I learned a number of things from Mike Ruddell's session on disengaging the reptilian brain. The session was very different in that it had no technology showcased! It was a nice break! He even just used pictures printed off and placed underneath the document cam. Simple technology, but effective. He share a few insights that I love. First, he said that in his classes he calls the process not critical thinking, but critical reasoning! I love that. He mentioned that thinking is a passive activity and that students do it all the time (or at least we hope they do) and so they don't put much stock in it. Critical reasoning makes them stop and reason through a problem. Mike wanted us to answer the question: how can we get our students to critically reason, not just as an assignment, rather so that they can find their own answers in their own quest for knowledge. This, I think, is every teacher's goal! He said that it's easy to do if you get them to come up with "multiple diagnosis hypotheses". This means that, in class, we must get our students to come up with not just one solution, but myriad solutions, then, they have to painstakingly whittle it down and decide on the best solution. So often students come up with A solution and decide that it is the solution, or perhaps the only solution. If we push them to recognize that nearly every problem can be solved in many different ways, they begin to shrug off the reptilian brain and to engage higher thinking skills, like analyzing, and synthesizing. Loved the session. I will employ the "multiple diagnosis hypotheses" paradigm in my own classes and finally push my kids from the realm of passive critical thinking, to the realm of active critical reasoning! -- Curtis Kleinman

Hi there: One thing that I learned from the impromptuguru, the keynote speaker, that I think will help students in the SSS program, is to put a video on the SSS Blackboard page to lay out expectations for our program. The speaker's suggestion was to create and put up a video that explains the instructor's expectations for the class, like deadlines, to call or email with questions, etc., and to what the student can expect to learn and get out of the class. SSS is a program for students and not a class with an instructor, but the concept is right on for communicating our expectations to the students who are in the program. It would be great to have a video with each staff, or one staff person, explaining what the program can do for them and what we expect them to do: meet with your advisor twice a semester, complete a financial literacy workshop once a year, etc. and doing so can help them stay on track to completing their goals in college, etc.
From: Sarah Broderick, SSS program
Thank you, Sarah! I am so sorry that you aren't eligible to win due to your FT staff status, even though you are also an adjunct faculty. I'm in the same boat.
Me too! That is really unfair. I believe "we" work just as hard, and our work is important. I agree. Anyone who meets the criteria should be eligible for the rewards.

Nancy Schafer: More Than One Thing I Learned....
The talk by Jill Schiefelbein was great, and my mind was constantly wandering off to ENG 140 online, which is a good thing, right? Much of what she said encouraged me that I am on the right track as I continue to update my course. However, I also came up with some new ideas branching off of what she shared. First, I like the idea of quarterly check-ins. I do this for my students who may be struggling, but I like the idea of doing it for all my students. Sometimes I think the online students feel overwhelmed when they look at all the entries in the gradebook and may not know how to figure out how they are doing. Letting all the students know how they are doing gives me an opportunity to applaud those who are doing well as well as encourage those who need the boost. Second, as Jill was talking, I thought about adding a discussion board prompt during the research paper cycle that would allow students to voice their questions and concerns. In the past, I have directed them to the QandA thread, but no one ever used it. If they saw a specific thread during one of the modules, they might ask more questions. Then I could catch any confusion about the directions quickly before they begin to write.

Robert Smith
One thing I plan to integrate into my classes is the use of "check-ins" 3-4 times a semester. This is where you calculate grades at that particular time in the semester and remind students they should have so many points to be on track to pass the course. Some students lose focus during the semester and hopefully it will help keep students cruising towards the goal. It's too bad that Blackboard doesn't allow students to see both points AND percentages in their grade view. That is possible in the teacher view, but I don't see any way to enable that for students. Doing so would allow them to see what percentage of the possible points they've earned at any point in the class, eliminating the need for the teacher to do this manually. Actually, if you create a new totals column and set it to percentages, the student will see that...
Steve Rollin
I'm onboard with the "check ins" too. The "ranking" system sounds fun as well, when my students "check in" through the semester and discover they're only a "level 1" and their classmates are "grandmasters" or something like that, I think it creates a bit of competition both internally with themselves and with their fellow classmates. Thanks for the tips Abe! I'm also intrigued with some of the more technical options for delivering ideas and concepts. I want to try second life, video game type delivery methods, and more "fun" options to stimulate different students learning styles. In my realm, (emergency services) there's TONS of memorization and physiological concepts, and a fair amount hands on skills that must be mastered before they can move on to treating live patients--rightfully so. But the delivery of that didactic rote memorization, and even some of the skills can be fun and engaging using some of the tricks I've learned over the past few days. Thanks to all who gave their time and resources to share!

Sukey - Turns out that there is a lot of staff interest in blogs, as a way to communicate with their colleagues, those they serve and the general public. I went into the blogging roundtable only thinking of blogs in the classroom or as a tool for class management but the conversation was much broader than that. Communication in any good-sized organization is problematic, especially one that has as many goals and operations as Yavapai College and the potential for blogs to collect, organize, distribute and preserve information from lots of different folks, making it available when it is needed, not just when it is presented, is exciting. Just in time learning works just as well for faculty and staff as it does for students.

So, how will this help my students? I think this also came out in our discussion. We all need to model the attitudes and practices we want to convey to our students. That means us all, not just classroom instructors. Encouraging and enabling staff to use blogs as a way to communicate is just another way for us to emphasize that communication is important in any field and that Yavapai College is committed to sharing what we do and learn with anyone who is interested. It allows us all to engage in wider conversations about what goes on in the offices tucked here and there around campus. Ant it highlights the contributions that staff make toward our shared institutional goals.

One thing I learned is that PREZI is much more fun that PowerPoint - and more interesting!
Chris Heyer

I have learned many things so far, in just four sessions. Something that has stood out that will help my students was the statement Jill Schiefelbein quoted "One cannot not communicate." This helps me realize what ever I say or not say, do or not do will come through to my students. I must communicate exactly what I expect of them and want them to be aware of, to learn, and to do. I also need to communicate what I believe, because as Dave Gorman stated: "If you (the teacher) believe in it, they (the students) will believe." Thanks everyone! Gail Spivey

I was very interested to hear the online students desiring connection and interaction with their classmates and instructor. Sometimes as an online teacher you feel that students don't want this, based on their response to interactive opportunities. I am encouraged to keep working to get human touch into my online classes. Nancy Goff-Laipple

I learned a few new ways to reach my students. In the math is fun presentation I learned some cool new ways that we find numbers all around us. Also, the Human Touch keynote address gave me some great ideas for making students feel connected in the classroom, not just in online instruction. Bill Swenson

I have greatly enjoyed Keynote Address: The Human Touch by Jill Schiefelbein.
I teach Dance and Zumba classes at the college. It allows me to have live interaction with students. However, the class time session is limited and some students are not so open in front of other people and do prefer to use online communication.
Attending Jill Schiefelbein’s session has taught me good ways of communicating online. One of them was to create and post a video that explains about the Instructor, the program, Instructor’s and Student’s Expectations about the program, and about establishing open channel of communication with the instructor and among other students in class.
Live interaction and well established two-way street online communication will help me to establish that personal connection and reach to students needs with satisfactory outcome. Marina Rogova