Teaching CSUN's First Year Students: What's New
Five Gears for Activating Learning
Eight CSUN stalwarts (six faculty, one staff, and one administrator) studied the book How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (available to CSUN users as an e-book) as part of a learning community during the 2012-2013 academic year. With support from the Provost and the Michael D. Eisner College of Education, they have now distilled those seven principles into five gears, a double-sided postcard, and two posters. Stay tuned for opportunities to learn how and why you and your students might activate the five gears. Participants: Cynthia Desrochers (lead), Matthew d'Alessio, Rashawn Green, Sharon Klein, Daisy Lemus, Michael Neubauer, Mike Rivas, and Cheryl Spector.
Timeless Advice for Freshmen and a Conversation with Prof. James E. Sefton (History Department)
Professor Jim Sefton, a CSUN history professor who has been teaching for over forty years, has some timeless advice for freshmen in the form of this two-page list of Academic Tactics for Freshmen (.docx, 18KB). Jim is also the featured presenter for a Faculty Development coffee later this month: High Standards: Holding Students Accountable (on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p..m.in the Whitsett Room, SH 451). The discussion should be very interesting. Join in; see how your colleagues are supporting student success while keeping standards high.
Ten Reasons You and Your Students Should Have Attended Freshman Convocation
You probably did attend. But just in case, here are your Ten Reasons to Attend Convocation.
Five Things to Do on the First Day of Class: a list by Maryellen Weimer
"I don’t know if the first day of class is the most important day of the course, but I don’t think many of us would disregard its significance. What we do and how we do it matters. There are lots of good first-day activities—we’ve shared some in this blog over the years. In this post I’d like to move our thinking in a different direction and suggest five first-day essentials that go beyond the activities. These are the goals for the first day that we can use the activities to accomplish." (read more...)
New App for CSUN Students (and Faculty and Staff)
CSUN has launched a new mobile application for iPhone and Android (with a mobile webpage for all other smartphones at m.csun.edu). CSUN students can use their smartphones to add or drop classes and access Moodle. The app also includes the campus directory and campus map navigation. Additional functionality will be added throughout the year. (read more...)
The Tally: 5818 Students in CSUN's Biggest-Ever Freshman Class (updated 9.24.13)
More than 7000 new students signalled their interest in CSUN by clicking the "Intent to Register" button. How many will actually enroll was a bit of a guessing game until Census Day (9.24.13). Now we know: the new freshman class has 5818 members. Learn more--a lot more!--about the freshman class and other students by checking the rich data on the Institutional Research website at http://www.csun.edu/~instrsch/. Here's the path to see how the entering freshman class of 2013 grew so large:
- Registration Reports
- Fall 2013 Registration
- Daily Registration
- FTF Comparison
Information Technology Workshops for Faculty: New Calendar View
Academic Technology offers all kinds of classes to support teaching with technology: Moodle 2, tablets, and more. Now you can view all available classes at a glance on the Technology Training calendar-view page: http://www.csun.edu/it/workshop-calendar. Much easier to read than the page-by-page list. Did you know there were discussions on teaching with tablets almost every week this summer? And if you haven't yet checked out some of the really nice new features of Moodle 2, you have a lot to look forward to. Check it out!
Moodle 2: What's New?
What's new in Moodle 2? Read all about it at this AT website: http://www.csun.edu/it/whats-new. Among the highlights: drag-and-drop file uploading (at last!); the opportunity to require students to master one activity or block before they move on to a subsequent activity or block; optional checkboxes so students can track their own progress; one-button duplication of existing labels (for instance, "Due this week!); a workshop activity allowing faculty to grade students based on their own work as well as on their peer comments on a classmate's assignment; and more.....
A Sensible Approach to Flipping Your Classroom
Here's a practical and quite short article from Faculty Focus with five sensible opportunities for you to flip a portion of your classroom practice: "Looking for ‘Flippable’ Moments in Your Class" by Barbi Honeycutt (25 Mar 2013). Excerpt:
"[S]ome topics lend themselves more easily to flipped strategies than others, but every lesson plan has the opportunity for at least one 'flippable moment.' This is the moment during class when you stop talking at your students and “flip” the work to them instead. This is the moment when you allow your students to struggle, ask questions, solve problems, and do the 'heavy lifting' required to learn the material." (Read more....)
Garbology for CSUN Faculty & Staff
The 2013-2014 Freshman Common Reading is Garbology by Edward Humes. If you received a free copy, don't forget that you have agreed to speak to at least one new 2013-2014 CSUN freshman about the book this coming fall.
