Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tentative Schedule

Here is my first stab at a very interesting schedule:

Learning-Centered Teaching Workshop
July 29 – August 1


Sunday, July 29
9-11                 SoTaL Group
                        Overview of SoTaL
                        Role during the workshop
11-11:45          Break
11:45 – 1:45    Both Groups
                        Overview of workshop
                        Assigning group, names, and leaders
                        Assign HW
                        Explain and assign mentors
                        *Leaders meet

Monday, July 30
9-11                 Instruction
                        Lesson Plans
                        Student Engagement
                        Activity Design
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Groups
                        Select scheduled activity for EC
                        Further Topics?
                        *Leaders meet

Tuesday, July 31
9-11                 Instruction
                        Special Needs
                        Physical Disabilities
                        Down Syndrome        
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Groups
                        Activity Design (Individuals)
                        *Leaders meet
Wednesday, August 1
9-11                 Instruction
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Groups
                        Activity Design
                        *Leaders meet

Thursday, August 2
9-11                 Instruction
                        Schedule for EC
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Groups
                        Activity Design
                        Assessment Plan/Form
                        *Leaders meet

English Camp
August 5- August 9

Sunday, August 5
9-11                 Teachers:
                        Evaluation of Workshop
                        Meet with assigned staff members
                        Explain Schedule
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Activity
                        *Leaders Meet

Monday, August 6
9-11                 Activity
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Activity
                        *Leaders Meet
Tuesday, August 7
9-11                 Activity
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       Activity
                        *Leaders Meet
Wednesday, August 8
9-11                 All Group Activity
11-1:45            Break
11;45-1:45       Celebration and Certificates

Thursday, August 9
9-11                 Both Groups
                        Debrief and Evaluations
11-11:45          Break
11:45-1:45       SoTaL Only
                        Instruction (PIAE)

Activity Timeframe

30-45 Minutes             Instruction/Explanation
60-75 Minutes             Activity
15       Minutes            Evaluation with teachers and students

Group Schedules

Teachers (30 teachers, 6 per group)                        Students (40 students, 8 per group)
Group 1                                                           Group A
Group 2                                                           Group B
Group 3                                                           Group C
Group 4                                                           Group D
Group 5                                                           Group E

Activity Schedule (Five Activity Sessions)
Activity 1

Activity 2

Activity 3

Activity 4

Activity 5

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Getting Started - The Arar Academy Student-Centered Teaching Workshop and English Camp

Well, the countdown has begun - just over a week until I leave for Irbid. I have a team here that is helping me prepare and another group of people that will serve as mentors once the workshop begins. Patrick, Lauren, and Christian are busy helping me with the design and resources, while numerous faculty, staff, and friends have signed up to be mentors. I am not used to this level of support on these projects! I am very blessed.
Our fundraising campaign is going nicely, due in large part, to very many generous friends and colleagues. We have just about settled on a scope and sequence for the workshop, so we are collecting resources for the teachers and students. We want to build in enough flexibility so that the teachers and students will be able direct some of the activities. There is a really good vibe to all the synergy we are producing.
I am most excited about the possibility of helping the teachers learn to work with students with different needs, and then, helping the students learn to work together. I love going overseas to work with teachers, particularly in Jordan - they are always so receptive, hungry, and passionate about their professions. Spending two weeks thoroughly engaged with them will be fantastic. It is one of the clearest times I feel God's grace.
Tomorrow's task - designing the first few workshop sessions dealing with lesson and activity planning and working with students with different needs. We are still figuring out a lot of the logistics as we will have teacher and student groups that will rotate throughout the four days of the English Camp. The principal is also lining up several visits to local schools and community partners. It will be a very fluid fortnight.
I will be updating this blog daily from this point on. The posts may not be exciting, but feel free to stop by to see how things are going..............

