AY 300 - Fall 2010: Weekly Assignments

Assignment #1: assigned 8/24, due 8/25

  1. Make an account on the BadGrads website.
  2. Look at sample syllabi on this page and draft a syllabus for your section (we will be happy to look them over after Day 2).
  3. Draft (at least a skeleton) lesson plan for your first-day. Think about introductory materials/statements, icebreakers, activities, assessments, and the time each activity takes. What atmosphere do you want to create? How will you accomplish your goals?
    • Based on today, you should be ready to put together at least the intro and icebreaker, but jot down some ideas for the rest.

Assignment #2: assigned 8/25, due 8/30

  1. Start keeping a teaching log.
  2. Read “Collaborative Learning 101”, distributed in class. At least skim pp. 7-12 (“Types of Groups” through “Theory and Research on Collaborative Learning”) and definitely read pp. 19-26 (“Lessons of Experience: Tips from Teachers”); the other parts of the handout can be skimmed or skipped (i.e., ignore the extended river metaphor…).
    • Be prepared to discuss next time.
    • Consider the following questions in prep for the discussion (perhaps jot down a few notes):
      • Are you convinced that collaborative learning is always superior to lecture learning?
      • What kinds of further evidence would you like to see about the efficacy of collaborative learning?
      • Do any of the guidelines in the second portion of the required reading seem especially appropriate or especially inappropriate to your section(s)?
      • Do the claims in this article jibe with your experience leading section so far?
  3. In at least one paragraph, but not more than one page, answer the following questions:
    • I bring to teaching a belief that …..
    • In the classroom I see myself as …..
    • I believe students are …..
    • I seek to foster in students …..
    • I think the role of discussion section is …..

You will share and discuss these responses in groups and with the class at the beginning of our next session.

Assignment #3: assigned 9/8, due 9/13

  1. Please read the awesome Six Ways to Discourage Learning. Note which things your past and current profs have been guilty of, and how those violations affected your learning in those classes.
  2. Believe it or not, your first quizzes will be administered in 2 weeks (the week of the 20th). So we are asking you to write at least one quiz question aimed at the AY 10 or AY 7 level (whichever you are teaching). We will discuss these questions and question writing techniques in class on Monday.
  3. Lastly, we would like you to visit each others' sections to get ideas and critique each other, so we have a “peer visitation” project for this coming week (since the following week is quiz week in Astro C10). See the assignment page for details.

Assignment #4: assigned 9/13, due 9/20

  • Visit another GSI's section, fill out the evaluation form, and meet with that GSI to discuss their section. Bring the form to class next week to be discussed and collected.
  • Choose groups of 3/4 for the design-a-demo project. Fill out the table on that page.
  • There are three readings from Barbara Davis's Tools for Teaching. If you print the files, you will need to rescale the PDF. Each of you will be assigned one subsection of the reading (although you are encouraged to read everything). Here is what you do:
    1. Read the ideas from your assigned subsection.
    2. Pick out one or two ideas that you think are the most important. You will summarize these ideas to the class next week.
    3. Write in a short paragraph how you would implement these ideas in your section. These paragraphs will be collected and commented upon.

Here are the reading assignments:

For Leading a Discussion

  • Marin - Starting a Discussion
  • Katie - Guiding the Discussion

For Discussion Participation

  • Francesca - General Strategies
  • Garrett - Increasing Student Participation
  • Tim - Keeping the Discussion Going

For Asking and Fielding Students' Questions

  • Casey - Asking Questions General Strategies
  • Jonathan and Mike - Levels and Types of Questions (Both are important, each of you pick one)
  • Jess, Iok, Allison - Effective Questions
  • Michelle - Responding to Students' Responses
  • Rachel - Fielding Students' Questions General Strategies
  • Josh - Answering Routine Questions
  • Aaron - Handling Difficult Questions and Questioners

Assignment #5: assigned 9/23, due 9/27

- Next week, we will discuss how to write good exam questions. In preparation, write at least one multiple choice exam question and at least one free response exam question, using your best efforts. Feel free to be creative! The questions should be targeted for the AY 10 or AY 7 level and can cover any topic in astronomy or relevant physics. We will anonymously critique each other's example questions in class next time.

  1. An optional reading that's relevant to the writing assignment is in Learner-Centered Astronomy Teaching: Strategies for Teaching Astro 101 (aka the Orange Book) by Slater & Adams. (There's a copy of this book in the seventh floor Astronomy Library in the bookshelf to the right of the door as you walk in. The book is thin and its spine is orange. Also, both Aaron, Josh, Jeff Silverman, or Peter Williams have copies that you can borrow for a day or two – as do a few other astro grads.) Again, reading the following chapters may be interesting but is not required:
    • Chapter 7: Strategies for Writing Effective Multiple-Choice Test Items
    • Chapter 8: Alternatives to Multiple-Choice Tests (especially pages 71-77, 82-84)
  1. Some other optional readings:
    • Chapter 8. Testing: The Details from McKeachie's Teaching Tips

Assignment #6: assigned 9/30, due 10/04

We will be checking your teaching logs next week. So bring them to class!

In preparation for the discussion on collaborative learning next week, you will read an article from the pedagogy literature. There are two articles, and each of you will be responsible for reading one of them. Make notes on what was important and worth sharing. If your paper is a research project, what were the assumptions? What were the implications of their results? What could affect their answers?

  • Does active learning work? A review of the research, by Michael Prince. PDF
    1. Francesca
    2. Tim
    3. Jonathan
    4. Jieun
    5. Iok
    6. Michelle
    7. Marin
    8. Robert
  • A national study assessing the teaching and learning of introductory astronomy. Part I. The effect of interactive instruction, by Prather et al. PDF
    1. Garrett
    2. Casey
    3. Mike
    4. Jess
    5. Rachel
    6. Allison
    7. Katie
  • Also read your assigned collaborative learning technique from Chapter 7 of Collaborative Learning Techniques by Barkley et al. Think about how you might incorporate the technique into a discussion setting and (if possible) a lecture setting. If your activity does not easily translate to a lecture setting, how might you change it?
  • Think Pair Share
    1. Francesca
    2. Marin
    3. Rachel
  • Round Robin
    1. Tim
    2. Robert
    3. Allison
  • Buzz Groups
    1. Jonathan
    2. Garrett
    3. Katie
  • Talking Chips
    1. Jieun
    2. Casey
  • Three-Step Interview
    1. Iok
    2. Mike
  • Critical Debates
    1. Michelle
    2. Jess
  • Optional: Collaborative Learning Techniques, Chapter 1 (only from page 14 on; begin at “What is the evidence that collaborative learning promotes and improves learning?”) PDF

Optional Readings and copies of handouts:

  • Bloom's Taxonomy: PDF
  • “Good Designs for Written Feedback for Students”, from McKreachie: PDF

Assignment #7: assigned 10/08, due (Wed) 10/13

  • Taping of sections will come sometime in the next ~ 3 weeks, so be prepared for Aaron or I to hang out with you and your students for an hour!
  • Design-a-Demo final presentations will be pushed back one week for everyone. So they won't start next week.
  • Please fill out the AY 300 Mid-Semester Evaluation and put it in either Josh's or Aaron's box before Monday (10/11)
  • Next week we will be talking about writing your own mid-semester evaluations. As your HOMEWORK, look at examples on the EBRB and our Ay300 evaluation and write a skeleton draft of your own mid-semester evaluation to give to your discussion sections. After talking about them in class on Wednesday, we will have some time for you to collaborate with each other to perfect your own evaluations.