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Classroom Helps
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SUCCESSFUL BEGINNINGS

It’s always helpful to take a look at the academic calendar before you begin planning your classes. You should also take a few minutes to be sure that your syllabus is aligned with the WWCC syllabus template.

In a recent in-service session, communication instructor Linda Linn shared her experience with students whose behavior didn’t match up to her standards. She created this document to clarify classroom expectations at the beginning of the course. “When I go over this in class on the first day, I get the class laughing and then with a mix of laughable tales from previous classes, and in all seriousness, I encourage them to become adept at ‘civility’ so they can learn more in class.” If, however, you encounter a more serious situation with a student, be sure to fill out the Reporting Form, or contact Jackie Freeze, Vice President for Student Success Services.

Math instructor Sarah Pauley shared an expectations assignment that she uses in her course at the end of the first week. She recommends keeping an electronic copy of the completed assignment so that instructor and students can go back to review the student’s goals. This assignment also encourages students to practice good writing skills at the beginning of your course. Sarah later confessed she “stole” this assignment from math adjunct Rose Marie Cheney—that’s great! Here at Western, we encourage professional collaboration and sharing of resources.

Faculty and Professionals Senate provides regular “Innovative Teaching/Learning Forums” on campus. Staff members volunteer to share ideas within their areas of expertise. In March 2011, Education instructor Ellen Ventura hosted a workshop on Active Learning Strategies. According to one attendee, “Ellen gave us two ‘cooperative learning ideas’—the Value Line and Gallery Walk—that are designed to get students out of their chairs and moving around, learning with their feet as well as their minds. It was fun to practice them and I can’t wait to try them out in class.” These and other active learning techniques are shown to encourage student engagement with the course content.

 

VITAL FEW FOR STUDENT LEARNING

Here at Western we hold to the Vital Few for Student Learning, determined by the Assessment of Student Learning Team. For several years now, the Vital Few has focused on Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum.

 

Active Reading

Regardless of content area, each instructor is expected to incorporate some form of writing assignment and to use active reading techniques in his or her curriculum. A recent survey showed that 100% of Western instructors incorporate some kind of reading assignment in their courses, but simply asking students to read a chapter doesn’t engage them as learners. We encourage all faculty to use active reading strategies when assigning reading to students. These practices allow students to process what they read. You might even hand out the Active Reading Brochure, which students can keep and use throughout their college careers. Using active reading techniques also means that your students come to class prepared to discuss the reading, rather than expecting you to summarize it for them.

 

Writing Across the Curriculum

Survey results show that WWCC faculty are interested in incorporating writing assignments into their curriculum, whether it be math, welding, art, or self defense. Western provides a variety of resources to help you accomplish this task. You might be interested in writing formatting guides to hand out to your students; these are available in both APA and MLA format. We also provide writing recipe cards, which explain a basic format for writing a solid paragraph. These can be copied at the Print Shop and handed out to students, who will find them helpful for large and small writing assignments. Many instructors also find the writing tutors and Smarthinking.com to be helpful. Students submit a first draft to Smarthinking and get feedback before they modify their work and submit it to you for a grade. Finally, we want to share some generic writing scoring guides, which can help you evaluate your students’ writing assignments. These guides are available for scholarly/academic writing and professional/technical writing; you can also use this informal writing scoring guide, which may be useful for shorter pieces. We recommend you hand these scoring guides to your students before they complete the assignment, so that they know your expectations ahead of time. All these scoring guides are provided in Microsoft Word so that you can modify them for your specific course; however, if you’d like individual assistance to create a scoring guide for a specific writing assignment in your course, contact Dianna Renz, Faculty Resources Facilitator.



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If you have any questions, please contact Therese Yerkovich at 307-382-1617 or tyerkovi@wwcc.wy.edu.

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