This winter, I set out to ascertain to what degree my teaching practices match my values. I like to think that I create rapport in my classroom, but I wanted to take a closer look. A study on the relative merits of various reflective observation tools (Fatemipour, 2013) ranked diaries as the most effective, followed be peer observation. I decided to keep a journal throughout the term and to ask a few colleagues (Larry Javorsky, Sandy Riverman, and Amy Nickerson) to observe me.

Before the term began, I decided on the format and content of the journal. Not all journal entries yield equally useful information; in years past, I might just have made notes of activities that happened and whether or not I subjectively deemed them successful, or I might have commented on procedural issues—timing, instructions, etc. This time, I wanted a bit of a deeper focus, going beyond what Insuasty and Zambrano Castillo (2010) label “how-to” questions. I brainstormed several values statements related to rapport, relationships, and participation. To keep the project doable and measurable, I limited myself to 10 yes/no statements, four based on students’ observed behavior and six on my own behavior. After class, I ticked “Yes” or “No” and wrote a few (usually brief) follow-up comments. The prompts were:  Continue reading

In this blog post, we are interviewing INTO OSU Instructor Allison McMurtrey on her approach to teaching summarizing & paraphrasing. We hope to feature a couple of these interviews each month on the blog as a way to share the unique contributions that teachers at INTO OSU provide to the center.

Q: At one of the past PEDs you presented on a unique approach to summarizing & paraphrasing that included breaking down ideas in a passage among other steps. What led you to develop this approach?

A: It came from two places. My dad used to tell me that any process is “awfully simple” if you knew the next step and “simply awful” if you didn’t even if you could see whatever your ultimate goal was. I also used to do tech support (live and over the phone) for people who really struggled with computers, and I developed a reputation for doing click by click instructions. I realized that even when students know what a summary or a paraphrase is supposed to look like, they may not know how to take the right steps to accomplish that. Therefore I broke paraphrasing down into the smallest  8 steps I could; summarizing soon followed. Continue reading