during a small group discussion, and some participants defer to the outspoken or dominant students. â&#x20AC;˘ The online students tend to express and explain their thoughts more clearly. More original thought is presented, and once students become more comfortable with each other, better questions and challenges occur when responding to their fellow students. â&#x20AC;˘ The weaker online students eventually begin to mimic those students with the best posts; I don't know yet whether this is because of the modeling of a good post or because of not wanting to do a poor job in front of their fellow students. In response to this, I have incorporated more pre-discussion writing in my classroom. This gives the quiet students time to process their thoughts before they are challenged to participate, and I find that all of the students take the prompts more thoughtfully. As a result, the small group discussion are becoming more dynamic, and the large group discussions are taking on new dimensions.

For example, in my STU 150 class, as we were working through Bloom's Taxonomy, I wanted students to experience higher levels of thinking. We began with an old picture of the rapper 50 Cent (similar to the one at the left). In the photo I used in class, 50 Cent is seated with one hand holding drugs, the other throwing bullets at the camera. I first asked the individual students to write down five observations about what they saw in the photo. Then they had to write five more. And again. Second, they had to infer what 50 Cent was thinking based upon the expression on his face. Finally, they had to consider how this 9x9x25 Challenge

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rapper would define "masculine" or "manhood." Once they had written their responses, they were put in groups to share their answers. Interestingly, at least one student in each group had either knowledge about the rapper's background or about the kind of bullets shown in the photo that provided more details for our analysis. When we gathered back in the larger group, more and more ideas popcorned around the room as we examined our evaluations and analysis. All the while, we related our responses to the choices made by the rapper and the photographer in the photo shoot, including both the props and the background, to determine the intent behind the image. What I thought was going to be a quick exercise in critical thinking ended up with an in-depth discussion that took over 30 minutes. I don't think the discussion would have been as lively if students weren't given the time to think on their own first. David Miller writes: "...Vincent Ruggiero draws an interesting distinction between two methods of thinking: "the production of ideas (creative thinking) [that is] accomplished by widening your focus and looking at many possibilities," and "the evaluation of ideas (critical thinking) [that is] accomplished by narrowing your focus, sorting out the ideas you've generated, and identifying the almost reasonable ones." He goes on to assert that "both processes are natural activities for human beings" (3). If both of these practices are natural activities, why, then, do so many developmental students find it difficult to think either creatively or critically? I must contend that most of these students are fully capable of thinking at a critical level. However, in many cases, I feel that they are not fully aware of the fact that they are able to think this way; furthermore, they do not understand how they can get from the superficial state in which we most often function to the metacognitive state they must acquire to function in the academy. We tell them all the time that they need to "think critically." What we often fail to do is show them how." Through having my students respond to writing prompts that ask them to evaluate, infer, and analyze, they are learning to move beyond basic knowledge and comprehension to more complex kinds of thinking." Creative and critical thinking is what I want my students to practice in our discussions about anything we read, and in the past some of those discussions have fallen flat, no matter how creative the prompts, especially in my 0-level classes. Having students write first provides several benefits to small group discussions. The sleepy students get to take the time to rev up their brain cells with pen and paper. The shy students get to practice their thinking before they open their mouths. The biased students get to channel and recognize their closed-minded thinking. All the students are challenged to support their thinking from what they have read or elsewhere; thus, mere opinions aren't enough. In fact, I like to time the writing so that students are forced to write more than they originally planned. I instruct them, "If you run out of things to write, simply write 'blah blah blah' continually until your brain gets bored." Very few students have had to resort to that, but many have confessed to realizing how much further they could go with their thinking. Because I have found this writing promotes deeper thinking, I am considering including a journal in all my reading classes. I have not formulated yet how this will work, but since I already require reader responses as homework for everything we read, I think this journal might become a reflective piece that students can revisit to see how their critical thinking skills have developed over the semester. Stay tuned...as I ponder the possibilities. Posted by Schafer's Blogs at 08:55AM (-07:00)

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Question Everything… I Dare You Sunday, November 03, 2013

Until several decades ago, most teachers thought that teaching simply involved filling a student’s head with information. Knowledge was ‘transmitted’ from an authority (the teacher) to a learner (despite the fact that the ineffectiveness of lecture-based teaching has been known for quite some time), generally by lecture. This thinking and practice are firmly entrenched in most classrooms despite the fact that the ineffectiveness of lecture only teaching can be very ineffective. Modern cognitive psychology tells us that learning is a constructive, not receptive, process. This theory of learning (constructivism) holds that understanding comes through experiences and interaction with the environment, and that the learner uses a foundation of previous knowledge to construct new understanding. Consequently, the learner has primary responsibility for constructing knowledge and understanding, not the teacher. In a constructivist classroom, the teacher is no longer the “authority” but instead is a guide or facilitator who assists students in learning in spite of the fact that the ineffectiveness of lecture-based teaching has been known for quite some time.

The following was an email I received from a student this week which made me think about the notion of learning. ************************************************************************************************ 9x9x25 Challenge

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Professor Buffo, “I wanted to ask this question because it is very important to me. What I want to know from you is “what is the ‘one’ thing you really want students to learn from you?” I do mean this seriously. What is the most significant thing you wish or want for me to learn from you? I’m getting overly curious.” Thanks for taking the time, (student’s name) *************************************************************************************************

I found this to be an interesting and valid question. What do we want our students to learn and if there is one significant thing you want your students leave your class with, what is it? This was my response: Dear _______, your question is well taken and much appreciated. It implies that you may have some questions regarding the final destination of class. Questions are good and voicing them even better. First of all, let me say that learning is a process not a product. The experience of gaining knowledge or a skill really becomes a subjective experience. In other words, how I learn can be very different than how you learn. That’s not to say I learn better or you learn better, just different. So one of the things I really would like you to learn is just that, we are both sharing the same journey, but may experience it in very different ways. My role is to provide you information you may require depending where your journey may take you. It’s like me inviting you to a buffet table and telling you to help yourself, get what you want, take what you need, it may come in handy in reaching your destination. So what do I want students to learn from me? • To keep asking questions • Be curious • Be mindful • Remain divergent in your thinking • Never be afraid to challenge someone else’s thinking • And always be open to change, for I believe change is the end result of all learning. Thank you for your question and the opportunity to respond. Regards, Sal Buffo

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Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 10:59AM (-07:00)

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Intelligence and How to Get It Sunday, November 03, 2013 Here is one article I found in Facebook that I can't get out of my mind: There's one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don't. The article states, "While American fourth and eighth grades score quite well in international math comparisons-beating countries like Germany, the UK and Sweden--our high-schoolers underperform those countries by a wide margin." The authors go on to say that "some influential voices in American education policy have suggested simply teaching less math--for example, Andrew Hacker has called for algebra to no longer be a requirement. The subtext, of course, is that large numbers of American kids are simply not born with the ability to solve for x. And how will that help America compete in a global marketplace? Ever since teaching GED classes here at Yavapai College, I have been listening to students tell me, "I'm just not a math person." So why do I care? I teach English. Yet, the students who are good in math transfer this thinking into "I'm just not good at writing."

So what if you have trouble getting math concepts right away? Not all brains are created the same. We have multiple intelligences. Howard Gardener wrote books on the subject, and I even wrote a thesis on it. For anyone who really wants to dive into Gardener's theory, here is a list of his books: The Disciplined Mind (1999), Leading Minds (1995), Creating Minds and Multiple Intelligences (1993). For those of you who teach English or who wonder why I like to use collaborative learning, you can read my thesis. But even if one student has more trouble than another in learning math or how to write, does that mean the student should shrug his or her shoulders and give up? Maybe in America, but certainly not in foreign countries. According to this article, students who have more trouble learning in other countries learn to work hard. What a concept! I remember my oldest daughter having such a struggle in college calculus. She told me that she was determined that no matter how many times she had to take Calculus II, she was going to pass the class. And she did. Eventually.

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So how do we create a more dynamic educational system in our country, a system where people dive in when the going get tough? Where the challenged keep striving for excellence and intelligence in all we say and do? We as the adults need to change our language. We need to set the example. Don't say that we ourselves can't remember the times tables and dig out our cell phone calculator, for example. Don't tell our kids that mommy or daddy weren't good at writing papers in high school and then send the kids off to bed without at least trying to talk them through some basic ideas about a topic they are supposed to write about for homework. That isn't to say we shouldn't also point them in the direction of a tutor, teacher, or friend who is good at the subject. But let us set the example of people who are willing to try, willing to strive for success, even when it is difficult.

Posted by Tina's Blog at 01:22PM (-07:00)

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On Being a Student… Sunday, November 03, 2013 Some semesters, I forget. When I get panicked emails at the beginning of the semester, wondering “what do you want?” in a blog or “how long is a peer post supposed to be?” Or “what is a Wiki?” and “how the H am I supposed to reduce my photo or embed a video clip?” Not to mention, “where is the Add Mashup button, I can’t find it?” There are moments when I am overwhelmed by all of the details and “to-dos” at the beginning of the semester, when I want to respond to one-line emails with a terse, “Read your Syllabus.” Or “Watch my video tutorial.” But I muster up some patience and a generous dollop of diplomacy. Because I do remember what it was like to be a student. I am reminded of it whenever I take a class or a workshop, especially online. There are new formats, requirements and expectations -elements that can be difficult to understand on the basis of written instructions alone. I have to admit, it can trigger the same sort of annoyance and frustration that I see in my students. “Where am I supposed to find that?” Or “I can’t do that!” So it was when I signed up for the Technology in Teaching class taught by our spectacular TELS group (Todd Conaway, Thatcher Bohrman, and Stacey Hilton) several summers ago. Somehow, Todd had persuaded me to take EDU 255 convincing me it would be “fun,” and that I would learn a great many things (um, sort of like this 9x9x25 blog challenge ;-) But I was also teaching two classes at the time and wasn’t sure that I was entirely committed. I remember my objections to learning Jing and how to make a YouTube video, let alone writing a blog and creating a wiki. I didn’t understand why I needed to do all of this work! I had enough on my plate and this was summer!! But with the gracious patience of Todd, Thatcher and Stacey, I learned -- and my repertoire of technology in teaching skills was forever transformed. I still try to take a class every now and then, to stay fresh…and remind myself what it’s like to be a student. And to those of you who wait until the last minute and turn things in just under the wire….well, I get you. At least you beat the deadline. ### Posted by Dr. Karly at 02:05PM (-07:00)

