Symposium Discussion Forum

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19 Thoughts on “Symposium Discussion Forum

  1. gstein on July 26, 2016 at 5:06 pm said:

    Interesting new article on the Princeton front page today about how genetic signatures correlate with height, BMI, educational attainment and heart disease (strange combination!).

    “Conley said the education finding rebuts the idea, popularized by the 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” that achievement in modern society is mostly dependent on innate ability.”

  2. taylorwk on July 24, 2016 at 10:23 pm said:

    One issue that came up often was students having trouble finding a tension or a small detail in the text. The students definitely understood what they were looking for but were just unable to come up with any original ones. Maybe they agreed with the text too much or maybe they keep steering themselves back to one we had already discussed in class. To try to help I gave them examples of the type of tensions that were good and I also told them to reread the texts and stop every time they noticed anything off or weird. However, the students still were having difficulty. Some students confessed to me that they had spent many many hours just looking for a tension in the texts and still couldn’t seem to find one. I was wondering whether anyone had any ideas on how to help the students when they are having this problem? I don’t want to give them tensions that I had found because that would be educationally counterproductive but I also don’t want them to not find any. How could I further help lead them to tensions?

  3. ssanneh on July 21, 2016 at 4:48 am said:

    Something I found helpful during my reading groups was to make a timetable of the general things I wanted to discuss during the meeting. I modeled my timetable after the style of the class plans for each day. I found it was really helpful in making the most of the time together. I think one method I might start implementing is having the students come each week with a passage or topic they found confusing/interesting. I did that the first week and the reading groups seemed to go very well. This week, however, I tried a different approach and we discussed these issues within the time of the group. I think the first method is probably more helpful from what I witnessed.

    I still have some questions concerning participation within official classtime and how to draw the line between being a student and a teacher at the same time.

  4. Barbara Fortunato on July 18, 2016 at 3:14 am said:

    As I mentioned during our breakout session Thursday morning, here’s that TED Talk on “The beauty of data visualization” by David McCandless (2010):

  5. taylorwk on July 16, 2016 at 6:42 pm said:

    I have quite enjoyed my experience as a WoK course fellow this week. At first, I was nervous about how I would be both in the classroom and the reading groups. Questions like, “How well do I really know the material?” and “Can I explain it well?” ran a lot in my head. During the week, however, one particular thing freed me from some of the anxiety I had. In our break-out group, Professor Shaw emphasized that we aren’t supposed to know everything. Of course, we are supposed to be knowledge and experienced but that does not mean every single detail needs to be 100%. This lowered the stress level a lot for me in conferences and made them feel more like a natural discussion. You don’t have to be afraid of a student asking something that you can’t answer or don’t know. In fact, it can actually be a good thing as it may hint that the students are getting the material or lead into some very interesting debates/close reading.

  6. vjimenez on July 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm said:

    This past week has been particularly eye opening for me. Learning about some of the different kinds of teaching strategies and how they can be applied in the classroom has allowed me to reflect on my own personal experiences with learning and teaching. I never stopped to realize how some of my professors deliberately incorporated numerous teaching methods in their class and how these various strategies actually helped enrich my education. One strategy that I found myself using this past week with the students was small group discussions. When a student didn’t understand a concept, I would usually first look around and see if any other student was working on the same question in order to encourage more students to participate in the discussion. Instead of me simply giving them the answer, I posed questions to the group that would help them reach an answer. In other words, I helped facilitate the discussion but the students ultimately came up with the answer. The importance of asking questions brought me back to our last pedagogy class. It made me be more conscious about the way I was asking questions. By asking questions in the most inclusive and effective manner, I was able to encourage the students to offer ideas or possible answers even if they were not certain of a correct response. Conclusively, small group discussions and asking questions have been really useful teaching strategies I have used so far. I look forward to trying other teaching strategies these upcoming weeks.

  7. taylorwk on July 13, 2016 at 5:30 am said:

    One of the things I’ve taken away from the past week is that when in a teaching role you have to be adaptable. You must adapt to accommodate students of various background and learning styles. You must adapt to the context,both the time and place, in which you teach. Sometimes even all of the great methods we learned may not be the best way to approach a situation in order to maximize learning. In these cases, if you want to help your students the most, it may be necessary to experiment and make your own novel methods. I find it both exciting and daunting that as a teacher one has to be constantly on their toes in this manner. It is a skill that I am definitely not too comfortable with now, however over the coming weeks I am looking forward to further pushing my limits. As a Ways of Knowing Course Fellow, this will definitely happen.

