October 2021

25. October 2021


Good afternoon -


A bit of a lighter CELT Notes today as we ramp back up for the last half of the semester.

Included below are some top tips for maintaining an Inclusive Classroom and some announcements from campus partners. 


Have a great Monday!




Top Tips for (Maintaining) an Inclusive Classroom


Our friend, Dr. Tracie Addy was recently interviewed for an ACUE blog post entitled,  "What Inclusive Instructors Do" . It's an excellent reminder for some of the conversations that we had last summer surrounding Inclusive Excellence -- I want to highlight one quote -- "Inclusive teaching is excellent teaching. It shouldn't be something that's just tacked on," says Addy.


Two other experts in Inclusive Excellence -- Viji Sathy and Kelly A. Hogan -- have written extensively on the topic. I share a recent advice guide from The Chronicle of Higher Education here. In the next couple of CELT Notes, I'll highlight some of their suggestions.

For today, here are five suggestions for ways to interact with students inclusively 


1. Get comfortable with periods of silence in your classrooms. Remember Think-Pair-Share is a great strategy, but only if you allow space and time for that THINKING part. 


2. Add structure to small-group discussions. Small groups are a low(er) pressure way for quiet students to express their thoughts and opinions. To make them even more inclusive, consider assigning roles and establishing "rules". It is very helpful too to have clear instructions of what you expect the students to do in their small groups (and its best to have those instructions projected or otherwise visually available for those with hearing loss, etc).


3. Allow anonymous participation. "Anxiety is a huge barrier to learning." Consider allowing students to write an anonymous response to a prompt on a notecard and then swap, and swap again, having students read the card that they end up with. Clickers and web-based polling is also a great higher-tech solution.


4. Counteract self-perceptions that stunt student learning. This includes a fixed mind-set ("I'm just not creative") and impostor syndrome. Sathy and Hogan have some excellent tips on how to do this but, in short, remind students that yes, they do belong here and yes, they can succeed.


5. Connect with students personally. This one I know is difficult for some of us given our personalities or pressures on our time. Here are a couple of quick things that may help.

  • Use your students' names 
  • Model sharing pronouns
  • Fire off a quick note or send a Kudos 
  • Share some of who you are as a person - pictures of pets or what you did on the weekend. Small gestures like these help maintain the human connection with our students.
  • Acknowledge hard times. Midterms are rough. Going to college in a pandemic is rough. Sathy and Hogan offer a great phrase to have at the ready - "I know this can be a tough time, and I want you to know that I'm thinking of you."

Full disclosure - I'm not doing great with some of these suggestions in my own class. There are several things I need to change before I teach this course again. I've printed out a copy of my syllabus and am keeping it within arms reach -- jotting down notes for a revision when I can carve out a bit of time. Maybe you have a better strategy?


LTI - What are they and what can we do with them? 

Does your spring textbook have online homework or other student materials? If so, you may be able to connect the homework to your KATIE course using an LTI (Learning Tools Integration). LTI connections can take students to online content directly from your KATIE course page (no extra logins required!) and pass grades from your online homework directly into your KATIE gradebook.


We currently have LTI connections set up for the following publisher platforms:

  • Macmillan Achieve
  • McGraw-Hill Connect
  • Sage Vantage

If you are interested in having the LTI for your textbook connected to your Moodle course, contact Holly White and your textbook rep to begin the process. We will work with your textbook publisher to complete a security review, set up the tool, and do initial testing.

Note: All LTI requests must pass a security review before they can be installed in KATIE. KATIE Support can provide initial setup and troubleshooting help but only the publisher can assist with configuring and troubleshooting the content on the publisher’s platform.

STARS Faculty Survey

This fall, the Center for Sustainable Communities is compiling a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report. STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.  This short survey of faculty is gathering info on research and commuting.  It should not take more than 5 minutes.  Thanks for your help!


22. October 2021


Good morning!


Just a quick note this morning before we get back to our regular Monday CELT Notes schedule.


I hope your fall break was a bit restorative, but I know that many of you were working hard to catch up. This semester is flying by, and I too feel like I'm barely treading water.


I know that for some of you, the idea of adding one more thing -- midterm grades -- may seem like the final straw of a long 20 months of teaching, but I want to reiterate how profoundly important this information will be for our students.


As an advisor, knowing how an advisee is <actually> doing in a course can help me have an informed discussion about whether dropping a particular class is in their best interest. It will also allow me to have a more informed discussion about accessing tutoring, refining study skills, etc if dropping a course isn't an option.


