Extended teaching logs for those who are not teaching this semester

They will be given a copy of Filippenko's C10 materials (textbook and course reader).

Potential readings:

  1. Slater and Adams Chapter or McKeachie's chapter on Active/Group learning, or the various sections on types of group learning activities (experiential learning, etc), challenges in section (discussion and group work and problem students).
  2. First assignment: Do a few readings, answer some questions / provide some reflection on the readings.
  3. Other three: Watch one or two Alex's lectures, and design an activity that engages students in the material covered. In these three, one should include a demo, one should include some sort of worksheet for the group activity. All three should include some style of group work, which should vary from assignment to assignment. Include an introductory paragraph that tells us the material covered in the lecture, your learning objectives, and how your chosen activities will help achieve those objectives. What from the reading did you incorporate in the design of these activities?

Design a Section Notes

Perhaps introduce this project earlier in the semester. OK if they are developing a future section (for their course or something they would like to teach) or revamp they have already done. There should be a log component talking about “What was about it in the first place wasn't successful” What were the original objectives, what did they like, what didn't work, what are the new objectives, how did the assignment/worksheet/activity change to meet those objectives. If they are developing a future one, the log can be an explicit discussion of how their activities tie into their learning objectives. More writing on these ideas, since if we simply ask them to do it, they might not necessarily do it.

Third Meeting Notes

Boot camp is going to be 4-6pm Tuesday and Wednesday.

Move the first day discussion to the first day of the bootcamp, cut it down since they will have already seen what a first day lesson plan looks like from the GSI conference. This will give them more to work off of when they draft their first lesson plan.

Then that frees up some time in day 2 to talk about group work implementation and assessment (at , around, or after Karto's demonstration).

Take aways from this group work and assessment discussion:

  • De-emphasizing the worksheet in group work activities. In particular, de-emphasizing math heavy calculations for lower levels and emphasizing creative thinking. Giving problems that are not just math (e.g., reflecting on your assumptions, your intuition, etc.).
    • Ways to do this: Having one worksheet per group, using the white boards, open ended questions
  • Designing lesson plans with specific learning objectives and activities to assess those objectives.
    • Ways to do this: Mingling with students, start/end the class with a question they shouldn't answer at first but will be able to answer at the end, index card feedback, skimming through graded work, office hours, midterm evals, asking for questions in advance
  • What to do when group work is taking place. Walking around, mingling, sitting in on tables. Being aware of what is happening in the groups. Once you get a feel for your students, encouraging your
  • Anything else?
  • Teaching logs: Make them have a fixed number of prompts, they complete one every other week (they can chose which one). Every other week we have them share what they wrote in the prompts and talk about section in general. Then every other week we have experienced GSIs come and talk about what they did.
    • People to ask?: Lea*, McBride*, Josiah*, Nick*, Isaac*, Francesca, Lee, George, Hull?
  • General layout of classes after the bootcamp:
  • 20 minutes of discussion on sections, recap
  • 30 minutes of experienced GSI visiting
  • hour activity
  • General layout later on the semester:
  • 20 minutes of discussion and/or prompt sharing from GSIs
  • 30 minute experienced GSI visit every other week. Less of these later in the semester.
  • 1 hour - 1.5 hour activity?
  • Visit each other's section the 3rd week of class (not “first day” and not the first time they have a normal section)
  • Next week or week after is video taping number 1 (in september)
  • Second videotaping happens in early-ish November
  • For tapings: They get the tape first, they make the assessment first, then we sit down with them and give them feedback.
  • For the second taping: Optional if they want to sit down with them. Instructors can make comments via email or such.
  • To try to do before midterm 1 (each of these an hour activity): writing hw/quiz/test questions & grading rubrics, midterm board work exercise, group work management, self assessment & style & technique,

Second Meeting Notes

Boot camp, general course flow, points of emphasis, estimating 6 people total (4 grads, 2+1? ugrad)

Things to do before day 1: Funding for home made erase boards? 2 Markers for every GSI.