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Take it Off the Yoga Mat or Outside the English Class Monday, November 04, 2013 This post originally appears on dotcomyoga.com Acceptance: Take it Off the Yoga mat or Outside the English Class Take it off the mat is a saying in Yoga. It essentially means the mental and physical benefits a participant develops during the Yoga routine(s) are applied in their everyday life. In Yoga terms, it simply means the benefits developed on the mat are taken off the mat. For this short writing, I will compare Yoga’s mental benefit of acceptance of oneself to how a student in an English class can develop this same acceptance of oneself. Acceptance Taken off the mat For the mental benefits of a Yoga class, as a Yoga instructor, the most important benefit I like to focus on is the benefit of acceptance of oneself. For example, during a Yoga routine, if I have students who can’t touch their toes to perform the textbook pose of the standing forward bend, I remind the students to let go of their judgment of where they think they should touch and simply just accept where they can touch. To have the students develop this acceptance of themselves on the mat is a benefit because the students develop acceptance of themselves off the mat. Acceptance Taken Outside the English Class Developing this acceptance of oneself could also be applied in any learning activity, even in an English class. For example, during an English class, if a teacher has students who can’t write perfectly, the teacher should remind the students to let go of their judgment of where they think their writing skills should be and simply just accept where their writing skills are. To have the students develop this acceptance of themselves with their writing skills is a benefit because the students develop acceptance of themselves outside the English class. In Conclusion Now, of course, there is more to a Yoga course and an English course, like goals. For example, some Yoga students may want to touch their toes in the standing forward bend, and this is a good goal, and as the Yoga instructor, on the students’ way to accomplish this goal, a great benefit to develop in the students is acceptance of themselves. And the same is for an English class or any class for that matter. Just because it’s not a Yoga class doesn’t mean the benefit of acceptance of oneself can’t or shouldn’t be developed in the students. So, for example, some English students may want to become great writers, and this is a great goal, and as the instructor, on the students’ way to accomplish this goal, a great benefit to develop in the students is acceptance of oneself. Posted by Charles Lohman at 07:51AM (-07:00)

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What the Hâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;â&#x20AC;&#x201C;?: The Jungle that is Hybrid at YC Monday, November 04, 2013

MOULION: Hybrid mouse and lion (in tennis shoes) "But this isn't what I signed up for!" "I don't understand... how does this class work?" "But this doesn't work like my other hybrid class worked." Hybrid. The best of both worlds. At least that's what the research says. Students get the advantage of a teacher, and also flexibility of time and the marvel of technology. So what's the problem? The problem is that no one around here seems to know--or agree--on what a "hybrid" class is. In a way, the moniker has become a license to throw together any combination of face-to-face and online instructional modes. So what? What's the downside? In a word--CONFUSION. For students, faculty and staff. When a "hybrid" class is entered into the system, it shows up in the schedule as "classroom and web." Banner (at least the version we have) seems unable to articulate the requirements much beyond this. And while there are certainly technological and communication issues, the big issue is that students have little idea, at least when they sign up, what is expected of them. And they will naturally carry over their experiences in one "hybrid" class to another. For example: If I have a "hybrid" class where class attendance is optional (and we have more than a few of these), then I probably won't show up for the first class of my hybrid Race and Ethnic Relations course (in which attendance is required). I'll be behind out of the starting blocks, and I may even get dropped from the class during the first week. I will not be a happy camper. A couple of years ago, I was able to attend a conference on "Blended Learning" (a synonym for hybrid delivery). It was a great experience, and one of things that was pounded into our heads is that designing a hybrid course in MUCH MORE than simply moving some elements from the classroom to online, or vice versa. It requires a total redesign of the course--a challenging but very rewarding process. (That could be an entire blog in itself.) I raise this because there are significant pedagogical issues in teaching hybrid that it seems we are ignoring in many of our courses. But the place to START is an agreed upon definition of hybrid, and a willingness to abide by some best practice parameters. 292

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In Blended Learning: Research Perspectives (2007: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation), editor Anthony Picciano summarizes the collaborative definition of hybrid courses arrived at by participants at the 2005 Sloan-C Workshop: 1. Courses that integrate online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner, and 2. Where a portion (institutionally defined) of face-to-face time is replaced by online activity (p. 9, emphasis mine). It is my opinion that we lack both elements in our current Yavapai College system: We have not decided what "planned, pedagogically valuable manner" means, and we have no institutionally defined portion of face-to-face and online activity. So, as a discussion starter (and I hope there WILL be discussion regarding this!), I propose the following taxonomy of delivery modes, with the intent of being as transparent as possible regarding expectations for both students and faculty: FACE-TO-FACE CLASS: All learning activities are conducted in the classroom. Attendance at weekly class sessions is expected. Few to no online components are part of the class. WEB-ENHANCED CLASS: Mode of delivery is primarily face-to-face. Attendance at weekly class sessions is expected; however some class sessions may be replaced by online activities. Significant online components are part of the class. HYBRID CLASS: Learning activities are divided approximately equally between in class and online activities. Attendance at designated class sessions is expected, which amounts to about half the seat time as a face to face class. Significant online components are part of the class. ASSISTED ONLINE CLASS: Almost all components of the class are online. Face-to-face instructional assistance is provided as part of the class structure. Attendance at some classes may or may not be required. SYNCHRONOUS ONLINE CLASS: All learning activities occur online. Students may be expected to be online at specified times for collaborative work. No classroom attendance is required. TOTALLY ONLINE CLASS: All learning activities occur online. Faculty assistance is available by phone, email or other mode designated by the instructor. No classroom attendance is required. This six-tiered model is intended to remove ambiguity for students enrolling for courses and for faculty designing courses. This is not inconsistent with schemes proffered by other institutions. Ideally, there are not too many categories, but neither are there two few. It is intended to be totally transparent. I'm sure others may come up with better designation titles. I sincerely invite comments on this idea, and would be interested in forwarding our own collaborative definitions to become policy here at Yavapai College.

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ELEPHAROO Posted by Mark Shelley at 12:21PM (-07:00)

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Relevance and Meaning Before Details Tuesday, November 05, 2013

In Peg Cat, preschoolers learn the details about math through engaging examples. My son has been watching the new PBS Kids series Peg Cat. It is essentially a math learning tool in which preschoolers learn about mathematics by discovering the meaning of the math and why it is needed. This easily keeps his attention for a half hour…not an easy task with a three-year old. In Brain Rules, John Medina suggests that presenting the meaning of a concept before the details helps keep the attention of learners.

If the instructor presents a concept without telling the audience where the concept fits into the rest of the presentation, the audience is forced to simultaneously listen to the instructor and attempt to divine where it fits into the rest of what the instructor is saying. This is the pedagogical equivalent of trying to drive while talking on a cell phone. Because it is impossible to pay attention to ANY two things at once, this will cause a series of millisecond delays throughout the presentation. The linkages must be clearly and repetitively explained. This really hits a mathematics teacher hard. So much of what we do in developmental math classes is details. How do you factor this polynomial? How do you find the slope of a line? How do you find find the vertex of a parabola? Without the meaning of these concepts, how can I expect to keep the attention of my students? Many textbooks present a brief introductory example to help deliver meaning. But with the amount of detail that needs to be delivered, it is way too easy for an instructor to skip the introductory example to teach the details. And then after all of the details, we expect the students to apply the details. It is not surprising that students have a hard time applying algebraic processes to solve applications. This leads me to another quote from Medina.

How does one communicate in such a fashion that learning is improved? A simple trick involves the liberal use of relevant real-world examples embedded in the information, constantly peppering main learning points with meaningful experiences. This can be done by the learner studying after class or, better, by the teacher during the actual learning experience. This is the key for me. I like to present real world examples as a vehicle for the details. Show them some data with a model to help motivate why certain algebraic operations are 9x9x25 Challenge

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needed. In fact. many of my courses use an overlying problem to help give meaning to the content. In College Algebra, my students complete three projects that are all related. The content of the projects is also related to their experience. The goal is to answer a simple problem. Suppose you have two options for obtaining a degree in four years. Option A: Attend a two-year college for two years followed by two more years at a fouryear college. Option B: Attend a four-year college for all four years. In every state in the US, the average cost of attending a two-year college is less than attending a four year college. How much would be saved with Option A over Option B from 2013 to 2017? To answer this question, student use data from the years 2006 through 2010. Year Two-Year Colleges Four-Year Colleges 2006-2007 $2018 $5666 2007-2008 $2061 $5943 2008-2009 $2136 $6312 2009-2010 $2285 $6695 If we graph this data with time graphed horizontally and the costs vertically, we see that cost are increasing at two-year colleges and at four-year colleges.

To predict what the costs are in the future, students need to find a model for the data. In the first project, students find a linear model for each data set.

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Modeling with a linear equation requires students to apply many of the details from the first two chapters in the textbook. In the second project of the semester, students model the data with a quadratic function.

They are still answering the same question about savings, but with a different type of model. This requires them to apply details from one chapter on quadratic functions and another chapter on matrices. In the third project, student find an exponential model for each type of institution.

This requires each student to apply details about exponentials and logarithms from another chapter of the textbook. Before each project, I show these graphs to the students to help them understand what they are trying to do and why it is important. The meaning of the project is clear. By knowing the cost in the future, we can compute how much is potentially saved. All that remains is the details…how do we find these functions from the data? It is much easier to keep the attention of the students and for them to learn the details with this real-world scenario in mind. How could you apply a real-world example to your class? What ever examples you choose, make sure you start by making sure your students understand the meaning of this example. This will make it easier to get the details across about the concepts related to the example. Throughout the details, keep referring back to the example. This keeps their attention from wandering off to wonder about how the details relate to the big

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picture. Their natural pattern matching abilities will also help them to connect the details back to the meaning. This will help to make the learning more substantial and permanent. Posted by davidg at 08:14AM (-07:00)

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Students as Teachers Tuesday, November 05, 2013 While believing wholeheartedly in promoting student participation in class I just rereminded (learning takes repetition!) myself to ask students more questions and invite them to tell their stories. I’ve slipped out of the habit of using a wonderful resource for teaching, asking at the beginning of class, “Does anybody have a story to tell today?” A noteworthy response from last semester’s Environmental Biology class was from a water treatment plant manager who accounted the details of a wastewater treatment malfunction relating directly to our unit on humans and water. The yuck factor was a plus. Another recent story told of the status of buck and doe populations during a weekend hunting trip. Then there is the just honest passion about awful or awesome acts of humans relating to the environment. Alas, I neglected to ask if anyone had experience with the über-invasive plant kudzu (“the vine that ate the south”) and was only reminded when a student told a short story after class. That was a missed classroom-wide shared opportunity and the inspiration for this piece of writing.

