August 2021

31. August 2021

 

Good afternoon!

 

We will  be announcing our Fall CELT schedule soon, but for today, I just want to share our live google doc on suggested policy language. Feel free to adapt for your own syllabi or send me additions as you put the final touches on your syllabi and class plans.

My own classes are ready to go, so don't hesitate to reach out this week if you have any questions, concerns, or simply want a thought partner for problem solving. 

As my colleague Ben Moore is fond of announcing to his classes at the end of the first day -- Welcome to the show, folks! Happy Fall 2021.

 

16. August 2021

Good afternoon! 

I spent the afternoon with our smart and caring colleagues in Counseling and Athletics as part of the Provost Office conversations about advising beyond the basics. Even though I've been here for more than a decade, it has been very enlightening to know more about how our students navigate our college community and what we can do as academic advisors to help ensure their success.  If you'd like to join a future conversation, sign up here.

Below are a few reminders about upcoming CELT workshops and some considerations as we build out our Fall 2021 courses. Expect more CELT Notes with additional resources from us here in CELT as the Fall semester approaches.

 

Upcoming CELT Workshops

Help! My Students Are Turning in Terrible Sources! Thursday, August 19 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm (Freeda Brooke and Holly White, Library) 

This session will focus on strategies to improve your students' source evaluation for research and writing projects. In the library we've been hearing increasing concerns about the quality of sources students are using in research assignments. Students may have trouble distinguishing between scholarly and non-scholarly sources, or may not be choosing high quality web-based sources. While a single "library session" can sometimes address these concerns, often it takes a broader approach. This session will discuss why this process is a challenge for students, as well as how to help them build the necessary skills and dispositions. Some strategies include assignment requirements, rubrics, targeted library instruction and consultation, and consistent reinforcement. This kind of source evaluation is an essential skill that will help students in a variety of contexts, academic, personal, and professional.

 

Launching your Fall 2021 Katie Page - Monday, August 23, 2021 9:30 to 11:00 am (Holly White, Library) 

Get a jump-start on your fall KATIE course! During this workshop, we will explore the different formatting options and layouts available in KATIE and strategies to employ to make your KATIE course more user-friendly. Do you wish your KATIE page were prettier? Join us to learn more and get a jump-start on your fall courses.

 

Syllabi and Course Policies in (Another) Disrupted Semester

Even watching the rise of the Delta COVID variant, I remain hopeful for a more normal academic year. To echo the Provost Office communication from Friday, however, it would be in all of our best interests to prepare for potential disruption this semester. This may include examining course policies and structures and making changes based on our COVID reality AND what we know about best practices for inclusive teaching. 

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article by Matthew Johnson outlines "10 Course Policies to Rethink in your Fall 2021 Syllabus" I would urge you to give it a look while you are putting the details together for your fall semester, but here are the highlights and some suggestions:

Attendance Policies - None of us want students coming to class when they are ill. They may feel pressure to come, however, in order to not lose out on participation points. Consider reworking your attendance policy this fall in one of these ways: 

  • Expand the number of classes a student can miss
  • Develop alternative assignments to make up for in-person attendance. 
  • Drop your attendance policy altogether. Nervous that students might interpret this as you not caring about them? Take a look at these syllabus statements that adopt a tone of care but also COVID caution.

Group Work - Okay here - I'm going to go a bit rogue. Johnson talks about how difficult it is to work in groups in a disrupted environment and counsels that we might consider dropping group work altogether (or make individual work an option). 

I totally agree, but on the other hand, when we sent our students home in spring 2020 - many students commented how much they missed the day-to-day connection with their classmates. We also know how profoundly important group work can be in terms of learning goals. My recommendation is that if you have a group project in your course -- and it is essential to your learning goals -- build in significant class time for students to work on that project.

 

Don't forget: You can "flip" your class -- have the students work through asynchronous content as homework so you aren't missing important content. 


Late Assignments - As Johnson reminds us -- no one has come through the last 18 months unscathed. We might consider extending the grace that we should be extending to ourselves and our colleagues to our students. Here are some ideas about alternatives to a rigid late work policy. 

  • Set target dates instead of firm due dates (e.g., have a paper due in Week 6, rather than that Wednesday)
  • Have a "consequence free" late policy on one or more of your assignments (e.g., if an assignment is fewer than five days late, it will be considered as submitted on time). 
  • Offer incentives for early submissions (e.g., five extra points for an assignment submitted five days early, four extra points if it's four day early...) 

Where to Find Help - This one is so important, especially as it ties to our continued Inclusive Excellence work. One of the most important things we can do as professors is to normalize asking for help and model a holistic approach to education. 

In short, there is a community of folks who are looking out for our students here at Luther College -- when we remind students that they don't need to struggle alone, we go a long way to destigmatize asking for help. 

