Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

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Press "Play" in the Composition Classroom

posted: 8.7.12 by Traci Gardner

NYC - Biennal de Video Youtube - Guggenheim MuseumI prefer written instructions. My heart sinks when a site provides only video documentation of how to use their product. I don’t want to watch a video. I especially don’t want to watch an entire video just to determine whether it addresses my questions. I want to search and skim through written instructions until I find what I’m looking for.

The bad news for me is that I learned recently that my yearning to avoid video firmly separates me from the average student in the college classroom. While the first thing I look for is a manual, a student is more likely to be looking for a play button.

This new realization came to me at the Stampin’ Up convention I attended on my road trip last month. Speaker Jason Ryan Dorsey explored the differences among Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y to open up the convention. He emphasized that to reach a younger audience, you need to “say it visually.” [read more]

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Categories: Traci Gardner
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Have a Seat

posted: 3.8.11 by Steve Bernhardt

I mentioned in a recent post that I invite students to bring their laptops to class so we can stay connected and do certain kinds of work during class. One problem I have had in classrooms, however, is that they pack students tightly together, providing only small, fixed arms that are designed to support a notebook (of the paper variety) or a textbook, though hardly both. Add a precariously poised laptop to the mix, and I get nervous trying to navigate the closely spaced rows. It’s also difficult for students to regroup so they can work together when instruction is not front and center. We need flexible space to teach.

Currently, I try to schedule my sections into our very popular problem-based learning (PBL) classrooms, which seat students in small groups at tables, and where the room is equipped with wireless laptops and media projection. The University the Delaware is well known for leadership in PBL, and we continue to add to our inventory of classrooms that support team-based learning. The other day I had a Web meeting with one of our helpful instructional technology staffers at UD. Paul Hyde had asked a couple of months back about whether I would be interested in pilot testing a newly designed, technology-intensive classroom.

node chair_featuresPaul showed me the Steelcase® chair that he was thinking of buying for two new experimental classrooms. You will notice in the picture the features I liked immediately: the work surface is large and rectangular, providing a lot more work space, and it works for righties or lefties. The swiveling chairs are on casters, so students can scoot around and quickly get into pairs or groups. There is a shelf below the seat for book bags or coats, which would normally be on the floor, where they impede movement. And the seats have armrests to hang stuff, like purses or bags. The seats take more room than typical ones, so we will lose some capacity on the room conversion—not a small issue on our campus, where seats are at a premium. [read more]

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Categories: Classroom Challenges and Solutions
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Use Newsreel Videos for Background and Analysis

posted: 7.29.09 by Traci Gardner

If you’re looking for historical videos to use in the classroom, HBO Archives has a great new resource available for you — all you’ll need to do is create a free login. The ASCD community blog explains:

The March of Time newsreel series, produced from 1935 to 1967 by Time Inc., is now online in its entirely, courtesy of the HBO Archives. All films are free, but registration is required. They were first shown in movie theaters and on television and were more long-form than typical Hollywood-produced newsreels.

The newsreels, primarily dating from the 1930s, include historical events, cultural happenings, and biographical profiles. Each one holds possibilities for the classroom. Here are some examples and suggestions for their use:

There are dozens of videos on the site, and no matter which newsreel you choose, you’ll find a snapshot of life in America or around the world. It’s a handy collection with limitless possibilities for composition and rhetoric teachers.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Literature, Popular Culture, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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Students Are Like Snakes

posted: 6.4.07 by Barclay Barrios

Students are like snakes …
… they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.

I use that line every year at the start of ENC 6700, the class I’ve been teaching for new GTAs here at Florida Atlantic University (henceforth and for all blog time, FAU). I thought it would be an appropriate start for this blog, too. For one thing, I’m hoping to test Bedford/St. Martin’s (henceforth and for all blog time, BSM)–they wanted a personality-driven blog and, despite my PhD (perhaps, perversely, because of it), my personality is startlingly low. But more importantly the line gets to the heart of what I wanted to talk about in this post, which I almost titled “We Have No Idea What We’re Doing.” The alternate title does double duty as well. This blog is an experiment in new media publishing, collaborative professional development, and alternate publication models. But it also makes me think about how teachers come to assume authority in the classroom, especially at that crucial opening moment when they stand before a class of students for the first time, when they may very well be fearing that they have no idea what they are doing.

My line about snakes is meant to break the inevitable tension I see in all those new GTA faces as well as the tension that exists there in our classroom, in ENC 6700. But the laughter the line inevitably provokes (I am such a ham in the classroom) isn’t in itself what alleviates the tension. Instead, it has to do with the assertion that, well, it’s all going to be OK, that you too can be a teacher.

I never had a clever one liner when I started teaching. What I had was my mustache. My older, wiser, more-advanced-in-grad-studies best friend Vince suggested I try growing a mustache the spring before I started teaching. I worked on it all summer and it’s come to be so much a part of me that I can’t imagine myself without it (this blog needs a better pic of me … I have a big handlebar ‘stache and I’m easy to identify at conferences because of it). But Vince, of course, was suggesting I grow it to look older, to look like I belonged up there in front of those eager first year students. At the time, I was just six years older than my students (each year we teach we’re a year older, but they’re always eighteen); the mustache gave me some physical marker of authority.

I don’t know if it was the facial hair or my innate need to be a ham or good training in new teacher orientation or gendered expectations, but I do know that my first semester teaching was one of my best. But that’s because I was able to be a teacher–not in the prosaic sense of being able to instruct but in the mythological sense of stepping into an expected role.

Of course, authority itself is perhaps an issue in this age of de-centered pedagogies. But, as I’ve come to point out when discussing Mary Louise Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone” in my FYC classroom, yeah, sure her identity was on the line… but everyone in the room knew who filled out the final grade roster.

But I don’t want this post to be about authority in the classroom or how we finesse that in our theories. I’ll leave that for compositionists smarter than I. What I am wondering about instead is how you came to be a teacher, how you assumed the mantle of authority, how you stood up for the first time in front of a bunch of strangers and made it work. It’s far from an academic discussion for me. I have a new crop of GTAs coming in 2.5 months and, well, that snake line can only do so much…

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Categories: Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Teaching Advice
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