January 2021

The page features CELT Notes sent to Luther faculty members during the academic year 2020 - 2021.


29. January 2021

Happy end of Q2 all!

As I said to my students on Wednesday, you should be very, very proud of yourselves to have simply made it (relatively intact) to today, Friday January 29th.

I'm working today, but tomorrow I plan to stay in bed all day drinking bubbles. Yes, I'm serious. I'm taking President Ward's directive to find a bit of joy in my daily life very, very seriously and for me that means linen comforters, a bottle of Gamay, and possibly some cheese and bread, dogs close by. There might also be a bit of grading, yes.

Today's CELT Notes is a long one -- time sensitive stuff is at the top --- spring semester planning stuff towards the bottom.

Today - Friday - Hypothesis Webinar at 2:45

There is still time to register for the Hypothesis Webinar this afternoon at 2:45.

Register here. We are piloting with Hypothesis, a social annotation tool installed in Katie. Adding Hypothesis to readings in Katie supports student success by placing active discussion right on top of course readings, enabling students and professors to add comments and start conversations in the margin of text. Join us to check it out. Resources will be posted on the CELT page soon.

Classroom Needs - Spring Semester

If you haven't yet -- wander over to your spring semester classrooms and take a look at the space to make sure it supports your teaching needs. Please email Kate if you have any questions.

Disrupt the Disruption -- take control of the pace of your spring semester

Returning to the pace of a semester will be a welcome relief to most of us. Doing so without the mid-semester break, however, might be causing you a bit of consternation. Consider small shifts in your course schedule to build in breathing room for both you and your students. These certainly won't replace a week-long break, but will make the 14-week push more manageable. Here are some suggested by CELT and our friends at Furman University.

  • Sprinkle in active asynchronous course activities that provide opportunities for students to reflect and share ideas or hone their thinking. These active learning activities can be used to replace a synchronous course meeting day. 
  • Embrace writing or research days. Rather than meeting in person, designate days where students are expected to be working on cumulative projects. You could meet in person -- or have open office hours for questions on Zoom. One idea I love is to have Zoom Write-in sessions. This is where you all are on the same call, students might be in individual breakout rooms, actively writing or researching. You stay in the main room (working on your own writing project, maybe?) Students can then call for help if they need immediate feedback or want to chat about the assignment.
  • Use synchronous meeting time for group projects. I love this idea and have used it to great success in non-pandemic semesters. If you have projects planned for spring that require students to work in groups for success, consider turning a couple of your synchronous meetings over to group work. This is particularly helpful for students who have difficulty finding time outside of class to work on projects. You might leave it up to them how they would like to meet. Some students really prefer to limit their contact with others, and will appreciate being allowed to meet on Zoom. If you are worried about missing important content -- record some asynchronous material for them to watch as homework and you can pick the content back up in the next class meeting. 
  • Schedule a couple of weekends off. Why have I never thought about this? Pick a weekend or two where you neither assign homework nor do any prep work or grading. Yes, that might mean that your week leading up to the break work is intense, but two-days "off" can go a long way in helping us survive another disrupted semester. Your students will appreciate the lightened workload too. 
  • Build campus events into the rhythm of the class, especially if they will be taped! In lieu of a class meeting, assign a lecture, performance, or other campus event. Give your students a prompt or two ahead of time, have them complete some reflective writing, and then talk about it in your next meeting. One important caveat - think of access -- if the talk will not be taped, have an alternative assignment ready for those who cannot attend the event that is scheduled outside of your regularly scheduled class. 
  • Individual Field Trips Group field trips may be difficult to accomplish this semester, but getting students out of their dorm rooms and outside is a fantastic way to connect classroom learning to the world outside of campus and our Decorah community. There are a lot of great ideas out there. (And send any ideas my way, I'll share them with the faculty next week!) In my classes, sending them down to the Vesterheim and asking them to simply pay attention to how objects are displayed always results in a fantastic discussion in our next meeting. 
  • Small group consultation. Substitute a full class synchronous session with short, small-group consultations around a major project, paper, or in preparation for an exam. 
  • Make our breaks actual breaks. Consider adjusting assignment deadlines so that they do not fall directly before or after the short Easter break. This will ensure that students are able to take advantage of the breathing room of the break AND you won't be grading (as much) during your break. 

