Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rethinking Course Design

My high school district would not accept my seven years of teaching online, online certification, and experience designing courses in both Moodle and Blackboard. Instead, in order to be "qualified" to teach online classes for them, I had to enroll in a month long online course for them. I put it off last year because I was just juggling too much, but this summer, with just working on diss edits seemed like a better time.
I don't have great things to say about it, but one thing that has been interesting is thinking, and rethinking about why I have certain class policies, rethinking or revisiting ideas and thoughts. There are major differences between teaching online for high school, which I did for four years, and online for universities, which I've done the last two years.

Funny enough, this has all gotten me thinking about going back to teaching higher ed classes face to face.

I miss teaching face to face, and think that a lot of the perspective shifts and reflective changes I've made in teaching online the last couple of years will make for good and interesting changes the next time I teach face to face, if I get to.

So this is what I've thought of the last few days.
In my online courses I have a presentation, a close reading, a thematic paper, and a final paper. The last time I taught face to face, I had a similar amount of assignments. This last year, I tried really hard to scaffold all my assignments, and make this scaffolding, and the smaller assignments, transparent to the students.

In my online classes there are a lot of low-stakes assignments, discussion boards and practice assignments that I created in order to help me assess how well the students are doing with the information. In my face to face courses I do similar assignments, but they aren't graded because I can see their faces, I walk around in class and can "hear" from their discussions whether or not they get it.

But here's what I was thinking of this last week, a reshaping of what I would value in my class, and how the assignments could reflect this.

So, here was my thought:
  • Students would only have two assignments. A roughly mid-semester close reading, 3-4 pages, focused on their argument. A final paper/project, research based, with secondary sources.
  • I like the idea of allowing them the choice of paper or project because I've had really good responses to this.
    • I have also been reading a lot about commonplace books, and how to integrate these into the classroom. I am intrigued about  offering this as their grade, to create a list of topics/assignments, and having that as their grade. I'm not sure if I'd want it to replace the final, or both. I like the idea of a semester long reflection, project, growth. But I am not sure about the whole semester resting on one grade with no management or feedback. I need to think more about this.
  • But here are the changes I've been thinking about:
    • The exchange for only having these assignments is that they have to submit a rough draft. 
    • They get feedback, they get time to redo, because I'm thinking these would be due two weeks before the "final."
    • The final paper/project would also require a rough draft, but also this:
      • a memo plan before their rough draft that outlines their interests, their ideas, why they chose it, and some tangents.
      • then their rough draft
      • then their final that includes a reflective letter that revisits their memo plan and reflects on the process.
This means that in a 16 week course, my course would look like this:
  • Week 4, I'd like to meet or informally hear from students what they think they might want their close reading to be on, their interests, their ideas 
    • This also means I'd start class with asking them to see the readings, the course, through their interests, focusing them from the beginning.
  • Week 6 close reading rough draft due
  • Week 8 close reading final due
  • Week 11 final paper/project memo plan due
  • Week 13 final paper/project rough draft due
  • Week 15 final paper/project due 
    • If no reflective letter, it drops a letter grade
    • If no memo plan, it drops an additional letter grade
I'd still allow students to have one week to revise final for higher grade.
I acknowledge that some students will treat the rough grade as their final, and I'm fine with that. If that's how they choose to prioritize, that's a choice.
I'm hoping that this approach would allow students to focus on the process, the improvement, the learning, rather than other things. In a face to face class, the in class activities and discussions I do would give me the formative assessments I need.

I'm not sure, honestly, how this would all play out in a face to face class, but I would like to try it.

No comments:

Post a Comment