Faculty reading groups reflect a significant way for Macalester colleagues from different departments, divisions, and ranks to discuss common intellectual interests. Depending upon the conveners’ goals, groups may focus on teaching or research concerns, issues about higher education as an industry, or the pleasure that comes from discussing literature with colleagues. To join an ongoing group, contact the convener. To propose a new group, contact Joan Ostrove (ostrove@macalester.edu)

Spring 2019 Reading Groups

Language Pedagogy Group
Contact: Brian Johnson
The Language Pedagogy Group will offer language instructors the opportunity to share their own best practices for language teaching with one another. The group members will determine specific topics of interest which may include assessment, lesson planning and in-class activities, assigning and grading homework, balancing a communicative approach with a focus on language structure, creating immersion environments inside and outside of the classroom, and the effects of large and small enrollments on our courses and overall curricula. Ideally the group will meet twice a month.

Gamification/Badging
Contact: Eric Handler
This group will talk about our experiences inside and outside higher education with gamification and badging. Topics could include the stigma around the word “Game”, lessons learned from our personal lives and fitness devices and more. We’ll also likely talk about what it would take to implement some form of gamification at Mac, perhaps read a book, and think of new ways to use this technology to motivate ourselves and our students.

Developing Courses with Internships and Volunteer Experiences
Contact: Jess Pearson
This group will meet three times to talk through a variety of issues involved in developing courses that have built-in internship and/or volunteer experiences. Topics might include developing and workshopping syllabi; hearing from colleagues who have successfully integrated off-campus experiential learning into their courses; exploring different models for integrating internships into the curriculum; discussing best strategies for synergy between in class work and internship component; and thinking about how to build relationships with community partners. 

Sustainability
Contact: Christie Manning
Last October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave the world a stark warning: we have fewer than a dozen years to dramatically cut carbon emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Without rapid shifts in policy, infrastructure, and lifestyles we face radical changes in climate, the burdens of which will fall most heavily on communities already disadvantaged by the very systems that drive global fossil fuel consumption. Yet despite its significance, and despite its clear connections to our mission as an institution, climate change does not fit neatly into most of our course syllabi. This group will focus broadly on sustainability as it appears (and fails to appear) in our classrooms,
as well as the ways that we can adequately prepare our students for a climate changed world. 

Podcasts
Contact: Patrick Schmidt
Podcasts have hit the mainstream as a popular way to distribute and receive ideas, and familiarity with podcast production is increasingly recognized as a desirable skill. Numerous classes have already incorporated podcasting assignments. This pedagogy group has two goals. First, we want to gather, share, and package tips and strategies for those wanting to incorporate podcasts in the classroom. Second, we want to overcome what has been one of the biggest barriers: distribution. We will discuss the steps toward establishing a platform that could be used to connect classroom productions with audiences, such as alumni, so as to increase student investment in podcast assignments.

Universal Design
Contact: Britt Abel
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that builds flexibility into the educational context to accommodate different types of learners. This framework has been built around research in cognitive and sciences, and we want to learn more about it. What might UDL look like in our courses at Macalester? How can the ideas of UDL make our classrooms and our course materials more accessible? Can we move from individual accommodations to a more inclusive idea universal design—and if so, how? We anticipate doing some readings and seeking/creating materials that might meet the standards for UDL. We would like to meet every two to three weeks for the remainder of the semester.