Assignment:

Write 3-5 paragraphs describing your ideal classroom environment, how you would achieve or set the foundations for this environment, and what impact this environment would have on student learning.


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Summer Session 2 Assignments


Dianne Thompson


Eranda Rajapaksha (Comment for Dianne Thompson)
Hi Dianne,
I really liked your comments on an ideal class room environment. I especially liked your comment “Ideally, the instructor will have one on one contact with each student (regardless of the size of the class)”. I know this is really tough thing to do but certainly can be done if one has proper methods. I have seen one of the professors I worked for as TA did this with a class that had more than 400 students. This was done by effectively using smartsite. There is this neat feature where we can set up a chat room on smartsite. What we did was that all the TA’s (8 of us) and the instructor took turns to spend time in the chat room. This gave lot of accessibility to students so that they could clarify their questions. This also gave the chance for the students to answer their questions among themselves. In such situations we monitored there discussions and had the chance to correct them if anyone was giving wrong information. With this the biggest advantage was that we could communicate with a big class effectively with a minimum time investment. In addition to this we had lab discussions, office hours and in class discussions to make sure that people who really needed one on one discussion re accommodated.

Heather Clifton



Bronwyn Harrod - My Ideal Classroom

Erin Easlon
Comments for Bronwyn: I enjoyed reading your statement. I often have trouble with "the class only student". I teach for a discussion based class and students who are only engaged in the material inside the classroom are very obvious to point out. I think emailing them questions ahead of time has helped me as well. I often ask them to print out their answers (only printed answers will receive credit) because of the issues I had with students sitting right outside the classroom 5 minutes before class scribbling answers that were not reflective or indepth.

BAYU KRISTIANTO

Ideal Classroom Environment

Amanda Lewis
Comments for Bayu: Your passion for teaching is definitely evident in your description of your learning environment. It sounds like you do a very good job of engaging the students in a variety of activities, getting them to participate and really engage with the writing. I like your use of various size groups, and your use of students' vocabulary work on the exams. It was also helpful that you included several examples of how a typical day's activities would be organized in order to get a sense of your learning environment. How do you get the more shy and quiet students to participate in the different discussions? You mention using all of the senses, and I'm wondering how you engage the students on these sensory levels, and if you find any resistance from students who don't want to get up and move around. How do the students respond to the peer feedback on their writing, and is that ever a challenge? Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and ideas.

Sang (Bpantamars) Phadungchob
"The ideal classroom is where students are comfortable around me and their fellow classmates."


Melody Schmid
Sang, I really like your description of a comfortable classroom and all of the different activities you do to help your students get to know each other. I wonder how many of your students actually volunteer to lead parts of the class? Do you find that leaving the classroom for 5 minutes allows them to get to know each other better?

Hello Melody,
At first I intentionally left the room for 10 minutes during the first day, but it seems that 5 minutes when I walk out to take care of student’s enrollment and waiting list were enough for students to make friend. Some students are quieter than others, but it seems that almost everyone enjoys the chance to sit back and chat with other students. Every quarter I get one or two students per lab section that learn and introduce more personal information than others, like “she is actually grew up in the same neighborhood as me”, “he drives the bus I take home everyday”, “we love the same musical”, “she is in an acappella group”, or “he believes he wears pink better than me.” If students don’t make a new friend, at least the quiet students get a chance to give a mock public presentation. For other labs, I just remind them to introduce themselves to each other first before starting the lab, and I would go around the room from time to time asking a student of his/her partner’s name.
For the volunteer to lead parts of the class, I usually ask one student (not a tutor), who seems to stop doing his/her lab and start chatting, if he/she would like to stay at one “station” and explain the materials to other students as they come and go. These “stations” include Azolla slide, termite gut slide, or urchin fertilization. The student volunteer seems to enjoy the fact that I believe in him/her enough to let him/her take care of the "station" (of course, I stop by from time to time to check on how the volunteer do).
Similarly, when students ask me questions about their homework, I usually start with explaining and giving examples myself. As soon as one student start to realize where I am going with my explanation, I ask that student (without him/her being aware that he/she was just put on the spot) to finish my explanation for me. With my smile, encouragement, and acknowledgment of student’s each small achievement, students seem to become more comfortable offering their opinions/answers/ideas. I also use a similar approach teaching students during my office hours. If time allows, after they understand the concept (e.g. how to score a tree), I have a couple students work separately on an example on the board and compare.
Sang :)


Shaina Western


George Vela: Comments for Shaina.
Comments: Assignment 4
Hi, Shaina.

I think your plan sounds good. If only every class could follow this pattern :). I am wondering if you could give a quick, specific example of how you would offer two texts with differing opinions. I didn’t get a sense of subject you teach. How would you set this debate up in a science class vs. humanities class, for example? Also, would the class look to you for the final verdict on the differing opinions presented? I have noticed that many students just want to know what they need to know in order to get an ‘A’ on the quiz or test. How would you get around this question or attitude when presenting differing opinions? Your ideas about simulations seem like they would go over well with students. I have noticed how students often relate any taught material to themselves on a very personal level. This can be distracting and unproductive; however, your simulation strategy may be a way to harness this inclination toward personal experience and use it in a useful, more productive way. Overall, I think your strategy is sound. I like how you want to teach skills that would be transferable in and outside of the classroom, e.g. critical thinking and argumentation.






Summer Session 1 Assignments


Hallenbrook - Classroom Environment for Teaching Political Theory

Joesten: I like that you want to maintain the spirit of discussion that was fostered in your smaller classes as an undergraduate – it is clear that discussion is a key component to studying political theory. And I think that explaining your expectations, particularly in this type of class where there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, is important – so it is good that you plan to go over your expectations at the first lecture. However, I wonder how else you might be able to foster the ‘spirit of discussion’ you described. You could divide the class into smaller groups for discussion among their peers before a full class discussion. You could divide the class into groups for debates – possibly forcing students (in addition to yourself) to become devil’s advocate and engage in different interpretations of the text and foster their argumentative skills. Providing the discussion questions ahead of class time would definitely help them think about their interpretation and arguments, and hopefully make them more comfortable speaking in class. Finally, I think one way to show that no interpretation or comment is ‘stupid’ or a waste of time, it might be useful for you to present a seemingly ‘stupid’ interpretation or comment and have the students help you work through the argument and possible objections – a sort of reversal of the roles of student and teacher. If you could show that even your seemingly stupid comment or interpretation resulted in a productive use of time, students may be less reluctant to speak up in class.

Maciel: The idea of presenting a seemingly 'stupid' interpretation, as proposed by Joesten, to make a useful point in class (and to encourage engagement) caught my attention. I'll be thinking of examples for how this may be put into practice for my field - human development. I don't have anything clever at the moment, but thanks for the idea.