One vision for teaching is an atmosphere of teamwork among all of us in the classroom. I might regress into “talking at” students, filling in the contemplative spaces with my words, my stories. If new information does not relate to a student’s world or worldview, a learning opportunity has passed. Student engagement with content and with other students are two keys on the chain. Environmental issues evoke passion and controversy both recognized as powerful launching points for learning. How can I build a safe haven for new learners in which to verbalize misconceptions or ask for clarification of a topic for which I might not have an answer? Modeling story telling, encouraging cooperative learning, and asking students to produce projects of personal interest enter the mix. Rules apply to storytelling. 1. Promote cooperative discussion; think carefully about others before speaking 2. Speak on topics relevant to topics hand; otherwise, I may ask you to put that in the “parking lot” for another time. 3. Listen 4. Introduce only G-rated topics 5. Engage in scientific thinking, not just opinion; opinion plays a role, too

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6. Follow up with research, if appropriate 7. Give attention to your environmental worldview, your belief systems when it comes to how to manage our Earth (more on worldviews at ourbluesphere) and the affect what you say on others with different environmental worldviews So, a funny thing happened to me on the way to class. I remembered to ask someone else if they had a story to tell. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 01:42PM (-07:00)

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Welcoming the Class Wednesday, November 06, 2013 The importance of a Welcome Video within a fully online course is essential to student success. This small act can create for the student a way of knowing the person behind the screen is real. Creation of a video can be very simple to do. You do not need to be a theater major to say hello to a group of people. There is no need for a full media studio either. YouTube makes this painless. Not only is it FREE to create an account, they guide you through the recording process step by step. For those of you who wish to remain private and fear the World Wide Web finding your video, the end result can be marked as Unlisted and will not show up in someone’s YouTube search.

Here’s an example Welcome Video… Along with this Welcome Video process, creating a “how to use this class” video should be added. We all have academic freedom to create our own courses within Blackboard, so it is probably a good guess that your class will look different than one the student took last semester. Walk them through your course. Show them where each navigation leads. Explain your expectations for the course during this video. Now, this type of recording needs to be completed with some tool that captures the computer screen. Again, there is another FREE one out there on the internet. This one is called Screencast-O-Matic. It is a user-friendly website that walks you through the process of creation from start to finish. Once completed, the video can be published to Screencast-O-Matic, YouTube, or saved to your desktop. If you should choose to publish to Screencast-O-Matic, you’ll need to create an account (FREE). Once the video has been published, the link can be added to a class, or an email. The video can also be embedded within the course for review. Now how simple and cost effective is that?

Here’s an example of a course “how-to”: If you follow these two short suggestions, the online world will open up for you; and your students. I’d tell you more but my 25 sentences are up ;-D Posted by rudi1234 at 10:48AM (-07:00)

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Gearing Up for a New Semester . . Soon Thursday, November 07, 2013 Every semester when I see things winding down, the faithful students seeking to finish well, I think, wow, my work is almost done here. But then it hits me . . . Think again! Now is the time to start building for the new semester. So what process do instructors go through to prepare for a new semester? Instructors receive a new Course Management System (CMS) shell to build new content. That means we don't just copy the course from last semester and change the dates. Why not, you may ask? Each semester instructors find ways of teaching the class that they can improve upon. Often I write notes right onto the syllabus of the face-to-face classes to help me remember what changes to make. In online classes, I sometimes change the assignment the week after the students finish it so it is already ready when I do roll over content into the new Blackboard shell.

But I thought you said you don't copy the course. Well, since I am a limited human being, I do copy the main portion of the course, especially between fall and spring, and then I do the major rewriting during the summer . . . when I am off contract. But I still change textbooks, content, assignments, the way the directions are written to improve clarity, and so on. Instructors also go to conferences and develop new ideas. In addition, most instructors network with other faculty at their campuses to gain insight into new and better ways to deliver instruction. We also network to make sure that students taking a particular course are getting a similar experience regardless of which section they take. In fact, blogging here in this TeLS 9x9x25 challenge has become one more way for instructors, both locally and around the country, to similarly learn from one another and to network. I was pleased to get a great idea from a professor of writing from another institution today that I will definitely incorporate. And with funding for professional growth shrinking, we as instructors need to turn to the Internet for more and more ways to learn from one another.

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One important point I would like to make about developing an online course is to write into it your conversational voice. Use proper grammar and punctuation, but write your personality into the course. Be warm and open in the voice you present to the students, and they will find you to be inviting. They will be more likely to contact you when they have trouble. The first time I taught online, I inherited a course from a professor at Northern Arizona University. I spent most of the rewriting just changing the information into my voice. And as Matt Pearcy taught us at the last Summer Institute, be sure to make your syllabus friendly for students. And all throughout that semester, when students sent me an email asking to clarify directions, I was logging into the CMS to see how I could improve them. Each semester I seemed to have fewer emails with students having difficulty. If one student had an issue, I didn't consider it to be a problem, but as soon as I heard from two, I figured that a lot of others probably had the same issue, but didn't have the courage to ask or hadn't gotten to that point in the lesson yet. That is when I made sure I got into the course and changed things.

So here it is, November. Time to get started with Spring semester courses. Let's get our fingers nimble and go to work. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving vacation is for? Well, at least after filling ourselves with turkey and thanking God for all of his many blessings, but seriously. Signing off . . .

Posted by Tina's Blog at 10:47PM (-07:00)

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Teaching or Presenting Friday, November 08, 2013 Not long ago I had a couple of frustrated students come to my office to discuss their situation. They approached their instructor with some questions about the material in class and the instructor suggested that re-read the textbook that covered those particular parts. While this may have been the appropriate response, it did raise a question for me. What is the difference between teaching and presenting? Often in introductory classes faculty are presenting subject matter and concepts that are new to the students. I realize that in some instances it can be a very fine line between presenting material and teaching it. Faculty have to be vigilant that while presenting new information that they do not settle on becoming just a presenter. A presenter is closely associated with being a host or hostess. They introduce, present, and acquaint things to their audience. A Teacher is someone that explains, describes, educates, or coaches a student in knowledge and skill. Teaching is more active and involved then presenting. While both may disseminate the same concepts, terms or material; for the presenter it is a one way action, for the teacher however, it is a two way action. The teacher, in addition to delivering the content, is also concerned about the student understanding the concepts, terms and material, it is more qualitative, it is more dynamic. What will the student be able to do with that information, will they be able to utilize it, synthesize it, make connections, and judgements about it, will they be able to build upon it. A good teacher is like a good physician caring for a patient. If a patient is ill the physician will employ tests, experience and skill to determine what best treatment to prescribe. An exemplary teacher will assess what issues does the student have that is preventing them from understanding the material and will employ a variety of strategies and techniques to aid the student. Of course this requires more time and energy, but that may be the difference between teaching and presenting.

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Giving Thanks Friday, November 08, 2013 Click on the Yavapai College homepage this week and the first image that pops up is this:

Yep, that’s my Hannah, and yes, this is going to be one of those “why I’m thankful to be a teacher posts.” It’s Thanksgiving time. Bear with me and I’ll try and keep it short. Hannah and I started at YC together in the fall of 2009. She was a wide-eyed freshman and I was a brand-new professor. She was trying to jumpstart her life, and I was trying to jumpstart my career. We didn’t know it at the time, but one day her march to pomp and circumstance, her well-earned cap and gown, would serve as supreme validation for us both. Before we can appreciate her journey, though, we must first examine my own. Like most aspiring academics, I had entered graduate school with an eye on ivory towers. I knew that I would someday be teaching (really, what else does one do with an advanced degree in English), but, as a student enrolled at a research institution, I assumed that such work would be ancillary to the more important pursuit of my discipline. This mindset was shared by my classmates and encouraged by my professors. Thus, when offered a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, I adopted the prevailing outlook and viewed it, not as a valuable learning opportunity, but as a meal ticket and tuition waiver. I would attend class, and read, and study, and read, and write, and read some more, and teach on the side. This was how it was done; this was the once and present way. Indeed, my mentor called it a mandate. Sitting in her dark and hallowed office, she looked at me and said, “Spend as little time teaching as possible. Don’t dwell on their papers. Your focus should be on your own classes and your own career.” I considered this valuable guidance. Obviously, it had worked for her; she had my dream job. However, I would have been a fool to think that she wasn’t applying the same advice to herself. As an associate professor at a research institution, her primary focus was not the two or three classes she taught but the articles and professional conferences that would bring prestige to the university and win her tenure. Thus, she would only spend a little time teaching me and certainly wouldn’t dwell on my papers. She wasn’t selfish, just invested one more cog in a clock that’s been ticking since the 13th century. I could read the time and knew what I had to do.

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There was just one problem: I discovered I liked teaching. After leaving a five-hour study session in the library, I was often bleary-eyed and resentful, but after teaching I was always energized and optimistic. At first, this newfound passion was my dirty little secret, but in my teacher training program I found a few likeminded souls. We gathered in the shadows to discuss pedagogy and scrawled out lesson plans on spare napkins. One can endure a double life for only so long, and eventually I had to make a decision. I could soon graduate with my MA and hopefully focus on teaching at a community college, or I could endure another three or four years of academic hazing, earn my PhD, and follow in my mentor’s footsteps. Surrounded by brick and ivy, it was a difficult decision. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) the deciding factor came from outside academia. My wife’s career involved helping victims of abuse, especially children. Though this job was emotionally challenging, she could never question whether or not it was socially valuable and important. I was jealous of this assurance. My teaching was not without meaning or relevance, but when I looked around the room, I did not see a vulnerable population. Most of my students came from well-to-do families, with a number of safety nets, and even if I was Professor Keating in the classroom, my English 101 course would likely have little impact on whether or not they succeeded in life. However, I was a first generation college student myself and had once attended a community college. I well remembered that demographic and the challenges they faced. My decision was made. I was soon hired at Yavapai, willing and eager to teach and contribute to the social good. Fortunately, validation was not long in coming. As stated above, Hannah arrived at the same time. She was a single mom with a troubled past, no child support, and plenty of people, including herself, telling her she couldn’t cut it in college. And they were almost right. That first semester there was late work, and tears, and forgotten weekends, but there was also intelligence and drive. A busy university professor with writing to publish would likely have had little time for this student, but I was in a wonderful environment that encouraged teaching and supported making connections. My office hours were for students and my primary purpose, really my sole raison d'être, was to help them succeed. Hannah was my demo and Yavapai gave me a chance to make a social difference, the opportunity to help a young woman climb into the middle class and forever change her life and the life of her daughter. I relished this chance and did the best I could to help. Let me be clear though: Hannah did the work, Hannah suffered through the difficulties, and Hannah made the sacrifices. She deserves the credit. I was just lucky enough to have a job that helped make such dreams possible, and that’s certainly something to be thankful for.

