Working with portfolios

It sometimes happens that in the course of a long career in teaching that gems fall into one’s lap. I had that experience today when one of my World Literature students submitted the best portfolio ever! Check it out at try listening.weebly.com

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Collaborative Final Exam

Since December I’ve been writing daily at 750words.com. Occasionally, I’ve posted to my sabbatical blog elsewhere on wordpress. Four face to face meetings & three eight-week summer classes are all that stand between me and endless pages of reading for the sheer joy of it. (But who’s counting?) Instead of ending with a whimper I thought we should go out with a bang and so the final exam for Migrant Literature today was delivered as a contest patterned loosely on the game Red Rover. Had there been enough time for two rounds, I’d intended to divide the class into Native-born and Immigrant teams. As it was we divided into Men and Women and two women served as judges as there were two more women than men. Instead of ‘breaking through’ the facing team’s line, teams chose a question about literary criticism or vocabulary from those submitted earlier in the week to the online discussion board. One member had to respond to the question in a complete sentence. If they did so correctly one point was won for their team. If they lost they joined the other team.

5 rules of teamwork

5 rules of teamwork

At the end of class but before the student serving as Rescuer gave a quick overview of how to build ePortfolios using weebly we listed things each team did well, things they could have done differently, and things that can be learned from collaborative test taking.

Among the things learned were:
How to frame a question
How to answer succinctly but completely
How to support and encourage one another
How to study and prepare

Open Appreciation For A Workshop That Changed My Life

Dear Jane,
I’ve had a great time recalling our time at the workshop and putting into practice the techniques you shared. Stoplight breath practice has been replaced by hand signing (No, really. I’m taking an ASL class). But I frequently use ‘found time’ to return to breath and center myself and check in to release tension in my body.

RelaxthroughbreathingThought you might like to know that I did start my class in darkness with only the sound of my voice for students on Day 1 of the semester. It’s made a qualitative shift not only in the way I experience teaching but in the community of scholars in the classroom. Students definitely seem more relaxed, connected and attentive. Thank you for making that possible.

Here are the things I put in the survey CAPE sent out:

6. What did you learn in this CAPE session that is most important/valuable to you?
It was the fruitage from the practice more than learning something particular that has already proven valuable to me. An idea surfaced during one of our quiet times that I wrote down and implemented in my first class of the new semester. It made a qualitative difference in the way teaching and learning happens in my 20 year career.

7. How do you plan to use the information you obtained in this session?
I remind myself to breathe from time to time and intend to make and share the practice widely by integrating more formal (with breath) and informal (with time to write / reflect)’breathing spaces’ into each of my classes and days.

8. Please provide any additional feedback:
This was one of the best CAPE sessions I have ever attended. Thank you for remembering that those who “take care” of others (aka serve or teach in the public eye) need time and reminders to take care of ourselves. Everyone benefits!

Holding Back The Tears

Why should it take so long to find one’s preferred learning style? How many years does it take to earn a doctorate? Why is it only now, taking an American Sign Language class taught in a voice-free zone, that I understand that voiced environments have been just about too much for me for just about as long as I can remember. The professor, a colleague, hands out a page with facial expressions we are to master during the course of the next several weeks and learn to use them when signing corresponding words and ideas. It is all I can do to restrain the cascade of tears that threaten as I glance at things I would barely know how to feel, let alone express. Extreme? Perhaps. But someone out there understands in her bones what I am writing about. I know that I am not the only one on Planet Earth who has lived with low-grade panic for so long that “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is no longer even an understatement. I felt a modicum of relief when someone or circumstance, some decade or more ago now, provided me with the ‘hyper-vigilance‘ frame. But, absent a way to redirect one’s chronic thought patterns, or an understanding or diagnosis for the accompanying disorders, one remains trapped, as it were in her own living nightmare.
Chicken or Egg? I don’t know. All I know is today, for the first time in 20 years of teaching (and, by the way, as a direct result of a thought that had room to rise during a meditation workshop at this semester’s convocation) I began my class in a darkness punctuated only by the sound of my voice reading something to my students that mattered to me. Light filtered in from the muted projection screen and a shaded window high in the wall behind which was an overcast desert sky. All of that is to say, that today, 20 years into teaching and counting, was the first day I started class within MY comfort zone.

