This post describes a technique I use to plan an organize a course from scratch. I learned this technique from Dr. Brian O'Shea.

At Michigan State University (MSU) my official title is curriculum specialist. I have the unique opportunity to help develop entirely new courses for a brand new department (Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering CMSE, EST 2015).

My colleague (Dr. Brian O'Shea) showed me a nice trick to organize my semester and brainstorm ideas to do a better job with backward design and matching up my lessons to my learning goals. I make a grid of 3 rows with 5 columns on a whiteboard. Each box represents one week of the semester (15 total). I then use post-it notes to write down ideas and place them on the board. This is a brainstorming stage where all ideas are equal. If I do this early enough I can leave the board up and move the sticky notes around as I think about my learning goals.

MarkerBoard Grid

I recently moved away from the whiteboard and use a blank wall in my office. I created the grid with painters tape. This leaves my whiteboard open for other ideas and lets me put up a board really early. For example, it is June and I have a board up for my Spring Course on Parallel programming.

Painters Tape Wall

Since I have been desinging many courses I may just leave the painters tape up.

White Noise and Teaching

Wed 23 May 2018 by Dr. Dirk Colbry

It can be difficult to be the first student to talk in a quite classroom. I have been experimenting with the use of white noise to raise the overall din in the room and encourage taking more quickly.

When I teach I try to encourage peer and group discussions. Activities …

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