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Oh Where (OER) Oh Where (OER) Friday, November 08, 2013 This week was the OpenEd Conference in Utah. Last year I remember watching Gardner Campbell’s keynote and thinking “Oh man, another “Bag of Gold story” and that it was another idea that would take me a long time to figure out. He talks about all this academic stuff we call education and weaves thought it these strange stories and analogies and media and people I have never heard of. He loves to wonder and yearn. I FEEL the story he tells. I think I understand it. I know it is the right place to go. And be. Or at the very least, I am learning how to be these things. This year there were other keynotes and some learning opportunities. For us, all these recorded sessions. There certainly were a few of the “That was not it, not it at all,” moments. I watched the tweets pass by and read about some projects, content about presentations, and pondering by participants about what the heck is this whole OER thing and how do we do it? We don’t “do” it. We must “be” it. That is, in part, what I learned. It is a process of becoming rather than a “doing” as a final act. What we must be, is a doer of steps in the right direction. That will take effort, and time, and danger, and the willingness to let go of some of the things we hold tightly. Here are the tweets. Tweets about “#opened13″ So how do we be it? Be open? Is that just too simple to adapt to the very tricky and deeply thoughtful world of academia? Probably. We will out-think ourselves into Bigger Books that cost More Money because they are Full Color and have Thousands of Footnotes. I am not making fun of footnotes or well-crafted images, but you know that big ol’ text book. The one that you only use half of (or slightly more) and the students think must be full of all the things they need because it cost $183.99 and weights seven pounds. But that book problem, that is just a small piece of the OER yearning. I know I have made reference to this before, but I’ll give it a short go again. When I was given a high school classroom it came with old and worn posters of all kinds thumb tacked to the wall and a file cabinet brimming with copies of “handouts.” Lots and lots of stuff. So much stuff that I never, even after ten years, saw all of it primarily because most of the stuff was tragically faded and skewed. I must have wondered how long it had been there. Just as the person who inherited the classroom from me probably thought after peering into the cabinet drawers. Where does the notion of OER fit into that story? I do not want to reinvent the wheel, but I do want to make MY wheel. My wheel is all I really do as a teacher. I craft the events and things that we call school. I do that several ways. Like the living room in my home I choose what goes where. I create a thing called ownership. I craft my space. No doubt I used the chairs and tables others have made, but I organize them myself. And I improve them I yearn for it to FEEL like what I want to be. That is how I see classrooms. Both the physical ones and the digital ones. And I do not want those faded handouts in my space.

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How do we craft our spaces? Certainly we don’t let others do it for us! Crafting space is our business. Our colleagues in Maricopa are going after the OER Book part in a big way. They are launching the Maricopa Millions Project that hopes to save students five million dollars in five years. They are being open where the books are concerned and doing the work of open living. “The project includes a strategic, sustainable OER infrastructure consisting of building awareness, professional development opportunities for faculty, technical support, marketing, and technical structure. The project will help create a culture that actively encourages, supports, and sustains the use of OER for all course levels across all ten colleges. The course materials will be a mix and adaptation of existing OER course materials as well as development of new content.” Here is a presentation by Lisa Young from the OpenEd13 conference. That is it. That is closer to being open and yearning to want to use the things we are given and the things we create in a way that is socially and morally correct. What will we do here at YC to share our amazing resources and live more openly? We have some great models to look at right here. Kelly Trainor and others use the web to share the content they create. That’s good. We have teachers who are very critical of the big publishers and the bookstore pricing. They are writing their own books or using alternative sources. We are opening up in some ways. Posted by Todd Conaway at 02:00PM (-07:00)

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What I Learned Away from the Office Friday, November 08, 2013 “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America OK – I’ve had a couple of weeks in “God’s Country” – Montana and, yes, I am in love with Montana too. My hubby and I needed to help his Mom (she’s almost 91) and as part of this fall trek, we traveled up for a cattle drive to the Northeast part of Montana, to a little town called Saco. It’s about 25 miles south of the Canadian Border, and consists of predominately dry-land farming/ranching, and we have some really good friends there. There is just about no cell phone reception, and Internet access is 40 miles due west, so you really do unplug. Below are pictures of ranch views and the ‘thriving metropolis of Saco. The hottest place in town in OB’s Café.

My best thinking and best ideas have always come while I’m ‘away from the office’. The daily prep, grading, emails, phone calls, self-created silos, and just the chaos of being at the office detracts from true thinking and letting my brain come up with better solutions to things – new ideas of how to improve things – reflecting on systems and solutions. Having the space to just ‘be’ is, for me, critical. I don’t have to tell any of you (and it’s been proven many times) that we are more productive if we can relax and get away once in a while. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 — up from 310

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6.2 days in 2011. Think about your days and tasks. How many days do you wake up already tired? Check email before you even get to your office (most days)? Yep, I’ve gotten emails from some of you at 5:30 am. You eat breakfast and lunch at your desk (most days)? Run from meeting to meeting – class to class; responding to a meeting – running to another class – grade – grade some more. What’s really being accomplished? How is this constant pace affecting you? Your teaching? Your class? More? So what did have time to think about? I thought and wrote a new story board for a class – it’s in need of a real re-do to make it

more interactive. I took Ruth Alsobrook-Hurich’s info on Bitstrips and created some fun announcements. I also rewrote the welcome letter – boy was it stale. Then I

re-did my syllabus to look more like a Newsletter (another Ruth tip). Here’s what else I learned away from the office: • • • • • • •

Breathe – it’s healthy & opens your brain to new ideas Walk More – get fresh air at least once a day! Sleep – Going to bed at 8:30 pm is really okay! A 10-minute power nap works too Read – something totally outside of any subject you teach (I like historical fiction) Try something totally new – I fed baby lambs – Adorable Appreciate Balance – what and where & family and friends Be in Awe – The Northern Lights really are a marvel. Learning is like that too. 9x9x25 Challenge

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So, in just a few weeks all of us will have some time “away”. What will you do?

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Optimism in the Classroom Friday, November 08, 2013

One of the topics we discuss in my Counseling Skills class is the importance of optimism and how it’s used in developing a therapeutic relationship. In counseling we recognize the importance of how a person thinks is directly related to how they act. Now we know that before any real change takes place in counseling, the person needs to be willing to change. In applying this concept to teaching, it brings to mind some possibilities of how to teach with optimism. The word itself, optimism, comes from the Latin word “optimum” which translates to “best.” The Greek origin of the word optimism comes from the word “optim”, which translates to “power.” Bringing the “best power” in the classroom. Some of the things we know about the effects of optimism are the following: Optimistic people are more physically healthy. They get sick less, have stronger immune systems and are more likely to achieve because they don’t give up too easily. Also, they tend to have a higher state of emotional health and have better coping skills in dealing with life’s setbacks. So how do we apply the notion of optimism in the classroom? We are all aware of the importance of getting students involved in the classroom. Sitting in classroom and being a passive observer, a non-participant, not only takes the power away from the student, but as an instructor, it takes my energy away as well. Lecturing to a room full of students who show about as much enthusiasm as an eraser is not very empowering to me, so I decided a long time ago that part of teaching is promoting energy in the learning process. The way of doing this is not only involving students in their own learning, but getting them to feel more optimistic about their ability to learn. ‘If I feel I am capable of learning, I will learn.” As in counseling, empowering our students should be the foundation by which everything else is built on. Learning should be a process that not only makes us feel more confident in ourselves, but promotes a better understanding and mutual respect for other learners.

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Some of you may be asking, “Can optimism really be taught in the classroom?” I believe it can. Keep in mind one of the real differences in an optimistic person and a pessimistic person is how they view failure. Pessimists see failure as being personal and permanent, where as an optimist sees failure as temporary, non-personal and specific. All students experience early in their learning a sense of failure. It may be answering a question wrong, writing a paper that didn’t quite meet the expectations of the instructor, or perhaps due to a learning disability, every lesson becomes a bit of a struggle to completed. A student should never see a single failure as a permanent indication of their ability to learn. As in counseling, reframing a student’s perception of a failed learning event can be a reinforcing moment, providing some kind of understanding that the answers will come. Another interesting fact is that using humor in the classroom actually can promote higher levels of activity in the brain. Brain scans have measured considerable high level activity when humor is used in listening and learning. Also, memory seems to get a boost when learning and humor are combined. Perhaps a simple technique can be to just bringing a smile to the class. Making students feel more comfortable can make a considerable impact on a student’s willingness to learn. We all had teachers we can remember that we didn’t particularly like because they were so dry and boring. Most likely they had a dry affect and delivered their lecture without any emotion or enthusiasm, and probably never smiled. It wasn’t the material being taught that was problematic, but having to spend an hour or more in a classroom where the flat affect of the instructor’s delivery made learning uneventful and sometimes painful. Someone once said, “Good teaching is onefourth preparation and three-fourths theater.”

Bringing optimism in the classroom benefits not only students, but the instructors as well. In creating a supportive learning environment, we support students in developing not only stronger cognitive skills, but we also meet the emotional needs as well. We should be including in our lectures, stories of optimism that have made a difference in the human condition. This in itself can change a student’s perception of themselves and their own ability in promoting change in their world.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

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Posted by Salvatore Buffo at 06:19PM (-07:00)

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What Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve Learned From Being a Teacher Sunday, November 10, 2013 We're in the final stretch of the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge, and next week my colleagues and I have been asked to devote our "pieces of writing" to reflecting on the process of writing our reflections. With that in mind, I'm going to go slightly less meta this week, and spend some time reflecting on the ways in which teaching as an adjunct for Yavapai College has changed me. At the risk of sounding corny, I didn't look for this job... it found me. During the spring semester of 2010, I received a call from Connie Gilmore, Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (now retired) for the Verde Campus, asking whether I might be interested in teaching a human services-related course that fall. Connie knew me through my husband Jason, who was a new faculty member at Yavapai, and also knew (through conversations with him) that I had a broad background in social services.

In 2009, when we moved from Eugene, Oregon (go Ducks!) to the Verde Valley, I had made the decision to put my eight-year career in social services on hold with the intent of staying at home with our two sons, who were four and one at the time. I had spent the previous three years working directly and indirectly with child victims of sexual abuse and other violent crimes, and I was tired, burned out, and as my friend and colleague Sal (who worked for many years as a therapist) says, "I just couldn't hear any more stories." I'd eventually like to get some of those Child Fatality Review autopsy photos off the back of my eyelids, too, but that may not happen until all of my own children have reached adulthood... only 16 years to go... In any case, the job offer came entirely out of the blue and seemed to provide an ideal balance: I could coordinate the online class around naptimes and preschool drop-offs, and it would allow me to spend part of my day engaged in something more stimulating than Candyland, laundry, and morning sickness (yes, an ultrasound would soon reveal baby #3 was another turtle, not a hamburger). My qualifications were a little on the modest side, but they fit the bill for credentialing and I had a solid background in adult education. I said yes.

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I learned within weeks - long before the class was supposed to begin - that from a logistical point of view, being an adjunct is not all that different from being a crisis worker. The rules, requirements, and circumstances are constantly changing, which means adaptation is necessary and expected. I ended up teaching an entirely different class than the one originally proposed, and my work as an adjunct began that summer, rather than in the fall as anticipated. When fall did roll around, I found myself teaching two different courses to three different classes. Now when I total up the number of courses and credits I've taught for Yavapai, I'm up to five distinct course numbers and a total of 55 credits, which will increase to six and 59, respectively, in the spring of 2014. And it has been wonderful. I have learned a great deal through teaching, and it has changed me in some very real and significant ways.

