What I'm doing this Fall

Those of you (scoff) that know me, know that I'm 'creatively restless.'  I have to create!  I have to tinker!  Some call it perfectionism... I call it, well, okay, maybe its a little driven by perfectionism.  Eh, anyway...

This Fall I'm changing things up in my World Geography class.  I'm tinkering with a goal of creating a set of guidelines or a workflow for college instructors to convert their courses to a flipped, learner-centered model.  I'm not quite at that place, yet, but I have done some cool things that are already working out well!


Here's the breakdown:

1. No 'textbook': instead open-source web-based resources.

2. Flipped model: each topic for the course occurs over two weeks, with an introduction reading and quiz, then follows with a application reading and reflection blog.

3. Multi-variate participation (of course, I don't call it that in front of the students!): just saying that participation is being measured in multiple ways (attendance, in class, on Canvas, in individual journals, etc.) and in varying weights (so depending on how much in class participation activities I arrange that will more or less weighted against on Canvas participation).

4. Required Blog Reviews and Quiz Notes: this is my effort to get the students to engage more with their online assignments, they bring in a page of notes (which I'll post about in more detail later) that we have a discussion around at the start of class.

5. Brain Breaks: in addition to already breaking up lecture by having impromptu discussions and Socratic episodes, I'm also trying to break up lecture with independent and group activities.  I'll tell you about those in future.

6. Visual powerpoints: more visuals, less words.  Sheesh it's hard!

7. Choose Your Own Geography Project:  I have three main categories of activity types and at least six or more different activities within each, not to mention a whole two page document of specific activities (you know some students just need that).  Students get to do at least three different 'Geography' activities, then they choose one to create a visual presentation around and they present it to a small, informal group of classmates.  Last semester this was SO fun.



Submitted Idea to US Dept of Ed "Teach to Lead" Program

I was listening to NPR yesterday (as I do pretty much every day) and I heard a piece on apprenticeship/vocational programs in Germany.  I was actually thinking about applications to higher education career learning and work-study opportunities for the students in the programs I work with.

But today, I came across the US Dept of Ed's "Teach to Learn" initiative. Then the idea struck. Is it exceptional?  Eh, not sure. Is going any where? Probably not.  But, I'm proud of it!

What do you think...?

Idea: Apprenticeship Model for Teaching

Improving Teacher Effectiveness, Development and Retention

Teacher turnover and burnout is preventable.  A recent study concluded that more pedagogical preparation does impact retention positively (Sawchuk 2014).  In higher education, the problem does not quite manifest as a retention issue, but as an effectiveness issue.  When college-level faculty experience burnout their commitment and job satisfaction is stressed, but burnout is mitigated through support and collaboration (Tugend 2013).

A novel solution can be initiated through a new paradigm of new teacher training and faculty professional development: the apprenticeship model.  This model integrates the learning process into an extended, mentored and experiential praxis.  New teachers, as apprentices, and existing faculty, as masters, learn and work together over an extended period where leadership and responsibility shifts between the two.  The Apprentice Teacher benefits from hands on, front-of-class experience that is supported by a dedicated mentor extending for a longer period of time than conventional teacher internship programs.  For the Master Teacher, they benefit from the time and cause to refresh their own pedagogical practice and research agenda.  The apprenticeship pairing will last for at least two years. Early on, it will focus on Master Teacher modeling and leading collaborative creation/updating of methods and materials between the two teachers.  Later on, the Apprentice Teacher comes into the lead and the Master Teacher recedes into a mentor role, where she or his is able to devote time to their own professional development pursuits.  This new model will entail a revision of most education degree programs, a deepening of the teacher residency programs, and a synthesis with existing faculty development programs.