  8. ssanneh on July 13, 2016 at 3:27 am said:

    The two days of training as well as the pedagogy class really made me aware of just how many teaching styles there are and the myriad ways of implementing different types of teaching to best help a student. I really appreciated the ideas of using praise with caution and always monitoring the students within the class. It’s easy for a single professor to accidentally overlook a student just because his/her gaze was elsewhere, and I think as a Course Fellow, gauging the level of interest of the students and being there to see and point out students who are willing to share but who the professor may not have seen or noticed, is a very important part of the job.

    The idea of using praise with caution is very interesting to me because, as a student, I have seen (or rather heard) teachers praising students within the classroom, but never considered how this praise might stifle conversation and cause other students to choose not to share their ideas. I want to implement the strategy of not praising student responses too much, but I wonder where the happy medium between no praise and too much praise is. I am used to encouraging students with words of praise, so I will have to work on not defaulting to praise as a form of encouragement.

    In terms of being a WOK Course Fellow, I still have some questions about what my role with the classroom is exactly and where the boundaries lie in terms of voicing my ideas without overpowering the students in the course.

    • gstein on July 14, 2016 at 12:57 pm said:

      This is a great question. I am not sure if there is a line in the sand on how much to praise students. I think one focus could be how to praise vs. how much. Praising the work that they have done can be helpful vs. praising the final project as “awesome” without acknowledging the work that went into it. I know the MOL fellows last year made a big deal out of groups finishing their lab reports (without a judgment to the quality of the report necessarily). They thought this helped build camaraderie and really focused on the work and process that had gone in to the final product rather then the product itself.
      Of course you have to judge your group and be conscious about how praising one student may make another student feel.

  9. sprieto on July 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm said:

    My favorite activity that was learned last week was the simple move to allow five minutes of silence for reflection after ~15 minutes of teaching. I think that if students are given silent time to explore their ideas and transfer them to paper, significant passages in the text or important points in discussion will not be easily forgotten. Furthermore, I think it is a useful strategy for more timid students who usually do not speak during seminar style classrooms. Even if they come to class with a point or two, they may fall quiet once those thoughts are shared. Giving students time to reflect and reconsider can provide new topics of discussion.

    This strategy can be particularly useful for more difficult or longer pieces of text, such as Plato’s Republic. With its multiple translations and interpretations, students can definitely change their mind about their opinion about a passage. However, by moving at too quickly of a pace with Plato, we may not be giving students room to reflect and close read. The small moment of reflection (with writing) will allow students to consider their peers’ stances and their own.

    At the same, I fear using this strategy too often in conferences due to the limited amount of time I have with the students.

  10. aminas on July 12, 2016 at 11:51 am said:

    My favorite activity was the model teaching WOK session we had in our small groups. I think effective learning is primarilly student led, therefore, my role is that of facilitator. Although in the model, it wasn’t struggling students who needed help, but rather peers acting like struggling students, I believe forcing students to directly work with the text, reading it line by line, or asking for direct references, is particularly effective in redirecting students to more accurate readings of the text. This also allows me to see exactly where confusion arises within a passage to tailor future meetings to address the confusion.

    Further along in the class, I think I’ll rely more on the Gaipa moves, as it provides a visual explanation for the possible ways texts can interact with each other.

  11. The teaching strategy that really clicked for me was the one my small group came up with when discussing what to put on the huge sticky note: “being comfortable with silence.” Personally, I had not even thought about this strategy as being something to be conscious of when teaching. However, when my small group discussed it, we realized that this strategy was common among all of those whom we considered our best teachers.

    Being comfortable with silence can be taken to mean a few things, but when discussing the technique, my group took it to mean the silence that exists after a student asks a question, or the silence that exists after the teacher gives a small hint. At times, this silence is construed as an “awkward silence,” but it is in this silence that most students take what the teacher has given them and are able to take their question one step further — or, in some cases, find the answer to their entire question.

    We decided that it was important to be comfortable with the existence of this silence, especially since we hold the acclimating presence in their transition between high school student to Princeton University freshman. In Princeton, one are expected to take a small piece of information and expand on it regardless of the class one is taking. It is important to note that we do not mean to withhold all information from the student. Discretion in each case must be used to decide when a student is unable to take the tip/hint we gave him/her/they further. With that being said, I believe that it is important to be conscious of the place there is for silence — to not immediately give another hint when the student does not respond to the first piece of advice immediately.

