Gateway Conference 2014

The John N. Gardner (institute that was foundational in bringing an understanding of the importance of the FYE to the national conversation) Annual Gateway Course Experience Conference March 23-25, 2014 was again well worth the investment to attend (in spite of terrible travel in and out of Indianapolis!)

See my post from last year to get an understanding of the term “gateway” course.

Again, excellent keynote speakers and worthwhile sessions (from diverse institutional contexts) on helping students succeed through gateway courses. Handouts and presentation links here.

1) Jennifer Keup’s presentation on the National Resource Center First Year Experience (FYE) and Students in Transition (SIT) was fabulous. As the Director of the center, Jennifer was articulate and well versed in the research behind best practice as well as current and future trends in both areas. The center is part of the the University of South Carolina and blends the best of research and dissemination to multiple audiences of important lessons learned in the field. Access their resources at Of particular recent interest is their new publication: 2012-2013 National Survey of First-Year Seminars: Exploring High-Impact Practices in the First College Year

2) Onondaga Community College presented  Post-Freshman Summer Bridge Program which was really interesting! Students in challenging STEM gateway courses (think A & P, biology, chem, physics, math, computer science) who were not successful during the first year, re-take the gateway course in a 6-week summer intensive program with intensive support. Tuition, textbooks, and lunch were provided for all accepted participants in the program. During the program, students attend class, then attend a 1-hour recitation where a tutor reviews the material. Students then attend a group session for the next hour where they solve problems in groups. A third hour is provided for one-on-one assistance as needed. Wellness sessions and academic coaching sessions were integrated into the program. Chemistry II and Calculus I were offered in the first year with 86% and 94% success rates. Fifty percent of students in the program continued in the following fall semester into advanced STEM courses. Success is being tracked.

3) Roadmap to Hispanic Students’ Retention & Academic Success in Gateway Courses – U. Texas at Brownsville – Mandatory paired courses and supplemental instruction using peer tutors (with careful faculty oversight) for students in gateway courses. Tutors receive 25 hours of training, must have 3.0 GPA and be referred by faculty members. Tutors are paid. Students needing tutoring are placed in mandatory learning communities consisting of 2 linked courses with tutoring for each course. UT Brownsville fall-to-fall retention rate for non-paired students 61% versus 77% retention for students in paired courses.

4) Co-Requisite Experience at Ivy Tech - I saw the ALP model presenters from CCBC last year at Gateway which supported the suggestion to pair our first semester ENGL comp course with a support course with great first semester success. Ivy Tech is working on integrating a complete co-req model across the vast institution. Math and English success rates are not as compelling as they would like in the first iteration. However, this could be due not to the co-req model, but because earlier in their history, they had to cut the number of developmental courses in the sequence, shortening the amount of time students have in developmental courses. I suspect that this could be confounding their findings and they may need to go back to an extended model. I don’t know if funding or political pressure will allow for that in the end…

I should also mention that the conference last year, really set the stage for the project we carried out this past AY on pairing courses, and led to our presentation at this year’s conference and a paper submission… very productive with lots of impact.


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Springboarding in SoTL

As we worked on our paired course project (just submitted our first paper – yeah and fingers crossed!), it occurred to us how to articulate our librarian’s role in the project. Since 2010, I had been trying to build SoTL interest on campus. This paired course project is the first formal SoTL project to get through the pipeline. There is so much to learn from IRB requirements to setting up the project and planning for data collection, to presenting and publishing the findings… It requires an understanding of statistical analysis as well… so I realized that I was learning a lot in the last year and a half and the best way to teach someone is to show them… So we invited Barb Eshbach, our Head Librarian, who is now on the tenure track, to join us as a “springboard partner”. We intended this to mean that she would be with us every step of the way, learning and helping in the project. In so doing, she would be better positioned to start her own project this spring, having learned through our mistakes and successes! It has worked out wonderfully. Now she will invite a springboard partner to join her on her project… and on we go!!!

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SoTL Project moving ahead!