Raw Notes From NSHE Diversity Summit

No Equity Without Excellence

Here at the first annual NSHE Diversity Summit noticing how even in church, we must be reminded to fill the gaps, get closer, embrace difference. If inclusion is not a reflex for the majority, what can we do to make it policy and part of our measure of success?

How can you get someone into treatment if s/he doesn’t think there’s a need?
No ethnic majority @ CSN in percentages:
12 african American
11 Asian
38 white
27 Hispanic
1 Native American
4 mixed
8 undecided

Bart economic development of the region depends on the success

Numbers are not enough. Do we want the record to show that students learned inspire of us?

Diversity enriches UNLV rep
We would love to reflect the diversity of Clark County [why?]
Not possible to be strong w/o preparing students for a diverse global reality in which diversity is critical to success.
85% graduation rate
DRI John Gardner special assistant to president
G2 Gathering Geniuses program
How can we make every office a special program for implementing equity and excellence?
His nephew 4k pull-ups in 24 hrs 2k in 6 hrs on an unstable platform. Your job will be twice as hard if you start with a stable platform.
John? We are changing the course of the river.
Rosita Lee. Asian PAC Islander White House Commission on AAPI
chancellors committee
An auspicious day
We will need ethnic studies program until the average person of any culture can remember or respect something significant about every other culture.
Patrick Valdez
Challenges facing 1st gen students and their parents. Research on african American students attending Hispanic serving institutions.
We are all community members.*
“Latinos lose their language faster than other ethnicities.”
[we wouldn’t need mentors who look like us if we felt seen and heard by people who don’t.]
Like hermano Patrick how can we see ourselves as representatives of one another’s pride? Ppt
“We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.”
Race, according to the Supreme Court, is a compelling national interest.
“When does diversity in higher education equal success?”
When accountability is everyone’s
priority,
Interaction between diverse
groups happens.
When everyone identifies as a
member and advocate of a diverse
community.
How can we make higher Ed big business than prison?
Making college mission clear to
families & the kid who sits next to
the diverse student or faculty.
To offset Cultural taxation pay faculty of color more until we are no longer minority representatives.
*How do we recruit effectively?”
Empower everyone to be
ambassadors.
Make access and outreach
everyone’s job.
Become creative as an institution.
Do not see yourself as ivory tower.
What does community offer higher Ed?
Location – ready pipelines for
students and workforce.
Numbers of diverse groups in
Nevada.
A chance to be a model.
Need
Both / and vs, either / or solutions
Acknowledge that maintaining
diversity requires educating
everybody.

What’s Working in Southern Nevada? Dr. Edith Fernandez NSC
Inclusive Excellence
Gateway courses ?
consistency among instructors
Strategic faculty recruitment
Starting with a diverse pool
Cooperative agreements with community agencies and chambers
Ask for details of internal study*
Interaction with faculty
Academic challenge
Supportive campus environment
Jose Melendez @ UNLV
How do we get those not in the room into the conversation?*
What’s your secret?
“It’s not about what the students can do but what the institutions can do.”
“Ideas came from faculty senate, provost and president who lets them move forward”

Janice Glassberg CSN ATD lead x4754
Wendell Hall on College Completion
Institute For Higher Education Policy
Access problem not solved
Economic & Social public & private Benefits of higher Ed
College completion agenda 2020
Lumina ftdn
College Board
Imperatives- global, economic & equity
What’s Nevada’s city & state roadmap? Memphis case study
What would an inclusive, interactive 21st century diversity summit look like and accomplish?
To create a culture for collect completion, inclusion equity and excellence…
Lumina MSI projects
Customizing education
Walmart Success Initiative project
Focuses on 1st generation college students
Helps faculty understand why 1st gen completion is necessary
Faculty development in cohorts
Developed processes and policies that benefitted all students
Increased mindfulness about actions that support 1st gen success
Gave much recognition to faculty
Created reminder with telescope asking completing faculty to keep them open
Included non-traditional stakeholders
whall@ihep.org.
4 themes*
Faculty involvement

Each institution selected faculty
Thank George Dunkurst of President, Native American Chamber of Commerce for liking super students to super teachers
African American chamber provides a business incubator that CSN students use.

