September 5, 2006

Boiler-plate material

Ana Adams left a comment of the previous post suggesting that the department should consider creating some syllabus template material for 3104 out of the various departmental, CLA, and University handouts about grades, policies, etc. I think that is a great idea with regards to what we might call "Boiler-plate material" about disabilities, sexual harrassment, general grading standards, etc., However, even within departmental guidelines, I believe we should allow instructors to specify their own grading criteria based on the material they teach, as long as they are spelled out clearly. I have provided my model, but I am sure my colleagues would not want to be obliged to use that.

Ana's suggestions follow. Do you have different/other material to share?

Here is one difference in my statement of policies: I do not send students to the DUS for permission for an Incomplete; I make that decision. I don't recall if my syllabus had a written statement about that or not (I generally do include one). I'll go check!
Also, while I do not allow make-up work, I would not say "for any reason" in a policy statement, given that I would arrange an extension for someone with a documented medical condition, or arrange special exam circumstances for someone with a documented learning disability, etc.

Continue reading "Boiler-plate material" »

September 2, 2006

The first day of class

The first class meeting is crucial for setting the the for the rest of the semester. We know that it is very important to have a clear, detailed syllabus, and to communicate expectations on the first day. Research has shown that students give great importance to an instructor's efforts to learn and remember their names. Here is a link to an article that presents studies of instructor and student expectations of the first day of class. Student reactions show that they give great importance to an instructor's enthusiasm about the subject, to their efforts to connect to the students as people, and to their clear communication of expectations. In their conclusion, they recommend that you adopt the strategy that best fits your personality; "if you are a horrible joke teller, don't tell jokes!"


August 22, 2006

What are the goals of Span 3104W?

Here is the section of my syllabus in which I state the goals of the course. As you see, they revolve primarily around the idea of close reading of texts and the effective communication in Spanish of a coherent interpretation. This statement has evolved from my years of teaching this course almost every year, gauging the needs of the students, and what I want them to be able to do in the courses they will go on to take in the major. However, you may have different ideas about what the course goals should be.

How do you state the goals of the course in your syllabus? How do the goals of the course drive your selection of materials, the order in which you present them, the kinds of exercises you assign?

Please take some time to think about these questions before we meet during orientation. Better yet, please take the time to COMMENT on them in this blog!
NB: I have cut and pasted this text from Word, and I want to see how special characters show up in HTML, so if there are a few funky accents, etc, bear with me.

OBJETIVOS DEL CURSO:
Esta clase es una introducción al análisis de textos literarios en castellano. Sirve como transición entre los cursos de lengua y los cursos de literatura. No es un curso de historia literaria, ni de teoría (aunque examinaremos elementos de historia y teoría); más que nada, es un curso pragmático con un propósito doble:
Primero, estudiaremos algunos conceptos y recursos básicos para la interpretación de textos literarios de España y de Latinoamérica: cuentos, poemas, y una obra de teatro. Vamos a practicar la explicación de texto como base de la interpretación literaria, con la intención de explicar la relación entre lo que quiere decir un texto--sus significados múltiples-- y cómo lo dice.
En segundo lugar, éste es un curso intensivo de redacción (“Writing Intensive?). Habrá sesiones de trabajo en grupo (talleres de escritura) para ampliar y mejorar su conocimiento de los elementos básicos de la explicación de texto. Así, y por su participación activa en las tareas en clase, también van a desarrollar su capacidad de expresión oral.
Finalmente, vamos a disfrutar la experiencia de la lectura colectiva, y jugar un poco con las palabras.

METAS GENERALES:
Por medio de la lectura, la conversación, y la escritura, podrán:

* reconocer temas, ideas, imágenes importantes de un texto literario;
* desarrollar su propia interpretación de un texto;
* comunicar sus ideas oralmente y por escrito de manera coherente;
* hacer el resumen de un texto;
* leer un texto con el diccionario para luego explicar diferentes niveles de significado;
* identificar y corregir errores básicos de expresión;
* escuchar e intercambiar opiniones en español con los compañeros de la clase;
* colaborar en tareas colectivas como, por ejemplo, el análisis de un poema en clase;
* crear una comunidad de pensadores/escritores en nuestra clase.
* ¿otras?

August 16, 2006

Designing a syallbus for a writing intensive course

A writing intensive course which has the designation W after the course number is one that has been approved as satisfying the Unversity's CLE requirements. The Center for Writing has a very handy web page HERE with links to all the information you might need about the CLE requirement, syllabus design, etc. There are sample syllabi as well.

Here is how CLE defines a writing-intensive course. Your syllabus must meet these criteria:

*the course grade is directly tied to the quality of the student's writing as well as to knowledge of the subject matter, so that students cannot pass the course who do not meet minimal standards of writing competence.

* require a significant amount of writing—minimally ten to fifteen finished pages beyond informal writing and any in-class examinations. Note that the page guidelines may be met with an assortment of short assignments that add up to the total; 10-15 page papers are not mandated.

* students are given instruction on the writing aspect of the assignments

* assignments include at least one for which students are required to revise a draft and resubmit after receiving feedback from the course instructor or graduate teaching assistant. Otherwise, writing assignments may be of various kinds and have various purposes, as appropriate to the discipline.

August 9, 2006

Read this: UThinkBlog's FAQ

If you are not familiar with blogs, with blogs at the U of MN, or with UThinkBlog as a resource, the best place to start is at the FAQ page.

One question I had was answered here:
"I would like to have a private blog, where access is blocked by a username and password. Is this possible?"

"Unfortunately this is not possible at this time. We are looking into some options, but essentially don't post anything that you don't want to be potentially read by the public at large. Keep in mind, though, that just because you write something does not mean people will read it."

So, for the time being,this blog can be read by anyone.

If you are interested in a higher level discussion of blogs, you might want to check out the wonderful on-line referreed publication Into the Blogosphere, edited by a wonderful group of U of MN scholars, and linked on the UThink side bar.

August 8, 2006

Welcome to the Spanish 3104W class blog!

The purpose of this blog is to build a set of resources for current and future instructors for Spanish 3104W. These may include material to supplement readings, suggestions for classroom activities, tools for writing, links to sites of interest for literary and historical context. As we all become comfortable with blogging itself, we may decide to create blogs for our individual sections, tailored to our syllabi, and in which students could post entries and comments.

For now, I hope this will be a space to practice using Movable Type and working together as instructors.Please leave your comments, suggestions, links, and ideas in the comments. Some technical issues I will be exploring include:
making sure that special characters (accents) show up correctly in HTML
adding other instructors to the blog site as co-authors so you can post directly to the site
making the blog more visually interesting.