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our GoFundMe Site

On July 26th, I will travel to Irbid, Jordan to help start a new K-12 school a former student of mine is opening this fall. The school is the Arar Academy. I will be there for two weeks working with teachers and students. The first week is a training for the teachers, focusing on how to make their classrooms more interactive and student-centered. Extra emphasis will be placed on issues that impact students with special needs and refugees. During the second week, the teachers will host and English Camp for local students (including special needs students and refugees), where the teachers can practice their new ideas and strategies.

We are asking for financial assistance to help pay for food and refreshments for the two weeks and for teaching supplies. We hope to raise $3,000 for these expenses. In addition, it would be nice to raise another $3,000 to help provide scholarships for students. None of this money will go towards my expenses as they are covered by Moraine Valley Community College, the Arar Academy, and my own pocket :)

Here is a note from the school's principal:

As a member of Arar Academy School (AAS) family, allow me to extend my warmest greetings and kindest regards to all and welcome you to Arar. I personally feel honored to be part of this school, which I trust will make a big difference. We at AAS believe that a school should be led by set of shared values and beliefs; Education is a covenant between us and the community of Irbid who we set one of our priorities, we are optimistic about our serves and the education we will provide our students. Our mission and vision is to situate our students in the center of learning and create a new generation of responsible individuals. Therefore, our programs are adopted to meet the unique needs and abilities of all our students. Arar invited both the local and the international community to share our mission and vision and we are honored to receive Mr. Michael Morsches from Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois- USA who will be visiting Irbid to lead a two-week training for teachers and students. Mr. Morsches' training is dedicated for teachers and for students with disabilities, Syrian Refugees, Down Syndrome children and other students, the training will be the first of its kind in Irbid and we are excited about it. We do thank Moraine Valley Community College and all the staff for the opportunities they will provide for our teachers and students alike. Hand in hand we can contribute to the goodness of this world, a journey of thousand miles, begins with Arar.

Here is the fundraising site:

I will do a blog post here everyday of the training and camp, and we also have an opportunity for folks to serve as online mentors for the teachers as they prepare their activities. In addition, some of the teachers will then go on to a semester-long Scholarship of Teaching and Learning training.

I hope you find this a worthwhile investment! To show my gratitude (and to satisfy my woodworking cravings), I would be glad to offer you some incentives depending on the level of donation you would like to make. I am not selling these crafts, simply showing my appreciation. Here are some of the items that are available:

For a donation of $75 to $199, a shot glass carrier or wine glass carrier. They can be made from oak, cherry, walnut, or zebrawood:

The alcohol and glasses are not included :)
I can ship these to the lower 48

For a donation of $200 to $299, a beer/ barbecue caddy or candle holder. These can be made out of oak, walnut, or maple. The beer/barbecue caddy can have your favorite sports team embedded in the side:

Unfortunately, I cannot ship these

For a donation of $300 to $999, a wine rack. These are made from old whiskey barrel staves and have ebony or wenge rails:

I cannot ship these either

Finally, for a donation of $1,000 or more, an outdoor cedar cooler:

I can deliver these locally

I hope you are as excited about this school project as I am. As always, I appreciate your support for my work!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Some Recent Projects

Joe's Table
Joe, a good friend and colleague, retired this month. He has very good taste and is a bit discriminating, so I was at a loss as to what to make him. After a lot of Pinterest surfing, I came across a picture of hall table made primarily from whiskey barrel staves. I had made several things with staves before, but they were simpler - staves have absolutely no straight lines on them, making it hard to build larger, level projects. I gave it a shot anyway and was very pleased with the result:

I started with the top. The two curved sides are staves and the straight ends are quarter-sawn oak. The boards are from some hickory I found at a local lumber mill.

