Replacing absences and extensions with sick days and personal days

There's one week left before the end of the semester. That makes it crunch-time for students. (Then it's crunch-time for faculty who have to grade. Some of my students calculated that I'd have over 600 pages of work to grade just from one class.) With crunch-time comes the inevitable barrage of requests for excused absences …

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This summer’s books on writing

Every summer, I read at least one book on teaching, one book on writing, and one book on higher education. In recent years, I’ve posted those lists, and sometimes even reviews, to this blog.I won’t be reviewing the books at length this summer, simply because I have too many other writing deadlines and too much …

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My evolving policy on the use of portable electronic devices in the classroom

Use of Portable Electronic DevicesApart from special permission from the instructor, the use of portable electronic devices (e.g., laptops, phones, etc.) will not be allowed during class. The instructor will consider granting special permission only to students who write a convincing, well-researched 750-word essay arguing that the instructor should make an exception despite research that …

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Assigning Fiction in Non-Literature Courses

Today I had the honor of joining the University of Chicago Divinity School’s The Craft of Teaching in the Academic Study of Religion for a workshop on “Teaching with Fiction.” Of course, that’s ‘teaching with fiction in non-literature courses.’ Dr. Lucy Pick led off the session with syllabi from two religion courses in which she has used fiction …

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Stop with the “helicopter teaching!”

This Chronicle of Higher Education piece on “The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher” is a must-read. Steven Conn puts into words something that has been bothering me since the spring semester, when I had a class of students in which the clear dividing line was between 1) those students who wanted to take our discussions and assignments …

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Why my students won’t be using laptops in class anymore

A few months ago, I posted about my first semester inviting each of my classes to join me in crafting a policy on the use of portable electronic devices. Well, all that’s about to change. This past fall, I took time during the first day of class to present the downsides and upsides of using electronic …

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Race, “white privilege,” and student success

Tonight I moderated a Student Government-sponsored discussion of race and diversity on campus. Turnout was terrific–it’s always good to have more students than chairs. My job was fairly easy: Introduce the topic and its importance, describe how the evening would unfold, encourage a certain attitude toward participation, monitor four small group discussions, and then help …

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Power Pointless

Interesting article at NPR's All Tech Considered. Worth a read. Many have noticed that PowerPoint can be a distraction from the material or can cause the audience to lose focus. It can turn the attention of the audience and the presenter toward the display, rather than toward each other. It can hinder two-way communication and, thus, …

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Portable electronic devices in the classroom

In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education post, David Gooblar suggests that we should let students decide whether or not–and, if so, how–to use smart phones in the classroom. Citing Simon Bates and Alison Lister, who allow their students to collaborate on an acceptable use policy for technology in the classroom, Gooblar writes: Bates and …

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Teaching as learning together

In June, I posted a brief note about three of the books I would be reading over the summer. Most summers, I make it a point to read at least one book on teaching, one book on writing, and one book on the state or future of higher education. I’ve already posted a review of …

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