January brings with it the comfortable familiarity of a completed fall semester and the newness and opportunities of a spring semester waiting to begin.
ISU central campus during the winter
CELT Teaching Tip • January 14, 2021
Five strategies for a successful start for your students
January brings with it the comfortable familiarity of a completed fall semester and the newness and opportunities of a spring semester waiting to begin. Before the first day of the semester, consider these strategies to promote student success.

  • Welcome students. Send a welcoming email or Canvas announcement to your class (see the communication strategies page). Let students know where and when the first class session occurs: in person or online, how to access the Canvas course page, include a copy of the syllabus, and share your student office hours. This welcome sets the stage for prepared students on the first day of class.
  • Do a readiness assessment. On the first day of class, include a short, no-stakes quiz with a mixture of prerequisite knowledge questions and topics that students will encounter in the course. This readiness assessment can provide you with diagnostic information about the new class. Further, providing the correct answer to the questions can serve as an early resource for content review. Get started by using the Quizzes and Exams strategies page.
  • Ask students for their goals. No matter the class size, ask students why they signed up for the class and how it will help them achieve their goals. Students can complete this information (including name and pronoun preferences) in word or sentence format using Qualtrics. Display the Qualtrics word cloud results in real-time or share them during the next class session.
  • Give a syllabus quiz. Instead of a detailed syllabus reading, give a short syllabus quiz in the first week of the term (see CELT's Sample syllabus quiz questions page). This method is an easy first assignment win for students and can lessen potential anxiety about course expectations and grading.
  • Make Connections. Prepare a small follow-up assignment in which students actively engage and make a connection with the course material and their lives. Perhaps this is finding a news article or social media post related to your course content. Maybe it is asking students to identify something within their lives impacted by the course topic. At the next class session, create triads of students to share the information. This strategy is beneficial if you use permanent triads for discussion and project teams throughout the semester and further connections with content and between classmates. Find additional ideas for engagement on the Ideas to create a welcoming, engaging, and inclusive classroom page along with the Engaging Students Online page

Continue to read the CELT Teaching Tip for the Start of the Semester Checklist, Instructional Tools & Updates, the CELT Teaching Spotlight, and CELT Upcoming Programs. The CELT staff eagerly awaits meeting and working with you in spring 2021!

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Final grade submission for Winter Session due by Jan. 25 (9 p.m.)
Winter Session grades in Canvas will post to record with Spring Semester final grade processing on Tuesday, May 11, by 2:15 p.m. Use this End of Semester Checklist to submit final grades and conclude your Canvas course.
Are you preparing to teach?
Use the Start of Semester Checklist to create your Canvas course, specify your course settings, choose a homepage, and make your course available to students.

  • Spring Semester 2021 begins on Mon., Jan. 25, and ends Thurs., May 6.

See something new in an instructional tool you use?
Updates occurred on Dec. 2 with Canvas, ISU Admin Tools, Webex, TurnItIn, Panopto, and Piazza.

Attend training from ISU learning tech partners
Discover features for a number of the ISU Instructional Tools via the opportunities listed on the Training from ISU learning tech partners page. For pedagogical ideas, visit the Instructional Strategies page or email celt-help@iastate.edu.

Are you interested in using a tool not listed at ISU?
Did you recently learn about a new technology you would like to see Iowa State implement? Do you already use a technology that recently created a connection app for Canvas? Read the Overview of Steps in the App Review and Approval Process, then submit a request to have the app reviewed for use at Iowa State University. 

Stay up-to-date on ISU-approved learning technologies
Bookmark the CELT's Instructional Tools News & Updates page. Questions about these updates? Email celt-help@iastate.edu.
CELT Teaching Spotlight: Claudia Lemper-Manahl
Dr. Claudia Lemper-Manahl, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology has spent twenty-four years teaching at Iowa State University. Recently, Lemper-Manahl received the Excellence in Face-to-Face Instruction COVID-19 Exceptional Effort Awards for, "leadership and creativity in ensuring the safety of students and staff in undergraduate in-person microbiology labs."
Lemper-Manahl's advice for teaching:

Bringing students back into the laboratory with COVID safety precautions presented one of the biggest challenges of my teaching career. Laboratory courses are close contact and involve partners, teams, shared equipment, and many demonstrations. My advice to others teaching lab courses to ensure biosafety:
  • Educate the students before attending class with detailed videos demonstrating the expected safety protocols, including entering the building, classroom, and how to wear PPE.
  • Providing all lecture material, quizzes, experimental protocol demos, results, and discussions on Canvas for any students unable to attend the in-person offering.
  • Sending weekly updates and summary of assignments via a video message to aid students with organization and overview of the week's expectations.

I highly recommend the training I participated in this past summer that helped me improve my Canvas course and teaching tools for my course's remote portions. CELT offered a Summer Course Design Institute including Quality Matters and the ISU Template. It was so helpful to have experts available to answer questions and guide all of the instructors on best practices for online delivery.
Iowa State University campus with Morrill Hall in the middle
CELT Programming (Jan. 14-Feb. 5)
Find our program listing with descriptions along with the registration information on each corresponding page on CELT’s programming schedule via ISU’s Events Calendar website.

Would you like to see upcoming programs by topic?
Award-Winning Seminar Series
Tips for Converting Traditional Courses Online with SoJung Lee (Jan. 21, 2-3 pm)
SoJung Lee, Associate Professor (AESHM), 2020 College of Human Sciences Online Teaching Award-winner, shares her top tips for converting a traditional course into an online environment. Originally a 50-student traditional class once a year, Dr. Lee's online global tourism course now hosts more than 120 students every semester.

How do we provide structure and information to students without overwhelming them? What are great ways to encourage students to be connected and interactive throughout the semester? Participants will leave this session with tips for tweaking online courses.

Register for this program using this Zoom form.
Mentoring graduate students with Kevin Schalinske (Feb. 2, 12:10-1 pm)
How do you give your mentees the freedom to fail but provide them with the structure they need to excel? How do you walk the line between being an authority figure in their lives and a future colleague and collaborator? How do you frame difficult conversations, so they become valuable learning experiences?

Kevin Schalinske, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award-winner, shares his top tips for fostering a productive and welcoming environment for graduate students.

Register for this program using this Webex form.
Where to go for support
A red button with a question mark and Help in white writing
For help with Canvas, contact Canvas Support via the ?Help menu in Canvas:
  • Chat with Canvas Support use the live chat tool
  • Ticket support. Open the ?Help menu in Canvas and click Report a Problem.
  • 24/7 phone support. Call 515-294-4000 (listen to prompts to connect to Canvas support).
  • Find answers to common questions in the Canvas Instructor Guides.
  • Use the resources in the Canvas @ ISU site.

For technical support, contact the ISU Solution Center:
  • Email solution@iastate.edu
  • Call 515-294-4000 and follow the prompts to receive support from Solution Center staff

Receive one-to-one assistance for teaching with technology with the CELT Response Team,
  • Beginning on Jan. 19, the CELT Response Team will be available for consultations Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. each day. To request assistance, call the Team at 515-294-5357.
  • You may connect with our CELT instructional designers for support or pedagogical consultations by emailing your course title, describing the question or issues you have, and the steps to replicate it to celt-help@iastate.edu. This step will also create a ServiceNow ticket for easy tracking.
  • Additionally, you may wish to contact one of the support units directly. Please note which program, department, or college each unit serves and contact the unit for your area.
Prefer a Print version?
To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with the web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for January 14, 2021 (PDF) (https://bit.ly/3bEDqcG)