Quick CEDP Phase 1 Day 3 Overview

It’s getting late since I was working on organizing my notes from today’s workshops and finalizing the lesson plan I’ll present to my small group tomorrow for feedback. I really struggle with making human tissues an interesting topic, so I look forward to the suggestions of my colleagues.

Keynote: Jesse Hirsh – Learning at the Speed of Light

The hour and a half flew by (at the speed of light)!

  • McLuhan’s rear-view mirror effect: we are living in the future (of technology) now!
  • Whoever has attention has a form of social power.
  • Twitter is the court of public power.
  • Philosophically, no one goes on the internet to find someone who disagrees with them.
  • The classroom is the last bastion of shared reality.
  • A digital native is not necessarily great with technology.
  • The digital divide speaks to differing socioeconomic status and privilege.
  • We are cursed with connectivity.
  • Literacy is all about pattern recognition and the network effect.
  • On gamification: games have rigid logic and rules, but play promotes a freedom to explore.


Nancy Nelson – Project/Problem-Based Learning

David DiBattista – Getting the Most Out of Multiple Choice Questions

  • I will try not to use sentence-completion format.
  • I will try to reword my old questions so they are clearer and shorter.
  • I will get rid of all of my option E’s (4 options only).
  • I will avoid negative wording.
  • I will get rid of all options that state ALL or NONE of the above.
  • I will ensure that my questions are properly aligned with the course outcomes.
  • I will ensure that the questions are covering the appropriate cognitive level.
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I need help with ideas for project-based learning in my introductory biology classroom!

Calling all teachers and learners!

I attended a great session today at CEDP about Project-Based Learning, put on by Nancy Nelson. I really want to incorporate a project into our introductory cell biology course, but I don’t have any ideas! I can think of activities, but they all fall short of being open-ended.

My students learn about cell organelles and how they relate to protein synthesis, mitosis, meiosis, genetic inheritance and the general characteristics of life. Many of my students start the course with a weak foundation of science knowledge, so I do not want to scare away my students with a project that is too far-reaching and complex.

Eagerly awaiting YOUR advice!

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CEDP Phase 1 Day 2 Reflection

College Grouping – Oucomes Based Education and Program Standards

Our department has just finished the curriculum review portion of our program mapping, so I had all of the terminology fresh in my mind for this session. It was great to see where our college-specific guides are posted on the web, so I can refer to them when it is my turn to develop a new course for our program (or maybe I’ll get to create a new elective option). There was a great visual image provided to help illustrate our Integrated Course Design Model, and a lot of fantastic discussion about program/vocational standards, course outcomes, learning objectives, and TLPs.

Plenary Session: Kathy Bouma – Lesson Planning with Learning Needs in Mind

I have just been introduced to Kolb’s Learning Styles through one of the online courses I’m taking. I absoltely LOVE the way this session was structured to talk about what learning activities for all 4 styles might include! Five stars, Kathy! There was LOTS of small group discussion, and it was great to hear some suggestions from folks not in my field. I was also glad to see the Cone of Experience since I had seen the image once before but could not seem to remember what it was called. I’m thrilled to see that other faculty members use pre-structured blank handouts for their students to fill in. I know that it works well for me (and for my students, from the feedback they have given in the past) but up until today I had not actually seen anyone else providing them. I plan to test out the lesson plan model for my future courses.

 I will start each class with a video and short discussion to capture attention and explain WHY the material should matter to my students. I will provide some content, probably by using the PowerPoint/blank handout method whenever appropriate to give my students the CONTENT. The students will then be given some sort of ACTIVITY to work on with their partner/group, and we will discuss the answers as a class. Finally, the students will be given more opportunities to PRACTICE and SUMMARIZE the material covered (likely using our LMS and other electronic resources). It is a good, flexible structure that I think should work perfectly. I look forward to giving it a try.

Helen Harrison – Icebreakers, Groupings, and Energy Breaks

My favourite session so far! I needed to find some more activities to add to my toolkit if I was going to make any significant changes to my teaching this year. I plan to use one of the icebreaker activities to try to learn my students names during their smaller lab sections (since I think it would be more effective in smaller doses for my mind). It was great to talk about how some of the activities can also be tweaked to enhance the learning of actual course content and not just “take up time”.

“Icebreakers should be inclusive activities that minimize competition and maximize interaction.”

We also addressed the fact that some of the activities will work better in small groups than in large groups. Also, some activities work best for extroverts, so it is important to ensure that your introverted students have a chance to share and participate at the level they are comfortable. As a student, I hated icecbreaker activities (because as a teenager I focused on a predominantly “Assimilating” learning style and just wanted to cover content) but I do see a great value in them for the new college student who does not know anyone in their classes.

I am really looking forward to receiving feedback from my colleagues about my sample lesson plan for Phase 1. I want to spice up a dry topic (human body tissues) and see if I can actually get some students excited about it in the future.

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CEDP Phase 1 Day 1 Reflection

I have just finished my first day of the College Educator Development Program (CEDP Phase 1) for the Western Ontario colleges and I am absolutely exhausted! I think that I’ll try to post my conference workshop reflections as soon as I’m able for all future blog posts, so that the thoughts and feelings are still fresh. I was so happy to receive a notebook and pen from the conference so I had plenty of space to write during the day without pulling out my phone. I am always hesitant to type mobile notes because I don’t want the speaker to think that I am not engaged by their presentation.

Opening Keynote: Idahlynn Karre – Engaging Learners in Collaborative Classrooms

I loved that she gave some very specific advice. People can remember 5-7 bits of information and have an attention span of roughly 8-10 minutes. Students need time at the start of every single class to forget about all of the other things going on in their lives and prepare to participate in the learning community. Students also need time to reflect on their learning so that information can travel from their working memory into their long-term memory. Adult learning is a highly social activity, but it can only take place in a warm and accepting environment.