We got an impetus to move forward quickly with the paper portion of our fall paired course project. A call for papers from the Journal of Excellence in College Teaching on innovations in STEM curriculum seems like a really good fit for our paper!! A March 1 deadline means we have to get the lead out… originally we planned on writing it this summer, but we have to at least try for this. Still need to add the discussion, conclusion and fold in the lit search. The really amazing and powerful thing in this part of the project is the insights that keep coming as we work on a section, step back to talk about it, and move forward again. Amazingly rich learning opportunity. What’s next? Get the presentations done…upcoming PSY practice run, TLT Symposium, John Gardner’s Gateway Course Conference, and the Lilly Conference.

2 grant applications submitted to help us continue this work next year.

A few more days of burning the midnight oil, and a milestone will be under the belt… Then I can start writing up a How-to guide for other faculty interested in doing an SoTL project. I can’t say enough about the richness of the learning.

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Video Lectures to get through the Winter Snow Days

Will all these snow days (and the weather outlook this week), you may be worried about falling behind in your classes – but no need! There are many ways these days to record a lecture and keep students up to speed.
1) You can record in Adobe Connect which has the capability to simultaneously show PowerPoints, have a white board, screen share to demo a software, or show about a website. The recording produced a link which you can send to your students along with an activity that you devise to have them work with your content.
2) Screen-cast-o-matic – a free screen capture application that also records your voice and/or video. You set the size of the recording screen(drag the handles to set the size) and designate the microphone, and you get 15 minutes of recording time per video. The output is a video file or direct upload to Youtube – You give your students the Youtube line and that’s it!
3) If you are using an iPad or tablet, you already probably know the multiple ways to record a lecture or whiteboard with the apps available – so if you know of any good apps that you want to share, please add it as a comment here -
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LL ED/BiSc Paired Course Update

We finished up the fall semester and are starting to analyze the data – I have early data to report – as well as a journal of the semester activities at

We are presenting at TLT Symposium, Gateway Course Experience Conference (John Gardner’s group), and hopefully at Lilly in May.

Started on the paper, too… It feels like good work – forcing me to integrate data bits, stats bits, pedagogy bits, SoTL bits – proving the point that there is nothing like authentic learning experiences.

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First Institutional Research Projects

As a result of my coursework at PSU (cert in Institutional Research) and the Data & Decisions Academy (AIR), I was able to make some serious headway on my first institutional research projects for my campus: 1) cohort study of Fall 2012 and 2013 first-time, full-time, first year students – looking at patterns/differences between the cohorts and retention patterns within the cohorts; and 2) efficacy/impact  of paired courses on campus.

The cohort study creates a baseline for on-going comparison in a longitudinal fashion. It also provided some insights for our EMT Strategic plan – for working with students in the mid to upper SAT ranges who do not persist. The paired courses study provides support to increase the number of paired courses for first-semester students given the success of ENGL 5/ENGL 15 pairing and LLED 005/BiSC 003 pairing.

This has been a serious learning curve – from data collection (understanding data warehouse and Qualtrics, for example) to data and statistical analysis (data reporting, correlation, and regression) to institutional policies (IRB & FERPA considerations), to IPEDS definitions of terms to build consistent cohorts, to increasing the number of faculty-led SoTL studies on campus – this effort has born (and I hope will continue to bear) much good fruit!

I find the more I learn, the more I NEED to learn, and I have so far to go! Importantly, I feel I have found a “hobby” that I really enjoy – working with data and learning to tell the story that the data want to reveal. As a colleague in IR at PSU Alex Yin once said, [I'm paraphrasing] – “It is like being a detective and then learning to tell the story of what the data is revealing.” I can see this will take years to really get confident at this and proficient. But I am enjoying it tremendously and little by little, I am making progress.

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Setting up an ad hoc network with Apple TV and Airport Express

At the Teaching Prof Tech Conference in Atlanta, Dr. Dave Yearwood showed us how to set-up an ad hoc network in a classroom, using the existing projector (or a second one to have a multi-media experience), Apple TV, Apple AirPort Express, and iPads.