Image may contain: people sitting, table and indoor

It is level despite the slant of the picture :)

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor

Most everyone signed the underside of the top - Joe is checking it out

Joe has a summer house on Lake Michigan and he found the perfect place for the table

I also made a few serving trays with the left over staves:

This was a large tray that I made for a colleague

This one is much smaller, maybe 1/2 the size of the first

I have also been busy making candle holders, a fun project that looks cool:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Another Paper for the Retention Conference

**Update - This has been approved at the first stage. Once we write the paper, we will know if it is to be published.

Once again, any help would be greatly appreciated :)

We’re Up 17% - What Now?
From 2010 to 2017, we have raised our developmental education success rates at Moraine Valley Community College by more than 17%, while lowering our withdrawal rates by 30%. More importantly, we have done so while we simultaneously increased the acceleration of some of our programs and created bridge courses, often skimming the stronger students off of our upper-level courses. Initially, we utilized global data (i.e. our success rates, the success rates of our students at the next levels, our attendance rates, our grade patterns, etc.) to suggest policies and curricular alignment. At this point in the process, we are attempting to turn to more local data, focusing on individual performance and the appropriate resources we can provide our faculty and staff. This paper will address the strategies we developed to address our low success rates, as well as the next steps we plan to take in our continuing improvement process.

Description and Learning Outcomes:
In the course of the past seven years, we have raised our developmental education success rates at Moraine Valley Community College by more than 17% (i.e. those students earning grades of A, B, or C, as opposed to D, F, or I) and have lowered our withdrawal rates by 30%. It has been a systematic, “soft data-informed” process. We began by confronting our general retention data and reviewing our policies and procedures. For instance, in order to introduce the possibility of adopting a departmental attendance policy, we first conducted a survey with our faculty asking them to code all their assigned F grades and to note which instances were due primarily to attendance. Our faculty reported that more than 70% of the F grades we had awarded were due to low attendance. This began a gradual implementation of data into our analysis, planning, and evaluation processes.
As we began to work on our retention plan, we were faced with an impending migration from COMPASS to ACCUPLACER as our primary placement test. We capitalized on this challenge by analyzing all of our available data in regards to student placement, matriculation rates, and future success. In doing so, we discovered large overlaps in curricula between academic levels, severe compression of grades in some courses, and the “over-success” of our “A and B” students moving to credited coursework. As a result, we have developed new metrics to track the efficacy of our placement instruments, how well we transition students from lower levels in the curricula, and how well they persevere into and through their credited sequence.
While evaluating our programming, we discovered that we suffered from some unusual side-effects of our efforts to be innovative: We began to develop so many interventions that we lacked the ability to assure that the right student entered the right intervention (RSRI- Right Student, Right Intervention). Subsequently, we began to work with advisors and other stakeholders on campus to help delineate our offerings and to ensure students would know if they were a right fit for a particular type of course or intervention.
As a result of the analyses we conducted, we collaboratively designed an attendance policy, reevaluated our curricular transitions, worked to ensure students had their textbooks and required materials, and involved other critical stakeholders on campus in order to create a more consistent and visible pathway for our developmental students. Our efforts have led, in small part, to the creation of enrollment and grade dashboards with our Institutional Research department, as well as an ongoing relationship that has led us to many other questions, challenges, and resources.
Finally, we are preparing to move from larger data sets to local indices to share with instructors at the classroom level. Doing so should provide our faculty with the appropriate feedback for course improvements that will ensure that we maintain and raise our improved success rates.
Learning Outcomes – Participants will review their own transitional and longitudinal data process; Participants will learn about new retention and perseverance metrics.

A New Conference Proposal

**Update - This has been approved and we will be doing it in November!

Here is a proposal Grant and I are submitting for a national conference in Salt Lake City later this year. This would be an all-day workshop for teachers and administrators. I would love to get feedback on it:

The Curriculum Congruence Model (A Reification Exercise)
In a world where teachers have literally millions of resources at their fingertips and less and less premium is placed on strictly “basal based” curricula, it is imperative that teachers have a stronger pedagogical foundation than ever before. This workshop will focus on two key components: The Four Responsibilities of a Teacher and The Three Responsibilities of a Student. Each model is a research-based continuum designed to produce consistent and congruent curricula and to operationalize many of the intuitive or instinctual processes to which not all teachers or students have direct access. The workshop is highly interactive with a great deal of resources, activities, and opportunities for engagement. In many ways, this workshop could be viewed as a more practical and condensed version of a compulsory Philosophy/Psychology of Education course many of us took before we had the requisite experience to truly appreciate the content.