You'll notice that in each of these we keep working. It's just that pace that shifts. Last thought -- the Furman team reminds us to periodically elicit student feedback or conduct a poll to determine the ideal time for a just-in-time instructional adaptation. Teaching a bunch of first-years? Consider backing off the week their research papers are due in Paideia. They'll appreciate it!

50/50 might mean empty classrooms

Many faculty are choosing to meet online for one of their weekly scheduled course meetings this spring semester in order to facilitate small group discussion or workshops. If you know you will NOT be using your scheduled classroom on a regular basis, please email Kristen Underwood in Campus Programming. Campus spaces are at a premium. They will appreciate the notice.

The Inclusive Syllabus 

Kevin Gannon from Grand View University led a workshop here at Luther in summer 2019 on Inclusive Pedagogy. One of the most helpful tools he shared was his checklist for a more inclusive syllabus. It is linked here and will be available on the CELT website. I walk you through the checklist in this Voice Thread. I think one of the most helpful activities we did was exchange our in-process syllabi with a colleague and worked through the checklist, thinking about how the syllabus sounds to a student brand new to our classrooms. I learned a lot about the unintended punitive tone of my own syllabus, which I've amended. Consider grabbing a partner or colleague from outside your department and working through the activity together. I am always happy to work with you too.

Enough for now! We'll send out another CELT Notes early next week, but for now, here's to full fridges, soft couches, and the days getting longer.




23 and 25. January 2021

25 Jan. 2021

Good morning everyone!


A couple of quick reminders -- 

SPRING CELT Programming Survey

First, we sent the CELT Notes out this weekend. In it was a link to the CELT Spring Programming survey.
Here it is again 
for your convenience. The full CELT Notes are included at the bottom of this email 

Google Assignments 

If you use Google docs AND you use Katie -- check out the new integration that will make your spring semester so much easier.

Here is a how-to video and next week we'll have a drop-in session on Tuesday, February 2:30 to 3:15 to answer questions.

Sign up here
 to get the Zoom link. 

Before you put Q2 to bed...

This has been a strange and disrupted term to be sure. Spring will be different in so many ways, but we still will be living with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and institutional racism. You have an opportunity to see how your classroom is supporting students navigate both of these pandemics. 

Consider building an exit survey for your Q2 students. Make it anonymous to solicit honest feedback. Here are some ideas...

  • Ask them if they felt supported, seen, and heard.
  • Ask them if they have any suggestions for you as you work towards building a more inclusive classroom. 
  • Ask them if your late work and attendance policies supported them as they endeavored to learn during this global pandemic. 
  • How did your quarantine plan work out? What about group work?

Of course, students may bring these things up in their course evaluations, but consider asking them directly if you have any specific questions.

We are always happy to do a course post-mortem with you.

Email Kate to set up a consultation. 

More soon! We are almost there!



23. January 2021

Dear Colleagues -

There is a lot of information here today, probably too much given that we are all furiously finishing Q2. My advice is to skim today's CELT Notes and read more closely the sections that meet your needs. 

Faculty Interest Survey and Silver Linings of Q1 and Q2

In the spirit of meeting needs, we have created a faculty interest survey, which is available here. Please take a few moments to help us assess what (if anything!) will be MOST helpful to you next semester.

The last question of the survey asks this: Finally, this has been a year of great disruption. So many of us have completely had to change the way we've always taught, what we've always assumed, and what we've always expected out of our students. What lessons have you learned these past semesters that will stay with you? On a more practical level, what strategies have you tried out of necessity that you will continue to do if and when we return to normal?