Boot camp day 1:

  1. Walk over to Evans.
  2. Two groups of 3ish.
  3. Treat it like an actual section: Have stuff on the board, go through the Ay300 syllabus, do admin stuff, then launch into paper plane activity. Both groups write instructions to make a paper plane.
  4. Bring class back together and discuss what happened and what the point was.
  5. Close off section.
  6. Take a break. (All this in the first hour)
  7. Additional recap?
  8. How to write a syllabus.
  9. Resources available to you?
  10. Index Card Feedback – remind them that we will be seeking feedback constantly and they should not be discouraged to bring up concerns or thoughts with us at any time.

Day 1 homework: Draft your syllabus, rough outline of your first day lesson plan. Include your learning objectives and how you will assess these learning objectives. Look at the given set of questions and think how you would answer them using the board as if a student were asking you. Aim to answer them in 2-3 minutes.

Boot camp day 2:

  1. Welcome and recap, admin stuff? (5 minutes)
  2. Exchange syllabi with each other, discuss, comment, then turn in to us for more feedback. (Ugrads should have mailboxes, yes?) (15 minutes: 10 in groups, 5 as class)
  3. Board work – Before anything, “based on common sense, what are good/bads of board work.” Then they each do their question, they continue keeping notes but we give no audible feedback on individuals. End by telling them why we did that activity and all that meta stuff (e.g., Try to see what your board work looks like in section). Briefly mention TALC. The instructors can take a photo of the boardwork and give individualized feeback the following week. (at most 30 minutes?)
  4. Break
  5. Now we're going to talk about first days. This is an example of an activity (maybe first day). You'll view this as a student, then we'll reflect.
  6. “What's in the box?” demo by Karto.
  7. What did you get out of the experience? What did you learn? Misconceptions introduced? Then Karto can share how he designed the demo with particular goals and how you assessed whether these goals were met. How did Karto implement group work? We'll come back to this idea many times. Many ways to implement group work, Karto's is only one. (40 minutes)
  8. Planning YOUR first day. Remind them of what we have shown them. Introductions, syllabus, saw example of an ice breaker, an activity that involved group work, getting feedback.
  9. General discussion of Ay375 and what to expect your semester should be like?
  10. If time: group work on lesson plans for day one. If you want feedback, feel free to send it to us.

Possible bigger project: Design a 20ish minute lecture/discussion on a topic related to topics covered in their class (at the level of their class, be it lab, upper level stars, etc.). Include some sort of group activity that ties in multiple concepts or real world examples or actual data? How do we include the process of science?

Aaron's Thoughts

  • I think the design a demo activity is no longer worth doing. The demos over the last few years have not made it into the usual set of demos that GSIs run in their sections. Most appear only for the year they are created and then are never seen again. Materials vanish and are not replaced (again, because no one has any memory of whether the demo is any good or not). My ideas:
    • Change it to Improve-A-Demo, requiring them to take an EBRB demo and improve it, fix it up, analyze the learning potential, etc.
    • Nix it completely. Alternative projects are below.
  • EBRB2.0 – The EBRB needs work. It is filled with, in my opinion, crap. There are only a few worksheets that get used in their uploaded form, but a lot of GSIs make their own worksheets and draw from questions used on multiple worksheets. An idea for a project is to completely redo the EBRB, replacing a lot of these worksheets with instead LaTeX and Word templates for worksheets. In addition to these templates, the EBRB would have a question repository for the major topics.
  • I started giving exact teaching log prompts to make the exercise a little more useful for the students who don't really care about assessing their own teaching. We need to improve those prompts to fit with the timeline of this semester.
  • Furthermore, self assessment? More? Less? How do we create assessment exercises that really do force them to assess whether they were effective or not (and then use this information to improve their teaching)?
  • Jonnie and Therese said that they nixed the quiz and test question writing exercises, since no one had to do it for the courses they were teaching that semester. I still think these are useful exercises, but perhaps we can push them back to later in the semester since it's not immediately relevant?
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Meeting Thoughts

