Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gender and Cultural Differences in the classroom

Thanks for a great meeting last week! We had a very lively discussion about, well, discussions. There was interest in pursuing gender and cultural differences, highlighted by Chapters 7 and 8, for the next couple of months, and one book that was discussed in the Brookfield and Preskill book was Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand. Even though it's not directly about pedagogy, we thought it would be useful to understand the differences in discourse as a way to understand discussion dynamics. This book is widely available in local libraries as well as at Stanford library. Another book that was discussed was Maher and Tetreault's "The Feminist Classroom" which was mentioned a few times in our previous book and is also available in the Stanford library. I know some people had already read the Tannen book, so how about for our January meeting, we'll discuss both, and each of us can pick which book to read.

I forgot to include the link to that blog post that I mentioned at our meeting last week about a British professor's "tips" on surviving academia. Here it is.

Our meeting will be on the first Thursday of the quarter, January 10 at 8am. I'll confirm location by e-mail closer to the date, but I'm pretty sure we'll be at A3C (Old Union Ballroom) again.

Have a great holiday break!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

socratic questions website/december book

Mariatte emailed me the following link on Deep Learning, which includes plenty of information such as a taxonomy of Socratic questions and how to give feedback to students regarding their questions/critical thinking, among other topics. It's a great follow-up to our last book!

Speaking of books, last week I-Chant emailed the DL regarding December's book: "Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms" by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill. If you're going to the next meeting (Thursday, December 6) and want a copy of the book, please email I-Chant if you haven't done so already!

Friday, November 9, 2007

november meeting summary & info for december meeting

Yesterday we met to discuss William W. Wilen's "Questions, Questioning Techniques, and Effective Teaching". We found this book to be highly informative and it was also a nice change of pace from our previous lecture-driven and teacher portrait-driven readings. We touched on several topics including wait time, building the skill of developing/formulating questions, and the different types of questions that we can ask of our students. A lot of our discussion focused on the distinctions between question categories, such as high-convergent vs. low-convergent as well as the corresponding divergent question types. It was enlightening to us to read about these distinctions because we hadn't really thought of them before -- this also led into a side discussion on Bloom's taxonomy and developing questions for Personal Response Systems (aka clickers) for large lecture courses.

The art of asking questions is something that we all need to develop, particularly in the realm of preparing questions ahead of time to probe students' understanding and to achieve the intended level of thinking for which we aim.

From the students' side, we discussed how to help students generate their own questions, but we wanted to have a more in-depth look at how to deal with/react to questions that students ask of us. We touched on the issues of praise and intrinsic/extrinsic motivation as being important things to consider when determining how to encourage and shape students' lines of questioning.

For our next meeting in December, we want to continue on with reading about asking questions and the many subleties involved, from both the students' and the instructors' sides. Right now the next book is TBA, but we're hoping to find another book that's accessible online. Angela also brought up a great suggestion -- we should all bring in questions (e.g. from discussion activities) that we've used in our own classes so that we can share them with one another and discuss these as well. That would be an excellent way of bringing in what we read and merging it with what we hope to practice in our own classes.

Our December meeting will be held on Thursday, December 6 from 8:00-9:30am at the Asian American Activities Center top floor couch room. Once we determine the next book, we'll let everyone know what it is and how to access it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Asking questions

Thanks for a good meeting yesterday everyone! Even though most of us may not follow in the footsteps of the Masters in being mean, crotchety professors, I think many of us enjoyed reading the book.

For our next meeting, we discussed focusing in on discussion-leading, the Socratic method, and less emphasis on lectures, which has dominated a lot of our recent readings. I was able to find an interesting book (complete text available online, hooray!) that may be good for our interests. It is William W. Wilen's Questions, Questioning Techniques, and Effective Teaching, and we can access it here. I believe the library also has a hard copy if you don't prefer to read online.

There was also a preference to return to meeting over breakfast to invigorate the start of our day! Let's plan to meet on Thursday, November 8, at 8am, back in our usual space, Asian American Activities Center, top floor couch room (not the conference room we met in for the October meeting but just upstairs from that).

See everyone in November!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First meeting of 2007-2008 Academic Year!

We have an update for our October meeting. It will be held on Thursday, October 4th at 5pm in the conference room of the Asian American Activities Center which is in the South Wing of Old Union, known as the Old Union Clubhouse. Directions and map are located here. We will be discussing Joseph Epstein's "Masters: Portraits of Great Teachers." CTL has agreed to purchase a few used copies of this hard to find book for us which should arrive next week. Please stop by the main desk next week to check out a copy.

In the meantime, please spread the word to your friends about our meeting!

Friday, June 1, 2007

june meeting summary & july meeting schedule

This morning we met to continue our discussion of "McKeachie's Teaching Tips". We touched on topics of cultural sensitivity in relation to classroom discussion; teaching thinking/strategic learning; and teaching ethics/values.

Our most in-depth discussion was about teaching values, particularly in the way instructors are or aren't aware that they're conveying a certain viewpoint on their area of speciality when teaching their courses. What should students take away -- the truths of the instructor, or that this might be one version of the truth? How does or doesn't this mesh with course goals? This is especially relevant to those of us as researchers and instructors, since in some fields we teach students about classic theories that may have fallen out of favor today.

Robyn brought up Perry's work on developmental pathways of learning, which McKeachie mentions briefly in the chapter on "Dealing With Student Problems and Problem Students" (see the section "Students Who Want the Truth and Students Who Believe that Everything Is Relative"). We discussed this in relation to teaching students at the advanced high school or early college stage and how to help them along this pathway of learning. Some suggestions that were brought up: talk about an historical example of an idea change (although the relevance of this to the course topics should be made clear to the students, rather than having it be nothing more than a timeline of events); and discussing the various paths of thinking that past researchers have gone through in the field -- how/why some paths of thinking fell apart, and how/why others persisted -- to enhance the idea of thinking like a researcher/expert in the field.

Next month, we'll be meeting on Monday, July 9 at 12:00pm (location TBD). We'll be reading Beard & Wilson's "Experiential Learning: A Best Practice Handbook for Educators and Trainers", a book that we found a couple of months ago (see April 12 post for more info). It's available through Stanford Library's ebrary. We haven't decided which parts we're reading -- it has 12 chapters -- so we can either do like we did with McKeachie's book (read and discuss over 2 meetings) or just have each of us just read the chapters that look interesting to us and then discuss them in the next meeting. Any thoughts?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

may meeting summary & info on june meeting

We met bright and early yesterday to discuss Parts 1 and 2 of "McKeachie's Teaching Tips". Overall we found it to be a practical guide with plenty of great ideas and inspirations for our own teaching. We had great discussions on the purpose and utility of lectures; the purpose of discussions; grading and assessment methods; and the honor code with regard to the threat of cheating.

For our June meeting, we decided to continue on with McKeachie's book and leave it open to individual choice on how much of it to read. We'll have plenty to discuss no matter what!

We'll be meeting on Friday, June 1 from 8:00-9:30am (location TBD). Happy reading!