I was talking yesterday to faculty developers at Denison University and Connecticut College. We were discussing ways to pull out these silver lining ideas and publish them more widely among our faculty, but doing so in a way that does not diminish or gloss over the real and difficult work that you all have put in the past eleven months. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you've landed on a solution, a new assignment, a technological hack, or a fresh perspective that is helping you teach better. 

Spring Semester Prep

I know that this is a bit premature for some of you, but here are the essential things to do next week, even as we finish up Q2. 

  • Develop an intake survey for spring 2021 You know the drill by now -- prepare a google survey asking for your spring students' names, pronouns, what technology they have, are they able to join Zoom classes, etc. etc. If you are going to shake up your schedule (such as meeting in person on Tuesday and online on Thursdays, etc) you might give them a heads up here. If they need any special equipment or materials let them know. 
  • Develop an exit survey for Q2. Moment of self disclosure here. I thought my solution to physically distant class was brilliant. Turns out, no one in the back of my class has been able to see my slides for the past two weeks. Kinda a problem in an art history class, friends. But I didn't know, until I asked them on Monday. The best way to know if your quarantine strategy, your late work policy, your attendance policy, whatever, is working is to ask the students in a google survey. I would urge that this be anonymous, because grade will not be turned in yet and you want to solicit honest feedback. I'm always happy to brainstorm ideas of what you can ask. 
  • Check your Spring Semester classrooms! Do you need any help with technology? 
  • Carve out some thinking time -- what will you keep from Q2? What do you want to try? We are getting close to a new normal, but we're not out of the pandemic woods yet. Spend some time thinking about what spring semester can look like.
  • What have you done during these fall terms that seems promising and worthy of trying again in a more normally-paced semester 
  • What are some discrete challenges of physically-distanced in-person teaching that you haven't yet solved to your satisfaction?
  • Are your attendance policies, late work policies, and other classroom management issues working to support students AND keep teaching manageable for you?
  • What about your plans for quarantined students? Is it working for everyone involved?

One note: I'm hearing from students that 11:59 due dates are rough. I have never thought about it before, because it seems like a logical cut off to me, but some students feel the need to work on those assignments up to midnight and it is keeping them from getting sleep. I guess I've never thought about it like that before -- and I'm sympathetic, so if it doesn't much matter to you, a 5pm deadline might be more humane. 

How can I make my spring classes more manageable?

We're going to talk more about burn out this spring, but as you are designing your spring classes, you might think more about some of these ideas gathered together from Georgetown's CTL -- How to make Spring Semester More Manageable. Notice that they are still remote this spring, but their advice may be helpful nonetheless. More here next week.  

Teach like a Poet (or an Art Historian :) 

I mentioned to a colleague this week that I haven't finished a non-required book in 6 months. That's unusual for me because I usually have at least one novel going at any given time, but I haven't had the brain space at night to read. (I'm on my third time through the full catalog of The Great British Baking Show though, so don't worry about me!) I know I'm not alone. 

If we are struggling to focus our minds -- imagine what our 18-22-year old students are experiencing. One of my intentional commitments this spring will be to build in more slow looking exercises for my students -- where we stop lecturing, discussing, or covering content and just look. Of course, looking is the basis of my discipline, but this op ed piece in the Chronicle makes a case for all of our disciplines to slow down, make space, and let our students...consider. Give it a read and let me know what you think. If you'd like to bring objects in your classrooms, give me a call, I'll get you in touch with the object people on campus. 

Learning Groups -- the trust, support, and inclusion they can foster make them really important 

Several faculty have mentioned utilizing learning groups in their classrooms this fall semester. What I love is when faculty are pairing those learning groups with reflective assignments that help students process their role as a member of a group -- what they offer, what they can improve on.

