Mid-semester organizing

The Chronicle of Higher Education says it’s time for a mid-semester assessment of how things are going.

As well, *I* say it’s time to organize completely, so the rest of the semester flows smoothly.

The organizing inspiration comes from David Allen (Getting Things Done guy), who linked to this post, which is a Master Plan for Taking Control of Your Life. Sound intriguing? I thought so.

Organizing into neat stacks like this. But, get rid of that elephant thingy.

So, inspired by How is the semester going? and The Master Plan, here are some things I’ll take into the rest of the semester:

  • Continue to publish and use detailed grading rubrics. They are a PITA to create, and I’m not even sure if any of the students read them. However, they make grading a lot easier.
  • Make due dates more solid and reflect late assignments in grades. I’ve been a bit lenient on this in the first big project because it was a new assignment, and I was not sure they were all on board with the requirements. Now, I see they all did well. I need to continue to emphasize due dates because it’s the best way to prepare students for their careers–no boss or manager will tolerate missed due dates. It’s better for students to learn this in the classroom where they can make up the points with good grades on other assignments than to learn this on the job where the consequences are much more serious.
  • Continue to try new activities and exercises in the classroom. As difficult as it is to keep things fresh in an online classroom, it is essential to keep the students engaged. Continue to build a library of interesting visuals and new activities to keep everyone participating.
  • Grade the discussion board every week. I have been grading it all at once every several weeks, and I feel that the students would benefit more if I read and responded to their posts immediately.
  • Somehow,  I need to start getting students to respond to one another on the discussion board to build a true learning community. I hesitate to assign it–I’d much rather they chose to respond to one another. I’m still thinking on this one.
  • A student approached me with an AutoCAD tutorial he created last semester when he was a TA. He wanted to share it with the class, so I posted it in our content section of the virtual classroom. Somehow, I need to encourage this in others–it’s a true community gesture. Another thing I need to think on.
  • Somehow, I need to challenge the students at their own level with the same assignment. That means differentiation, but I’m not sure it’s done in a college classroom–or how it’s done. My gut tells me I should have more options in assignments, but how should it be graded? People who do more should get a better grade. I wonder how that should work?
  • Continue to enjoy the challenge of making good writing relevant to all students. Continue to enjoy helping students succeed. Continue to enjoy teaching.
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One Response to Mid-semester organizing

  1. I really like the idea of a mid-semester assessment. I hope that students do this, too. It’s never to late to make changes and the time to start is now! Not tomorrow, or the next assignment, or next semester. But now. How many times do people say, tomorrow I am going to start eating right and exercising?! Instead of starting that minute!

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