Music in the Classroom

After sending out an announcement about the blog, I received a quick response from Richard Hendy, Co-Cordinator of the Culinary Programs, in which he talked about using music in the classroom to great effect. In years past, I have always loved walking down the hallway and hearing music coming out of a classroom. Derek Rogers, now retired and loving life, taught chemistry at St. Lawrence for many years and also started every class with music, much like Richard. I’m still not sure how this is possible, but Derek managed to tie the music of choice in to a topic in chemistry. Needless to say, the students loved it, and it sounds as though the same is true for Richard’s students.

If you are interested in trying to bring a little fun in to the classroom, this article will help explain all the benefits associated with integrating music in the classroom:

Rock on!


MOOCs: What We Can Learn About Online Teaching and Learning

Having recently developed an online course, which I am now in the midst of delivering, I am particularly keen to learn as much as I can about best practices for this type of instruction and delivery. I have been meeting with other recent online developers and already we have learned some interesting lessons. For example, considering the timing of assessments, particulalry at the beginning of the course. With a lag in enrollment, many of us who planned an assessment in the early weeks of the course are having to reconsider the timing to ensure that all students enrolled have an opportunity to complete the assignments on time.

Another realization has been that despite our perception of the students technological ability, there are many who are genuinely terrified of this “new” mode of delivery, and the initial weeks of the course for some has been spent addressing technical issues instead of questions about content.

With all this in mind, I found this recent article that shares some of the lessons we can learn about online delivery through MOOCs. If you are considering developing an online course, this material may be of use:

Getting to Know Your Students

The beginning of the semester often sees teachers using different strategies to try and find information about the students in their class. For some it may be an informal class discussion or activity, for others the form may be more concrete.

In speaking with faculty member Phil Jones in Kingston, I learned about the method he and other faculty in the Community and Justice Service programs use to engage their students: an introduction-type email assignment. The benefits of this straightforward and easy to complete assignment are many. Asking the students to email the professor ensures that they are using the appropriate technology required to communicate with faculty members at the college. The assignment also allows the faculty member to have the student’s email and possibly start a correspondence with them, if needed. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the responses the students provide might be more detailed and personal than the responses they may provide in an in-class discussion.

The following are some of the questions the students are encouraged to answer in their email response:

    1. Your first and last name
    2. A phone number or numbers where I can reach you
    3. Home town
    4. Work and volunteer experience
    5. Your career goal at this point in time
    6. Your most dreaded thing
    7. One thing you want me to know about you. What makes you unique?

In addition, the email also helps the professor determine if the student has any concerns about about the course, such as test anxiety.



Teaching Tips for New Teachers

The campus in Cornwall, besides having arguably the nicest campus, is fortunate to have faculty with great ideas, and this next resource comes from a faculty member from Cornwall, Julie Smith. Julie was asked to develop a cheat sheet of sorts for new teachers. Her list is short and to the point and includes a lot of valuable information:

  1. Connect the information in your lesson plan to the learning outcomes reflected in the course outline.
  2. Connect theory to real world experience. Real examples help to make the theory understandable.
  3. Make sure that your tests and the test weightings reflect the emphasis you have given the material in class.
  4. Keep in mind that just because you have said it once, the students have not automatically absorbed the information.
  5. Use a variety of techniques to deliver the same material; this variety will help you to engage students and meet different learning styles.
  6. Allow time for the students to take notes and absorb the concepts. Do not rush the lecture. Connect theory with activities. The activities should be designed to reinforce the lesson’s key concepts.
  7. Use the textbooks but do not read from the textbook.
  8. Outline your assignment expectations clearly. Give the students guidelines but leave room for thought and reflection.
  9. Be in tune with your students. Pay attention and listen to them. Read the body language.
  10. Model professionalism.