One might think holding dual degrees in psychology and sociology would be enough to ensure a given individual knew a thing or two about the subjects, but learning enough to answer a few test questions simply can't compare to the level of knowledge that is developed through teaching. Teaching is the single best way to learn everything about a subject. Though there's little direct evidence for it, this is one of the major explanations proposed as to why oldest children do better in school and have higher IQs than their younger siblings. But we oldest siblings already knew that... Since I began teaching, every aspect of psychology and sociology holds more meaning for me than it ever did when I was a student. It's not that I can answer just about any question posed by a teacher, I can answer just about any question posed by a student... which is a significantly more daunting challenge! Jean Piaget and C. Wright Mills and William Masters and Virginia Johnson - these aren't people I read about in a textbook at some point, these are real people who made major contributions to the ways in which we understand and organize our bodies, our societies, our development, and all of the world around us. I know it like the back of my hand now, and more importantly I care. I'm passionate about it. I can't even stop talking about it. Go ahead, try me!

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I've learned how to deal with consumers and colleagues as peers. In my years working with crime victims, I had relatively few interactions with people who were on equal footing. There was a built-in power differential in virtually all of my relationships, which in most cases were extremely one-sided. The people I served, call them clients, victims, or survivors, knew virtually nothing about me - I was reluctant to admit even minor details like my children's ages or where I went to college - and yet I was trusted with the intimate details of the most traumatic experiences of their lives. In other cases, I was advocating for victims with people who had much greater levels of power than I did. I recall once asking a prosecutor to move a Grand Jury involving a deeply religious teenager to a more child-friendly location, and later hearing he had made snarky comment about my request to another person in the office, suggesting I had overstepped my "inferior position" by making it in the first place. ("What a jerk," my boss had said, shaking her head, when I brought it up to her later.) As a college instructor, virtually everyone I'm dealing with is an adult, and the power differential between students and myself is really only as great as I want to make it. I may ultimately enter the final grades in the roster, but I calculate those grades based on how many points each student earned. I treat them like adults, and I expect adult behavior from them. I am also surrounded by colleagues with whom I share experiences and who (I like to think) respect me as strongly as I respect them. I've learned to handle disappointment. To my knowledge, I'm the only adjunct instructor participating in this blogging challenge, and so I'll say this: although I love it, it's not always easy to be an adjunct. It's certainly much easier for someone like me (who teaches as a side gig to supplement the family income) than it is for many others, who really desire and need full-time employment. But even still, enormous paycheck uncertainty comes with the territory. Such fluctuations in income can be difficult - one three-credit class is what it costs to cover out-of-pocket expenses for two trips to the Emergency Room, or take my family on a modest vacation, or pay for a year's worth of karate lessons for my kids. We won't lose our home if I get only one or two credits in a semester, but not knowing can still be difficult. Probably more difficult than the changing financial picture is not knowing whether (or what) I might be teaching the next semester. All instructors understand that the amount of time and effort that goes into putting together a new class for the first time can be enormous - and we adjuncts often find ourselves teaching a new class (or two) almost every semester. It can also be difficult to ask for classes, taking my hat in my hand to point out a gap in the schedule with the hope I'll be asked to fill it. But learning to cope with and make the best of disappointing or uncertain situations is an important life lesson,

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too.

Photo Credit: Moorepixes Images by Sarah (Moore) I've learned many other things from teaching, but my life has also influenced what and how I teach. Among my most frequently taught courses is Human Growth and Development, and as a mother of three kids, I can safely say I've learned a lot related to the best ways to parent and care for my children. At the same time, my role as a parent of three young children also influences how I teach the course. In their final evaluations, students often remark on how much better prepared they feel to become parents, to parent the children they have, or to cope with the aging of their own parents. While I certainly don't believe having children is necessary to teach a course on human development, I do think on an intuitive level, I probably weight certain aspects of the course differently than a non-parent would. This is not to say my course is "better" or "worse" than another instructor's version, only that my own life experiences have deeply affected the way in which I teach it. I'd like to remain an adjunct for Yavapai College for as long as they'll keep me. Pending an unforeseen disaster, I'll be headed back to school next fall with the hopes of being able to continue to do just that, as new and improved credentialing requirements set in. Because if I had to put a label on the most important thing I've learned about teaching and learned from teaching - it's that I love it. And I'm good at it. And it's something I want to keep doing for as long as I can. Posted by ewhitesitt at 09:51AM (-07:00)

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Real College? Sunday, November 10, 2013

This week I received the following excuse for late homework via email : "I apologize for missing class I just have not been feeling well the last month or so- must be the adjustment to a different climate or withdrawal from the social life of a real college" (emphasis mine). I must admit that my first reaction was anger at the insult to Yavapai College. I was further incensed by the implications that if YC was not a "real" college then perhaps this student was not seeing me as a "real" professor and the rest of the people in his class as "real" college students, all of which has been reflected from time to time in his classroom demeanor. I am assuming that in his mind a real college has to be a university, and that most likely on the East Coast. Although I know this student had been attending such a real college, I do not know what brought him to Prescott and how he ended up choosing to take a 100-level class.

Once I began thinking about the privileged experience of a university, I realized how thankful I am that I teach at a community college. The open door philosophy of a community college provides many opportunities that a four-year college does not, and as an instructor I get to interact with students each semester who would not, could not, or may never go to a university. Having attended community college myself, I know the benefit of being able to explore options for majors without having to go into debt. I was able to take many classes from Sociology to Marine Biology as I tried to determine my direction. I did not officially declare a major until I transferred to a university in Texas. In fact, I don't believe universities should demand that incoming freshmen declare a major. When my daughter applied to Cal Poly as an architecture major, she was told that if she tried to switch majors within the first year, she was not guaranteed continued acceptance at the college. She was also turned down at other schools because of limited space within the architecture programs even though she would have been a highly qualified student for the college in general. At University of Arizona, it only took her one semester to figure out she did not like architecture. Who knows what might have happened to her college career at one of those other universities. As an instructor, I encourage my students to take full advantage of their community college experience to try different classes that they might not initially find attractive.

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Another reason I enjoy teaching at a community college, especially 0-level classes, is that I get to interact with students who would never have thought to apply to a "real" college. Granted, not all students who enter our 0-level classes will succeed in college, which makes teaching at this level a bit messy and sometimes discouraging, but if students can test into the classes, they get to try. It doesn't matter if they flunked out or dropped out of high school. It doesn't matter if they hated school before. It doesn't matter if they were hidden away in some special program. It doesn't matter if life obstacles or their own choices took them on a detour for any amount of time. Here at the community college they get to try. And if they succeed, they may choose to pursue a degree. My husband flunked out his first year at Fresno State University and ended up enlisting in the Air Force. After completing his tour of duty, he registered at a community college on the GI Bill. When he transferred back into Fresno State, his GPA was 4.0. All he needed was some maturity, life experience, and a second chance. Haven't we all worked with students for whom one success becomes the impetus for reaching beyond what they originally dreamed possible? Some students discover for the first time that they are quite intelligent and talented. In fact, in my class with the East Coast student, I have several students who are just as bright as he, and Yavapai College is giving them an opportunity that they could have never afforded at his prior school.

As I reflected this week about teaching at our college, I realized that all my frustrating moments are worth it as I participate in the lives of students who gain the confidence to strive for greater goals. Yes, as an instructor for required and/or remedial classes, I often face students who don't want to be there, and I may deal with students who resent their placement and students who hate English classes. Sometimes getting them to do their assignments or to participate in class feels like futility epitomized. However, as the semester continues and some figure out what college is all about, I get to see the light bulbs go on, which makes all the extra effort and energy worth it. Even though I have some students who are not going to succeed every semester, I also have others who started out with failing grades but end up doing really well. I guess I don't teach at a "real" college according to some, but I get to teach people who might have never envisioned themselves as students before. At our not-so-real college, students experience the rigors of college with a lot less expense and a lot more individual support. I am proud to be a part of that.

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Watch-Out Unmade Bed Demons Sunday, November 10, 2013

Order. I seek order. For perhaps the first time, I feel like I’m finding it. There is an interesting principal in the psychology of instruction, maybe you’ve heard of it; most people call it cognitive dissonance, although other nomenclatures exist. The principle purports the idea that when the brain is confronted with a system that is in disarray, a kind of cognitive anxiety takes hold of the mind. This anxiety, for many people, will often eat at you, sometimes at a subconscious level, until an intervention modifies the system, orders it, and the dissonance, with all of its accompanying anxiety, dissipates and returns to calm. I call this phenomenon, The Made Bed principle. When it comes to cleanliness, we all know anal people. I submit that my wife could give even the most retentive among us a cleanliness wedgee. She loves to pass Saturdays embraced in the ample arms of, not her loving husband, but the antiseptic allurements of Mr. Clean. She suffers from clutter dissonance, same anxiety I described before, but picture an unkempt Arizona room, or, shudder to think, shoes warn in the house, instead of a messy chemistry problem. If the morning goes strangely, and we are up and going without making the bed, I see her get fidgety. The signs are always there. She scratches the backs of her elbows and she’s short with the children. All is not right with the world . . . until the bed is made. I’d do it myself, but I can’t get the quarter to bounce, or the hospital corners. Something eats, loudly, away at wife when the bed is screaming from the dark corners of her mind that it needs to be made. People in education have been taking advantage of cognitive dissonance for years. We drop a messy business management problem, or case-law study on a group of students and stand back and watch the feeding frenzy. The human mind searches for order. We like to see things arranged neatly, simply, understandably, and accessibly. 9X9X25 has calmed the screaming unmade bed demons of my mind. I’ve commented on everything from dual enrollment to cognitive load theory to downloading videos from YouTube. Simple and maybe stupid topics for some (and thanks for the comments, amigos, where you pointed that out), but addressing each one took me one step closer to making my cognitive bed. By writing about these topics that seem totally unordered and disorganized, I feel like I’m bringing order to my own private universe of messiness. Things that I can’t control or understand, by simply writing about them and ordering them on the page, has done so much for me to bring order and clarity to my job and, to a certain extent, my life. Now, I see things or think things and say to myself, I gotta write that down, or, that would be a good blog post. I feel like, by writing about a topic, I gain closure, ownership and eventual mastery over the dissonance of my life. I feel like my thoughts, and insights and breakthroughs somehow don’t count, until I get them on paper. There, on the page, they count, they mean something and they are final. The paper brings a weird sense of finality and permanence and for me, calm. I know I’ve said my peace; I’ve made my point, and that’s all I can do. 322

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Now, I don’t know if what I’ve written has helped others. I kind of doubt it. In fact, I really wonder how many folks are really reading and paying attention, perhaps more than I surmise, but I think I’m going to keep on writing. I’m going to keep on ordering the madness within me through Bill Gates and MS Word. I’m going to do it for me. So don’t “watch out” world, I’m not coming after you! My “watch out” goes to all of the unmade bed demons lurking in the dark recesses of my mind. I’m coming after you guys. You’re my target! Posted by Curtis Kleinman at 10:35PM (-07:00)

