All posts by Carolyn Samuel

Academic Associate at McGill's Teaching and Learning Services.; former Senior Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre; area of specialization: Second Language Education; loves teaching and learning; will work for chocolate (Photo credit: Owen Egan)

New Peer Assessment Website launched by Teaching and Learning Services


by Diane Maratta and Carolyn Samuel

Have you been thinking of using Peer Assessment (PA) in any of your courses? We, at Teaching and Learning Services (TLS), have added a new “PA” section to our website with resources to support instructors who wish to implement PA in their courses. Continue reading New Peer Assessment Website launched by Teaching and Learning Services

I came upon a student in distress


 

One afternoon last fall, I went to the washroom in the McLennan Library. Unexpectedly, I heard sobbing coming from one of the stalls. I bent over to look for the shoes that would indicate which stall the sobbing was coming from. I saw the shoes; I also saw a bum in jeans. Someone was sitting on the floor of the stall sobbing uncontrollably. I knocked on the door and asked, “Do you need help?” No response other than more sobbing. I knocked again. This time I said, “My name is Carolyn Samuel. I work down the hall at Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). Can you open the door?” There was no vocal reply, but I heard the latch click. Gently, I pushed the door open. She was a student. She sat sobbing and didn’t even look up when I opened the door. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder. She nodded. I was hoping the human touch would provide her with some comfort in what was clearly a time of despair. “Can you tell me your name? Your first name only.” She did. With some coaxing, we went together to my office. She continued to sob. I asked only a few questions. She was an undergraduate student from Toronto. It was her first semester. She felt she was falling behind. She agreed to walk with me to the Office of the Dean of Students. On the way, she stopped suddenly. Still sobbing, she blurted, “I can’t go! I have to be in class now or I’ll fall behind even more!” She was in no condition to go to class. With a little more coaxing, we made it to the Brown Building, where I left her in the hands of the staff at the Office of the Dean of Students.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you found a student in distress on campus? If you’ve never thought about it, you probably should. Continue reading I came upon a student in distress

Taking audiences’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds into consideration when communicating at mcgill


A recent publication entitled Twelve tips for promoting learning during presentations in cross cultural settings provides “tips for educators to consider when planning and delivering formal presentations (e.g. lectures and workshops) in cross cultural settings” (Saiki, Snell, & Bhanji, 2017, p. 1). I’d like to highlight the relevance of these tips to communication at McGill—through classroom instruction, meeting presentations, Town Hall talks, etc.—in light of the cultural and linguistic diversity at this institution. Continue reading Taking audiences’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds into consideration when communicating at mcgill

Informal Talking Teaching Communities: Spread the Word!


In the 2015-2016 academic year, McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) launched The Lunch Spot—an informal lunch-time forum where all of the university’s instructors were invited to bring their brown bag lunches and gather for some informal talking about teaching. Working with the principle “if you feed them, they will come,” TLS encouraged partaking in The Lunch Spot with the offer of home-made sweet treats.*

The Lunch Spot continues this year at McGill’s TLS on the following dates: Friday, September 30, 2016 (please register) and Friday, January 27, 2017.

Given that I practically live for talking about teaching and that I have a sweet tooth, I participated in The Lunch Spot at every opportunity during the 2015-2016 academic year. It was time incredibly well spent: I met instructors from a variety of disciplines with whom I shared some of my favourite instructional strategies and from whom I got some motivating ideas. (I actually got one really cool idea from an Engineering professor about how to encourage students to pay attention to test and exam instructions.) Continue reading Informal Talking Teaching Communities: Spread the Word!

What’s the prof gonna ask?


Every August, I teach a 3-credit course at McGill called Academic English Seminar, which is an academic skills course for incoming undergraduate students who speak English as a second or other language. The course runs 39 hours over 13 days. It’s intended to support students’ transition from high school or CEGEP learning to university learning. Every time I teach the course, I introduce at least one new topic or one new learning strategy. Last year, the new topic was the learning merits of taking handwritten notes versus laptop notes. This year, I introduced students to a study strategy to help them address a question students frequently pose when they’re studying together for a test: What’s the prof gonna ask? The strategy was the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy of levels of learning to the creation of questions as a means for anticipating what information professors might deem important in the readings they assign. I encouraged students to think: Why would the professor have assigned this reading? What are the salient points the professor wants me to draw from this reading? Continue reading What’s the prof gonna ask?

Daring to try new teaching strategies in your course


This post featuring Prof. Rhonda Amsel is the latest installment in our ongoing series about assessment tools for large classes. On June 12, 2015, Rhonda was the guest speaker at a session entitled Daring to Try New Teaching Strategies in your Large Class.

Rhonda Amsel teaches stats … stats classes of 300-400 undergrads from across the disciplines. She’s been teaching stats for over 40 years, and as suggested by the title of her presentation, not only is she not complacent about her teaching, but it’s obvious she still enjoys it. With her wry sense of humour, she quipped that teaching in an auditorium provides many of the challenges of a live performance, like Math-donna in front of an audience (but with more conservative costumes.) Continue reading Daring to try new teaching strategies in your course