Erika Romero

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

Category: Teacher Life

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 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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Back-to-School: College Advice from a College Student & Instructor (Budget, Cooking, Classes, Life)

 

Last August, I posted every Friday as part of my back-to-school month series. I’ll be sticking to my usual bi-weekly schedule this year, but last year’s college advice is still relevant, so I’m focusing on those four blog posts today. In case you weren’t reading my blog at that point, I’ve linked and briefly summarized each post here and have added two additional tips for every topic. The first original post includes advice for saving money, the second is all about college classroom tips, the third about kitchen tools and easy recipes, and the last about helpful YouTube channels. I definitely recommend taking the time to read my older posts, especially if you are a college freshman and/or a college [grad] student moving to a new city/state.

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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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Top Productivity Apps for Teachers, Students, and Writers (Trello Templates Included)

 

Using digital tools to help with productivity isn’t a new concept, of course, as there are dozens if not hundreds of websites and apps designed for this specific purpose. [Many pins on this topic can be found here.] Because there are so many options out there, though, it can be hard to know which ones are even worth trying out to see if they work well with your particular ways of planning projects, building habits, and/or going through the writing process. In this post, I describe my top productivity apps, a few of which I rarely hear mentioned among my peers, friends, and family. While most of the apps listed are made to be completely customized by the individual using it, Trello’s collaborative nature inspired me to create templates of the Fall 2018 semester to share with any teachers or students reading this post. Keep in mind that I use Apple products, so some of these apps might not work with non-Apple devices.

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Pinterest Tips: Using Pinterest Boards as Resource Archives

 

Pinterest is a visual search engine first, and a social media website second. Yes, you can follow people and/or their boards on Pinterest, but that’s not a vital element of the site like it is with sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Rather, in my opinion, Pinterest is a great search engine to use when you’re looking for resources on topics that interest you, and you want to see dozens of options instantly rather than having to scroll through Google or Bing, reading each listed link one by one. The visual nature of Pinterest is really appealing to me (and many others), and the organizational element of Pinterest boards makes archiving the resources you find and/or create extremely user-friendly. In today’s post, I offer a few tips for using Pinterest boards and go through my main Pinterest boards in case you’re looking for resources connected to the topics that I focus on in this blog.

 

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Top 5 Resources for Buying or Creating a Digital Planner

 

In this last June post, I’ve listed three digital planner creators that I think have each created some great digital planners. I have not used any of these planners myself, as I’m still deciding if I plan on using a digital planner long-term. I have seen quite a few YouTube videos and reviews related to these planners, though, so I definitely think they are worth checking out if you’re looking for an upgrade. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and haven’t read the first two in the series, just click here and here to catch up. The first post includes PDFs of two planners I’ve made, in case you want to give a free one a try before purchasing a professionally made digital planner.

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Top 5 Tips for Using a Digital Planner (including Good Notes tutorials)

 

In my last post, I described how I created a digital academic planner and offered two free, hyperlinked PDFs that you can use to try out this digital system. If you don’t have a digital planner yet, I suggest going to that post first and downloading one of the options. For those of you who want to upgrade to a professionally-made planner before the new school year begins, I’ll be listing my top five digital planner options/online shops in my last June post in two weeks. Today, though, I’m offering my top 5 tips for using a digital planner (especially on Good Notes). If you want to find out how to make some basic digital stickers and learn about what tools you should definitely be using when planning digitally, this post is for you.

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Planning for the New Academic Year? Try Out A Free Digital Academic Planner [Hyperlinked PDFs Included]

 

I started using a paper planner almost two years ago, and I’m still finding writing out my plans, goals, and habits to be very useful and calming. Recently, though, I came across a niche in the planner community: digital planners. These planners are basically hyperlinked PDFs that mimic the look of a paper planner. With PDF annotation apps like Good Notes, though, these digital planners can be customized to an incredible extent, all without using any papers, pens, markers, post-it notes, washi tape, stickers, etc. Of course, this form of planning assumes you have a digital tool like an iPad or tablet, so it’s not exactly the most accessible option. I’ve found experimenting with digital planning to be a very fun, creative pastime, so I’ve created my own version that I want to share with anyone who’s reading this post. As I’m assuming that most of my blog’s audience are teachers or students, and as most academic planners start in July, I’ve decided to focus my blog posts this month on prepping for using a digital academic planner for the next school year. Or, really, since it’s just a PDF that you can download as many times as you want, digital planners like the one I’ve made can be used over and over again (as long as you have the space on your device).

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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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Back-to-School Month: 10+ YouTube Channels for a More Balanced Life

 

For this week’s post, I’ve compiled a list of ten YouTube channels that college students can benefit from, especially if they’ve (you’ve) moved into a dorm or apartment (or house) for the next few years. Only three of these channels are aimed specifically at students (see below in category four); the rest are all targeted to adults in a more general sense. After compiling the list, I realized how skewed it might seem to female readers/viewers. However, just because all but one of these channels are run solely by women does not mean their advice applies only to this particular audience. I won’t get into the potential reasons for this gender imbalance, though of course my own gender plays a role in my choices. For any readers who are not women reading this post, I still suggest checking out these channels to see if they can help you balance your home, health, school, and financial life. I also have an additional list of channels to check out at the end of this post, so make sure to stick around until the very end.

 

Note: Click on the channel names to go straight to the YouTube pages. Click on the individual “playlists/videos” to check out specific videos from the sites. If available, click on the “website/blog” version of these channels to see more text-based (rather than video-based) advice.

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Back-to-School Month: 10 Shopping Tips for Anyone on a Budget

 

Instead of my usual bi-weekly schedule, I have decided to post weekly during the month of August as a way to share some tips for new and not-so-new college students. The posts will have a different theme for their 10 tips, and they will also have plenty of advice that can be applied to people not connected to school life, as well. Most of the advice relates to lifestyle in a more general sense, but a few tips (especially during week 3) will tie directly to school related activities and events. This week’s post focuses on shopping tips for anyone on a budget. Here’s a look at this month’s full schedule:

 

Week 1: Shopping Tips For Students/People on a Budget

 

Week 2: Helpful YouTube Channels for Living a Balanced Life

 

Week 3: Advice to Students from a Teacher’s Perspective

 

Week 4: Fast and Easy Snack/Meal Ideas

 

 

This week’s post has been published today because it’s the first of August. The next three will be posted on Fridays, as usual, though they will occur every week rather than every other. I hope you find plenty of tips that relate to your life this month, whether you’re a student, teacher, parent, or none of the above!

 

 

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