Imagine students working on a group project/problem using the whiteboard or other app on the iPad to record their work… Groups join their iPads to the ad hoc network and are then able to easily display their work (when it’s their turn) to present to the class.  A local test worked out fine! No Internet connection though – this minimizes the security risk from sidestepping the local network protections – so our IT Director was fine with it – I’d just toggle back to the classroom computer for Internet needs – The system becomes like the modern version of the flip chart.

The presenter used Show Me Buzzer app for students to use this system in a game show format.

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Changing Role of the Faculty

Caution: Opportunity Ahead – Interesting read from edTech Digest describes a future that is already here in K-12 – Use of data and technology to create personalized learning environments.

 The article prompted me to ask myself, what is the role of the faculty in this brave new world?

So I gathered a few resources here on the changing role of the faculty:

a) AAC & U Conference – Shaping Faculty Roles in a Time of Change:  Leadership for Student Learning – look at links to podcast of keynote and other presentation slides of interest.

b) Inside Higher Ed article: A New Faculty Path

c) Presentation by Eugene Rice, Senior Scholar from AAC & U to faculty at Howard University

d) Sloan-C – Changing Role of the Faculty and Online Education

e) Faculty Do Matter: The Role of College Faculty in Student Learning and Engagement

– a Study by Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research &  Michigan State University for NSSE

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Faculty Professional Development Model

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to our e-Education Council about faculty professional development (PD) at our campus, specifically about the lifelong learning (ELLI) project which started last summer and continues into the current fall pilot.

As I thought about it, I wanted to talk about the style of PD that this undertaking represents – one that perhaps isn’t the most efficient, but certainly is extremely rich and rewarding for those involved. Looking at PD on our campus as a whole which includes the traditional methods (workshops, resources via newsletters, websites, blog postings, etc.) as well as outside opportunities (webinars by Schreyer, Educause, Campus Technology, Teaching Professor, Institutional Research, ITS Training Services, and Media Commons), this type of PD opportunity gave me pause and cause to be happy with the resources being provided to our faculty without their having to travel and take time from their busy schedules.

During my preparations for the presentation to the eEducation Council, the model below emerged as a pathway that we’ve come to follow many times now on campus. It all begins with a faculty/campus question/need… In this case, the question was, I want to try something in my classroom and know whether it made a difference or not. How can I go about it?  

Faculty Professional Development schema

As the instructional designer, I ask myself, What do we need to answer the question – training, resources, support, funding?

At the time, I didn’t feel as equipped/confident to answer the question as I would have liked… which in the end turned out to be a good thing – A learning community emerged from this organic process – and together we seek answers and understanding.

I contacted our Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at our Main Campus for support and  they asked, Who else is interested? It turns out a lot of people were! I reached out to campus instructional designers who got the word out to faculty and quickly we reached capacity for our event. In the spring of 2011, we held a wonderful colloquy on The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) on campus, and the learning path began. Maryellen Weimer, a wonderful scholar and friend to our campus, agreed to be the keynote and we had two tracks for participants: one for those interested in action research projects and the other for faculty more interested in formal SoTL studies leading to publication. Fifty faculty and staff  from multiple campuses attended the wonderful day, but in the end, I was left with the question, Now what are we going to do with what we learned?

So I went back to the cycle to ask again, what else do we need to really do an SoTL project? It seemed to me that our data analysis skills in SoTL specifically needed some work, so I began a process of building a campus data users group to help us build this skill set. Was I ready now? Well, at some point, you just have to dive in with a project and be willing to learn as you go.

So in the fall of 2012, we did our first SoTL pilot study to find out if pairing a college reading course (LL ED 005) with a content course (PSYCH 100 with Dr. Mark Casteel) would help first semester students with low SAT verbal scores to be successful.  I had to do my first IRB proposal, design the study, gather data, and analyze the results. I was able to present some of the findings at a regional conference, evaluate the process, and make changes for the following fall… all-in-all, it was an incredible learning journey.