On the flip side -- I have a couple of advisees who really struggled last year and I know that they are doing pretty well this semester. When we meet to talk j-term and spring registration -- I'm going to take a bit of time and ask them what's different this year -- what they've changed to have greater academic success and then reinforce whatever positive steps they've taken.


For my students - I need to do a bit of framing for our midterm grades. We only have 35% of the grades in -- they still have two tests, a presentation and a substantial research project to complete. This midterm grade is just a snapshot of where they are at this moment.

That's totally fine - but I'm going to make sure they understand that today in class. The positive side of this, if students aren't happy with their midterm grades, there is plenty of opportunity to change course. If they are -- hopefully this will be a validation of their efforts so far and they can sustain those efforts for the next 7 weeks.


For your own courses, you might consider the question -- what do my students need to know to understand these midterm grades? Craft an email or carve out a bit of time in class today to give them that context.


If you have students who have had individual issues (sickness, death in the family, etc) that have pulled their grade down, you might consider sending them an individual message explaining why their grade is low -- and reiterating how they can bring it up.


All of this will help our students make informed decisions and hopefully take more ownership of their learning. It's a very good thing for student success.


But yes, it takes time in an already way-too-busy semester. I want to make sure that this is acknowledged.


Your student success colleagues thank you wholeheartedly for your work and I'm always here as a sounding board, or just someone to vent to. I have snacks.


Thank you. Your hard work is appreciated.




11. October 2021


Good morning!


Today's theme is visibility and voice, which is particularly germane today on Indigenous Peoples' Day.


As a white suburban girl, growing up in various country club communities in Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois, I never had a teacher who was not also white. Not once in my K-12 experience.


In fact, I only had one BIPOC professor during my academic career --  Jacki T. Rand who taught American History at the University of Iowa. She turned my intellectual world upside down in the most wonderful of ways. I owe much of my professional career to Jacki and that single, transformational course on Native American history that I took on a whim as I was starting my PhD coursework.


I'm not sure why I'm starting the CELT Notes this week with this story. Maybe because I thought a lot about visibility this weekend as my Instagram feed filled up with joyous images from Decorah's Pride Weekend. Maybe it's because I'm still thinking about last week's Neurodiversity Panel and the brave stories our colleagues and our students shared about living with brain-based differences. Maybe because I have an appointment to talk with one of my first-year advisees this afternoon, who shyly reached out this weekend, because she doesn't feel like she "fits in here at all".


As we launch into the 7th week of the semester -- I am going to look back on those intake surveys my students filled out in the first week of classes and remind myself what my students chose to share with me back in August, especially the challenges they face in the classroom. We have 1:1 research conferences scheduled when we get back from break, I'll start off each meeting with a personal check in - asking how things are going and if they need any support from me.


You might instead choose to send out a midterm survey that is worth a couple of points of homework credit. These can be geared to mental health or overall course design. They could also check how students are feeling about your changes you've made to your course according to principles of inclusive excellence. As a smart, smart colleague reminded me last week -- sometimes just the simple act of just asking how someone is doing can help them feel cared for, appreciated, and heard.


Today we have announcements about upcoming CELT workshops, a KUDOS plug, a resource shared by a colleague, and finally strategies for responding to high-stakes writing.


Upcoming CELT Workshops


Mental Health Monday: Neurodiveristy in the Classroom  TODAY (Monday, October 11, 2021)  4:00 pm – 5:00 pm -- Valders 242 

Neurodiversity in the classroom - Join Bobbi-Jo Molokken from Counseling Service for a 1 hour session to learn about what neurodiversity means and how it can benefit your classrooms. This 1 hour session will specifically focus on ADHD.  We'll review the executive functioning and other differences present with ADHD beyond just attention.  We'll discuss universal and individual strategies to help students with ADHD get the most out of your classes.

This event is part of our Mental Health discussion series. Please register for Neurodiversity in the Classroom here.


Lunch and Learn: Digital Reading Strategies -- Tuesday, October 12, 12:00 to 1:30 pm (Valders 242 - CELT Conference Room) 

With the rise in popularity in ebooks, etextbooks, and other digital texts, how can we help our students read more quickly, more closely, and with better attention and comprehension? Join Kate Elliott in a discussion of the pros and cons of digital reading and strategies to help your students read with greater fluency, even on a screen. 