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You Teach Who You Are Sunday, November 10, 2013 So finally, finally, this weekend, I had a chance to peruse my colleagues’ blogs (yay!) It’s been great fun to read all that you’ve written and shared, as I’ve gained a much better sense of what it would be like to sit in on your classes. As faculty, we sometimes hear murmurs about classes and instructors before/after our own lectures, in hallways, during office hours, and in emails. And we certainly have our own impressions of colleagues, based on observations and past interactions. But there’s nothing quite like reading what you’ve written, as it “gives legs” to what students share. You inspire me with your adventures (Chris, Charlie, Mark and Curtis), with your creative quests to continually re-tool your classes (Tina, Ruth, Erin, Sukey, Joanne), and to be the change you wish to see (Dave, Sal, Todd). And Jason, I so loved reading your experiences of being a mentor, a “yes you can” bridge for a first-generation college student. In fact, that may be at the very top of my list of what I most love about being a community college instructor. Collectively, in reading through your posts, you all reminded me of something I first heard in my yoga teacher training program: “You teach who you are.” Sometimes a lasting impression is not so much the words we speak and write in our classes, but the meaning between the lines. So this one is very short…a shout-out tribute to all of you. Thanks for being you. For being authentically you. And because I'm finally seeing that tiny light, flickering off into the distance, signaling our storied end of the 9x9x25...here's Tiny Light from Grace Potter & the Nocturals (a native Vermonter, just like me)

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Differentiated Learning + the E, Enjoyment, From the F.I.T.T.E. Pri... Monday, November 11, 2013 This post is by Charles Lohman and appears on dotcomyoga.com Differentiated learning is an instructional method that fits the instruction to the needs and readiness of the students individually. In other words, in learning, one size does not fit all. Therefore, differentiated learning is individualized. Differentiation in Teaching and Learning The F.I.T.T.E. principle is the outline for a complete exercise regimen that can be manipulated to have the exercise regimen fit the goals of the exerciser. In other words, in fitness, one size does not fit all. Therefore, the F.I.T.T.E. principle is individualized. The F.I.T.T.E. Principle Now, with the understanding of differentiated learning and the F.I.T.T.E. principle, I will explain how I personally combine differentiated learning with the E, Enjoyment, from the F.I.T.T.E. principle to encourage exercise adherence from my students. First, to implement differentiated learning in my activity classes, I make sure my general class instruction is worded in a way that each student is instructed individually. For example, during a group Pilates class, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two specific types of differentiated learning instructions I implement. One, as general instruction, I constantly remind the students that each student must go to their physical level. Two, as specific instruction, I constantly go around the room to each student individually gearing my instruction to the specific needs of the student. Second, to implement the E, Enjoyment, from the F.I.T.T.E. principle, in my activity classes, I keep my instruction lighthearted. For example, during my Pilates class, we talk about current events, some students talk about personal things, and I even say short jokes that I usually google before class. This lightheartedness allows for enjoyment. By combing differential learning and the E, Enjoyment, from the F.I.T.T.E. principle, I have personally observed exercise adherence from my students. For example, after a semester is over, I always observe my students taking other physical activity classes at Yavapai College, at a local fitness center, or even continuing an exercise regimen on their own. However, besides my own observation, research also shows the same. So, to conclude, I will share two studies that show what I have personally observed is also researched based. The first study titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;Importance of enjoyment when promoting physical exerciseâ&#x20AC;? shows that enjoyment of exercise is associated with exercise levels. Specifically, in the study, enjoyment of exercise and exercise levels were measured. At the 12-month follow-up, enjoyment of exercise was 25% higher in the intervention group than in the control group, which shows that enjoyment of exercise is associated with exercise level and that

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enjoyment of exercise is a mediator of exercise level. The second study titled “Assessment of factors associated with exercise enjoyment” answers the central question: “What motivates a person to adhere to an exercise program?” And the collection of quantitative and qualitative studies shows enjoyment of exercise is the answer in determining adherence to exercise. Posted by Charles Lohman at 06:04PM (-07:00)

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Put Money Where Your Mouth Is Tuesday, November 12, 2013 Last week I wrote about using relevant examples in Relevance and Meaning Before Details. In this post, I suggested that the meaning of concepts need to be presented before the details. This sounds like a great idea, however I have to admit that I am as guilty as the next instructor when it comes to skipping the meaning in the face of huge amounts of content. Logarithms are a topic in College Algebra that strikes fear into many students hearts. Most students have had a little exposure to them…not a pleasurable experience. This semester I was determined to introduce logarithms with an example…even at the expense of a few theoretical examples. At this point in the semester, the interest of the students is waning. Attendance is down. I needed to them to understand why logarithms exist. I started the class with an excerpt from a video on the Japanese earthquake in 2011. This is the point in the class where their attention is highest and I wanted to take advantage of this. I had trouble getting the audio to play since the speakers on the computer had been muted. Once I took care of that minor issue, the video played for several minutes. After a while several students commented on their own experience with earthquakes. With this buy-in, I went through this brief introduction to the Richter scale. For non-mathematicians, don’t despair… Seismologists study earthquakes. They measure the intensity I of earthquakes in terms of how much more powerful the quake is than a quake with minimum intensity I0. This is represented by the ratio

If an earthquake is measured to be 10,000 times the minimum intensity, this ratio is equal to 10,000,

Because earthquakes can be incredibly intense, this ratio can be very large. The earthquake shown above was 1,000,000,000 times more intense than the minimum intensity. In this case, the ratio is

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Seismologists will write the right side as an exponential,

The power on this exponential, 9, is the Richter rating of the earthquake. Instead of writing down the values of the intensity, scientists think in terms of powers of ten and use the exponent. In the case of the earthquake in Japan in 2011, we would say that the earthquake measured

Notice that there is no mention of logarithms so far…no need to stoke their fears. I don’t want them thinking about their past troubles when I am trying to deliver meaning. But at some point I need to introduce the idea of the inverse of an exponential function. I did this by graphing a simple exponential function and making the inverse by switching the input and output. With this background, I touched back on the Richter scale.

Now that I connected with the meaning again (hook!), I worked through a few more examples regarding properties of logarithms. Another 10 minutes later when their attention is crashing, I related a story of a friend of mine who managed a Costco warehouse in Seattle when a magnitude 5.5 earthquake hit. Let’s just say that pickles, peanut butter, olives and raw sewage was never meant to go together. After this hook, a bit more on logarithm properties to finish the class. Did I cover as much on this day as I have in past semesters? No. But I think I kept their attention much better…their questions about earthquakes were a testimonial to their attention. Maybe I covered 80% of what I had in previous semesters. But with the higher degree of attention, I think the overall retention of content will be much higher this semester. Posted by davidg at 06:18AM (-07:00)

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How Taking on a Blogging Challenge is Like Going to the Gym Tuesday, November 12, 2013 I made a commitment to the 9 x 9 x 25 challenge (nine blog posts in nine weeks, each at least twenty-five sentences). I knew the experience would teach me a lot about teaching, learning, and communication. Maybe I would say something useful. It went like this. For Blog 1, I planned, took notes, counted sentences. With subsequent posts, I learned to get to the point sooner and (after checking out the other posts, but not necessarily commenting, more on this below) pushed the “publish” button with a flourish. Walking to and from class, “Hey, your blog inspired me.” “Did you read Tina’s about calling students?” “Great to see you.” I made a commitment to working out in the YC gym two to three times a week. I knew this would be good for me and also discovered that participation (just showing up and doing something) could act as a little spark of motivation for others. It went like this. First week at weight room, take some time to figure out a plan. Later sessions, got it, go to work, peek at others’ routines. Walking to and from stations, “Wow, how many miles did you go?” “What is that move called?” “Is my back straight?” “Missed you last week.” Blogging is like going to the gym. Making a commitment, establishing a routine, speaking the same language, and belonging to a community are common elements. And in both cases, when one can operate as both contributor and “contributee,” that’s teamwork. Thank you everyone for the reality checks, ideas for class, and all-around good vibes. And yes, I suppose I flunked the commenting part of the assignment, but I hear late work is accepted. Posted by Joanne Oellers at 10:41AM (-07:00)

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Reflections Tuesday, November 12, 2013 So, this week’s challenge is to reflect on our 9x9x25 experience – what we would improve, what seemed to work. Well, actually, all of it seemed to work! I found out so much from everyone; mostly about their commitment to students and teaching. It makes me more thankful and thoughtful of those with whom I work. I’m thankful I responded to the challenge. Because of having to post weekly, I have a better sense of why my students sometimes get frustrated with one of my assignments (…why can’t she see that I have four other classes too?!). Or comments about other instructors (…why can’t he see that I have four other classes too?!). In reflection, I’ll make a concerted effort to remember those other assignments when I plan next semester. I’m thankful that I really read your blogs. It’s been inspiring, funny, thought-provoking, and interesting. Seriously, I don’t know how I’m going to take all of your classes, but will just have to give it a go. In reflection, your blogs showed me much more about you as a person, teacher, and colleague. I got to read all about your humor, frustration, and commitment – to your students and to your profession. I’m thankful to learn new ideas. All of you shared some great stuff! It was akin to what I ask students to share – new ideas – new thinking – different thinking – questioning norms in a participatory way. In reflection, this 9x9x25 challenge was both a learning and social process or, if you will, a moderated discussion; exactly I want from students. If I lecture students then test them, they aren’t learning a lot. If I propose a set of new ideas, listen to what they have to say, encourage interaction with others, and manage conversations in directions that seem useful based on interactions, they are probably going to learn a lot. Just as I did over the past nine weeks. Improvements? More ice cream; maybe wine – more participants. I like the idea of a week of just commenting. Thanks.

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Reflections Tuesday, November 12, 2013 Participating in the 9x9x25 blogging adventure has been a rich experience. I have grown as a teacher, learner, and writer. For example, when writing the first blog on new student orientations, I finished and was pleased with the results. Then I counted the sentences and realized I only had 15. So I had to return and write more, which in and of itself caused me to dive deeper and add more specific details, and isn't that what I keep telling my students? By the end of this experience, I had to count sentences to hold myself back.

Then I wrote about the Ning thing. I had been wanting to write about that experience for quite a while, and this venue gave me the opportunity and an audience to listen. Thanks for the privilege! One blog never got published even though I had spent at least six hours crafting it. The title was Big Business, Big Government. I never seemed to get the right blend of what I wanted to say in a way that was not too political. I decided that was not where I wanted to go as a writer. Reading comments from other faculty gave me ideas for teaching without going to an expensive conference or driving to Prescott for an Institute. However, I will say that going to one conference a year and/or attending both Winter and Summer Institute are outstanding opportunities. Yet, it is nice to have another way to gain new ideas, and virtually for free. And when our blogging developed outside interest from other institutions, excitement grew. We read blogs from other institutions of higher learning and gave these faculty members' feedback on their blogs. When we received comments back, that was moving and delightful. Yes, Karly, I was sure you were right as soon as I had read the email you sent out. I saw that I had received a comment right after your email arrived. But the best thing that blogging has done for me is getting me to write again. I have made a commitment to myself to keep blogging. I have been invited to write blogs for a writer who wants to take five weeks off for Christmas, and I feel ready to dive in. I also dug out the papers I had saved from my Creative Writing classes and want to revise and publish anything worthwhile. So, thanks for the challenge and the blessings that have come from the entire experience.

