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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.

January 27 - Devavani Chatterjea (Biology) Adrienne Christiansen (Serie Center) and Terri Fishel (Library)
"What We Saw at the Women’s March in Washington, DC"

The three panelists recently traveled to the nation’s capitol to participate in the United States’ largest protest march. What did they learn that most matters to them? How will their experiences affect their teaching or interactions with students? After sharing brief reflections and showing images from the Women’s March, audience members will be invited to share their own significant experiences marching in D.C., Saint Paul or other cities.

February 3 - Wessam El Meligi (Classics) and Fritz Vandover (AIA)  
"Capturing the Moment (and the White Board): Introducing a Device to Enhance Whiteboard Use for Language Classes"

Arabic classes at Macalester are quite writing intensive. Handouts and even a textbook cannot take the place of improvisation when needed. New information can be written on the board that students need to retain, but if they copy what is on the board that would be time consuming. That is where the new device that Fritz Vandover obtained for Arabic classes at the Classics Department comes in. Wessam Elmeligi used it for Arabic elementary and intermediate classes and it helped strike the balance between preserving class time and spontaneously writing new material on the board. Fritz and Wessam would like to share their experience using the new device and discuss its potential for other classes, especially writing intensive language classes.

February 10 - Richard Light, Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
"An Example of Faculty Learning from Advising Students"  

In this session, Richard Light will present and lead the audience through a non-academic discussion exercise currently being developed at Harvard College and several other quite different campuses right now. The idea emerged from systematically inviting students to suggest if they find something “missing” from their college experience, even at an excellent college. The exercise, called “Reflecting On Your Life,” primarily targets first year students, although several colleges are considering whether to adopt it for more advanced students. The questions and discussion points are built around topics that are sometimes not discussed formally in any classrooms. Examples include, what does it mean to live a “good” life? How about a productive life? How about a happy life? What your core values? Where do you think your core values come from? Your parents, your friends, your church, your friends, or somewhere else? Do you expect your core values to shift at all during your time at Macalester? This session will actually go through a list of similar discussion questions and exercises. Prof. Light will distribute a full collection of materials, developed recently at Harvard and several other campuses, for us to use or to adapt for our own needs as we wish. 

February 17 - Scott Legge (Anthropology) and Vanessa Rousseau (Classics)
"Reimagining in a Macalester Museum"

When we discovered that the college used to have a museum, we decided that reimagining what a Macalester museum might look like would be an ideal vehicle to explore the museums field. Drawing upon a wide range of texts and experts, we considered what constitutes a museum and their many cultural roles. As museums increasingly develop robust online presences and incorporate media to augment visitor experience, we felt that a major Digital Liberal Arts project would give students a practical application for the ideas discussed in class, and an opportunity to develop a skill set that is applicable in a wide variety of potential museum settings. With support from Macalester's post-doctoral fellow in digital liberal arts, archivist, and gallery director, we challenged students to begin the process of creating a digital Macalester Museum that has the potential for expansion, dissemination, and further use by the college.

February 24 - Amy Damon (Economics) and William Moseley (Geography)
"Considering a New Macalester Concentration in Food, Agriculture and Society"

A group of faculty, staff and students recently submitted a proposal to EPAG proposing a new concentration in Food, Agriculture and Society. We'll discuss how Macalester students are currently piecing together courses and activities around this theme, as well as faculty research and civic engagement activities in this arena. The bulk of our time will be spent outlining the rationale for, and architecture of, such a concentration.

March 3 - David Bressoud (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science)
"Lessons from the National Study of Calculus Instruction"

Since 2009, I have been leading a series of NSF-sponsored national studies of the mainstream Calculus sequence that have included surveys and case study visits. This talk will provide an overview of what we have learned about how these courses are taught, their effect on students (especially women and underrepresented minorities), the practices of the most successful departments, and the degree to which departments are taking up these best practices.