The Lunch and Learn series begins with a social hour from 12 to 12:30. The program begins at 12:30. Come when you can! Please register here.


Kudos - Yes, they do work...

Okay, I know we weren't all on board with the Kudos program launched by CAE last year, but we're beginning to see that Kudos have an outsized effect on both student learning and persistence.


Marie Drews (English, Paideia) sent me the following note last week which I share with you unedited. Marie, by the way, writes from the perspective of "one who wasn't sure I bought into the Kudos system at first, but almost every time I've sent one, students have told me they appreciated it."


Marie writes, "I submitted Kudos notes early this week for students who were on course to earn an A for their homework submissions in the first half of the semester. And, I submitted one for a student who has been really struggling to find confidence to participate in class but stepped out on a limb and shared for her group last week. Two students sent messages back thanking me for the Kudos notes. I forget how motivating those messages can be, especially at this time of the semester.


You can submit Kudos notes via Advocate (i.e. the same portal where you submit Academic Alerts); Kudos notes also go to advisors and coaches." And I echo Marie in closing -- the Kudos are an easy was to let students know that we see their hard work.


Podcast - The Rural College Student


One of the major points on Inclusive Excellence is creating classroom environments where all students can thrive. Even though I'm only 1 generation removed from a farming family - I admit I'm less cognizant of the challenges our Rural students face in college.


Molly Wilker (Chemistry) shared a new podcast about The Rural College Student Experience: https://rcse.buzzsprout.com/

If you are a Podcast listener and wanted to get together to talk more about what you've heard, let me know! Might be a great alternative to book groups this winter!


Responding to High-Stakes Writing


Finally, you might be starting to get midterm papers, etc from your students. I've attached a short reading that may help you get more proverbial bang out of your grading time. If you have questions about additional strategies, please feel free to reach out to me or Mike Garcia, Writing Director, who runs excellent CELT workshops about responding to student writing.


I'll highlight just one idea -- read the full paper before making a comment -- students can really only process two or three general comments before they hit cognitive overload. Basically, if you comment on EVERYTHING that is wrong on a paper, you are wasting your precious time. Try reading each paper first and decide what changes will make the biggest impact on the overall paper. Your students will thank you for pointed, direct feedback, and you might just be able to reclaim some of your fall break.


Finally, it was so wonderful to see so many of you at our first Community Social Hour last Friday. Stay tuned for details about another gathering in early November.


One note, a badger was left behind at Baker Commons -- he is safe and sound in CELT -- so if you are missing your beloved badger, please let me know and I'll arrange a drop off.


Best to you all. Fall Break is on the horizon!





5. October 2021


Good afternoon!


This CELT Notes is coming a bit late today because I spent a large part of my morning and afternoon with 156 other Liberal Arts college faculty and administrators learning more about what we can do at our small schools to recruit, support, and retain faculty and staff of color. Rare is the webinar where you log off more energized and excited to get to work than you were when you started. More here later I'm sure as the Provost Office continues to work on DEI initiatives to guide the future of Luther College.


Today's three-hour webinar meant that my students had a research project work day -- they are finishing up their asynchronous work as I write. Each responded to the same prompts on a shared google doc. The first question simply asked: "How is your research going, really? What’s working, what’s not?" It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that most haven't really gotten going on their semester-long projects yet. One student wrote, "I haven't gotten super far on research yet. With several other research projects going on right now, I have a hard time switching hats. Having days like this or with the focus being all on our research paper makes it easier to really focus in."


That's fine, I didn't expect them to be too far, but setting aside a day like today for them to work has collateral benefits beyond the hour of class time they spent researching today, including checking to see if all nineteen students are fluent with basic research and information literacy skills. (Spoiler: they're not)


I asked them to list the search terms that they were using at the moment. What I'll do this afternoon is comment directly on the document and give suggestions on how to narrow (or widen!) their search terms. Since this is a shared document -- each student will also see my comments to their classmates -- hopefully amplifying each individualized comment.


So why do this work now at the beginning of Week 6? Why set aside class time to work on research skills? This research project is a great example of "high stakes" writing. In total, the components of this project are worth 35% of their final grade. I'm trying to sequence and scaffold the assignments that build towards the final paper. Having in-progress check-ins like the one today allows me to give the students formative feedback on multiple aspects of the assignment, including research skills and discipline-specific writing tasks. It also allows me to model the writing process. For more, check out the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Writing Across the Curriculum project which has several good resources.


