Thursday, March 12, 2020

Syllabus | Relaxing 101

Because I work best as a student, I’ve decided to create syllabi for myself quarterly throughout the year. Syllabi will depend on what I need most importantly af any given moment, or may be updates of long term plans. Following is one of my syllabi for for “winter term.” I’ll be writing my reflections here, so I wanted to provide the syllabi first. My other syllabus for this “term” will be in a separate post. 

I copied and pasted a template regular syllabus which I then partially edited. Everything in bold is from me, everything else is from the original template. 
... ... ...
Relaxing 101Winter 2020
Course Goals
Become more comfortable with “pointless” activities such as watching movies or reading (and get myself away from the whole idea that I used to read too much because that’s just toxic bullshit that’s killing my joy). 
What are the big ideas that you are going to cover in your course? What are the essential understandings that students will take away with them after the course has finished? It is important to define these course goals, as they will help you determine what you expect from your students, and what your students can expect from the course.
Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes
Outcome: to have exposed myself to more fun things that I feel guilty for doing. If I still feel guilty that’s ok, point is to help me get used to it (just like I slowly got used again to spending time outdoors; I managed that, I can do this). 
Designing outcomes is essential to designing your course and is a valuable element to have in your syllabus. The outcomes are usually statements that are verb oriented and directed at the students. For example: “Students will be able to identify key geomorphological formations on a Southern Alberta map.” This example uses the verb identify, which is a lower level thinking skill. A higher order thinking skill is incorporated in the next example: “Students will be able to read and analyze population maps interpreting any trends the data may show.”
Assessment Overview and Plan
At this point I think it’s best for me to just take things as they come, and not worry about grading. Any movement is movement forward, if only in that it’s getting me more comfortable with the idea relaxing. 
The assessment overview is a grading guide that allows students to see what weightings can apply to the different assessment elements of a course. An example of an assessment overview is below.
Quizzes: 50%Participation: 5%Journal Assignments: 20%Team Assignment: 10%Final Exam: 15%
As well as including the overview of grading, a grading scale should be identified for the students, so they understand at what level they are performing. Grade scales can range between faculties and departments. It is best that you check with your department and faculty and use the scale they wish you to use.
Assessment plans are built in line with student learning objectives. Student learning objectives state what students will learn while your assessment plan states how you, as an instructor, will gather evidence for achievement of the objectives. The assessment plan will detail the type of assessments that will occur within the course structure, how they will be marked, and how they provide evidence of student learning. Your assessment plan will more than likely consist of multiple assessments ranging from online examinations to essays and group projects. Different assessments can and should be used to find evidence for multiple outcomes.
Schedule of Activities
1. Catch up on various Marvel universe movies2. Listen to Old Man and the Sea3. When I feel guilty for doing fun things while my life is still fucked up, sit with that feeling IF if I have the emotional energy to do so and question it4. Finish listening to the Abhorsen trilogy5. Read other books and watch other movies as I feel like it6. In March do some sort of reflection on my experiences; note that I’m intentionally leaving this vague 
This portion of the outline should be built once the plan has been made. Once you understand how you want to assess your students, you can create activities that help facilitate the learning that needs to be done to help students achieve the objectives. Course activities should work in parallel with the assessment plan. If students need to provide evidence of learning by completing a multiple choice exam, then the activities in the schedule should prepare them for this assessment. Lectures, readings, small group and whole group discussions can all be activities that help the student meet their learning objectives.
Plagiarism Announcement
Because a syllabus must have a plagiarism section. 
Due to student privacy issues, if you wish to submit your student’s work through a plagiarism detection service such as Turnitin, you must inform your students that you are going to do so. Furthermore, if students request an alternative method of plagiarism detection because of privacy concerns, you must provide them with an alternate option.
Reading List
1. Various Marvel movies (lets go with 5 of them, can include any I’ve already seen) 2. Audiobook: Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway3. Audiobooks: Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix
It is a good idea to put the readings for the course within the syllabus. What you include may simply be a reference to a textbook, or it may be many references to online readings. Listed readings will allow students, administrators, and other educators see what content will is to be covered within the course. Listed readings also allow students to prepare for your course and acquire the texts needed. If the location of your readings is within a Learning Management System such as Moodle, it is still a good idea to list these readings within the syllabus.



