Celebrate Teaching


This week, I would like to share the topics and description of our upcoming Celebrate Teaching: A Non-conference on December 13, 2019 from 1 to 4 PM at NYU Shanghai. The purpose of the event is to highlight exemplary instruction by providing an occasion for faculty to share their interactive teaching approaches through an afternoon of energetic communal learning. The format of the concurrent sessions is a 25 minute quick chat with the hope that colleagues attending will leave with several concrete ideas, which they can implement now.

The initial Celebrate event was a four day symposium to share, discuss, and learn about the effective practices used by colleagues (Seal & Hargis, 2012). A second Celebrate was offered in 2012 (Cavanaugh, Hargis, & Munns, 2013). Since then, we have Celebrated in Hawaii, San Diego and now here in Shanghai.

Below are the titles and descriptions., please join us if you are the area:

  • How to Create a "Dyslexia Friendly" Learning Environment to Benefit All: I will share Dyslexia friendly teaching tips for texts, visual presentations, and reading materials that might help all students reach their potential in learning and writing.

  • Getting Students to Say More: How to encourage open and honest conversation, even on difficult topics, so that students are more engaged in learning. I will share real-world examples of ways to encourage and discourage open discussion and provide a hand-out.

  • Effective Field Trips and Speakers: I offer field trips; and invited 'external professionals' who provide feedback to students' prototypes every week. I will share my experience and create a structure for others to discuss how to best use Guest speakers; and Field trips.

  • The A-B Problem Solving and Teaching Method: Students pair up (one as person A, the other person B) and solve a short problem collaboratively. One student from each pair then finds a new partner and the student who stays with their original problem teaches their new partner the method / ideas. This facilitates discussion and interaction with the material and the opportunity to teach a small problem to a peer can reinforce the student's understanding of the related material.

  • Cultivating Students' Curiosity and Further Enhancing their Performance: With a unified textbook, the learning content and topics are usually fixed and not necessarily interesting to our students. So how to arouse students' curiosity and interest toward the learning content is very important to their performance. I wish to facilitate a discussion among participants on what kinds of effective strategies they have implemented before to arouse and maintain students' curiosity throughout the course, including picture prompts, games, inquiry-based learning, etc.

  • Using Small Group Poster Activity to Engage Students with Movements Between Speaking and Writing: I assign students into groups of 3-4 and provide each with a topic that reflects a class theme. By working with peers within their 'micro-community', students discuss their own understanding and then write on poster paper. Students practice to keep record of ideas emerged from oral discussions into written formats. After 15 minutes, students return as a group and orally demonstrate their poster. This involves bidirectional movements between speaking and writing and listening practices. This also serves as rehearsal spaces for participation, students feel more confident expressing group thoughts in a wider range of audience--the "macro-community".

  • Incorporating Community-Engaged Learning Activities: I will share a few successfully designed and conducted projects from our "Discovering Contemporary China through Documentary Films" course. I will introduce how we connect the in-class discussion, after-class reading assignments, and out-of-class activities and projects under a certain topic, for the purpose of providing multi-dimensional learning experience.

  • Creating an Active Learning Routine in the first week (and get students to read your syllabus): Establishing a routine for active learning is particularly important when dealing with large groups of students. I will share a strategy to create a routine from the first week using the syllabus as a tool, which hopefully gets students to read the syllabus too! My presentation will be short and half of the time will be devoted to discussing other ideas that you may come up with.

  • Facilitating a Conversation on Creating a Culturally Inclusive Class: I will share a few points of reflection; a couple of things I did (those worked well and those that didn't); facilitate a conversation what on works in each of your classes, as well as share some of the research on the topic that I have been involved with over recent years.

  • Making Math Human: I start every lecture with a short bio of a living mathematician. The goal is to show that math is done by interesting human beings with diverse backgrounds and giving students opportunities for identification. If you would be in this class, what would speak to you? What would give you an opportunity for identification?

  • A framework to Guide Facilitation in Class: Learning can be seemingly messy when learners come from diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds. How an instructor bridges students' current state of development individually and collectively to the learning outcomes becomes arguably integral to one's learning. We will share a framework to conceptualize and guide facilitation of learning.