There were mistakes and challenges, but I was happy that I was going through it, rather than a faculty member. I can see the incredible benefits of allowing instructional designers to also teach: first, it gives us a real stake in our own intellectual growth, and second, it provides a lower risk environment in which to try new processes. I don’t have to worry as much about my student evaluations as a faculty member might. So I can take more risks and try new things that others might not.

In this model, it may seem that I am the one doing most of the learning and to that I would say, yes, in the beginning, but now I am in the middle of a second iteration of the pilot, with our incorporated changes, with a second faculty member. I now feel more confident to engage him in the process since I understand it better. It has been a great collaboration (LL ED 005 and BiSc 003 Environmental Science with Dr. Jorge Santiago-Blay).  We are learning so much and incorporating it back into our paired classes to hopefully benefit our students. We’ll analyze the data in the spring, and again present – at the same time push for publication of the findings.

Additionally, this time, we needed to get funding to incorporate some of the enhancements, including the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI), and adaptive learning technology, so that added to the learning experience and also gave us the opportunity to hold another event and reach out to a wider audience. This time 27 faculty and staff from six campuses attended a 2-day summer training to use the ELLI instrument. In an effort to actually use what we are learning, we incorporated the instrument in our fall pilot and it is being used in the spring in an HDFS course (397A) by Dr. Sukhdeep Gill.

In the spring, I’ll be working with a third faculty member on a variation of the project for students who do not have low SAT scores, but are taking a challenging content-heavy course (EDPSY 014 Dr. Cora Dzubak). Again, we are working the process, and learning as we go, but it is much easier this third time around. Two additional faculty members have approached me about possible SoTL projects, so our group is growing. Next week, we convene a campus SoTL learning community which I hope will grow and thrive as a permanent place for anyone to now come and get help with the question, I want to try something in my classroom and know whether it made a difference or not. How can I go about it?  

In the end, I feel that there are perhaps more efficient ways to do faculty professional development, but I have yet to experience any that have been as rich or rewarding as this!


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New tech discovered at the Teaching Prof Tech Conference – thanks to Dr. Dave Yearwood U. of ND – What an enthusiastic educator – LOVED this speaker!!!


Speaker holds the SWIVL “marker” (the mic) and allows the SWIVL base to track you.

iPod Touch or iPhone gets set-up in the rotating base which swivels to follow the marker.

You use a free SWIVL app on the device that then allows the speaker to remotely start/stop the recording.

There is a special sports tracking mode settings that allows for different types of recordings. See how-to videos at

See a really bad (sorry!!) video from a recent class that I quickly tried to test it out with 2 different speakers..Fast forward to minute 6:44 to show the hand-off of the marker which worked fine… Watch the ability to track us… Thanks to Andrew Caldwell for being a willing Guinea pig and all around good sport!!

There are definitely issues with capturing the content – The light from the projector is too bright to capture the screen – so it looks like this works better for simply recording the speaker… Last week, I tried with student group presentations – they passed the marker as each student took a turn speaking. Let’s see what else we come up with as we play a little more!

Ideas?? Share them below!

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Teaching Professor Tech Conference

October 4-6, 2013 I attended the first ever Teaching Professor Tech Conference in Atlanta, GA. This was very well attended with over 600 attendees.

Keynotes speakers were good… sessions interesting too. I came home with ideas and gadgets to share… Summaries are below. See me for details if anything interests you! Look for these topics and more in spring workshops!!

Session Handouts:

Keynote #1Role of Faculty in 2020 Joshua Kim, Director of Learning & Technology at Dartmouth College

Driving forces? Profits… Costs… Innovation

Profits will be found in the substitution of capital for labor (larger class sizes, fewer faculty) …but beware…authentic learning does not scale

Unbundling of services and resources (like airlines move towards regional airlines…pilots have less prestige and lower wages)

Faculty should not disengage from the conversations…and should be at the table with an understanding of the cost pressures and be part of the solution.. .don’t just let Detroit happen to you… Powerpoint Handout and Weblink to Inside Higher Ed Blog entry

Will faculty positions as we know them today be only for the elite institutions and students who can actually afford to pay for a professor in the room?

