Erika Romero

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

Tag: Pedagogy

Five Extra Credit Activities That Promote Engaged Learning

 

The end of the semester is approaching quickly. Only two more weeks of coursework before finals week arrives. At this point of the semester, it’s not uncommon to receive requests for extra credit opportunities. I’ve never received an extra credit request from a student, though, because I build in multiple opportunities into the semester. There’s a lot of debate over whether extra credit should be an option in the classroom. Personally, I believe that if students are willing to put in extra effort to complete additional work, then they should have that opportunity. I’m more than willing to allow students to increase their project grades by a few points by completing additional activities that require students to deepen their understanding and abilities to apply what they’ve learned. Here are five forms of extra credit activities I offer in my various courses.

 

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Diverse Assessment Strategies for the College Classroom

 

We’ve reached November, which means assignments to grade are starting to pile up higher and higher. It also means some students’ anxieties about their grades are increasing and some students are just starting to pay attention to the work they need to accomplish by the end of the semester. I keep my grading pile pretty small by scaffolding my deadlines very carefully (a practice I’ll write about more soon, but for now, you can check out my major assignment designs by checking out the pages linked here). While this practice keeps me from feeling too overwhelmed and keeps my students informed on how they are doing in class from a grade perspective, in this post, I’d like to focus on the more important element of grading assignments: the feedback that goes along with it. I use a lot of different approaches when providing students with individual feedback on their work. I believe this variety helps students actually absorb at least a basic understanding of what they are doing well, what still needs some work, and how an outside observer perceives their work differently than they do. If you still have room in your lesson plans to add in some new forms of assessment, or are looking for ideas for next semester, then you can read all about my strategies in the rest of this post.

 

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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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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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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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ARC Review Month, Book Review #4: Alone Together by Sarah J. Donovan

 

I’ve been lucky enough to receive advanced reader copies (ARCs) of two YA novels set to be published in May 2018. It seems, then, that this month is the perfect time for blogging about these two new releases! I’m especially excited to share my thoughts on these books, as they are both debut novels. This week, I’m reviewing Sarah J. Donovan’s verse novel, Alone Together. In two weeks, I’ll be reviewing Joanna Hathaway’s historical fantasy novel, Dark of the West. As a disclaimer, my ARC reviews will be pretty spoiler-free, but of course a few details not found in the blurbs will be included in my reviews. If you’d like to see the other book reviews I’ve done, you can check them out here, here, and here.

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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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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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