Friday Letter, 10-28-16

This is the last Friday Letter of October and soon we plunge into November, our month of Thanksgiving. I am thankful that for the next three weeks I have the opportunity to hand the pen and ink over to Terence, Meagan, and Rosemary.  I will be traveling to Germany for a week on a short vacation to visit family…followed by 4 days in Boston where I will attend a seminar at Harvard for “experienced presidents”.  This is an invite only seminar (I had to apply) and is my professional development activity for the year.  It should be an interesting experience and I will have a lot to share when I return.

In the meanwhile, each of the executive team will take a turn writing the Friday Letter…something we did a couple years ago and was a nice change of pace. They all have some messages and thoughts to share. During my time away (Nov 4-16), Terence will be the acting president.

The remainder of today’s letter focuses on faculty-related pursuits.

I want to give a shout out to Abigail and Jodie for their work on helping to steer the Bachelor’s students towards a successful Campus Climate Conversation this week. Mobius was packed and many instructors from many disciplines brought classes.  The “teach-in” was student led and facilitated.  It was a nice example of staff providing student guidance and I’m thrilled by the response it received.

Another shout out goes to faculty member Tasha Walston who recently began teaching for us in English. She invited activist and former political prisoner Josh Harper to visit her consent-themed English 101 sections to talk about animals and consent and his journey to understanding the rights of non-humans. The students were listening for content and preparing to perform a rhetorical analysis of his talk. As well, Josh will be giving a different talk to the Humanities 101 sections titled “The Personal and Social Cost of Mass Incarceration” where he’ll be using an intersectional approach to explore the history and systems of power at play in our mass incarceration system.  Interesting topics that play off our values of pluralism and our mission of integrated education.

And finally, a number of faculty were involved in summer work groups. Since this is my last Friday Letter until December, I decided to provide a brief synopsis of the work by these groups. I think it important for all of campus to be aware of how we continually try to improve our systems and I want to thank the faculty for their input and design on these projects.

Group #1: Core Teaching Practices The summer Cascadia Core Teaching Practices work group (Tori Saneda, Peggy Harbol, Chris Gildow, Anne Tuominen, Jessica Weimer, Debra Waddell and Nataša Kesler) produced two documents:

  1. Cascadia Core Teaching Practices” – this document gives detailed descriptions of Cascadia’s student-centered approach, including what our learning outcomes look like in the classroom, and explains the key elements of our learning and teaching environment: assessment of student learning, student access and integrated education. (ERIC’S NOTE…I think every employee should read this.)
  2.  “How to use the Course Outcomes Guide” by Tori Saneda– is a step by step guide written specifically for faculty to help them use course outcome guide to prepare their courses and plan assessments.

TLA now uses the Cascadia Core Teaching Practices  document to help plan and guide its work. To introduce a wider audience to the documents they are conducting a Core Teaching Approaches workshop series. This fall they presented Core Teaching Approaches 101 and plan Core Teaching Approaches 102 & 103 for Winter and Spring.

Group #2: Intercultural Scholars

Chari Davenport, Michelle White, Sarah Zale, Kristina Kellerman and Jessica Weimer attended the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication at Reed College in Portland, Oregon in preparation for their work on infusing intercultural competency into the Cascadia curriculum. Their summer work lead to the development of a CANVAS archive of readings and assignments. Look for a version of this site to be shared out soon.  Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, members of this group—Cascadia’s Intercultural Scholars—will be piloting activities in their courses and facilitating discussions and workshops focused on developing student, faculty, and staff intercultural competency.

Group #3: Basic Ed

Dave Dorratcague undertook substantial ESL Course Outcome Guide revisions during Summer 2016 to bring our ESL program into alignment with new federal and state mandates, emphasizing pathways into college and careers from Basic Education for Adults. Previous ESL COGs were based on the Washington Adult Learning Standards. A number of changes in Basic Education at the federal and state level required that we update the ESL COGs to address new standards and expectations. All six levels of ESL are now required to align with the College and Career Readiness Standards and integrate math and employability skills. Dave wrangled all of those requirements into new COGs that reflected up-to-date ESL practices. The new COGs are scheduled to go to SLC for a first read in early November. I also appreciate all of Kathy Biagi’s summer work on behalf of Basic Ed for Adults and she provided a great synopsis to our Trustees earlier this fall.

Group #4: Instructional Design

Lindsay Custer, Robyn Ferret, Jessica Ketcham, Sharon Saxton, Natalie Serianni, Anne Tuominen with the support of Brandy Long worked on instructional design and hybrid module development for English 101, Sociology 150, and Math 141.  During the summer, these faculty developed a set of course designs/assignments, most of which are already in use. Lindsay and Anne established a shared space in Canvas for a SOC 150 teaching repository and added to it some key classroom assignments/activities that have the potential to become common assignments across sections of SOC 150. The English faculty developed a common ENGL 101 “diagnostic assignment” that is being piloted in all fall hybrid and online sections. An online module guides students across these sections in writing a summary of the same Washington Post article. Students’ responses are assessed with a five-dimension rubric that is aligned with a set self-guided activities. Sharon consolidated in WAMAP both problem sets and a course design that guides students in testing their understanding of course topics and asking their questions before they come to class, enabling faculty to customize face-to-face classes around what their students need to learn in order to progress through a pre-calculus class. Her work will support flipping face-to-face math classes and teaching more effective hybrid courses.

Thanks for the great work. Have a great few weeks and I’ll check back when I can.

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