Slowing Down to Ramp Up

Today I held Preparatory Composition for men only. Women will come to class Wednesday. A break to catch up and regroup after the Midterm may be a good thing to incorporate from here on. We’ll see what the women make of it. Today’s discussant gave us a choice of freewriting topics. The men chose to write about the drug Krokodil which “eats” users in lieu of writing about industry giants’ fight to squash a California referendum requiring all foods to have labels disclosing the chemicals used in their production.

From the discussion following seven minutes of freewriting we went to pairs answering the question, what has learning been like for you as a male, and then back to group discussion before revising the concluding paragraphs of each midterm to serve as the introduction to the revised one, due next Monday when both men and women will be in attendance.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.        Alvin Toffler

I’ve got more thinking to do about the effect of cohort education, technology and hybrid classes on the teaching and learning of composition. But this is a good start. In the meantime, one of my kids isn’t sleeping. I say ‘one of my kids’ because I consider them mine on loan for at least the semester. And this one while, like the majority who are young enough to be mine chronologically, is an island child and homesick. I mention that I noticed he seemed more quiet than usual as we emerge from opposite sides of the lavatory after class. He says he hasn’t been sleeping and that it is beginning to interfere with things. I listen as he elaborates, fighting his emotions. I tell him a few of the island resources available to him in this often unbearable desert and promise to shoot him a direct message on edmodo as I find more. For a moment, we are able to believe he is not alone. For a moment we are able to imagine there is something for this kind of displacement. I look over my shoulder as our paths diverge once down the staircase and outside. I see him disappear as if through the years of my own experiences with displacement, internal exile I have called it. These are the ones for whom I want to build and staff a dormitory even though we are at a commuting community college. These are the ones I wish never had to leave home, those precious members of a global diaspora who know who we are, who we miss and will.

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Grading Midterms, NOT

I come to the office on a Sunday evening to get a jump on grading midterms – or that’s what I tell myself. Instead, I think about technology and teaching, next year’s students. This year’s students have acquitted themselves honorably. I no longer worry about turning my back on the world if it were to be turned over to them tomorrow. I don’t know exactly what it is but there is always such a moment in each semester, earlier and earlier these days, in which I am confident my work is done.

In Basic Writing / Preparatory Composition classes, that moment comes one student at a time. In recent years, it was always the moment in which, reading their weekly Freewriting Analysis, I would arrive at their answer to Question #4: What do I need to make the changes I intend to make? In one way or another, each fledged student would avow, I have everything I need [to address the challenges writing places in front of me]. This year, thanks in no small measure to edmodo, that moment came just after Week 1, after the third time I sang their praises for having 100% submission rate on their first assignment. We are entering Week 5 of an eight-week semester and I am in the office to read their midterm essays. They look MAhvelous!

All but one student provided evidence of a writing process. All students wrote at or above 300 words after reading a thousand-word article including opposing views of The War on Drugs in less than one hour. We will see what tomorrow brings. Tonight, I allowed myself to continue the quest for electronic delivery and universal platform access to course resources and reading materials. I have read reviews comparing the Google Nexus 7 tablet, Kindle Fire, iPad and Nook. I’ve checked out the iPad, Samsung Galaxy 10-inch for ease of use with edmodo and Angel – though we’ll be using Canvas’ learning management system in the near future. I downloaded the free Nook reading &  Nook-Study apps to phone and desktop, a sample of their mobile study guide for Composition and Rhetoric and purchased American Copia for consideration for Fall’s section of the Migrant Lit course so I can test drive the software, portability and annotating capabilities. I’m trying to organize my life and my work around reading more and writing for publication. I am hopeful that technology will improve my chances of acting on such intentions. I want to make my desires inescapable. I believe it is, after all, up to us to walk the words Liz Brown of HarrisBrown Gallery in Boston once shared with me during an interview.

Art makes the struggle possible.

In this case, technology may just be the art that makes my struggle possible.