Archive for October, 2006

test 4


Loading this other file up (which is NOT the Godwin Madrigal group), we figured out that there must be something wrong with the file I am trying to upload. It has been a long process of trial and error trying to get one simple music file (voice memo) up on my blog. It amazed me how easy it was to record and then listen to the file on my computer. Now it is amazing me even more how problematic this part of the process has been! When we get the real file to upload so that others can hear it here, I will write out the story of the process…


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I wanted to see what the microphones could do on our iPods since I plan to use mine to record a conversation about iPods later this week (for assessment, of course…)  I was going to record our dinner conversation at home tonight until I realized we weren’t having a real family dinner because we were going to my eldest son’s concert.  Godwin High School has an incredible music program, and they did not let us down tonight.  I recorded the Madrigal group and some Barber Shop after that.  The battery wasn’t completely charged and yet it made it through over 40 minutes. I came home and hooked up the ipod to my computer and voila!– new music for my itunes!  The problems started after that.  The file was too huge to upload to my blog, so I tried to cut just a part of it out to make a podcast in Garageband. I did manage to learn how to open and edit and play around in Garageband a bit, but the file is still too big: (   Tomorrow I’ll see if  any of the experts from the CTLT have advice for me.  When I get it straight, I’ll  put up a nice piece or two.

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This article, included in a post in Tomorrow’s Professor, thoughtfully examines ideas popular in higher ed right now: learner-centered education, teaching philosophy statements and peer-review of teaching.  While there is much good information there, I notice that he makes the same mistake that so many do: they assume “peer-review of teachin” has to be an authoritative, judgemental process.  When I have particpated in peer review, I have treated it the same way that I teach my students to treat peer review of writing: as standing next to a colleague, trading ideas, sharing insights.  We are too limited by an authoritarian model which says that the tenured people know some secret code of the “right” way to teach.  In fact, tenure is granted based on many factors, of which teaching ability is only one.  And the idea of using one’s statement of teaching philosophy as a guide for discussion of what you are teaching and why, is actually a good start!  I found in a workshop this summer that many professors haven’t revisited their philosophy statements in a while (if they have one) and that we often haven’t looked at the values we say we hold, our ideas about how people learn, etc. and APPLIED them–from the philosophy statement to the syllabus and assignments.  I found the exercise of doing this with peers to be very helpful.  I continue to work from this model when I work with faculty. And I think faculty respond well to this model because: 1. it is personalized to them and their own content and beliefs and 2. I am not holding myself out as an expert on the “right” way to teach.  Conversations are more productive, and faculty are actually more open to the ideas I have to share with them about ways to teach that they may not have been exposed to, but fit well with their philosophy and needs.

I know that UR was looking at instituting some kinds of peer review of teaching.  I wish I could be in on the conversation to make this a positive experience for faculty.  Last I heard, it was left up to each individual department chair to institute as he/she thought best.

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The POD list this week has been discussing videos as tools for faculty development.  In general, people feel that taping workshops is not cost effective and after the fact, people don’t come in to watch them.  On the other hand, short clips that provide a glimpse into someone else’s classroom/techniques and strategies can be useful tools when used as discussion starters in a group of faculty.  I wonder if some of this type of videos, available on the internet, might also be useful to faculty on their own.  The site of the Center for Excellence in Teaching  at Iowa State  has some unusually useful videos I think, and they are short!  Another great resource mentioned by my POD friends was the Institute for Advancement of Teaching in Higher Education’s site : the viewing room. 

There you can see a clip of Ken Bain talking about the phenomenon in physics education that has inspired a lot of higher education reform efforts.  Can’t wait to get started planning his visit to our campus next spring!

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As part of my campaign to maintain sanity, I receive a weekly email from an organization that promotes the work of Thomas Merton, a contemplative monk.  Here is this week’s:

The Merton Reflection for the Week of October 9, 2006

“As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones.  Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them.
There are two things which men can do about the pain of disunion with other men.  They can love or they can hate.
Hatred recoils from the sacrifice and the sorrow that are the price of this resetting of bones. It refuses the pain of reunion.”

From New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton.
(New York, New York: New Directions,1961) Page 72.

A Thought to Remember:
“We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
From Love and Living by Thomas Merton, edited by Naomi Burton Stone and Br. Patrick Hart,                 (San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985) Page 27.

It struck me like lightning.  The resetting of a body of broken bones is an incredible image of  human communities. But the part that really stopped me in my tracks was the idea that pain and disconnection are a given and the choice I have to make is love or hate.  Hatred recoils, refusing the pain of reunion.

Well, it is worth contemplating.  The more we learn about how people learn, the more we find out that much of it is done through interaction with other humans.  And we live and work in communities.  I read this thing in the New York Times this weekend about elephants and their incredibly complex and deep and intimate relationships with the community (and of course how humans destroyed that before we understood it) and it has been really bothering me. (You can read it here). So I find my self thinking (too much?) today about how we are all a little broken, and that we really need to have strong communities around us, and that, instead of promising us no pain, it actually promises us a lifetime of pain.   But also laughs and accomplishments and good jokes and great music…

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