This is not totally unrelated to what you all have been talking about on the faculty list-serv. Helping students reflect on their role in our classroom communities helps to build trust, foster critical discussion, and can help students feel both seen and heard. Miami of Ohio's CTL has a great resource page on organizing learning groups. They discuss how to organize both low-stakes groups and higher-stakes teams. If you would like a deeper dive into the data, check out this occasion paper that discusses learning groups in collaborative disciplines like Engineering.

One thing to consider is leveraging Luther programs in this work. All of our students have gone through the Strengthfinders Assessment which helps students discover patterns in their actions and learn how to leverage their strengths. All students receive their codes as part of HP100 - Lifetime Health and Wellness. Miriam Skrade - Strengths Program Coordinator - explains more in this video. We'll have more resources for you soon. 

Ed-Tech Piloit - Hypothes.is

We are launching a campus-wide pilot of Hypothes.is - an online social annotation tool. More info coming soon - including options for training. In the meantime check out what they have to offer.  

Anti Racist Work

ACM Anti-Racist Workshops - Creating Effective Systems of Support for Historically Marginalized Students 

Registration is open for our January antiracism workshop scheduled for Thursday, January 28 at 4:00 pm (CT). Participants can register for the January workshop here.

Significant advances in psychological science have shed insight on how to best support the achievement and well-being of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. The interactive workshop will review the latest experimental research evidence on the effects of strengths-based approaches to engaging with students. Participants will explore how the study findings apply to their own campus resources, programming, and practices.

'Me and White Supremacy' working groups for faculty, staff and emeriti

CELT is sponsoring a second round of working groups for all faculty, staff, and emeriti who are willing to put in hard, self-reflective work to examine their own biases and their own complicity with white suprematism. Groups will begin Feb. 8 and end March 8. Meeting times will vary. Sign up online by Jan. 25. If you are willing to serve as a moderator/organizer for a group, please email Kate Elliott <ellika03>.

Good luck to all of you as we put Q2 to bed!




15. January 2021

Good morning!

Here is your Friday CELT Notes, coming to you on this gorgeous snowy Friday. For those of you with kiddos at home today, I want to send you extra strength and patience today as you balance the needs of your students and your own kids, who I'm sure were too excited to sleep in this morning of their first snow day of the year.

Lots of important information and events below, so I'll keep the preamble short. 

This weekend I'm going to start thinking about spring semester. I might not be doing anything about spring semester, but I'm going to start thinking about it. 
In that spirit, you'll all receive a faculty interest survey early next week that will gauge faculty needs and faculty availability this spring. Even if you don't intend to utilize CELT programming this spring, please do check it out. There is a section that asks you if you've changed anything about your syllabus, your classroom, or your teaching philosophy as we've endeavored to Keep Teaching these past 11 months. We hope to showcase these ideas in our spring programming, so please let us know what's working for you!

*NEW* Google Assignments -- Resources and Drop-in Help *NEW*

I'm so excited about this one....

  • Have you ever been annoyed that your students cannot figure out how to properly share their google docs with you?
  • Do you hate the KATIE Annotate PDF interface and want something like Google to comment and offer suggestions on student work?
  • Are you interested in the functionality of Google Classroom but also want to keep using your existing KATIE courses and content?

We have a new KATIE activity type for you! Welcome to the new Google Assignments, an LTI that allows you to create an assignment in KATIE that students can complete and submit as Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc. Also, ANY file type that can be uploaded to Google Drive can be submitted, including PDFs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, video, audio, image, and text files. When students submit a file, ownership transfers to the instructor and they are unable to make changes or edits until the instructor returns it.
Holly White has recorded an explanation video explaining this new Katie integration. We have also scheduled a Drop-in Help session of January 26, 2:30 to 3:15. If there is enough interest, we can schedule an additional session over break.

Talking about the Insurrection, White Supremacy, and Other Challenging Topics 

A partial follow-up to the fruitful online conversation this weekend. There is so much here -- I'm going to tackle Disinformation today in the CELT notes. 

