The power of play

From our earliest stages of cognitive development, we have learned from play. Play urges the player to try over and over again even as she repeatedly fails; play generates its own persistence, encouraging the player to continue caring even after her obligation to do so has ended; play is an active celebration of deeper understanding, such that the great players in any field, from baseball to physics, are remembered and celebrated for how well they played.


We owe it to the students, the institution and the larger community to champion our material and point out the relevance that we know exists. Why else would we teach what we teach and do what we do? What instructors and students both want are courses that frame content in engaging ways.

Online writing – notes in the margins

When I first taught face-to-face composition with the goal to help students understand the academic essay, I had them print out their papers for me to read at my desk next to my beloved mug of pens. I’ve never been comfortable doling out grades without extensive, contextual feedback, so I always wrote a great deal in the margins.


How many teachers have thought “If that student would put as much effort into studying or completing assignments as he does finding ways to cheat, he wouldn’t need to cheat!’ But there are a variety of reasons why students cheat in the first place, so being proactive in your exam creation efforts may be better focused in prevention strategies.

Instructor presence

How might you effectively respond to discussion, topical events or student performance? In any mode of instruction, teacher presence and guidance are essential for students to learn new concepts. Bland generic feedback is far less motivational than customized personal communication directed at student performance or specific class discussions.

Facilitating discussion

Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and promoting meaningful discussion in the classroom helps create a more dynamic and effective learning community. Get some ideas in this week’s Teaching Tip.


The Understanding by Design model teaches us how to create our curriculum backward from big ideas to activities…but what about the benefits of teaching backward? Allowing students to explore larger concepts, while you fill in, here and there, with the details, helps to enliven the experience of the subject.

Information Fluency

Domain knowledge, critical thinking, and presentation and participation: these are elements that make up information fluency. The terms for this model have been chosen carefully – it’s information fluency, not digital fluency. Many parts of the information fluency model are analog, or comprised of characteristics for which the digital/analog terminology isn’t germane. It is fluency, not literacy.


Student reflection is an important part of academic success. Asking students to take the time to review the process they are going through to learn can help them make adjustments in that process.

Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

Your PLE is constructed of the applications, tools, resources, services and methods that you use to help you with the everyday tasks of Collecting, Connecting, Reflecting, and Sharing information.