Syllabus | Learning how to learn 101

Because I work best as a student, I’ve decided to create syllabi for myself quarterly throughout the year. Syllabi will depend on what I need most importantly af any given moment, or may be updates of long term plans. Following is one of my syllabi for for “winter term.” I’ll be writing my reflections here, so I wanted to provide the syllabi first. My other syllabus for this “term” will be in a separate post. 

I copied and pasted a template regular syllabus which I then partially edited. Everything in bold is from me, everything else is from the original template. 

... ... ...

Learning how to learn 101
Winter 2020

Course Goals

I lost many of my skills during my “anxiety meltdown” during fill in the year. One skill that I lost along the way is how to learn, which I hadn’t even allowed myself to embrace my best way of learning beforehand. The goal of this course is to 1) explore how I learn best these days (which may not be the same methods of learning as before) and to 2) practice learning. 

What are the big ideas that you are going to cover in your course? What are the essential understandings that students will take away with them after the course has finished? It is important to define these course goals, as they will help you determine what you expect from your students, and what your students can expect from the course.

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

1. I will have a better understanding of how I learn best
2. I will have practiced several learning methods on several different subjects
3. I will have practiced honoring the speed at which I naturally learn 

Designing outcomes is essential to designing your course and is a valuable element to have in your syllabus. The outcomes are usually statements that are verb oriented and directed at the students. For example: “Students will be able to identify key geomorphological formations on a Southern Alberta map.” This example uses the verb identify, which is a lower level thinking skill. A higher order thinking skill is incorporated in the next example: “Students will be able to read and analyze population maps interpreting any trends the data may show.”

Assessment Overview and Plan

My mental health being what it is, I don’t think it would be healthy for me to have a firm assessment overview or plan. My current working level is on the Brownies version of badges, which were try-its; we got credit for just trying. 

The assignments I make for myself are based on subjects I am already learning and learning methods I am already exploring or thinking about. If one or several don’t work and would best be abandoned then that is absolutely ok; the goal of learning more about how I learn will still have been accomplished. 

The assessment overview is a grading guide that allows students to see what weightings can apply to the different assessment elements of a course. An example of an assessment overview is below.

Quizzes: 50%
Participation: 5%
Journal Assignments: 20%
Team Assignment: 10%
Final Exam: 15%

As well as including the overview of grading, a grading scale should be identified for the students, so they understand at what level they are performing. Grade scales can range between faculties and departments. It is best that you check with your department and faculty and use the scale they wish you to use. 

Assessment plans are built in line with student learning objectives. Student learning objectives state what students will learn while your assessment plan states how you, as an instructor, will gather evidence for achievement of the objectives. The assessment plan will detail the type of assessments that will occur within the course structure, how they will be marked, and how they provide evidence of student learning. Your assessment plan will more than likely consist of multiple assessments ranging from online examinations to essays and group projects. Different assessments can and should be used to find evidence for multiple outcomes.

Schedule of Activities

Learning methods to explore:
1) Art
2) Journaling
3) Creative writing 
4) Organizing hand written notes in a binder by topic
5) Watching and rewatching relevant YouTube videos by trusted channels
   a. Take notes as I feel like it
   b. Passive/background learning is totally a legit thing and I’ve already seen how that helps me build structure to help me build actual understanding on

Topics
1. Snakes; wherever that may take me
2. Local birds 
   a. Identify those that feed at our back porch
   b. Begin to learn basic stuff such as where they nest, what they eat, etc. 
3. Too many physics topics to list
   a. Anything quantum mechanics
   b. Black holes
   c. Overall timeline of the universe
   d. These are way too broad but seriously my curiosity is taking me all over the place, and at this point in time I think that’s a thing to indulge 
4. Genetics
   a. Bettas
   b. Snakes?
   c. Guppies
5. ASL; this could potentially help so much with when I freeze or otherwise can’t make myself talk (and hopefully people around me will learn some)

The learning methods and topics are to be combined however and wherever my curiosity and compulsion takes me, including potentially learning methods and subjects I haven’t laid out here. There are, however, a few particular projects I would like to work on. These projects do not need to be in any way “completed” by the beginning of summer, the and the ultimate goal remains helping me learn how I best learn. If any of these seem to impede my learning for any reason at all, it will be in my best interest to step away from the subject and/or method of learning for a bit before reassessing. 