Beth McMurtie - "Teaching in the Age of Disinformation" 

Here is one think-piece that connects to Martin Klammer's troubling point about students' hesitancy to say that Biden had won the election, may be helpful as we think about teaching in a time of disinformation. Beth McMurtie talks more about strategies here

Tools to help students evaluate media sources

Other tools can help you get your students to evaluate the reliability of their information. 

  • The Media-bias chart from Ad Fontes Media has made the rounds, but it remains relevant today. 
  • Jennifer Gonzales from the Cult of Pedagogy introduced her Tech Tools to Try in 2021 last week. There are a lot of free tools on that list that you might want to look into, but I'll highlight AllSides.com. This site takes current topics like COVID-19 response and gives you "a curated list of news and opinion pieces from publications that are clearly labeled as leaning left, leaning right, and centrist." When students click on those articles, AllSides takes them to the site where they were originally published, which I'm especially excited about! The podcast is available here

But Don't Forget your Campus Experts!

As always -- reach out to your librarians -- digital literacy is literally what they are trained to do and they would LOVE to brainstorm ideas about how to infuse your spring classes with assignments and activities to help your students hone their literacy skills. Can't remember who your departmental librarian is?

Here is the staff list. 

'Me and White Supremacy' working groups for faculty and staff

We have almost 20 faculty and staff signed up. Please join us!

CELT is sponsoring a second round of working groups for all faculty and staff who are willing to put in hard, self-reflective work to examine their own biases and their own complicity with white suprematism. Groups will begin Feb. 8 and end March 8. Meeting times will vary. Sign up online by Jan. 25.  If you are willing to serve as a moderator/organizer for a group, please email Kate Elliott <ellika03>.  

Event Notice: Dr. Bettina Love on January 18

I'm really looking forward to hearing more from Dr. Love. Her book,

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, is on my reading list. I hope you can carve out some time to hear her speak on Monday.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture: Dr. Bettina Love Jan. 18

Dr. Bettina L. Love, an author, activist and public speaker will give Luther College's 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture at 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. Love's lecture, "Living a Hip Hop and Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality and Black Joy," will educate viewers about racial violence, oppression, intersectional justice and how to make sustainable community change. The viewing link for this lecture, which is free and open to the public, can be found on luther.edu/events.

That's it! I hope you get a chance to tramp around outside today. Sometimes winter puts on an incredible show for us here in Northeast Iowa. I'm going to try to remember days like today in the grey muddy days of early March.



8. January 2021

Good afternoon,

It was my intention to send you all this CELT Notes next Monday, but well, we've got stuff to do.
I don't teach on Thursdays -- many of you do -- but I did today. In a strange coincidence we are scheduled to talk about monuments and memory, so discussions of the Capitol, of symbolism, of collective memory, will actually be on topic and appropriate, but I know that isn't the case for most of you.

Again, no one needs to be an expert on domestic terrorism or American politics to make space for these conversations. Heck, you don't even need to be an expert on the Capitol and its decoration (but if you would like to hear from an expert how the Capitol has served both as a site of unification AND for codifying a series of symbols for a legacy of conquest, check out my new book :), but I digress.)

Pedagogical experts have been quick to put together helpful resources to guide conversation. I recommend that even if you opt not to set aside class time, just let your students know that you imagine that they are reeling from these external pressures that seem relentless and unending.

I'm quoting now from the We are Teachers resources page, which is geared towards the K-12 classroom.  "We need to help our students feel safe and secure now. Take a look at the National Association of School Psychologists’ Guidance on Student Well-Being in the Context of the 2020 Election. Their recommendations to reassure children, reinforce appreciation of diversity as an American value, and discuss the importance of respecting the democratic process, remain relevant."

Our college students need to feel safe and secure right now too, and anything that we can do to support them in these next weeks as they negotiate this fractured nation and as they return to campus, some unwillingly, please do so.