How to Succeed in this Class - On the flip side to a statement about where to find help for your class, consider adding a section that offers suggestions on how to succeed. Every student can benefit from this information, but studies show that historically marginalized students disproportionately benefit. You might consider study hints or offer tactics for tackling a large project. You might consider a section that talks about how to read in your discipline. You might send out a survey out to students who have had success, especially those who may have initially struggled and ultimately persevered and ask them how they turned their semester around. What I like about including success strategies is that it models a growth mindset that is crucial for resilience and yes, retention. 

You may have noticed many of those hyperlink go directly to a Google doc of suggested syllabi statements on course policies. If you would like to share your syllabus language, please send me an email and I'll add to the list. Thank you!

I would love to talk more about any of these ideas as you continue to plan for Fall 2021. Send me an email and we can set up a 1:1 conversation. 

 

9. August 2021

Good afternoon!

Happy Fall 2021 Prep - We're passing along a great read on constructing a syllabus from our friend Kevin Gannon.

How to Create a Syllabus - Kevin Gannon

Last week The Chronicle of Higher Education published an advice guide by Kevin Gannon on "How to Create a Syllabus" Some of you might remember Kevin. He led a workshop on inclusive teaching at Luther in August 2019, shortly before the launch of CELT. This advice guide echoes a lot of what Kevin shared with us then, but he is now working within the framework of the collective trauma of pandemic teaching/learning/living. It's a quick read, and a great reminder for all of us, even those who are well into their second decade of teaching (me - gasp!).

If you are interested in more discussions about that last section -- how to be clear on your policies and not sound like you are preemptively scolding your students, consider joining us on Reviewing Your Syllabus with an Eye Towards Inclusion (Monday 8/16 9:30 to 11:00 am)

 

Have a great week!

 

 

3. August 2021

Happy August!

We are finishing up the last week of our second round of the Inclusive Excellence Course Redesign Institute. I've been so impressed by the honest, hard work these folks are doing to support student success in their classes. It's been gratifying work - and I'm eager to share some of our findings with you this upcoming semester.

Enclosed in this week's CELT Notes are notices about upcoming CELT workshops, a series of conversations on Advising Beyond the Basics, and information about Plus One Thinking - a lower lift strategy to build inclusivity into your courses.

 

CELT Workshops - August 9th through August 20th 

Here is a run-down of our workshop offerings for the next two weeks. Please register by Friday, August 6

All CELT offerings can also be found here: https://www.luther.edu/celt/workshops/events/?

 

Designing Writing Assignments Across a Course (Monday 8/9 and Wednesday 8/11 9:30 to 11:00 am) - Mike Garcia, Writing Director 

In this workshop, participants will work on formal and informal writing assignments for Fall 2021 courses. Together, we will discuss sequencing assignments, balancing formal and informal writing, and providing meaningful feedback on writing. We will focus on using writing to develop skills and content knowledge across the span of the whole course, so participants should come to the workshop with a specific fall course in mind. This is a two-day workshop. Participants need only to register for the Monday Session. Please sign up for Designing Writing Assignments here.

 

Creating a Gender-Inclusive Classroom (Monday 8/9 1:00 to 2:30 pm) - Holly Moore, Philosophy and Identity Studies

Join Holly Moore (IDS and Philosophy) in a conversation on creating an inclusive classroom environment. This workshop focuses on the basic tools for gender-inclusivity: from an overview of various gender identities to specific ideas for using gender-inclusive language and vocabulary in your classes. Participants will be asked to submit their interests in advance to guide the workshop content. Please sign up for Creating a Gender-Inclusive Classroom here

 

Constructing a Communication Plan for your Fall 2021 Classes (Thursday 8/12 9:30 to 11:00 am) - Kate Elliott, CELT

One of the most important lessons we learned in the disrupted 2020-2021 academic year was the importance of clear, regular communication with your students. Join Kate Elliott to discuss some simple and structured communication plans for your fall 2021 courses -- designed to both support student success AND save you time. Please sign up for Constructing a Communication Plan here.

 

Maximizing Katie Activities to Support Student Learning (Thursday 8/12 1:00 to 2:30 pm) - Holly White, Library 

Join Holly White for this hands-on workshop. You can use KATIE activities for more than just a digital dropbox for student work. Come and learn about the ways you can use activities both synchronously and asynchronously to support student learning and provide timely feedback. We will talk about new options like Google Assignments, as well as how you can use the old stalwarts in new ways. Please sign up for Maximizing Katie Activities to Support Student Learning here

 

Reviewing Your Syllabus with an Eye Towards Inclusion (Monday 8/16 9:30 to 11:00 am) - Kate Elliott, CELT

Join your colleagues -- new and old -- to review your Fall 2021 syllabus. The purpose of this workshop is to allow faculty members to receive feedback on their syllabi and to see if this important document accurately reflects their course. We'll talk about clarity, tone, and cohesiveness all with an eye to starting the semester off right. Please sign up for Reviewing your Syllabus here.