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And thanks for the Ben & Jerry's, the certificate, the book, the hat, the USB drive, the cookies, and more. Good job, Todd and family! Hey, maybe I will have my students write a blog, and then have it be a reward. Why not!

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A Look Back… Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I remember receiving information from Todd Conaway about a 9X9X25 Challenge. When the information went through the brain, I thought…You can always try. Usually no one will fulfill this sort of thing. I mean, we’ve tried so many things in the past and no one ever complied. Take a look at the trainings TeLS offers every semester. How many takers appear to learn something new, or try something different in their class? Not too many folks. So to be completely honest, I am very surprised at the outcome of this challenge. My hat is off to you Todd. This has been a wonderful process. When I read each week’s words, something inside of me becomes excited about education. It is a wonderful thing to learn from others thoughts and ideas. I cannot express how much I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts. Each week brought a new topic to ponder on (sometimes more than one topic…). The biggest for me, was the due dates. This has been such a conundrum. I always state I’ll deduct points for late work and never do. I am such a softie. Anyway, this has made me look at my course differently. I am determined to find some solution for that due date drama. Another awesome topic was the cognitive process of what happens to students as they learn. I found myself anticipating each week’s postings. Then, there was that tear jerking testimonial about students haunting our waking hours. And, who can forget the story of the graduate; her trials and tribulations from beginning to end. Brilliant tales appeared before my eyes; giving to me, belief in the educational system. I am honored to work with these magnificent souls. Thank you so much for sharing…and caring. Blessings. 9x9x25 Challenge

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What Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve Learned From the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge Wednesday, November 13, 2013 It's the last week of the TELS 9x9x25 Challenge, and I'm feeling a little bit sad.

I'm also feeling more than a little bit glad. I have another new class to prep for the spring semester, I have been neglecting my own personal mommy blog, and I threw out my plans to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo like so much dirty diapers. While twentyfive sentences per week initially sounded like a fairly manageable requirement, it became considerably more difficult once I remembered I was writing for an audience of college instructors. The bar was set high in week one, and the (self-imposed) pressure each week to choose a unique topic, showcase my best writing skills, and avoid making even the smallest of grammatical errors has been huge. NOT having to write a reflection about teaching every week is going to add some badly needed breathing room back into my busy schedule. I'm still a little bit sad, though. It's strange, but this blogging challenge - in which we've all participated as individuals - has made me feel closer to my colleagues. As an adjunct, I haven't ever been asked to do committee work. I don't see my co-workers on a regular basis (Facebook doesn't count...), and it is many a week that I don't set foot on a Yavapai College campus. The reality is, I tend to be relatively disconnected from other instructors and from the institution as a whole most of the time. Reading the reflections of my colleagues has reminded me each week that we're all in this together; that creating a better world through educating the people in our community isn't just something I want to do, it's something that we're all actively engaged in as a team! If the goal of this challenge was to encourage instructors to become reflective practitioners in the field of education, then I think it was met. Handily so. When it comes to what I do well, this challenge has given me the opportunity to articulate many things that felt intuitive (but inarticulable) before. When it comes to areas for improvement, this challenge has given me the opportunity to take pages from my skillful colleagues' playbooks, which they've generously shared in this medium. It has also encouraged me to think outside the box, to find out what my fellow instructors are doing, and to ask my students what they want and need. That's a very good outcome, and I am a better educator for it.

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Oddly enough, on a personal level, I feel like this challenge has also spurred me in the direction of trying new things. I modeled (fully clothed) for the YC art students this semester. I agreed to allow a friend working on his PhD in psychology to test my IQ. I started running with one of my girlfriends two mornings a week. I looked up new recipes. I gave blood for the first time and got my first passport. While I can't definitively connect my newfound interest in unfamiliar experiences to this blogging challenge, I really do feel like the two are somehow linked. And if so, that's a very good outcome too, and I am a better person for it. Would I do it again? Absolutely, but (as with art modeling) not right away. It's laborious and somewhat painful, and I think I need to recover a little bit first. Would I change anything about the way in which the challenge is constructed? I don't think so. The free-form nature of this project was part of its beauty. There were so many potential topics to choose from, and so many different possible takes on each one. Had we been constrained by subject or form or style or length, I'm not sure those of us participating could have come up with so many amazing entries.

At some point during one of our many at-home conversations about the project, Jason reported that from his perspective, 9x9 was less of a 'challenge' and more of an 'inconvenience.' "What if we made it twenty-five sentences exactly?" he suggested. "Now, THAT would be a challenge." "It would definitely be harder," I agreed, "but I think it's more important to get instructors to write reflections that are meaningful to them than it would be to ask them to stay within some arbitrary number of sentences for the sake of style." "Well, it's not arbitrary, not exactly, but rather would be based on the classic fiveparagraph ess..." (Life with an English professor... sometimes, it's just like you'd expect.)

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Would I change anything about the prizes? No. The prizes meant little to me, with one notable exception: the five homemade cookies, which I consumed in a single sitting. I gave Jason my ice cream. I haven't even opened my thumb drive. I'm enjoying my water bottle and YC T-shirt, but I didn't need those items as an incentive to participate. I participated in this challenge for me, for Todd, for TELS, for Jason, for Yavapai College, for education as a profession, and for adjunct instructors everywhere. I hope I did it justice. Before concluding this post, I took five minutes to see what my fellow instructors had to say this week (those who have already written their final posts, at least), and it seems we are in agreement. This was a valuable and enriching experience. We learned a lot, and we are better teachers for it. Thank you to TELS for all you do, and to Todd for putting this amazing challenge online. Thank you to my colleagues (Chris, Sukey, Curtis, Mark, and anyone I may be forgetting) for reading and commenting on my blog posts with your support and some truly amazing ideas and alternatives. Thank you to my husband, Jason, an amazing instructor with superb insights into all aspects of life, for previewing my posts when I needed it, and keeping me in the challenge when I accidentally deleted my second post after spending hours writing it. And finally, thank you to Yavapai College for giving me this opportunity. Peace out.

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My 9x9x25 Challenge Reflection: What Yoda Taught the Teacher About ... Thursday, November 14, 2013 For My 9x9x25 Challenge Reflection, I’ll start with week 3. On week 3, I told Todd, the Yoda behind this challenge, “Man, this challenge isn’t easy.” And like Yoda, he said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Do. Or do not. There is not try. OK. Todd didn’t actually say that exactly. But he did say, and I quote, “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge.” And like a Jedi, in the Jedi Temple, I thought, “Right.” Then I thought, “Since it’s a challenge, I will learn something from it.” And this was the fumes that allowed my effort to putter to this last writing of this challenge. So did I learn something from this challenge? Yes. I learned about myself as a teacher. I learned I have a pattern as a teacher who just teaches. It’s actually not a bad thing. I mean, I teach my students what they need to know. And I’m pretty sure I do an excellent job. I mean, just check out my 235 RateMyProfessor.com ratings. I have an ‘A,’ and a hot chili pepper on fire. Now, that’s flattering. OK. I’m being sort of silly, and I sort of veered so back to my reflection of this challenge. What I learned is that I have been missing out on thinking about teaching, thinking about the art of teaching. The stuff I learned in college to become a teacher. But the stuff I stopped thinking about when I became a teacher. Now, will I continue to think about teaching, about the art of teaching now that this challenge is over? Honestly, no. I need a challenge, a Yoda, a Todd. So, for this challenge, I want to thank Yoda, I mean, Todd, and until next year “May the Force be with you.” Todd and Charlie During The 9x9x25 Challenge Posted by Charles Lohman at 02:01PM (-07:00)

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Reflections on the 9x9x25 Challenge Friday, November 15, 2013

The last nine weeks have been interesting participating in the 9x9x25 Challenge. I, like most of my colleagues who have participated in this writing, share the feeling of regret that it has come to an end, but also feelings of relief that there is one less thing I have to do in the upcoming week. The joy of writing is something I felt years ago when I was an avid journal writer. Every day I would write in my leather bound book thoughts, feelings, joys, disappointments, and dreams. It was easy then because no one but me would be reading it, but now through the magic of technology, everyone has access to my words. I’m not a writer. I struggle at times translating my thoughts to paper. My wife who is a published author can whip out 8 to 10 pages, no sweat. I on the other hand will spend 10 minutes writing out a Thank You card. So this writing challenge these past 9 weeks has been rewarding because I rediscovered the joy of writing. Writing these weekly submissions for my blog allowed me to not only focus on myself as an instructor, but perhaps more importantly, focus on myself as a learner. I’m always amazed how we teach is how we learn. I think the 9x9x25 Challenge can be a critical component in helping probationary instructors as well as seasoned instructors share, learn and invent or even re-invent themselves. We sometimes spend too much time discussing what’s not working in the classroom. Providing a space to openly share those magical moments we have in the classroom becomes a reminder to all of us why we do what we do. I always knew that I was lucky to work with so many wonderful instructors, but to be able to openly learn from such a talented faculty has made me humble, for these talented individuals are also my friends. So, I thank all who shared your wisdom, joy, concerns, and ideas making us all better teachers and better students. You all inspire me to be better, to try things out of the ordinary, to take risks, and to believe what we do is so important. Also, my students thank you, for with every post I read, I take a little of you into my classroom and my students benefit from it as well. Thank you to Charlie for bringing Yoga consciousness into the classroom, and Jason and Erin for their eloquent and witty writing skills, (I’m jealous), and Karly for reminding us the 9x9x25 Challenge

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importance of trusting the process of learning as well as trusting ourselves, and Curtis for reminding us of the frustrations of our technology yet keeping our sense of humor, and Mark for writing about the need for more effective seating in classrooms, and everyone else I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mention for sharing your experience and wisdom. Especially a big Thank You to Todd who had the vision of the 9x9x25 Challenge and like a Zen master, recognized the simple act of writing could awaken so many of us.

Is this the last of my weekly posts? I think not.