  • Modified Gallery Walk Jigsaw Interactive Technique: In the original strategy, the instructor provides each group a different topic. They xix groups with one planted “expert” on each topic, who now has to teach the group. Each student debriefs the wisdom of the previous group to his/her new group. In my modified version, I first model a concept map. Then groups create and discuss a concept map. Re-mixed groups take a gallery walk where the expert describes the map to the group. Periods of reflection are provided so students can make sense before having to present--particularly important for non-native English speakers (Yee & Hargis, 2019).

  • Not Just a Problem Set: Expression Within the Confines of Intro Macroeconomics: Subject to glaring constraints of language and background, I wanted to give an assignment to 40+ first-year macroeconomics students that was fun, patronizable, empowering, a bit cool, aligned with lesser served area goals, and yet somehow not too stressful to administer or grade. I settled on a short research-like paper involving manipulating real data, Excel, and a simple GIS (mapping) tool. Was it successful? I will discuss the Do's and Do Not's, along with useful resources I found.

  • Using Formative Assessments to Encourage Inclusive Discussions: In this session, I will share strategies to help include all students to connect their prior knowledge to new learning by using a variety of teaching methods; provide verbal instructions and written corollary; ask students for concrete observations about content before moving to analytical questions; and allow ample time for any in-class activities that require substantial reading and provide guidance that reflects the fact that processing times will vary.

  • Informal Online Quizzes and Tutorial Videos for CS Courses: This is a method designed for a machine learning courses that is still in its prototyping phase. The core idea is to use informal online quizzes and tutorial videos to help students evaluate their performance and learn effectively. The instructor provides an online (anonymous) quiz which are not graded, as a replacement for "are there any question?". After class, the instructor can make a short tutorial video to help students learn coding so that they don't have to search on YouTube.

  • A Pechakucha on Developing Students’ Active Listening for Peer Review: I will share a pechakucha presentation (20 slides*20 seconds) on how I improved my design of using pechakucha presentations in my class not only to offer students a challenge to present their own case studies in a more engaging format, but also to practise how they can be better ‘listeners’ while being audience members. During my presentation, I will replicate the active listening exercise I give to students and ask the audience to share their feelings and ideas.

  • Self-selected Small Groups: Students in a two-instructor course self-selected into “review” and “new material” small-lecture/discussion groups, after taking an ungraded quiz. I will briefly describe the experiments context and process, then have a group discussion on methods and experiences; potential pitfalls; the use of physical space; and modifications that could work in single-instructor courses.

  • Debating Activity: A Mixed Methodology: Participants form small groups based on cards they draw when entering the room. They will do a pair debating activity or group debate based on the number. We will collectively talk about the (in)effectiveness of such method, how to adapt it to different classes, and what obstacles people have encountered or envision will have in their own classes.

  • Elevating Students be Researchers: We will share small experiments implemented when developing new courses at IMA. We used techniques that range from googling in class-related topics to prepare papers for peer-reviewed conferences aiming to create a class dynamic where students see themselves as researchers. Some will be successful stories as well as some that still need improvement.

  • Teaching Perspective by Drawing on the Windows: Foundational drawing skills can be taught step by step. For those learning perspective, it can be a struggle to apply the principles to a blank sheet of paper. Thus, drawing directly on the windows and tracing the perspective vectors of the scene behind the glass-- can help students bridge the gap between the theory and the practice. I will share the basics of perspective and have participants then draw on the windows, to show how this step can help make the principals more concrete.

  • Informal Quiz: I will share the informal quiz that I offer in the middle of class. It is one page of questions which I handout. Students spend 5-10 minutes. Either the neighboring student corrects or the students check their own copies. The goal is to help them gauge how much they are able to apply. I discuss the answers and gain a sense of how much the students are retaining. I found that students see this approach as helpful and request one quiz per class.

  • Office hours in the Zone of Proximal Development: I will introduce an approach to office hours I use to make them more interactive and beneficial to the developing academic oracy of the student using the VoiceThread application that I use. I'll do this with reference to Vygotsky's notion of the ZPD.

  • Open Discussion on Student Perception of Teaching: We received a request to offer an open room for people to visit and discuss conversations that they have had with their students on their perspectives on learning, i.e. what works best for them. I will start the conversation and help fill gaps with prior data collected.

  • Performance Assisted Learning: Using Real Language in Real Settings: We will explore how different Performance Assisted Learning methods (debate, drama, theater, music, role-play) can be incorporated into any course to build confidence and creativity.

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