Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional Development Meeting Notes from March 19-20

1. Announcements

--The Human Resources Department requires that all adjunct faculty re-apply for their positions on an annual basis. This year, you need to re-apply before May 15. This process should be fairly easy for you to do. On the UVU Job website, go to the job posting for: Adjunct Instructor – English and Literature. Click the button that says “Apply for this Posting” and login to the UVU website. You should have created a username and password already when you first applied to be an adjunct instructor. This process shouldn’t take very long because your Curriculum Vita (CV) and other documents should still be on file in the system and you can just re-attach them during the application. However, it’s generally a good idea to update your CV if you have the time.

--Fall Schedule teaching assignments should be available mid-April. The process has been delayed from previous years, so please be patient.

--The WPAs receive complaints from students from time to time. Whenever they receive a complaint, they will always contact you as an instructor to let you know about it. Many times the complaint can easily be resolved by scheduling a brief meeting with the WPA, the instructor and the student. That being said, there are a number of things you could possibly do to help prevent student complaints early on. We brainstormed some of the ways that we as instructors could help prevent complaints. One of the suggestions was that you could consider including a statement in your syllabus about the importance of coming to you first to resolve any concerns you might have. You could also make an effort to respectfully respond to any emails you receive from students and make a genuine effort to listen to students when they come to you with a concern. Sometimes students complain about class being cancelled too frequently, so it could help to keep class cancellations to a minimum.

2. Strategies for Teaching the Synthesis Paper

Heather Tolen gave a presentation about an object lesson she uses to teach her students the basic concepts needed to complete the Synthesis paper. For this object lesson, she brings two purses with different items in each purse. The students analyze the objects in the two purses and then talk about what these objects say about the lifestyle, beliefs, and values of the person who owns them. They compare and contrast the two purses with each other. They then talk about how these same tasks are involved in writing the Synthesis paper. For a complete description of the activity, please see this handout.

Aleta Breakwell gave a presentation about how she uses a deck of Uno cards to teach her students about the Synthesis paper. One color represents the student’s discussion in their paper about Author A’s essay. Another color represents the student’s discussion about Author B. The last color represents the students own insights and analysis on the topic. Aleta talks about how she sees too many papers where the different colors are just “stacked up” on top of each other. She then has a student shuffle the deck and fan the deck out. She talks about how this is the ideal way to organize a Synthesis paper: mixing all the different ideas from the two authors and the student’s insights altogether.

3. Strategies for Encouraging Self-Reflective Writing

Catherine Ashton gave a presentation about how she uses Canvas to have her students post their Final Portfolios in an e-Portfolio format. For those of you who were not able to attend the professional development meeting, she’s posted her sample e-Portfolio online.

Alyssa Rock gave a presentation about how she does Self-Reflective Writing in her classes. She talked about how the value in self-reflective writing is that it helps students to meta-cognitively think about the actual process of writing and begin figuring out how they can make that process more efficient. It also teaches students how to analyze and criticize their own writing, which is an important step in the revision process. Lastly, it builds students’ skills in introspection (what Howard Gardner calls “intra-personal intelligence”), which is a valuable life skill that is necessary for cooperative problem-solving and for developing a sense of self. Alyssa has her students write a self-reflective piece as the first assignment of the semester. Then she has them write small, in-class self-reflective essays whenever a major paper is due. Lastly, she has them include one final self-reflective writing piece in the Final Portfolio. To read her specific prompts for these essays, you can view her handout on Self-Reflective Writing.

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