Week 4 Teaching Tips

Hello Faculty,

Welcome to the fourth week of the semester!  Since we are at that point in the semester where your students might have their first big test or assignment, there are some tips to help them prepare, including some that easy strategies to break up your lectures and engage students in the material and with each others.  Based on a request, the instructions for releasing students’ D2L grades are provided.  This week’s Tips will also continue our exploration of how to make groups work better in your classes.

How can I help students prepare for the first test of assignment?
  • ​​Break up your lecture by having students complete a 1-minute paper to 
    • identify main themes in the class so far
    • ask questions they have about the upcoming assignment
    • write about the “muddiest” point (in other words, what was most unclear to them in the class; take this a step further by asking which strategies they are going to use to clarify this before the test or assignment)
  • Have students complete a pre-assignment or pre-quiz in class or at home.  Often, students do not do well because they misjudge how long a assignment or studying will take.  If you have students completing a project or paper, have them turn first turn in short assignments such as a resource list, thesis statement, draft, etc.  
  • Direct students to the assignment planner on the MCTC library web site which includes links to great resources for completing and scheduling steps for the assignment: http://libresearch.minneapolis.edu/assignmentcalc/?_ga=1.195322725.890185968.1393357831 
  • Rather than providing a study guide for students, have students make a study guide.  This might be an assignment they complete outside of class and turn in or something they work in groups to create within class.  Have students share these with one another in class or by posting within D2L so they can see other ways to study and approach the material. Early in the course, you might provide more direction such as main themes or a worksheet then provide less assistance as the class progresses.
  • Have students write sample exam questions then post in the D2L Discussions (or share in class) so other students can use these as practice questions.  You could also use some of these on your tests to help decrease your work.
  • See last week’s Tips for other ideas to include exam question practice in your classes.
How do release D2L grades so students can see them?
  1. ​Go to Assessments/Grades
  2. Use the pull-down menu next to Final Calculated Grade
  3. Select Grade All
  4. Click the box to the left of the ruler/Grade icon to select all students
  5. Click Release/Unrelease (a check box will be added to the in the second to last column
Note: If a student adds your class after you have released final grades, D2L will not automatically release the final grade; you will need to repeat the steps above (For step 4, click the box to the left of the student’s name)
Trick: There is no way for us to see when a student adds a class (in eServices or in D2L).  However, you could use this tool to help you see this.  For example, some faculty want to know if a student added a class near the end of the first week of class.  You could release grades to all students then go back in to see who does not have released grades after that.

How can I help groups work better in my classes?  (This first paragraph was included last week, and we will explore the second element below)  Many of has been a part of groups when we took classes or tried using groups in the classes we teach, and some of these groups worked better than others, and this might prevent us from using groups when we teach.  But, research shows that having students work together can improve learning, retention, create community, etc.  To help improve group work in your classes, we will explore the five elements of cooperative learning starting this week.  “Cooperative Learning involves structuring classes around small groups that work together in such a way that each group member’s success is dependent on the group’s success.” (From: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/index.html, see this site to learn more)

What are the key elements to help groups work better?  (We will explore one each week)

Individual Accountability: The essence of individual accountability in cooperative learning is “students learn together, but perform alone.” This ensures that no one can “hitch-hike” on the work of others. A lesson’s goals must be clear enough that students are able to measure whether (a) the group is successful in achieving them, and (b) individual members are successful in achieving them as well.​”  (From: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/whatis.html#elements)

  • To help all members prepare for group work, award individual points for work students do individually before the group work.  This might be an assignment or test questions they complete prior to or in class.  You could then have them complete the same assignment or test as a team.
  • To increase the incentive for fully participating in the group, award individual points for work students do individuallyafter the group work.  This might be an assignment or test questions they complete in class or after it.
  • Have students rate their own participation in the group then the participation of each group member.  You could then use this as part of the grade or just a way to monitor groups and make them accountable.
  • Provide different resources or supplies to each student in a group and then structure groups so that each person needs to use/contribute these to the group.
  • Use team roles such as recorder, reporter, manager, time keeper, summarizer, safety officer, etc.
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