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It’s a Wrap… Friday, November 15, 2013 Wow, so much has happened over the last what, 8-9 weeks? A huge chunk of the semester…I must say, though, the “it’s a wrap” timing was perfect…just in time for crazy busy grading... My initial reflections on this 9x9x25 blog experience? It was not an easy task. Seemed I would remember sometime over the weekend that I needed to write something for my blog…and somehow, would manage to post in the 11th hour on Sunday night. Suffice to say, completing the entire 9 weeks was a lot to take on… But like many survivors of grad school, I hung in there… Todd sent us a few possible prompts for this final week: “please write a reflection on the whole 9x9x25 event. Maybe share how it could be improved and what seemed to work. Is this something, or something like it, that could be added to our existing notions of the “probationary portfolio” or even something that could be added to yearly development plans? Could this be done by divisions? Shall we have staff participate next year if they wish?” Let me tackle the last questions first… For the next go-round, I’d most certainly welcome staff (I mean, didn’t we have that this time as well, some staffers who also teach?) I say, the more the merrier, as the whole nine week shebang is a lot to commit to… I do like the idea of perhaps incorporating the 9x9x25 into a probationary portfolio… However, given that even many seasoned faculty members were reluctant to sign on, I’m thinking that our newbies might be, well, a bit timid to “put themselves out there”… (Speaking of which, I’d like to give a special shout out to Verde sociology adjunct Erin Whitesitt, who shared so many great insights in her posts…) Another shout out to other Verde faculty who represented in a major way, with Jason, Sal, Joanne, Charlie, Tina, Chris -- and me -- plus Todd -- I mean, depending on how you calculate it, we were close to 50% of the bloggers (yay us!!) In terms of including a 9x9x25-ish blog in yearly development plans, or by divisions… I’m not sure that would be necessary… I think allowing participants to opt in or out is always the way to go… I also like keeping the themes very open and general. It was so fascinating to read what my colleagues chose to write about each week. As for me, personally, I’m not sure I’d have anything new to say if I tried this in another year. This is all I’ve got ;-)) So it’s a wrap…and I’m out…

### Posted by Dr. Karly at 11:37PM (-07:00)

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My Short Reflection of the 9x9x25 Challenge Saturday, November 16, 2013 I have to say that, at first, although I recognized the goal and thought the idea was great, I worried that it would end up being another thing on my to do list. Oddly, though, after the first or second post, I realized how much I enjoyed writing them. And I thought of all sorts of various ways I could integrate a similar challenge into my EDU 200 & 210 courses. I haven’t yet had a chance to read many of the other posts, but I’m happy to know that they are accessible to me at any time. Sometimes, as teachers, we just need a little inspiration or advice. I was not surprised by the talent of our top-notch instructors, but impressed with their openness and willingness to read and comment on other posts. I could tell everyone involved was thoroughly engaged. Reading the few that I did really made me realize what a gold mine of great professors and instructors we have here. Not only are they content savvy, but they’re also dynamic teachers. Thanks a bunch for putting this all together and for the treats along the way! It’s been a great experience! Posted by Tara Oneill at 03:47PM (-07:00)

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In Praise of The Instigator Sunday, November 17, 2013 Because Todd and I have already discussed next year’s 9x9x25 Challenge at length, I plan to use this space to accomplish a pair of long-percolating goals. First, I shall curb my natural propensity for verbosity (staring now) and make this post exactly twenty-five sentences. No, really, this makes three. Drat; I had best get creative and conservative fast. My second goal is to thank Todd for providing us with the carrot, the stick, and, yes, sometimes the whip, that is this project. When he approached me with the idea over the summer I was flush with post-grading euphoria and a sudden surplus of free time. It sounded like a great idea, in an abstract sort of way, and I readily agreed to participate. The check didn’t come due until October, and by then (like most of you), I was staring at a full schedule and piles of work high enough to have their own ski lift. Motivation was low.

Fortunately, my office is four doors down from The Instigator. For those of you not lucky enough to exist in close proximity to Todd, it’s a bit like sharing a workspace with a cheerleader, an inventor, an optimist, a friendly IT guy, a happily misplaced John Muir, and The Cat in the Hat. If this sounds like some sort of manic Hell, I cannot assure you it’s not. Rather, Todd wanders the corridor of M building, poking his shaggy head in offices, dispensing each personality in just the right proportion. Of course, the formula might not always feel right at the moment. When I’m three hours into grading essays, with another three soul-sucking hours to go, I’m not interested in hearing about Blackboard’s newest doodad, nor what cool things my apparently essay-less colleague has cooked up and put forth on the web for her ever-solucky students. However, like some tech-savvy Johnny Appleseed, Todd knows that not every seed sown will bear fruit. Instead, he relies on casual tenacity and repetition. On Tuesday I am frightfully busy, but when he knocks on Thursday (and Todd is never afraid to knock), I’m sipping coffee and tossing around ideas for a new class. When The Instigator walks in at that moment, he’s just what I need; in fact, he’s just what every good teacher needs.

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Though the life of an educator is rewarding, it can sometimes grow repetitious. Each semester we teach students roughly the same material, using roughly the same techniques, in roughly the same spaces, and with roughly the same goal. In this way we can fall into the role of an assembly worker at a large production plant, each day inserting part X into part Y2. This is not our fault, nor necessarily a bad thing; we each delve deeply into our disciplines, and, over a few years, find effective methods of achieving our goals –after all, if it’s not broke, why fix it? Nevertheless, we occasionally need someone to get us off our well-worn seats and make us tour the factory, to show us what happens at station X, to examine the finished product, to share what’s going on at the Dearborn plant. This is what Todd does, and this is what 9x9x25 has achieved. Perhaps that is why I’ve not felt some momentous change by participating in this project –with The Instigator around, I get to engage in it all the time. Posted by Jason Whitesitt at 09:44AM (-07:00)

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Reflections on the Challenge Sunday, November 17, 2013

I am amazed that I succeeded in writing nine posts. There were times when I thought I wasn't going to be able to provide a quality post with the time constraints in the middle of the semester. I will confess it was worth the frustration to put my thoughts on the ether. And, boy, was I embarrassed by the typos--most produced in the rush of the moment, others from simple carelessness! Time was indeed the crucial issue. At first, the topics came easily with each new issue that arose in my classes or in my teaching. By the end, I was mentally scrounging to think of something to reflect upon. Then when I found a topic, I had to consider potential links, photos, cartoons, etc. Thus, each post needed to be invented by the Thursday before and often took at least four edits.

I liked the challenge, but nine weeks in the middle of the semester was difficult. Because I am a "Golden Retriever" personality, once I got started there was no way I was going to quit, even if it meant a late night or pushing aside some other responsibility. Ask my husband...or my dogs! Seriously, how important can laundry be when weighed in the balance against insights and creativity? Of course, there are some responsibilities for which I am always finding excuses to delay. Actually, this exercise reminded me of an earlier time when I used to write my reflections 9x9x25 Challenge

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at the end of each semester. In these reflections, I would analyze what worked, what didn't, and what needed to be changed. Often I would include ideas for the next semester. Unfortunately, I had given up on this practice about three years ago because life kept getting in the way. It seemed that when each semester ended, I was already rushing into the next phase in life, whether that be the holidays or family demands during the summer. I was especially surprised and chagrined this semester when I tackled my "to do" filing about two weeks ago. At the bottom of the stack were items from last spring. Yes, indeed, six months later I was finally getting my filing done. This example, and the dust upon my desk and shelves, reflects how I have difficulty choosing the most important over the most immediate. Like my students, I often need a deadline to ensure things get done in a timely manner. Thus, I appreciated the challenge of the imposed deadlines, but I recommend that the challenge be shorter than nine weeks. We have come to that time in the semester when students are stressed by the looming end of term with its major projects and finals. This is when I know I need to be as patient as possible to provide a sense of level-headed sanity in the midst of their chaos, but if I am as stressed as they, patience is in short supply. I want to thank Todd for setting up the challenge, and for all of the awesome goodies along the way. I hope more instructors will get involve next time because I really appreciated the opportunity to read about what others were thinking and experiencing in their teaching. Thanks to you all who participated! I learned a lot from your musings, and I was challenged to examine and rethink what I have been doing in the classroom. Posted by Schafer's Blogs at 04:59PM (-07:00)

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9x9x25 Challenge


So What?: Reflections on 2025 (Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 9x9x25) Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanks to Todd Conaway and the TELS folks for challenging us to reflect and write about our experiences and thoughts on what we do day after day (often not taking the time to really appreciate the great enterprise in which we are involved). One of the questions I encourage my students to ask is, "So what?" If they are studying something, and they can't come up with a satisfactory answer to that short query, then either they need to rethink their actions and attitudes, or consider not doing it. So, I'd like, in retrospect, to ask the "So what?" question of this journey in electronic journalism we've undertaken.

Let me preface this by saying that, IMHO (how's that for being hip!), it was an extremely worthwhile venture, for me personally and for our institution. Here are some of my reasons. 1. It created lots of hallway conversations about important issues. Grading, online teaching, active learning spaces, and many more topics were "surfaced" and became part of our public discussion. I learned much from reading and listening to my colleagues. 2. There was a considerable amount of interest in each others writings, and a great deal of affirmation extended to each another. People would stick their heads into another professor's office, exclaiming, "Hey, I just read your blog. Good stuff!" That feels good. I need that. WE need that. 3. At least two significant "official" conversations have begun as a result what has been shared in these blogs. Ideas were fueled and momentum was built. Positive changes on how we deliver our "product" to our students have resulted from our writing. That is a good thing. 4. Perhaps the most positive benefit is that I have once again become more reflective about the process of teaching and higher education. I know we all reflect, but the 9x9x25 Challenge

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discipline and regularity of writing, reflecting and reading others' reflections has definitely benefited my students as I focus and become more intentional about the way I do things in and out of the classroom. THE FUTURE: I would like to see us continue to have weekly blogs. I would suggest that we put everyone's name that would like to participate "in a hat," and create a schedule where each week during the academic year two persons would write on the 9x9x25 site. (Keep the name--it's familiar and kinda cool. :). If the 16 people who are writing now would volunteer, that means each of us would only have a column to prepare twice a semester. If we weren't writing that week, we could commit to reading and commenting on the blogs that appear each week. Also, the fewer number of entries would encourage a broader readership (less time commitment each week). I have very much enjoyed the creativity and passion the participants have displayed over the past nine weeks--on top of all their other commitments! Let's ride the wave!! Posted by Mark Shelley at 11:13PM (-07:00)

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9x9x25 Challenge


Reflections of 9x9x25 Challenge Monday, November 18, 2013 I enjoyed it! I have been thinking and talking about some of the issues for a while now and this challenge gave me the opportunity to actually put those thoughts down on paper (virtually). So here is how I would summarize my experience. 1. The time frame was a challenge for me, perhaps every other week would have been better. However, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know because each week is busy. It just required me to carve out some time and get it submitted. 2. I liked the opportunity to think, consider, and evaluate some of my own assumptions and observations. 3. It led to some great discussions both with in my division and with others outside of the division. 4. I would like to see this expanded to others, perhaps those of the GIFT center can start a similar project where this is ongoing. 5. The little prizes, while simple, kept me motivated some weeks. 6. I think we should have a review of the posts, were there common themes or subjects that were frequently brought up by the bloggers, if so, why? 7. Is there any actionable results from this. While its nice to theorize, promote, and describe our respective experiences, THEN WHAT? Thanks goes to Todd and the others at TeLs to keep us on track and for coming up with this challenge.

Posted by sfarnswo at 09:25AM (-07:00)

9x9x25 Challenge

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9x9x25 challenge (2013)  

Yavapai College challenged their faculty to write 25 sentences a week about teaching and learning for 9 consecutive weeks. 16 faculty took o...

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