October 27, 2020
Volume 5, Number 6
I finally realize I’ve been #ungrading for a while

During the first half of the Spring 2020 semester I thought I had conference grading all figured out. That semester was my third iteration of using conference grading to work with undergraduate writing classes and I had developed a process to help my students prepare for our conferences that really supported the conversations I wanted to have with my developing writers. Then the pandemic happened, but it was OK. We were able to shift those conversations online and I felt a certain smugness about the robustness of my plan.

In fact, I was still so enthusiastic about this work that I convinced my friend Leslie Workman, who would be leading the Morehead Writing Project’s Online Summer Institute (OSI) with me in June, that we should adapt my 3Rs conference grading reflection process with the educators participating in the OSI. Then a funny thing happened — we made my plan better. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is one of the reasons I say that teachers need a PLN and Leslie has been inspiring me for all the years I have known her (and in fact she was one of the people who first sparked the process I use to collaboratively design standards with my students). Plus, this is exactly one of the superpowers sparked by the National Writing Project.

Ungrading Professional Development

During the OSI, which spans four weeks of intense activity, we asked the participating educators to wrap up each week with a reflection about the community’s activity and their own work as well as the lessons they learned as writers and educators. We created a master reflection HyperDoc to guide this process and the participants updated their personal version of that document each week.

We began with my 3Rs plan and asked participants to READ over the week’s activity (something you can easily do when you are asynchronous) to make note of the key takeaways, surprises, and lessons that can benefit them personally and professionally; examine their progress as a WRITER; and use a little ARITHMETIC to guide their self-assessment of their work and progress. We then asked our participating educators to set their own goals for their work – keeping in mind the stated goals that the National Writing Project has for Summer Institute Work (Teacher as Writer, Reflective Practitioner, Leader, and Researcher) as well as the implicit goal of active Community member. These are the five achievements our OSI is designed to foster.

We used the comment tool to extend the conversation by celebrating, commiserating, elaborating, or teaching as the situation required. This process made it easy for us to see their progress over the course of the OSI, but even more important, it allowed the participant to see their progress. However, perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the reflection conversation centered on the goals that the educators set for themselves.

These goals gave us such insight into the participants’ priorities, strengths, and opportunities for growth. We have long used the weekly reflection as a part of our process, but this new process was intended to help participants keep track of the important events and information that shaped their development and learning. A NWP Summer Institute is an intense experience and it is easy to lose track of lessons and ideas along the way and even easier to lose track of your own growth and development.

To continue reading this story, please click the link.

– by Deanna Mascle, Instructor English - Metawriting
Being Well In Academia:
Self-Care for Stressed Academics
There’s no doubt students and staff need mental health support, but in contrast to the peppy photos and uplifting quotes, many working or studying in universities are in crisis because of the way colleges are either causing or worsening mental health problems.

Did you hear about the academic who was asked to cancel his holiday because it coincided with a mindfulness training session at work? Or the department that sent breezy resilience tips to all staff during lockdown while requiring them to be on video at 8am each morning to check they were working. Or the universities expecting staff to field phone calls from angry parents, anxious about their adult children being quarantined.

You might have heard of cases like these, or many others like them. While universities are overshadowed by the pandemic, and in many cases in crisis mode due to poor management and lack of appropriate planning; pre-existing issues of racism, precarity, ableism, sexism, bullying, LGBTQ-phobia, celebrating overwork and competition, and classism haven’t been addressed.

Does this mean we shouldn’t bother about mental health? No! I believe passionately that we need to have as much information available to help ourselves, particularly if we don’t have institutional support. The challenge, then, is how to make such information available in a format that is acceptable to diverse academic audiences. I always begin with self-care. And by that I don’t mean the kind of self-care that’s based on trite sentiments, having access to a private chef, or displacing anxieties with alcohol or shopping. I mean beginning with you because it may be you’re the only person currently in place to help. If you commit to care for yourself as well as you would a good friend, you can begin to identify who is in your support network.

What friends or family members can you call on (even if you can’t currently see them in person?). Are there colleagues or professional networks and unions you might join? Where can you build support, to be stronger together?

To continue reading this story, please click the link.

– by Petra Boynton
Flu Shots: Today and Tomorrow

The seasonal influenza vaccine is now available to all students, faculty, and staff of MSU at the Counseling and Health Services Clinic, located at 112 Allie Young Hall. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea as the protection will last throughout the flu season. If you have insurance, you must bring your insurance card at the time of service. Most insurance plans will require no copay to get the flu vaccine. If you do not have insurance, a self-pay option is available upon request. Students and MSU faculty/staff may call Counseling and Health Services at 606-783-2055 to make an appointment. 

Please print and complete this downloadable form and bring it with you at the time of your visit. Completing this form will drastically reduce your wait time.
Counseling and Health Services will also offer two pop-up flu clinics:
  • Tues., Oct. 27, 11:45 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Alumni Tower patio
  • Wed., Oct. 28, 11:45 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Rocky Adkins Dining Commons patio
We encourage all on-campus housing residents to take advantage of the pop-up flu clinics to get their flu vaccines.
Call For Sharers
Hello MSU Educators,

The FCTL is asking you to share what you are doing in your classes. We would like to put together a webinar/presentation of your efforts so others can benefit from what you are doing. The goal is to share the good work we are doing and build a repository of teaching and learning strategies, techniques, tools and approaches that will benefit our students and us in improving our teaching and learning.

Here are a couple of formats to consider:
Eagle Insight: 20 minute presentation/sharing with 10 minutes for Q&A
Eagle Aerie: 45 minute presentation/sharing with 15 minutes for Q&A

We are looking for sharing to support:
  • Course Design and strategies
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Accessibility
  • Course Materials
  • Course Interactions
  • Assessments
  • Technology

Your sharing can be for face-to-face, hybrid and/or online delivery.

We are not looking for perfection, we are looking to share, celebrate, and build awareness and community around teaching and learning.

If you would like to share, send an email to fctl@moreheadstate.edu and identify the area your sharing will connect, the modality, and we will go from there.

Looking forward to hearing from you dynamic Eagle Educators!
What I Love About Teaching
Response from Jody Fernandez:
I love the students at MSU. They are bright, engaged, and eager to learn. I love watching them grow as future middle grades educators, and I love their passion for teaching. I know MSU is graduating teachers than can and will change the future of the students they meet. They give me hope.

Jody Fernandez - Associate Professor Education
Response from Jennifer Birriel:
The thing I love the most is getting students excited about science and the constant learning that I have to do myself in order to explain things better or answer new and interesting questions that students have about physics.

– Jennifer Birriel - Professor Physics

We need your response so click here to share.
Blackboard Buzz
Grade Details
Do you want to check your student's score trend? Do you want to change the grade value of some specific assignments? Try Grade Details feature, a great tool for grading management.

It is very necessary to maintain the seriousness and consistency of course grading. From the Grade Center, instructors can view Grade Details to see attempts, assign grades, and view the grade history.

This YouTube tutorial demonstrates how to use Grade Center to review grade details. Email msuonline@moreheadstate.edu for additional information and on-campus support.
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University