In this CELT Notes, you will find announcements about several upcoming campus events, upcoming CELT Workshops, and a call for ideas for ways to raise up faculty research.


Upcoming CELT Workshops


Lunch and Learn: Katie Gradebook (Tuesday, October 5 - 12:00 to 1:30 pm) Valders 240 - CELT Conference Room

How can Katie gradebook help keep you organized before midterm grades are due? How can Katie gradebook help students to track their progress in their courses? 


Join Holly White for a hands-on workshop on setting up and using the Katie gradebook feature. In this session, you will learn to use the KATIE gradebook efficiently and effectively. Bring your laptop and syllabi and leave with a fully-configured KATIE gradebook. We will spend some time discussing how the KATIE gradebook works, looking at examples of setups, and figuring out how to best use the tools and resources available in KATIE to calculate your midterm grades. Contact Kate Elliott if you don't have a laptop, we'll check one out for you to use during the workshop.

The Lunch and Learn series begins with a social hour from 12 to 12:30. The program begins at 12:30. Come when you can! Register for Lunch and Learn: Katie Gradebook here.


Mental Health Monday: Neurodiversity in the Classroom (Monday, October 11 4:00 to 5:00pm) - Valders 240 - CELT Conference Room

Neurodiversity in the classroom - Join Bobbi-Jo Molokken from Counseling Service for a 1 hour session to learn about what neurodiversity means and how it can benefit your classrooms. This 1 hour session will specifically focus on ADHD. We'll review the executive functioning and other differences present with ADHD beyond just attention. We'll discuss universal and individual strategies to help students with ADHD get the most out of your classes. Register for Mental Health Monday here.


Lunch and Learn: Digital Reading Strategies (Tuesday, October 12 - 12:00 to 1:30 pm) Valders 240 - CELT Conference Room

With the rise in popularity in ebooks, etextbooks, and other digital texts, how can we help our students read more quickly, more closely, and with better attention and comprehension? Join Kate Elliott in a discussion of the pros and cons of digital reading and strategies to help your students read with greater fluency, even on a screen. 

The Lunch and Learn series begins with a social hour from 12 to 12:30. The program begins at 12:30. Come when you can! Register for Lunch and Learn: Digital Reading Strategies here


Upcoming Campus Events and Funding Opportunities


Faculty Social Hours  - Friday, October 8 (4 to 6 pm) Baker Commons 

Luther College Center directors are relaunching First Friday social gatherings -- on a new day and with a new name Our first faculty social hour will be Friday, October 8 from 4 to 6 pm at Baker Commons. Join your colleagues for a soda, a glass of wine or a beer, some pub snacks, and conversation as we celebrate a successful start to the fall semester. If you are feeling creative, you can help us name the new social hour series! This first Friday Social Hour is sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC) and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). Your first drink is on us!


Here's My Story: Neurodiversity on Campus' Oct. 6

Note: As we continue to talk about ways to best support all of our students it would be beneficial for all of us to hear from our students and colleagues with brain-based differences directly. Hope to see you there! - Kate

"Neurodiversity" refers to variations in the way the brain functions, and is becoming an important area of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work. Counseling Service and the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement invite all community members to a panel discussion on neurodiversity at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the CRH. Luther students and employees with brain-based differences such as Autism, ADHD, OCD, learning disabilities, etc., will share their experiences and discuss the joys and challenges of living in a society that doesn't always accommodate all brain types.


Open Educational Resources (OER) -- External Funds Available 
Second round of funding for OER adoption is now open! Did you know that you can receive funding to develop or adopt free textbooks or other teaching resources in your courses? If you’ve been thinking about changing your course textbook or if you want to help alleviate textbook costs for your students, this is a great opportunity. The Iowa Private Academic Libraries (IPAL) group have received a $250,000 grant to fund the creation, adaptation, and adoption of Open Education Resources (OERs) across Iowa colleges and universities. As an IPAL member, Luther College faculty will have the opportunity to apply for funds to make or use OERs for their Spring 2022 courses. Preus Library and CELT will offer support in identifying and implementing new materials. See the CFP and submit your application [http://www.ipalgroup.org/oer]. Applications due November 1. Contact Freeda Brook ([email protected]) or Holly White ([email protected]) for more information.


Celebrating Faculty Research

Finally, we're looking for creative ways to highlight, share, and communicate faculty research projects and success. Got an idea? Please email Kate!


That's it for today. Best to you all as we head into Week 6. I hope to see you all at Baker Commons on Friday!