March 10 - Julie Dolan (Political Science), Roopali Phadke (Environmental Studies), Lesley Lavery (Political Science) and Kelly Stone (Center for Religious and Spiritual Life)  
"Teaching in Tumultuous Times"
As a follow-up to the Campus Conversations events, we invite you to come share your teaching experiences in this particular moment. We're hoping to gather feedback about the two days of Campus Conversations and engage in a dialogue about any new challenges faculty and staff are facing in and outside of the classroom.

March 17 - Spring Break

March 24 - Marianne Milligan (Environmental Studies and Linguistics) 
"Wikipedia in the Classroom"  
A typical reaction among scholars is to critique Wikipedia, which crowd sources its entries. But Wikipedia presents a great learning opportunity for students. What if we asked students to research a subject, evaluate the quality of its related Wikipedia entry, and then update or extend that entry to improve it? This session will discuss different assignment options from very small additions of citations to writing entire Wikipedia entries. Professor Milligan will share pitfalls she has encountered, how to avoid them and will describe the kinds of support provided to instructors by the wikiedu.org site. 

March 31 - Lian Duan and Daniel Kluver (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science) "Stratification in Introductory Classes: How to Maximize Teaching Effectiveness When Students Come in at all Different Levels"
As educators, we want to be effective in our teaching for all our students, whether they come to class already very knowledgeable or as true beginners.  This stratification of the skills of students presents an extra challenge for educators, especially in introductory classes, which typically have a set curriculum that needs to be followed.  We worry that the class will be too boring or slow for some students, while too fast for others. We will discuss best strategies for dealing with such a diverse group of students to best engage learning while accommodating the needs of all. Come and share your own ideas. 

April 7 - Christina Esposito (Linguistics) 
"What My Students Taught Me About Inclusivity"  
How do we make our classroom more inclusive for students who are genderqueer? This was a question that I faced last year, when I taught a course that covered topics such as how puberty and menopause change our speaking voices.  How can these topics, which the literature presents assuming the gender-binary, be made more inclusive? I'll share some strategies and ideas that I used  to promote inclusivity in  my lectures. I would like my talk to be interactive, so please bring questions from your own lectures, and we will have a chance to workshop our ideas.

April 14 - John Cannon (Physics & Astronomy)
"GERC Recommendations for the Pass/Fail Grading Option"  
GERC has concluded its study of the Pass/Fail grading option. After a brief summary of the study's major findings and recommendations, attendees will have an opportunity to provide feedback. Discussion notes will be provided to EPAG to assist with their consideration of the report’s findings.

April 21 - Dave Ehren, Jake Mohan and Stephanie Alden (MAX Center)
"Talking about Tutoring: What Goes Into Tutor Certification at the MAX Center?"  
This program illuminates the rigorous training that tutors in the Macalester Academic Excellence (MAX) Center undertake in order to work with Macalester students in writing, math, chemistry, economics, biology, and study skills. The College Reading and Learning Association certifies tutors following their completion of a training program that includes pedagogy, group work, legal requirements and content; higher levels of certification require the tutors to become trainers themselves. Join us to learn more about this certification program and how MAX Center tutors can assist your students.  

April 28 - Zornitsa  Keremidchieva (Political Science) and Ellen Holt-Werle (Library)
"The Walker McCannel Collection"  
In Fall 2016, Macalester acquired the papers (correspondence, documentation, minutes of meetings, etc.) of Louise Walker McCannel. In addition to her role as co-founder of the Walker Art Center, McCannel was a social justice advocate in the Twin Cities from the 1960's to the 1980's. With her unprecedented access to the business and social elites of Minneapolis, McCannel was able to pursue agendas related to housing justice for African Americans in Minneapolis, the development of anti-discrimination and race-awareness programs for employees in some of the major local corporations, the development of community mental health services, promoting racial diversity programs at the University of Minnesota, etc. In this session, Zornitsa and Ellen will introduce the collection and offer ideas for how it can be used to provide students with hands-on research experiences with primary sources as well as introduce them to the vibrant history of civic activism in the Twin Cities.