  • Developing lesson plans more as a long-term project. Perhaps developing a lesson plan for a course that focuses on the scientific method, where the students are given data and have to figure out what tools to use to solve a particular problem or answer a certain question.
  • Assessment before and after section occurs. “Here is what I plan on doing…” as well as “Here is what I did…”
  • Francesca thinks asking “How did you know that you learned something?” “When were you aware that learning occurred?”
  • Small scale demos, how to implement them, come up with them?
  • Coming up with good and more open-ended questions.
  • Reflection on debugging problems; how to teach problem solving.
  • Assessment early and often!!
  • Second day of boot camp: lots of assessment, how to do it, different levels of learning.
  • Have experienced GSIs visit earlier in the semester to talk about things they have done in their courses? Actually run through an activity? Have them implement different kinds of group work? Perhaps have one every three weeks and do a different kind of group activity.
  • Question writing (and grading/assessing): Continue on the theme of assessment. One assignment: Write one quiz question, one homework question, and one MC question. Develop a rubric for grading the open questions.
  • Video taping: Let them see the taping alone first, write up something, and then after have a face to face with the instructors. Two recordings: first one must be a sitdown with the instructor, second is optional. For the lab GSI, tape office hours.
  • Order of things: Peer visits (2-3 week), 1st taping, a month passes, 2nd taping.
  • TALC a little in the bootcamp?

Requirements of the graduate council: Ay375 must

  • be taught by a faculty member.
  • address the practical and theoretical knowledge needed by new GSIs in the specific discipline.
  • have a syllabus that specifies topics, identifies readings, and describes the basis for evaluation.
  • have a meaningful number of units and student contact hours (2-4 units).
  • have a course reader or textbook.
  • have specific assignments for which GSIs are accountable and on which GSIs will be graded.

Old material:

Opening E-mail

Greetings First-Years!

My name is Aaron Lee (4th-year grad), and I am going to be teaching the astronomy department's class for first-time TAs (but we call them graduate student instructors, GSIs), called Astro 300, along with Therese Jones (3rd-year) in the Fall. There will be a more detailed message about our class once all the GSI assignments get decided. For now, there are a few things to point out.

(1) What is Ay300? If you plan to teach during your first year here at Berkeley (Fall or Spring semester), then you will need to be enrolled in our Ay300 class. The focus of the class is to teach you how to lead effective discussion sections. The course primarily focuses on lower level astronomy sections, but the techniques are broadly applicable to teaching any science course.

(2) The Bootcamp. We will be having two mandatory introductory courses before your sections start. These are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 23, 1pm-3pm, Location TBD Wednesday, August 24, 1pm-3pm, Location TBD

These classes will focus on the essentials that you need to hit the ground running, with confidence, on your first day of section (which could be as early as Thursday, August 25th). These bootcamp days are distinct from the university-wide GSI orientation that you also must attend on Friday, August 18th.

The timing is somewhat flexible on Tuesday and Wednesday, so let us know ASAP if you have conflicts that cannot be moved. Otherwise, please put these dates in your schedule now and keep them in mind.

(3) When is Ay300? Given the tight schedule of grad astro classes and section/lecture times for the classes you'll be teaching, basically the only available time slot for our weekly class during the semester is 5-7pm on Monday (your groans are echoed by ours, I assure you). So you can put that on your schedule as well.

We'll be in touch again soon!

Best, Aaron and Therese

P.S. Therese and I have much experience with teaching and balancing teaching with research and classes. If you have any general questions or concerns, please ask one of us. It is our recommendation that you teach your first semester here. Most of your fellow first-years will be teaching also and you'll already be spending a lot of time together bonding over problem sets and other first-year activities. Why not learn to teach together as well!