Session #1 Transforming Writing Pedagogy – U. of Arkansas Little Rock & E. Oregon University

What happens when you translate F2F activities to an online environment and then back into the F2F classroom?

Very interesting presentation by 4 faculty members in traditional writing courses and content courses.. how they adjusted their activity design when courses went online… and again how this impacted the work they decided to do when they returned to the F2F classroom. Handout

Session #2 Flipped Classrooms – Florida International University presentation on their experience with flipped classrooms. Very good background info and suggestions about what works! Weblink to Prezi Presentation

Luncheon Keynote - The Vortex of Technology: Enabling and Enhancing Engagement with Students - Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning and founding director of the Center for Online Leadership and Strategy at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association Weblink to presentation

Session #3 Tools & Tips for the Beginning Screencaster – Millersville University & U. of Western Ontario – Using Mayer’s framework for multi-media learning, the presenters shared good tips for effective screencasting

Session #4 - Most dynamic individual at the conference!!  Using the iPad in Your ClassroomDavid Yearwood, University of North Dakota. Using SWIVL and an iPod Touch, the speaker showed us how to record a presentation and using Apple TV and Airport Express how to set up an ad-hoc in-class network to do group presentations and competitions using iPads. I got the SWIVL and have been testing it! See me for more information and a demo!!!

Handout 1   Handout 2   Handout 3

Session #5 Mobile Apps: Engaging Students on their Terms (and their Phones) - Northern VA Community College – using notifications and messages to engage students and keep them informed of upcoming classwork Handout

Session #6 - The Human Touch and Communication in Online Learning
Jill Schiefelbein, Arizona State University
Weblink 1    Weblink 2   Encore Presentation slide deck




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To Give Extra Credit or Not… That is the Question

A faculty member posed a question about extra credit – what is known about effectiveness, etc… so I started a search and found a few interesting morsels for us to chew on.

1) Faculty Focus article – gives the pros/cons

2) We are just starting our Early Progress Reports on struggling students – a good time perhaps to check out this article on a project using extra credit to empower the marginal student with a skills-based extra credit assignment. They had success with it!

3)I found an interesting relatively recent one from a PSU Harrisburg professor (which is a good example of an SoTL-type study!) This project pretty much supported the findings from previous studies in that:

* Females more likely than males to do extra credit
* Students in large classes more likely than those in small classes
* Students with  existing higher grades more likely than those with lower grades to do it

Important in general – make sure that extra credit assignments are educationally meaningful and relevant to content..

Reference articles
Harrison, M. A., Meister, D. G., LeFevre, A. J., (Sept. 2011). Which students complete extra credit work? College Student Journal; Vol. 45, No. 3: 550-555. ProQuest Social Sciences Premium Collection.

Junn, E. N. (Oct 1995). Empowering the marginal student: A skills-based extra credit assignment. Teaching of Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 3: 189-192.

Norcross, J.C. , Dooley, H.S. and Stevenson, J.F. (1993). Faculty use and justification of extra credit: No middle ground? Teaching of Psychology, Vol. 20, No. 4: 240-242.

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Effective Lifelong Learning Event

On July 30-31, 2013, 27 faculty and staff members from six campuses (and one from Elizabethtown College) attended a very successful two-day training event, “Helping Students Become Lifelong Learners.” See details of the event. Participants who attended both days of training, would also be prepared to use the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) in various classroom/campus projects.

Each participant took the ELLI before the workshop began and over the course of two days, we reflected on ourselves as learners, on the instrument itself, as well as effective ways to use it with students in our various contexts. ELLI measures seven dimensions of learning power identified by the researchers who developed the instrument (U. of Bristol, UK). As people explore their own profiles, they enter into dialog with experienced practitioners who help them understand themselves as learners and create an action plan for change. The integration model is one of self-reflection and conversation with an experienced mentor/instructor/adviser, etc. leading towards growth as a lifelong learner along the seven dimensions of learning power.