This workshop contains the core elements the presenter(s) have utilized as the foundation for their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTaL) trainings conducted domestically and internationally for the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. The development of these two models has unfolded over thirty years in U.S. universities and community colleges, spanning coursework ranging from developmental education to graduate studies. More than 1,000 students and teachers have participated in the development of these models.

There is a very old tenet in education that any curriculum applied consistently will produce academic gain; likewise, it could also be said that any well-designed curriculum applied inconsistently will produce diminished academic gain. In simple terms, it is the job of the teacher to create a consistent and congruent curriculum; to apply it appropriately; and finally, to help their students learn to navigate it successfully. This workshop consists of two sessions: the first session, The Four Responsibilities of a Teacher, deals with the creation, application, and evaluation of a curriculum. The second session, The Three Responsibilities of a Student, outlines the cognitive and behavioral processes students need to apply in order to be successful at any educational level.

The Four Responsibilities of a Teacher – The first component of this interactive session helps teachers examine their core philosophical beliefs about human nature, learning, and ethical responsibilities. The second component focuses on the nature of instruction that would logically follow. The third component examines the appropriate forms of assessment that would complement the two previous stages. Finally, the last component centers on the evaluation of the entire process (i.e. the “interpretive light”) where teachers work to examine their beliefs and attitudes throughout the whole continuum and to identify possible points of incongruence.
Learning Outcomes: 1) Participants will examine and articulate their core philosophic beliefs; 2) Participants will identify instructional techniques that are congruent with their philosophical beliefs; 3) Participants will identify appropriate assessment activities that are congruent with their instructional choices; and 4) Participants will evaluate the entire process, including instances where the continuum failed, possibly even challenging some of their original philosophic beliefs.

The Three Responsibilities of a Student – As simple as it seems, students have three basic cognitive tasks they must attend to when engaged in an academic setting: 1) Learn the material; 2) Manage the material in their memory; and 3) Prove that they have learned the material. This session leads teachers through the three areas in regards to the activities they do in the classroom. Once teachers understand the difference between learning, memory management, and proving, they are poised to help students develop a metacognitive awareness of the same dynamics! In essence, teachers (intuitive learners) learn to operationalize, or reify, their intuition.
Learning Outcomes: 1) Participants will distinguish between activities at various levels in the model; 2) Participants will develop the language and associated resources to guide their students through the model; and 3) Participants will draw comparisons between their activities as teachers and the activities of their students.

Bio (1): Michael Morsches
Michael has more than thirty years in higher education and international development. He has taught graduate courses in education and has led hundreds of workshops and presentations on teacher development in the U.S., Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Michael has facilitated SoTaL (the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) workshops for teachers in developing countries and has presented related concepts at national and international conferences. Currently, he serves as Dean of Learning Enrichment and College Readiness at Moraine Valley Community College, where he oversees ESL, ABE, Developmental Education, Tutoring, and Basic Literacy.

Bio (2): Grant Matthews
Grant has worked and taught at community colleges in Oregon and Illinois for over 16 years in both academic programs and student services. Much of his work focuses on student development inside and outside of the classroom and how programs can improve the connections between student services and classroom learning through shared learning outcomes and consistency. Currently, Grant serves as Dean of The Center for Learning Advancement and Interim Dean for Health Professions at Lane Community College, where he oversees ABSE, Developmental Education, Career Pathways, Nursing and Allied Health, and Physical Education.

Presentation Track: Theoretical Models of Student Retention and Success, Retention and Special Populations
Presentation Type: Full Day Presentation
Audience Level: Any
Targeted Audience: Teachers, Administrators