For more information about Garbology at CSUN , see: http://www.csun.edu/afye/Garbology-for-Faculty-and-Staff.html. Among the many possibilities for working with Garbology, consider these: a campus-wide White Elephant Exchange; ramped-up campus recycling; and curricular connections to CSUN departments and programs including Sustainability (the new minor), Business and Business Law, Environmental & Occupational Health, Political Science, Family and Consumer Sciences, Biology, Math, Economics, Music, Art, and (of course) freshman writing/Stretch Composition as well as University 100.
On a possibly related note, there will soon be a documentary about the "Landfill Harmonic": musicians who make musical instruments out of trash in Paraguay: see http://www.treehugger.com/culture/orchestra-paraguay-makes-beautiful-music-trash.html and also http://wosu.org/2012/classical101/paraguays-recycled-orchestra-turns-trash-into-musical-treasure/.
Of particular interest to us at CSUN: the book has a substantial local (SoCal) focus and is considered highly teachable by selection committee members, who also talked about how it changed their perspective on trash and how its engaging style and subject surprised them:
- "It makes you think."
- "It’s a call to action!"
- "It makes us take personal responsibility for our trash in our 'disposable society' and requires us to consider what we too often don’t: our garbage."
Faculty are confident that it will lead to wonderful projects and assignments. Find out more about teaching Garbology at http://www.csun.edu/afye/Garbology-for-Faculty-and-Staff.html. And don't miss this NPR story: "Following Garbage's Long Journey around the Earth" (http://www.npr.org/2012/04/26/150735732/following-garbages-long-journey-around-the-earth). And don't forget that the author will be the keynote speaker at Freshman Convocation (Thursday 12 September 2013 at 6 p.m. on the Oviatt Lawn).
Deadline for Applying to Teach University 100
If you missed the March 2013 application deadline, look for the 2014 announcement in mid-February. More information: http://www.csun.edu/afye/Teaching_University_100.html
Moodle Discussion Forums: Food for Thought?
"The discussion forum, currently the holy grail of 'engagement' inside most online courses, is particularly problematic. Exchanges within forums are usually too strictly controlled and reduce honest interaction to busy-work scored by a rubric. These interactions rarely resemble the many and varied kinds of discussions possible in a classroom. And many teachers require things of online discussions that they would never demand in an on-ground classroom: one post of at least 250 words, properly cited, and exactly 2 responses to fellow students. Imagine trying to create a lively classroom discussion with these kinds of constraints."
Read more of Jesse Stomel's wonderfully disruptive blog post, "Online Learning: A User’s Guide to Forking Education," at http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Forking_Education.html#unique-entry-id-89 (Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Teaching & Technology, 8 Jan 2013). Thanks to CSUN faculty colleague Jennifer Thompson (Jewish Studies) for sending me this link.
Short-short Article on Enhancing Classroom Discussion
A recent issue of The Toolbox (10:3, Nov./Dec. 2011) features eight practical tips for making classroom discussion more successful. Ignore the title ("Value-Added Discussion Enhancers") and learn something new (for instance, why you might want to include background music during class discussion).
Hybrid and Online Class Designations
A new CSUN policy helps students registering for CSUN classes understand whether listed classes are hybrid, online, or traditional before they enroll; the course notes in SOLAR will designate a class as
- OF if the class is "Fully Online" with no campus meetings;
- OC if it is a "Campus Online" class with most class sessions online and any face-to-face sessions usually for orientation, special presentations, or exams; or
- OH if it is a "Hybrid Class" mixing online and face-to-face meetings approximately half and half through the semester.
In addition, CSUN students can now take a short "Student Online Readiness Survey" to help them decide whether an online class is a good fit for them. The survey is anonymous and returns results directly to the student on the website at the time the survey is completed. Want to know more? Take the survey yourself. You'll find it on the Moodle login page.
"Strategies to Improve Student Writing"
This recent short article by David Smit describes how (and why) faculty in all disciplines should teach writing in their classes. He offers specific strategies faculty can use, arguing that "we must recognize that students cannot get sufficient practice in writing if they only write in English classes." (See "Strategies to Improve Student Writing.")
The Toolbox: A Teaching and Learning Resource for Faculty
"The Toolbox is an online professional development newsletter offering innovative learner-centered strategies for empowering college students to achieve greater success. The newsletter is published six times a year, and the online subscription is free."
Recent issues have included topics such as "Organizing Teaching to Promote Learning," "Web-Based Assignment Venues," "If You Are Here, Raise Your Hand: The Attendance Dilemma," and "Going Retro--Teaching Techless" (among others).
Tomorrow's Professor: "Why Students Lose Confidence"
This very brief article (as Tomorrow's Professor explains) "is a report on a study that looks at reasons why many freshman engineering students switch majors or drop out of college entirely. It has implications for many other disciplines as well. The article is by Mica A. Hutchison-Green." Tomorrow's Professor is a mailing list that offers "Desk-Top Faculty Development, One Hundred Times A Year." It is sponsored by the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning.