Talking About Teaching
Fall 2013

Please join us for a new term of Talking About Teaching, a weekly series (Friday 12:00-1:00 PM) where faculty gather together to discuss teaching, learning, students, and other related topics. Discussion leaders will share an experience, frame a question, or introduce an idea to get the discussion started. Lunch will be provided and no RSVP is necessary.

September 13 - Roopali Phadke (Environmental Studies).  “Teaching Hope”
All of our teaching rests on a hope that the future will be better than today. Yet, how do we design our classroom spaces and assignments to instill this vague value. The field of Environmental Studies is particularly ridden with doom and gloom, often leaving instructors (and students) struggling to find chances for constructive, spirit-lifting assignments and interventions. Using her Sustainable Development course assignments as examples, Roopali will discuss how we may consider teaching hope.

September 20 - Raymond Robertson (Economics).  “What do grades mean at Macalester?”  

Join us for a unique panel discussion about what grades mean from Macalester.  Hear from professors across different divisions explaining their vision and interpretation of grades.  Questions covered include  "What do grades at Macalester mean? What role do they serve in different departments and divisions? How comparable are they? Are common standards appropriate?"  The session is co-sponsored by the Macalester chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and will be held at noon in the Hall of Fame Room in the Leonard Center.  All are welcome (including students!) but space is limited so come early to grab a seat!

September 27- James Dawes (English) and Dianna Shandy (Anthropology).  “The Perils of Co-Teaching”  
Are you considering co-teaching? Have you co-taught? Beware! (Not really) Dianna Shandy and Jim Dawes, having just finished a delightful experience co-teaching a writing intensive seminar together, invite you to join them for discussion and sharing of best practices.

October 4 - Chad Topaz (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science).  “Online Teaching: What I Did Over My Summer Vacation”
Topaz will report on his experience co-teaching an online summer calculus course for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. More specifically, Topaz will describe how the course came to be, show and discuss the technology used, mention challenges and successes of the class, and suggest some possible future directions for online teaching at Macalester.

October 11 - Lesley Lavery (Political Science).  "Simulations to Stimulate Conversations"
Do you engage students in hands on activities or simulations?  Are you looking for ways to supplement lectures or enhance discussions?  In this session Lesley will reflect on her experience conducting simulation activities in her classes and invite others to share alternative and participatory classroom engagement strategies.

October 18 - Brad Belbas (Educational Studies & ITS).  “Beyond monologue and agreement in classroom discussion: Encouraging students to engage critically, but constructively with each others ideas"  
Belbas will discuss research-based principles of practice regarding classroom discourse, how he implemented them in an online discussion activity, and how it influenced student discussion.  Others will be encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives on classroom discussion (i.e., face-to-face, online).

25 October - Fall Break.  No program.

November 1 - “Talking about “W”: A Conversation about Macalester’s Writing Requirement.” Adrienne Christiansen (Serie Center and Political Science) and Neil Chudgar (English)
Starting this semester, all courses that previously met the “W” designation need to be recertified based on a revised set of criteria.  In addition, the "Faculty Learning Community on Writing Pedagogy" produced a report in the spring of 2013 that contains recommendations for strengthening Macalester's writing program. If adopted, some recommendations would alter the process of “certifying” a course as meeting the W requirement. How might the current and proposed policies affect our teaching and course design strategies in writing related courses? Come discuss these and other W-related topics.

November 8 - “Teaching about Identities and Differences”. Jane Rhodes (Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Professor and Chair of American Studies) and Daniel Williams (Sociology).  
After this academic year, only courses certified under the new United States Identities and Differences (USID) provisions will contribute to the USID General Education Requirement (which will replace the US Multiculturalism requirement). Two faculty members who incorporate identities and differences into their pedagogy and scholarship will lead a discussion about their approaches to teaching about identities and differences and how these approaches are similar to and distinct from teaching about multiculturalism. What techniques and activities are useful for getting students to see the power dynamics that influence identities and differences? What, if anything, is different about a course focused on identities and differences than one that is about multiculturalism? Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Professor and Chair of American Studies will draw on her experience of teaching [please fill in!]. Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Williams will draw on his experiences of teaching courses such as Masculinity, Gender, and Difference and Immigration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship.

November 15 - Erik Larson (Sociology).  “Student Perspectives on Academic Advising and Majoring in Natural Science: Evidence and Questions for Further Consideration”
During spring 2013, students in Professor Larson’s Social Science Inquiry course conducted survey research to learn more about students’ experiences at Macalester. This presentation draws on the results of two of these surveys—one concerning academic advising, the other examining students who expressed an interest in majoring in a natural science discipline prior to matriculating. The presentation presents findings from these surveys to raise points of discussion. What do students value in advising? How satisfied are they with advising? Why do some students abandon plans to major in science?

November 22 - Paul Fischer (Chemistry).  “Surprises of all Kinds: Writing a Chemistry Textbook in the 21st Century”
A recent sixteen month experience in co-authoring an inorganic chemistry textbook will be shared, with special emphasis on both the pleasant and exasperating surprises associated with the process.

November 29 - Thanksgiving Break.  No program.

December 6 - Michael McGaghie (Music).  “‘This Sounds A Lot Better’:  Moving Chairs, Assigning Seats, and Student Learning in the Classroom”
Here's a choral conducting axiom -- carefully placed chairs and well-designed seating chart can make a remarkable positive impact on rehearsals and performances.  Let's ask, then -- how do our students fill the spaces of our myriad classrooms?  How does the students' physical arrangement in the room impact their learning?  Come to hear one conductor's perspectives, and then stay to discuss how and why you shape the seating in your own classroom.