Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Starting the New Semester

I tried a Google Site for education/teaching stuff this past year and hated it, so I'm migrating the teaching posts I put there here.

Tomorrow when I flip my planner page it becomes January which means it's time to start prepping for the new semester. Already I've started to see syllabi prep moans/groans/celebrations on my Twitter feed.
So in the next couple of weeks I'll post how I prepare for the new semester.
For any senior scholars- I encourage you to share your syllabi and process with people so grad students and early career scholars can benefit.
Here is my semester prep step by step.
  • I fill in all the dates on my Ward attendance/gradebook for the semester, marking days/weeks off. But I also import my class roster to Excel for the first couple of weeks since the roll will change so much. Once the roll has stabilized I'll write their names in the Ward book.
    • I use my Ward book for attendance/tardies and grades as well as using the Blackboard gradebook so students always have access to their most up to date grades.
  • I also stole this cool idea (I think from @frittersandclam) of having the students create cards the first day that are topic based with their information on it (Name, major, classes, hobbies, plus an illustration of themselves). Last semester they were fairy tale/folktale themed. This semester their drawings will be Milton/popular culture themed.

  • My syllabi is already complete so I just need to prep lessons. I only prep one week of lessons at a time (usually on Sunday morning) because this allows me to adjust lessons/materials/approaches to best serve my students. Usually I use a composition book and hand write my lessons. However, because this course is one I plan to teach again AND because it's the basis of a book, I wanted to try electronic lessons this semester, so that's what I'm going to try. We'll see. I am doing them in Google Docs so I always have access to them and it's easy to make copies. However, I will print out that week's lessons and put in my notebook for class. That way I can make notes on it, draw out organizers, etc. Then I can always scan these pages to replace the lesson.
  • I use three books religiously all semester and like to have them close to my workspace so they're in my eyeline as reminders when I work/plan on Sunday mornings. Jim Burke (@englishcomp ) has always been my go-to guy for lesson planning. These are great things to use in your class regardless of the level.
  • I've prepped my Blackboard section of the course. Nothing fancy, just basics- course information, resources (which I'll build on all semester), and a welcome announcement with their first assignment (email me in the proper manner saying they've read and understand the course syllabus and webpage. They then tell me one thing they're confused about and one thing they're looking forward to.)
    • Since my syllabus is a Google Doc I link most class resources there on the days we use it so it's easy for students to find. This means the Blackboard site is extra bits.
    • I do post weekly announcements that are reminders, tips, that sort of thing.

  • Despite my experience, I am always nervous/excited the first day which means I tend to forget things. Last semester I forgot to tell them my name until one of the students prompted me forty minutes into my spiel. So now I have a bright yellow reminder card to outline the housekeeping bits of the first day.
  • I also color code my classes so it's easy for me to see at a glance which notebook I'm grabbing. This class is coded red.
So that's my prep before the semester starts. What's yours? Any tips or tricks?

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