Projects
1) Physics
   a. Get notes organized into a binder
   b. Creative writing; even if I only write a very little on the Hailee project, that’s ok, I just want to write some on it 
2) Fish genetics
   a. Outline my basic goals for my Queens’ line breeding project 
   b. Outline of my basic goals for my Sunrise guppies breeding project
   c. Outline of my basic goals for my unnamed guppy project 
   d. Outline what I want for my ideal betta breeding project 
   e. Create a reasonable timeline (how many baby batches, how long it takes them to grow, etc.) for each current breeding project 
   f. Figure out more about genetics so that I have more of an idea of how to predict what I’ll get (seriously I don’t have to learn much to accomplish this goal) 
3) Birds
   a. Paint birds as I learn about them
   b. Observe, perhaps take notes about birds on our back porch 
   c. Look stuff up about the species as I learn to recognize what’s what
4) Snakes
   a. Continue my highly disorganized notebook about the different species 
   b. Maybe paint some snakes 
5) ASL: just watching YouTube videos and practicing the signs with the videos as I feel able to
6) Rest: figure out what this looks like
7) In early March do some sort of reflection on my experiences. I’m intentionally leaving this vague. 

This portion of the outline should be built once the plan has been made. Once you understand how you want to assess your students, you can create activities that help facilitate the learning that needs to be done to help students achieve the objectives. Course activities should work in parallel with the assessment plan. If students need to provide evidence of learning by completing a multiple choice exam, then the activities in the schedule should prepare them for this assessment. Lectures, readings, small group and whole group discussions can all be activities that help the student meet their learning objectives.

Plagiarism Announcement

I mean, duh, but you can’t have a syllabus without this section. 

Due to student privacy issues, if you wish to submit your student’s work through a plagiarism detection service such as Turnitin, you must inform your students that you are going to do so. Furthermore, if students request an alternative method of plagiarism detection because of privacy concerns, you must provide them with an alternate option.

Reading List

Birds
1. Birds of the Pacific Northwest by John Shewey and Tim Blount
2. Birds of the Willamette Valley Region by Harry Nehls
3. Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by Knopf publishing thingy 
4. Online resources 

Physics (YouTube channels)
1. PBS Space Time
2. PBS Infinite Series
3. Crash Course Astronomy
4. SciShow Space
5. Minute Physics 
6. Up and Atom
7. Etc. 

Snakes (YouTube channel)
1) Snake Discovery 
2) Montana Animal Wonders
3) Etc. 

Subjects I’ll have to identify good sources for:
1) Genetics
2) ASL

It is a good idea to put the readings for the course within the syllabus. What you include may simply be a reference to a textbook, or it may be many references to online readings. Listed readings will allow students, administrators, and other educators see what content will is to be covered within the course. Listed readings also allow students to prepare for your course and acquire the texts needed. If the location of your readings is within a Learning Management System such as Moodle, it is still a good idea to list these readings within the syllabus

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Eyesight and Glasses

I used to be able to do this thing where I’d tense my eyes and be able to see fine. Some people have known what I’m talking about, others haven’t, I think I’ve just been using eye muscles that a lot of people can’t use without squinting.

I’ve been losing the ability to do this over the last couple years, which is unpleasant but not surprising. I knew my “good” eyesight (that is, being able to tense my eyes to see clearly despite needing bifocals to not get headaches) wouldn’t last forever.

Now I keep finding myself disoriented when things aren’t coming into focus like they used to, and I think it’s time I recognize that this has got to be contributing in some part to my perception of reality being off. (Definitely doesn’t account for all of it, but it would still be a bit disturbing even without my regular dissociation.)

Also, I need new glasses. *sigh*