Below in the CELT NOTES is information on the following: 

1) a reminder about strategies that will support isolating students 

2) Announcement of our second round of faculty/staff working groups with Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad 

3) Another silver lining to returning to in-person instruction next week.

Tips for Supporting Learning for Isolating Students

It is likely that you will have at least one student isolating during the last two and half weeks of Q2. Here are some recommendations to support these students in keeping up with their class work. Support can take various forms, and it does not automatically mean recording all classes (but it would be helpful if you did have FERPA permission forms signed for your class. Here is that form again).

Here are some examples:

  • Ask the student to keep up with the assigned reading and to meet with you during a virtual office hour to answer questions about the reading.
  • Encourage the student to ask a classmate to share their notes electronically and then ask the student to meet with you during a virtual office hour to answer questions.
  • In a discussion course, record any “lecture” material, and ask the student to watch the recording and then to meet with you during a virtual office hour to have an abbreviated version of the discussion that you facilitated in class. If more than one student is absent, invite them to discuss as a small group.
  • Try collaborative note-taking. This involves students rotating note-taking on a Google doc that is accessible to the entire class.
  • Use your virtual office hours for small group tutorials.
  • Create pre-recorded materials (such as VoiceThreads, videos, or narrated PowerPoints) that are specifically for students who are ill, quarantined, or isolating.
  • Build asynchronous material into the class for all students, thereby reducing the need to create material specifically for students who are ill, quarantined, or isolating.

If you would like to talk more about any of these ideas, please email Kate to set up a time for a conversation. 

Me and White Supremacy, Faculty and Staff working Groups

We had planned to launch the second round of Me and White Supremacy working groups for spring semester next week, but the events of this week prompted me to publicize the working groups now.

CELT will accomodate all faculty and staff who are willing to put in the hard, self-reflective work to examine their own bias and their own complicity with white suprematism. Sign up here by January 25. Early registration will ensure we have enough copies of Saad's excellent book for all participants.

If you are willing to serve as a moderator/organizer for a group, please email Kate.  

These working groups will begin the week of February 8 and conclude the week of March 8. We will meet weekly in small groups for one hour. Those times and days will be determined based on participant schedules.

In-person Instruction and Student Engagement

Last note: I want to add to Dean Kraus's email from Thursday afternoon.

Not only is online learning (unless it is done at the highest levels) less effective than in-person learning, Luther instructors pride themselves on high-touch personal connection, which can happen over Zoom, yes, but is much easier to foster in the physical classroom.

I'm starting to hear that some students are struggling like they did in spring semester. I have a few in my class who aren't answering email. Other professors have students who aren't showing up to synchronous meetings. I have a few advisees who are missing homework assignments and the CARE reports are starting to fill my email inbox. 

On Monday, when I have my 24 students back with me, I plan to double down on building connections. For those who are struggling a bit right now, I'm going to ask them to stay back for a few minutes and chat a bit, maybe get them to commit to a virtual office hour, ask them what I can do to help them finish my class strong. 

What I saw in my own class is even though everyone could stay on campus, some students still went home to spotty internet, equipt only with laptops without microphones. Others went home to share study spaces with siblings, and if my class is at all representative, others went home to jobs where bosses called them into work during class time.

I know we can't catch students up entirely in two and half weeks, but maybe we can pull them through -- and this is the important thing -- maybe we can set each of them up for better success next semester and beyond.

I want to remind you of the CAE Kudos program too. I received one of these kudos alerts for one of my advisees and it was a bright spot in my day. She didn't ace an exam or write an A+ paper, her professor just shared that she appreciated her thoughtful responses and hard work. Knowing this student, I'm sure it brightened her day as much as it did mine. 

To give a student Kudos, just file an Academic Alert. When you log into advocate and enter the student's name in the form, click Kudos at the bottom. 

Next week we'll talk more about Spring Semester preparation, but for now, thank you for all that you do to support our students. There will be high emotions next week, the CELT office is always open if you want advice, answers, or just to confidentially vent and let off steam.