Talking About Teaching
Spring 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.

February 1 – Harry Waters, Jr. (Theatre and Dance).  “Hip Hop in Higher Ed: How the MASHUP Changed us all.”
Harry Waters, Jr., Theatre and Dance, will present "Hip Hop in Higher Ed: How the MASHUP Changed us all."   Engaging Students in Hip Hop culture and experience, which surrounds and consumes every social and intimate element of their lives, could be an interesting adventure.  It was more than could have been imagined.  Thirty students from across disciplines and ages, we pulled out the desks and chairs, checked in regularly with opening sharings and always closed with a palm to palm breathing moment.  What occurred within their experience of community experts, as well as pushing boundaries in so many areas, was phenomenal and transforming - for all of us.  It gave me as an instructor a chance to trust a new way of teaching and being together in the classroom.

February 8– Karin Aguilar San Juan (American Studies).  “Am I Addicted to First Years? Is there a Cure?”
Karin Aguilar San Juan, American Studies, will present  “Am I Addicted to First Years?  Is there a Cure?”  In this talk Aguilar San Juan will share some of her best and worst experiences in teaching First Years.  The "best" includes talking with recent graduates about their own FY experiences (not with her), and then working with those graduates to create innovative assignments and activities for the FYs. The "worst" includes disappointing misinterpretations of her instructions, and her own admittedly unfair impulse to compare each incoming group to the last one. 

February 15– Devavani Chatterjea (Biology and Community and Global Health), Becky Hoye (Chemistry), Liz Jansen (Biology and Science and Research Office), and Paul Overvoorde, (Biology and Macalester-HHMI Grant). “Global Health Scholars Program: Getting to and from Uganda”
This faculty quartet will discuss the evolution of the Global Health Scholars Program at Macalester.  The opening comments will include a description of a new course, Projects in Global Health, which served to prepare a dozen students for intellectual exchanges and learning opportunities during a two-week trip to Uganda in January 2013. We look forward to the conversation about the joys and challenges of developing, funding, and sustaining such a program.

February 22 – Erik Davis (Religious Studies).  “Cambodian January: Reflections on the Student Trip to Cambodia 2013"
In January 2013, Davis and Raymond Robertson (Economics) led twelve students to Cambodia for a combined "Religion and Economic Development" - focused, three-week trip.  This short talk and discussion discusses what, why, and how they did what they did, how they feel about it now, and some thoughts on things they would improve for next time.

March 1 – Open conversation: “Improving classroom discussions. What works, what doesn’t?”
How do you promote active and engaging discussions in your classroom?  What effective tools have you developed or “borrowed” from others that improve student’s preparation and contributions to a course conversation?  Sharing ideas of what you and other attendees have found useful will fuel this discussion.

March 8 – Nancy Bostrom (Assessment Office) and Kendrick Brown (Psychology and Associate Dean of the Faculty).  “Discussion of the US Multiculturalism Assessment Results.”
The General Education Requirements Committee (GERC) will present findings from the assessment of our US Multiculturalism requirement.  Please join us to discuss the results and recommendations, and to plan next steps.

March 15 – “Unstructured Conversation.”
Faculty love talking with each other before and after Serie Center programs.  Today we embrace your desire to share with one another our entire hour spent in informal conversation about teaching.

March 22– Spring Break.  No program.

March 29 -  Karl Wirth (Geology). “A Conversation About Distribution Requirements: What Do We Expect, What Do We Get, and How Can We Do Better?”
At Macalester and many other schools, students complete one or more courses in each of several academic divisions.  How do we define what we expect students to learn in these courses and in what ways can we facilitate their learning to achieve these goals?  Are there threads that unify our vision of such courses? To kick start this conversation, Wirth will share his experience of working with colleagues from several schools to develop a science literacy "concept inventory."

April 5 – Ann Minnick (Academic Programs) and Jayne Niemi (Registrar).  "DegreeWorks:  Advising as a Team Sport." Niemi and Minnick will talk about how they use DegreeWorks to advise students towards meeting degree requirements, how students use it, and how you can use many of its features in your advising.  In addition to sharing the DegreeWorks features that can help you as an advisor, Ann and Jayne want to hear your tips, tricks, tidbits, and maybe even a tale or two about your adventures in advising.

April 12 – George Leiter (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science).  “Bridging the Not-So-Great Divide.”  
The demand for counseling services for first year students is on the increase at Mac and across the country. This program addresses the sometimes rough transition from high school to college.  We will hear from faculty, counselors and administrators from St. Paul Academy, a nearby school.  Join us for what promises to be a lively and beneficial discussion.

April 19– Zornitsa Keremidchieva (Political Science), Catherine Batza (History), and Ellen Holt-Werle (Library).  “Dust Off: What we can learn from teaching the archives.”
What happens when you present a group of students with a big box of stuff? How do "things" become "evidence"? What can students and teachers learn from working with primary materials? These are some of the questions that Keremidchieva, Batza, and Holt-Werle will explore as they share their experiences with using archival materials in their courses. 

April 26 – Julie Dolan (Political Science) and Karen Saxe (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science).  “The Joy of Team Teaching.”
Funded by a college FACT grant, Dolan and Saxe co-taught a new fall 2012 course, which investigated the mathematics and politics behind elections (Math and Society: Who Votes? The Politics and Mathematics Behind Elections).  Drawing on their complementary areas of interest, their goals were to demonstrate the broad applicability of mathematics to the rigorous study of politics. While the two have no illusions of replacing Nate Silver anytime soon, Dolan and Saxe are proud to note that their students correctly predicted outcomes in all but one of the elections they investigated. They will discuss course strategies employed as well as the joys of learning from one another throughout the semester.