Written Communication Workshops Begin

The first of a series of workshops on the WC learning objectives begins Tuesday, Sept. 27, with a workshop on creating strong thesis statements. Titled “Mapping the Journey,” the workshop will take place in Dunn 203 from 3:30 to 4:30, and will be repeated on Wednesday in the same location from 3 to 4 p.m. Michael Robinson, director of Writing Across the Curriculum, will lead each session.

Workshops on the other four learning objectives–logical organization, support and evidence, audience, and line editing–will take place at the same times and location on Tuesday and Wednesday during each of the next four weeks. The workshops are open to students, faculty, or staff–anyone who would like to attend. Come ready to write.

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Using the Scholar Gradebook

Regardless of which embedded skill or area of engagement you are teaching, providing students with the ability to check their grades online is a good idea.  Students appreciate being able to check how they are doing in a course.

Nevertheless, entering grades directly into the gradebook in Scholar is frustrating.  I recommend that you add assignments that are offline activities instead of adding columns directly in the gradebook.  I created a 7-minute video that shows you how to use the offline activities and how to use categories in the gradebook to weight grades.  The video is located here:  http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cXQery0i9.

Another option is to enter your grades in Excel and then upload the file to Scholar.  If you want to do this, be sure to download the empty gradebook from Scholar first so that you have the correct format for Scholar.  There is a 5.5 minute youtube video that demonstrates the whole process.  It’s at http://youtu.be/uq83pFtEkDM.

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Handholds on rock climbing wall

Photo from gogogadgetscott's photostream on Flickr

The Faculty Hour session this week was about teaching students how to integrate their own voice with that of their sources.  At the end of the evening session, I asked the group what advice they thought I should share about this topic on this blog.  We rapidly identified the theme of our conversation: students need something to hold onto as they learn new skills, so instructors need to give students handholds.

Such handholds can take a wide variety of formats.  We talked about giving students assignment that provide a structure for the resulting writing.  For example, students might be asked to write a legal brief following the standard structure of issues, facts, analysis, and conclusion.  We talked about providing students with a good example and a bad example of the finished product for them to compare. We talked about providing students with clear criteria in a rubric.

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LearnHigher’s Oral Communication Site

Courses carrying the Oral Communication designation need to teach students both how to do formal presentations and how to engage in informal conversations. Brunel University’s LearnHigher website provides helpful information for students regarding both types of oral communication skills.  They have information about Participating in Seminars and about Preparing and Giving Presentations.  Be sure to also take a look at their Information for Teachers which provides links to handouts and videos.

There materials are all provided with Creative Commons Attribution Licenses. You are free to distribute their material or create derivatives of their material so long as you give credit to the copyright holder, Liverpool Hope University.

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The Online Writing Lab

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, the Purdue OWL, offers valuable resources for both students and instructors. Visit their sitemap for a list of all the topics. They have informative pages for students about everything from outlining and organizing to mechanics and grammar.  Students may also benefit from completing some of the OWL Exercises on apostrophes, commas, sentence fragments, sentence structure, eliminating wordiness, paraphrasing, or one of the many other exercises available.

The OWL also offers resources for faculty.  Visit the list of downloadable PowerPoint presentations you can have your students view or that you can present in class. If you download the presentation rather than viewing the slides on the webpage, you can read the presenter’s script. I’m considering having my Simpson Colloquium students view the Peer Review Presentation before we engage in an in-class peer review session.  I’ll also have them look at the APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation, although others are likely to prefer the MLA 2009 Slide Presentation.

 

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Use the Newspaper to Teach Quantitative Reasoning

Because statistics is one of my favorite courses to teach, Quantitative Reasoning (QR) is an embedded skill that I should feel comfortable blogging about.  I could easily write a description of what I do to teach stats.  The problem is that I’m not sure my approach works well for anything other than statistics.  I’d rather offer a suggestion for teaching QR that applies to a wider array of disciplines.

When I went hunting for ideas online, I rediscovered the National Numeracy Network (NNN).  As I explored their website, I found a set of pages written by Stuart Boersma about using newspaper articles to teach QR.  Boersma argues that using newspaper articles helps students see the relevance of learning QR to their everyday lives.  He offers advice for selecting articles and provides examples of ways of using articles that have “quantitative depth” in class.  You can read his advice at http://serc.carleton.edu/nnn/teaching_news/index.html.

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Mission: Critical

Are you interested in making use of an online tutorial to help your students learn to think critically?  Take a look at Mission: Critical, a critical thinking tutorial by San Jose State University.  This website explains the parts of an argument (statements, premises, conclusions, support), inductive and deductive arguments, and a number of common fallacious appeals.  Interspersed with the explanations are interactive quizzes to help students determine how well they have mastered the material.

Read the MERLOT peer review of Mission: Critical.

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