  12. My favorite activity during or training sessions was breaking into small groups, teaching the people in your group about some topic that interests you, and then reviewing at the end to make sure your “students” learned the new information. I enjoyed this activity because it was fun, but also because it was used to demonstrate an important aspect of teaching: ensuring that, when communicating new information to students, they are actually comprehending and retaining the information by pausing to review/check-in.

    It is easy to get caught up teaching, especially if you are explaining about something that interests you or that you are well-informed about. However, it is important to make sure that students are following as you teach–something that may seem elementary or obvious to you, may require further explanation for someone new to the information.

    I believe this teaching strategy will be useful for all FSI course fellows since we have recently taken these courses, and those of us who haven’t, are still knowledgable of and interested in the material being taught. Thus, it can be easy to get carried away with explaining and forget to make sure that students are not only hearing what you are saying but actually understanding!

  13. rener on July 12, 2016 at 5:06 am said:

    A teaching strategy that I found affective was using the post-it note X-ray. It is used when a student has an idea of the way they want to organize their paper (they have their thesis and some evidence) however they are uncertain of its structural flow. The student would use sticky notes to write down their thesis, evidence, motive, etc. and attempt to organize them into a cohesive structure. This strategy is very helpful because it allows students to better structure their papers and can point out flows in their ideas. This is because if one of the pieces of evidence or motive do not flow with the thesis and structure then the student must change around their thoughts to create a more cohesive argument.

  14. surenj on July 12, 2016 at 3:46 am said:

    Almost similar to writing an essay, teaching can be reflected as story telling. A teacher can grab and captivate a student’s attention by having an tension or motive that drives the overarching lesson.

    “Why DOES dropping a ball versus throwing a ball actually end up landing at the same EXACT time?”
    “To what extent did Plato’s Republic influence major policy decisions in the 21st Century?”
    “Why is chopping an shape into infinite pieces the definition of an integral? What applications does an integral have on engineering?”

    These tensions can engage the students more as they naturally lead to carry a scope of real-world applications instead of stagnate and theoretical situations. By grabbing the student’s attention through these tensions and ultimately “thesis”, the teacher will be able to drive their intellectual curiosity in a healthy manner.

  15. edgarp on July 12, 2016 at 3:28 am said:

    I don’t believe this is technically a strategy although its significance shouldn’t be overlooked: many teachers have the desire to direct a student’s learning/activities to a particular conclusion with a particular strategy, creating a rigid and likely-to-be-unsuccessful environment. In my mock conference with Laura and Sarah S, I noticed that I was trying too hard to get Sarah to say one thing about a key term but she cleverly maneuvered around it. I had to change my strategy to adapt to her learning style, ultimately liberating her to eventually provide solid evidence that she understood the text. Had I stuck with my initial strategy, the student may not have effectively learned. The ability to adapt one’s teaching on the spot is extremely important.

  16. vjimenez on July 12, 2016 at 2:55 am said:

    One teaching strategy that I liked was breaking off into small groups when we began to discuss the two assigned readings. Smaller group discussions allow us as students to learn from our peers and expand our knowledge by actively engaging in conversation. Students are able to tackle a subject by incorporating a variety of perspectives. As a result, students may gain new insight regarding an idea they did not initially perceive or even understand. Asking students to engage in small group discussions with their peers is an effective way for students to practice their critical thinking skills and to learn from each other. This method will be useful for most courses in FSI, whether it is to discuss assigned readings or even to solve math problems. A possible limitation for this method is that these small group discussions tend to be lengthy. Thus, it may not be feasible to implement this teaching strategy during each class period given the class time constraint and the amount of material needed to be covered in the course.

  17. kerrid on July 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm said:

    One teaching strategy I liked was asking specific questions, after explaining a concept, that actually help the teacher understand whether their students have really understood the concept explained. It’s easy to ask “Does everyone understand?” and receive a few nods here and there, but the teacher won’t really know whether the students have grasped the concept explained. Asking questions that encourage the student to demonstrate, recite or simply repeat the concept will really test how well the concept has been understood. This strategy is particularly important in the MOL class where students must gain an understanding of biological concepts if they are to fully design and develop their own experiments.

  18. lpena on July 11, 2016 at 4:20 am said:

    One teaching strategy that I particularly liked was to have the students prepare three questions/ three sections of interest about the text before coming to class. This gives them an opportunity to think about possible inconsistencies or bring up spots of true inquiry that could foster great discussion. This is something that could be done every class and could really get the ball rolling in the beginning. In weeks where they will be learning about motive and thesis, this could be a powerful tool in helping the students discover these.

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