“Telling is not Teaching. Listening is not Learning.”

After hearing Idahlynn speak, I have decided to do my best to learn my students’ names. It will be a lot (looks like over 100 this September) but I will just have to try. I’ll be looking for tips to help me remember the whole class list. I will also try to have my students discuss concepts in small groups more often. Lastly, I will speak more frequently with my fellow science faculty about any issues that come up during class.

Janie Cardy – Helping the Under-Prepared Student

The whole Pre-Health Sciences program is designed to help students who are not prepared to do their best in full health science courses. My students often did not take senior science in high school, or they did not meet the competitive admission cut-off grades. This workshop was a great reminder to not judge my students harshly when they exhibit “at-risk” behaviours in class. Adult learners can find some very serious barriers to their learning and I hope that I am better able to support their needs in the future.

“Our students lead complicated lives.”

Creating classroom culture seems to be a theme for the conference so far. I mut remember to set the tone for my classroom as early as possible, and to clearly state the high expectations I have of my students. My students need to know that they are not alone when they come to college, and that there are lots of free services in place to help them succeed. I must remember to give my students regular reminders, because they will be overwhelmed with all of the new information given to them in the first week of classes.

I also met my small group members that I will be collaborating with for all 3 phases of the development program. It is going to be a busy week!

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Invisibly Busy

I think I feel busier in the summer months than I do during the school year. If I was to use this blog to track my actual accomplishments, however, it would look like I have been sitting around doing nothing for the past month. I do have a number of saved blog drafts getting backed up, but they will have to wait for another day.

So what have I been up to all summer?

I bought a house, recruited some friends to help me re-paint the whole thing, and moved in.

I planted a vegetable garden: 12 tomatos, 12 peppers, 6 eggplants, 4 cucumbers, and a marigold border. The marigold border is supposed to keep out small animals but every time I go out to water the veggie patch I spy a little rabbit sitting happily in the middle of all the produce.

I spent a week in Boston visiting a friend and getting inspired by all the great attractions on their CityPass. The Museum of Science was easily my favourite stop. I could have spent the whole week just interacting with all the exhibits and attending their fantastic demonstrations.

I finished adding all of my collected student feedback to my teaching portfolio, and updated my list of conferences and workshops to include the TEDxNiagara event, and Spotlight on Teaching and Learning. As expected, Dr. Alec Couros (Open Thinking: Rants and Resources from an Open Educator) was inspirational!

I spent a weekend camping during a tornado watch. Since there were no injuries (just a fairly sleepless night of thunder and lightning) it was actually pretty exciting.

I enrolled in 2 online courses: Adult Education and Curriculum Development. They are both part of the Teaching Online certificate that Niagara College offers. So far it has been a great chance to reflect on my past, present, and future journeys in education.

… and of course I could go on and on about my summer adventures – but enough about that! How did you spend YOUR summer vacation?

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Tool Review: Prezi

A link to my first Prezi (Organelles of the Prokaryotic Cell)

Pros: Animation between points catches the viewers attention, easy to get started (if you’ve seen Prezi’s in action before), many elegant templates.

Cons: Time-consuming to create (for my first try), frames lock onto objects and cannot be manipulated without affecting contents, conversion to PDF or export does not support embedded video.

Overall Impression: Nice change from traditional PowerPoint slides, but I wouldn’t convert every note to the Prezi format. I will definitely be using these for short topics as a nice change of pace for students.

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Why Do I Teach?

I’ve been inspired by Denise Krebs (Dare to Care) and the Fellowship of Open Spokes (Membership Information) to answer the question: Why do I teach?

The long answer would be the story of how I became a faculty member at Niagara College. The short answer is: because it’s fun, and I love it!

My Background Story (The Long Answer)

When I was in grade 11, my chemistry teacher sparked my love of science. I remember that she had a tie-dyed lab coat and we performed lots of experiments that involved explosions or open flames. She selected me, out of all the girls in my class, to attend a 2-day workshop at Brock University (Scientifically Yours) and at that moment I decided to pursue a career in chemistry.

I did all of my post-secondary schooling at Brock, actually. After completing a 4-year Bachelors degree in biochemistry, I began my Masters in chemistry. After only 4 months though, I realized that research was not my passion (it was a mental struggle to even step into the lab). As part of my graduate studies, I was required to be a laboratory demonstrator for the first-year chemistry course. I was responsible for delivering mini-lectures as lab introductions and I loved every minute of it! I transferred into the education department as soon as I was able.

While completing my Masters in education, a family friend suggested that I submit my CV to Niagara College. Knowing the number of unemployed teachers in Ontario, I never imagined that I would be hired as a partial load professor. While preparing my lecture materials for my first day of classes, I remember thinking back to my days in high school chemistry and wondered how I could create the same sort of classroom environment for my Pre-Health Science college students. I ordered myself a monogrammed black lab coat to get started and haven’t looked back since.

So why do I teach?

I hated being in a research lab. I hated the pressure to produce results, and the sense of failure when a chemical reaction didn’t work the way I expected it to.

I loved being a student and learning new things about science and the natural world. I then loved being able to share that knowledge with others.

I teach because I find it fun to learn, and I have never found a better opportunity to learn new things than by becoming a teacher.

I try to have fun while I teach, so maybe my students are having fun as well. I don’t think that academic standards are lessened by student satisfaction.

I teach because I have never experienced a greater sense of accomplishment than in that moment when a student deepens their understanding of the universe in some small way.

I teach because my students show their appreciation. They actually say “thank you” and these two simple words encourage me to work harder every day.

So why do you teach?

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