Notes I jotted to myself at the end of the term

This entry is part 3 of 48 in the series Teaching Transparently

Photo from Flickr and by Mr Squiggle

Somewhere in the post surgery end of semester haze, I jotted down some notes to myself about things I wanted to do more/ do better next semester.  I just found them now in the “drafts” section of  LLU.  In fact, I just realized I have a bazillion draft posts here that I should probably finish or delete, so this could turn into an interesting summer project. Stay tuned.

I recommend the practice of writing stuff down about the semester as soon as it is over. It is amazing how quickly you forget what happened just a few weeks ago.  The post academic semester amnesia is sorta like the amnesia you have after childbirth ….nature’s way of making sure you  do it again is to make sure you forget the pain 🙂

Here is what I scribbled, in no particular order:

1) model more and often:  give examples, do the examples, if possible show examples of previous students’ work that was awesome (note: ask current students if you can copy their SoundCloud examples for sharing). Model Skype calls as these are universally terrifying to students;

2) scaffolding: be more intentional about making assignments that increase in complexity (in terms of language required not in terms of technology);

3) anticipate technophobia better. Some students are phobic about social media identity issues online.   (Do you hear that, Marc Prensky?) What I wrote is response to one student who had a hard time with the tools:

You were not alone in your  “phobia” of social media; the intent of those tools was never to “convert” people but to try and create alternative ways and spaces for people to connect.  If Tumblr or the the class blog or Soundcloud wasn’t working for you, that’s fine, it just meant you needed to make the face-to-face conversations as productive for you as they could be.

4) establish what they want an A or a  B  or a C or an F to “look like” in their learning early on and keep revisiting this throughout the term;

5) Find and use more authentic media;

6) More informal assessments;

7) Explore the idea of creating a learning contract with each student….identify three things (or more) that are out of their comfort zone but will assist in their  learning.  The contract would serve as a way to remind them of those things.  Need to think about this some more….

8) Reverse the process with blogging.  Have students first learn how to find blogs in Spanish (use links from here) or via Tumblr about topics of interest to them and ask them to study the format, the questions, the comments. Ask student to leave comments. Then ask them to blog on their own,

9) Create an assignment bank ala ds106 and have the students choose assignments from different categories and share their results.  Listening, Writing, Speaking, Reading.  Could serve as a way to help students improve skills as well.  Have students suggest/submit assignments as well.

Sitting here now, I only remember about 3 of these things.. so I am glad I remembered to write this stuff down.

And now… to plan the next term.

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Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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