Participants received a detailed handbook with strategies and background on the research as well as a personal learning profile booklet that accompanies the ELLI profile.

It was really exciting to see the enthusiasm and variety of implementation ideas that came from the various campus groups. From integration into FYE courses, to use in advising conversations, to support for adult learners returning to the classroom, to use in individual classrooms, ELLI as a tool to help students become successful lifelong learners, was very well received.

Negotiations are also on-going with the UK ELLI purveyors to help our campus partners also get access for this first year to pilot their own programs as they secure funding for next year’s access. Fingers crossed we can work something out so they can do something this year.

Thanks to funding from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Teaching & Learning with Technology Operations Group, and the Penn State Libraries, we were able to hold this event and offer it to our campus and community partners. Funding will also support a fall implementation project at the York Campus. Barbara Eshbach, Jorge Santiago-Blay, and I are working on a project entitled: Using Adaptive Learning Technology (ALT) and Reflective Exercises using the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) to Improve First-Year Success in a Paired Developmental College Reading/Environmental Science Course. Our goal is to gather data to tell us whether the course pairing is effective and whether the use of ELLI and ALT impacts student success and growth over time.

Stay tuned!!!

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How Badly do you Want it?


Believe it or not… persistence pays off…. Part one of the project is happening next week! Effective Lifelong Learning training is a GO!! Part two – the fall pilot – also is able to move forward – a bumpy road, but we are moving!

So a team of us (Dr. Jorge Santiago-Blay, Dr. Cora Dzubak, Loren Brewster, Barb Eshbach, and I) wrote a grant to fund a fall project in a paired reading/environmental science course to incorporate adaptive learning technology, mobile devices, and Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) reflections. We worked so hard on it, and our hearts were totally in it, believing the project could make a big difference for first-semester students. Unfortunately, competition was stiff, and our project wasn’t funded. We were pretty devastated and sad to see so much work amount to nothing in the end. The course is offered once a year in the fall so we felt the jig was up…and yet…

What a difference a day or two can make. I still don’t know how it will turn out, but I feel more hopeful than yesterday that something will come out of this for our students! I don’t know which metaphor to use – all feel so apt… house of cards…dog with a bone… or Lazarus… We aren’t giving up – we’ve reached out for support and are seeking to build a small coalition consisting of a library microgrant, support from ETS/TLT, the Schreyer Institute, and Media Commons – If we pull this out, it will be the miracle of Lazarus for sure… But I am a hopeful person, and definitely a dog with a bone for something I believe in…and in the end, maybe this coalition built of a house of cards will stand and we’ll get to do our little project in the end…and our students will benefit!!!

Hard work (with something to show for it in the end) is its own reward.

In the meantime, we’ve done all we can do… and now we wait. Who needs TV drama – real life has enough all on its own!!!!!

Readers, please wish us luck…

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Part-time Faculty Fellowship: Course in College Teaching style :)

Finally, all the stars are in alignment – we had enough people who had the time/interest to do this, and I was able to get one-time funding for participants so this is officially a GO!!!

a cohort with 6 people – 5 sessions – relevant topics – practice teaching session = faculty fellows!!!

All times will be 12:00 – 1:30
Thursday June 13
Friday June 21
Thursday June 27
Thursday July 11
Wednesday July 17


Session 1 – Organization & Pacing
Looking at how you have the material chunked/organized at the course level
Drilling down to the lesson level (lesson planning)
Assignment: turn in one lesson plan

Session 2 – Building in active learning and engagement
Assignment: turn in one description of a class which includes active learning/engagement considerations

Session 3 – Assessment
Making sure lessons – activities – assessments are aligned
Exams are fair and course is rigorous enough
Assessment types
Weighting assessments appropriately
Assignment: an assessment overview of your course (brief – just what assessments you are using and why)

Session 4 – Classroom Management
Adding design elements for desired results
Planning for the first day and beyond

Session 5
10-minute practice lessons
Syllabus design
Assignment: turn in syllabus for feedback

Can’t wait to get started!!!

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