 

Help! My Students Are Turning in Terrible Sources! (Thursday, 8/19 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm) - Freeda Brook and Holly White, Library

This session will focus on strategies to improve your students' source evaluation for research and writing projects. In the library we've been hearing increasing concerns about the quality of sources students are using in research assignments. Students may have trouble distinguishing between scholarly and non-scholarly sources, or may not be choosing high quality web-based sources. While a single "library session" can sometimes address these concerns, often it takes a broader approach. This session will discuss why this process is a challenge for students, as well as how to help them build the necessary skills and dispositions. Some strategies include assignment requirements, rubrics, targeted library instruction and consultation, and consistent reinforcement. This kind of source evaluation is an essential skill that will help students in a variety of contexts, academic, personal, and professional. Please sign up for Terrible Sources here. 

 

Advising Beyond the Basics - Faculty Development in Advising

We have an informative series of mini-workshops planned for Monday August 16, Wednesday August 18, and Thursday August 19. This series is for all academic advisors, both those who are new to the role and those who are seasoned veterans, and it will address the support of students across their college careers, not only in the first year. The goal is to learn more from colleagues across the college about how best to support the students we advise, as well as how to work most effectively with our faculty and staff colleagues so that students can benefit from having an "advising team."

There is one registration for the whole series, but it will be fine to jump in and out as needed.

The full schedule is below.

  • Monday, 8/16  - Athletics (1:00 to 2:30 pm)
  • Monday, 8/16 - Counseling (2:45 to 3:45 pm)
  • Wednesday, 8/18 - Best Practices in Advising (8:30 to 9:30 am)
  • Wednesday, 8/18 - International Students (9:45 to 10:45 am)
  • Wednesday, 8/18 - Financial Aid and Study Away (11:00 to 12:30 am)
  • Thursday, 8/19 - Music (8:30 to 9:30 am)
  • Thursday, 8/19 - Career Center (9:45 to 11:15 am)
  • Thursday, 8/19 - Retention and Persistence; Disability and Accommodations (11:30 am to 12:30 pm)

Please register for any or all of the workshops here. If you have any questions, please contact Sean Burke in the Provost Office.

 

Plus One Thinking for Inclusion and Student Success

Judging from my email inbox, it seems that a lot of us have turned our attention to Fall 2021. One of the repeated messages of the Course Redesign Institute is that you don't have to change everything all at once to make your class more inclusive and more supportive of student success. In Universal Design for Learning, this is called "plus one" thinking.Thomas J. Tobin , expert on UDL in Higher Education, explains it like this, "The plus-one approach helps to take what otherwise might look like an insurmountable amount of effort and break it down into manageable, approachable chunks. It also helps people to determine where to start applying the UDL framework so they can address current challenges and pain points in their interactions."

Tobin is talking explicitly about UDL -- but we can also think of this Plus One thinking in terms of more general inclusion. If you don't have the time or the energy to overhaul your entire class for Fall 2021, can you add just one Inclusive strategy? What are your "pain points" (or places where students have the most questions, confusion, or general trouble) in your course?  Here are some ideas you might try: 

  • Commit to getting to know your students from day one. Issue an Intake Survey. Familiarize yourself with the pronunciation of each of your students' names. Set a calendar reminder to send out a midterm anonymous feedback survey. Act on that feedback. 
  • Sometimes it takes up to two weeks for students to receive their loan payouts, which means they might not be able to afford your text books by the first day of class. Can you scan the first two weeks of reading and load it on Katie? Can you put a copy of your textbook on reserve in the library? These simple strategies might be enough to help students stay caught up in class, even as they are working to get their finances settled. 
  • Curate a selection of videos or podcasts or extra readings to support all students who may struggle at content "pain points". Offer those extra resources as support for all students, which will begin to fill in gaps for those who may not come to college with the same exposure to core concepts of our disciplines. 
  • Build in places for students to choose topics or activities based on their own interests, values, or goals. (For example, open paper topics, allowing students to choose either writing a term paper OR recording a podcast, offer multiple essay questions on an exam, allowing students to choose which they feel most prepared to answer). (Optimize individual choice and autonomy) 
  • Explicitly connect activities and assessment to learning goals or course outcomes to help students understand WHY you are asking them to do a particular task. (increased motivation)
  • Can you simply shift the tone of your syllabus to one that is more welcoming, rather than punitive? Join us on Monday, August 16 for a workshop on exactly this!

I would love to talk more about these or any other ideas you have. Always feel free to send me an email and we can schedule a time to chat. If you have any ideas for workshops that you'd like to see in the future, please send those along too.