Celebrating at the End of a Difficult Semester
For many of us—both faculty and students—this semester has been uniquely difficult. With Spring Break canceled because of the pandemic, many students are exhausted and have just been focusing on doing the best they can in a difficult situation—so much so that they may not yet be able to see how much they have learned and accomplished despite the difficulties.
With only two weeks of classes left, it’s a good time to think about how you’d like to bring the semester to a close with your students. A good closing activity can help them to recognize what they’ve learned, take pride in their accomplishments, and celebrate what we’ve all overcome together this semester and the whole last year.
As Boettcher (2012) points out, “a well-designed ending of a course provides opportunities for reflection and integration of useful knowledge. It is also a time to wrap up positive social and cognitive experiences.” To emphasize the social element of class closure, some faculty thank their students for their effort and openness in the course. Some find ways to congratulate and connect with each student individually. Some classes make mementos of their learning or their community. Kevin Dougherty at Baylor creates a celebration of his students’ learning. Depending on class size and discipline, each student might have a few minutes to talk about or share some of their work.
The closing of a course is also a good time for synthesis. Students can reflect on how their understanding has changed because they took the course; since learning must build upon prior knowledge, they need to solidify the connections they’ve made between old ideas and new. How do they see things differently than they did in January? What can they do now that they couldn’t do before?
You might even encourage them to speculate on future questions or challenges related to what they’ve learned. They might also admire how people in the field are solving the problems of today and imagine how they might work together to solve new problems tomorrow.
Summer Teaching Workshop
Thursday, April 29th | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Zoom | Sign up to attend
If you’re teaching in the summer, you may be wondering how to make a course you normally teach in fall or spring work well in a compressed summer semester. No need to do all of the planning alone! Join us for this hands-on summer teaching workshop, in which we’ll discuss how to distill a course to its essence, prioritizing so that you can set achievable learning goals for your students. Then, we’ll help you get started designing the course so students make progress toward those goals through fewer, but longer, class sessions. Since the extended meeting hours in summer demand that we vary our teaching strategies, sharing approaches and resources with colleagues across disciplines will make planning class sessions more fruitful and more enjoyable. We look forward to working with you!
Summer 2021 Course Design Seminar
Monday, May 3rd – Thursday, May 6th | 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. | Synchronous on Zoom & Asynchronous on Canvas | Sign up to attend
CAT’s Course Design Seminar provides faculty with the structure and support they need to craft transformative and inclusive learning experiences that reach and inspire their students. Course design and planning need not be lonely work; they are best accomplished in a community of peers who are similarly engaged. The seminar is a week-long series of hands-on workshops, during which faculty will hone their goals for student learning, plan effective use of class time, and work on sequencing and scaffolding coursework, as well as gathering valid evidence of learning. They will also work on strategies for fostering welcoming classroom climates and cultivating student motivation. Participants will gain:
- Structured support to (re)design a course for maximum learning
- Individual assistance and feedback on their course design, including learning goals; assignment and exam design; effective use of class time; class activities; active-learning strategies, etc.
- Expertise in learner-centered teaching and backward design
- Strategies for motivating students
- Collegial community and peer feedback
You can sign up to attend through the link above. If you have questions about attending the seminar, please email us at pro-teaching@FSU.edu. We look forward to working with you!