Erika Romero

a student and teacher of children's and young adult literature

Category: Pedagogy

Top 5 Online Resources for Teachers

 

I focused last week’s post on the top tool all college instructors should be using in their learning management system (LMS). In today’s post, I broaden my advice to some amazing resources I’ve come across while searching online for ways to improve my courses. My list doesn’t focus on online tools like Trello or Kahoot, but rather websites with plenty to offer teachers who want to create innovative and engaging course content. If you’re interested in learning more about useful tools rather than online resources, here are a few blog posts I’ve written that are all about that topic (post 1, post 2). Once you check out those, though, I still recommend giving this post a read, as well! Here’s a teaser: there’s a huge catalog of college courses with all their materials listed just waiting for you to explore…

 

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The BEST Tool in Your Learning Management System (LMS)

 

As a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), I’m a big believer in taking advantage of the university tools available to me as an instructor. I’ve never taught a fully online course, for example, but I’ve always used my university’s learning management system (LMS) when designing my courses and lesson plans. At ISU, we use “ReggieNet” (our mascot is Reggie Redbird), which is a version of the Sakai LMS.  Of course, I don’t use every LMS tool possible, as there are over a dozen and not all are necessary for the types of content I teach. I also believe you should only use a tool if it’s actually beneficial to the teaching/learning experience, rather than just because it’s available or the cool, new thing-to-do. I use my course website every day that I teach, even if I’m not in a computer lab classroom. In today’s post, I share the one tool I feel every instructor should use if they have access to a LMS at their college/university. To find out what it is, just keep reading…

 

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Keep Organized: The Top Five Benefits of a Teaching Journal

 

In my last post, I described the eight steps I’m taking to organize all my teaching, research, and service digital files. Today, I’m narrowing down my organization advice to teaching responsibilities. Since I began my teaching assistantship as ISU, I’ve kept a teaching journal every semester. My teaching journal isn’t for writing down my feelings about teaching, though that’s one type of writing you can do in it if you want. For me, I use a teaching journal to keep track of my classes each semester. My lesson planning, class notes, and schedule information are all written out in my journal. In today’s post, I’m describing my top five benefits of keeping a teaching journal. If you’re new to teaching or feel frazzled rather than organized when it comes to keeping your teaching responsibilities in check, this post is for you. If you just want more general teaching advice, I suggest checking out this post.

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Ten Teaching Tips for the New College Instructor

 

If you’re a graduate student teaching for the first time as part of your assistantship (aka, a GTA), today’s post is for you. If you’re a new adjunct who hasn’t been in the college classroom for a while, I also suggest checking out these ten teaching tips. Finally, if you’re an experienced college instructor wondering what your students might find most important about some of your teaching decisions, check out this list. I’ve focused my advice on course elements that heavily affected me as a student and/or affect me now as an instructor.

 

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Finding My Niche: A College Instructor’s Teaching Tips and Tools

 

Blog 2.0: “College Life: Instructor Edition”

Are you one of the people described below?

You’re a grad student who (a) just received a teaching assistantship (a.k.a. GTA) but don’t have a lot of experience designing/teaching courses or (b) is swamped with course work and other student responsibilities and can’t find tons of time to work on course design and resource research.

You’re an adjunct who is (a) new to teaching or (b) bogged down with too many responsibilities that keep you from taking the time to work on course design and resource research.

You’re a college professor who is (a) looking for new teaching ideas, tools, and/or resources or (b) interested in learning more about what other instructors are doing in their classrooms.

If you fall into one or more of the categories above, the recent and future content of my blog is for you!

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How Does It Work?: A Student (Now Candidate!) Perspective of ISU’s PhD Program Requirements (English Department)

 

For anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, you know that I post a new update every-other Friday. Coincidently enough, today ended up being the day chosen for my dissertation proposal defense. As the defense is scheduled for 11 a.m. CST, this post will go up a few hours later than usual. Still, I thought today would be the perfect day to describe Illinois State University’s PhD program requirements for English graduate students. The dissertation element itself won’t be discussed, but the five steps leading up to it can provide insight for anyone reading who’s interested in applying to ISU’s program or is looking for ideas for creating/revising PhD requirements at their own institutions. Now that I’m a PhD candidate (baring a bit of paperwork), I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I’ve experienced in the last (almost) four academic years.

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Classroom Resource: My Experience with Assigning a Literary Autobiography Project

 

I’m three weeks into the spring semester, and I uploaded my feedback on my students’ first major assignment a few days ago. I’ve never assigned this project (a literary autobiography) before, so I didn’t know what to expect from it. It’s pretty small stakes, in comparison to the other major assignments, but it was something I decided I wanted to try this semester for multiple reasons. In today’s post, I thought I’d describe the assignment and my reasons for creating it, just in case someone reading this is looking for some classroom inspiration. I think this assignment would work well across many education levels, in case any high school or even middle school teachers have stumbled across this post.

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Lesson Planning: Designing My First Young Adult (YA) Literature Course

 

It’s that time of the semester. No, not the drowning in final exams and papers time. That’s still three weeks away. Nor is it the can’t-see-any-surface-in-my-house because-of-all-the-books time. That happens way earlier on in the semester. No, the time I’m talking about is when you receive an email letting you know what course(s) you’re teaching next semester, and asking you to submit your textbook request form ASAP. As half of my graduate assistantship is currently devoted to my work for our Writing Program, this next semester is likely the last one in which I’ll only be teaching one course. I’ve been assigned my top choice, ENG 125: Literary Narrative, and I’ve decided to use a different design than the one I used last year. Instead of a ChYALit adaptations course, my new 125 class will be a YA literary narratives course. [Update: Here’s the page all about this course.]

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How to Teach the Writing of Literary Analysis? My Approach to This Challenge

 

It’s been over a month since my fall semester began. The introductory material for my ENG 170 class – background information on the always-changing and fluid concept of “childhood,” the history of children’s literature, some basic literary terminology – have all been covered, though not to the extent that I would like. Introductory courses call for so much material to be covered and sixteen weeks is never enough time to accomplish that task to the degree I would wish for my students. Nevertheless, my class has moved on to the next major section of my course design: learning how to write literary analysis. Of course, this assumes we are also working on another primary goal: learning how to analyze children’s literature in any mental, verbal, and/or written form.

As I’m about two weeks into this second unit of my course, with two more weeks ahead devoted to this specific skill, I thought I’d break down my approach to teaching the writing of literary analysis. I’d really love to hear back from any teachers and students reading this post. Teachers, how do your approaches to teaching this task differ from my own? Students, what was the most effective learning experience you’ve had in relation to learning literary analysis? I’d love to hear from all of you, but I’ll start by sharing my own process.

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