A lot of us have read the children’s classic Goodnight Moon so many times that we can recite it from memory. Slate online magazine featured a priceless post by Dahlia Lithwick entitled, “Goodnight Snow Days: It Is Time for All Good Children to Go Back to School.” If things have been a little..ahem..tense at your house, treat yourself to a few chuckles.
By now, everyone has been dazzled by the image of Lupito Nyong’o, wearing her blue Prada dress and diamond headband, receiving an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. We’ve also been inspired by her graceful and emotional acceptance speech:
Two take-aways for those of us who teach at community colleges:
1) Everything we know and every asset we have is a gift from someone who went before us. Our predecessors worked hard and many suffered to give us the privileges and resources that we enjoy every day.
2) Dreams can come true. Our jobs allow us to help students’ dreams become reality….a good thing to remember on days when the going is tough for everyone involved.
Enjoy your weekend…you, too, deserve a golden statue.
When my daughter was born, I was absolutely thrilled at the prospects of rearing her. As an academician, I believed I was given an opportunity to practice my profession in my home, as other educators and scientists do in their professional lives. Residing in Colorado, I knew she would be afforded opportunities to become multilingual, culturally astute, politically aware, and globally and fiscally responsible. However, when our family moved from Colorado to several different communities that did not have the same academic expectations for children of all races and ethnicities, I decided to become the sieve in her scholarship development years. I sequestered her from the complexities of cultural practices that were negatively targeted against people who looked like her. This decision wounded me in ineffable ways; yet, it solidified my resolve to offer my children challenging educational experiences beginning with reading.
Growing up, my parents knew that they did not have all of the answers, but discovery through reading was their hope. I decided to create a culture of reading for my daughter as my parents and books did for me.
I cannot transmit a reading culture or a knowledge of reading to succeeding generations if I have not developed a personal culture conducive to what I am trying to teach. So the principles listed below are ones I live and teach.
Seven steps to creating a personal, family, class, or group culture of reading:
7. Choose a theme for the year and read 1 book per month—financial acumen,
history, literature, philosophy—get the picture? Good! You decide. Remember, think about what you want to know, learn, develop a strong opinion about, or just simply relax with fictional escapes. Ahhh…
6. Become friends with your librarian. This is so important! They can order, search, and suggest great reads. Our library on campus is chock-full of great reads! Get lost in the aisles!
5. Choose the same time of day or evening to read. Yep! Weekends are included! Baby steps – 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted reading is a good start. I read 1 hour every morning. I wanted to start my day with a pleasurable activity.
4. Alright, here is a tough one. When one decides to build a culture of reading it encapsulates more than just reading. What? Really? Yes! Remember, a culture is the “integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior.” It is my belief that reading is fundamental and surpasses all other academic measures! If we cannot read, what else is there! Soooo, what can you shift out of your life that does not model or align with your new way of behaving? Need a moment? Take it! Transformation is about to happen, and all I want to say, in advance is: Congratulations!
3. Keep a journal of what you are reading and why. This is helpful because a record of your development will remind you of the value of reading.
2. Share your book with someone else after each book you read. This is the “succeeding generations” connection. What you are doing is going to be contagious; however, it won’t be if no one outside your circle knows. Okay, I know you are wondering if Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. will suffice. No! However, it is a start. So, go for it! There is just something about that personal connection/interaction face-to-face with another person that communicates your voice about the book and reading.
1. Decide and write on a 3×5 card why you believe developing and cultivating a culture of reading is important. I have shared my story, now you write yours. When you do, stick it in every book you read as a reminder to maintain the course.
That’s it! See you in the library! Cannot wait!
Quality Enhancement Plan, Director Hopkinsville Community College
I’m usually on my way to school by the time NBC’s Today Show airs, but thanks to Mother Nature’s gift of ice, I’ve been enjoying a second cup of coffee with Matt, Savanah, and Al. Here at pleasureinlearning, we’ve been planning a series of posts featuring ideas from the business world, so I perked up when this morning’s offerings included a segment called “Start Up to Success” with Marcus Lemonis, millionaire host of The Profit. Lemonis had assigned three competing start-up companies the task of showcasing their products for retail using materials that he provided.
You can view the 5-minute segment by clicking here.
As Lemonis critiqued each company’s project, he emphasized several points:
- Use all the parts and pieces. He had provided each team with raw materials for creating their display, and he praised the teams that had employed all the items provided.
- What can I do with your product? Lemonis praised Charleston Gourmet Burger for the company’s ability to showcase all the ways that their products could be used.
- Presentation is key. “The most important thing in taking your product to market is how it gets presented at retail.”
Too often, we purveyors of knowledge forget that we are inviting our students to “purchase” the knowledge that we have on offer. To be sure, those students—or pockets on their behalf—have already paid real dollars for the privilege of receiving our tutelage. But we have also asked them to fork over time and effort to acquire what we’re “selling.” In the business world, if no one buys your product, you’re out of business. In the education world, if no one buys our product they’re ______. (Fill in the blank with word of choice: lazy, unmotivated, poorly prepared, short-sighted, inept, or other unflattering term. And, yes, I am guilty of saying/thinking those things, too.)
Clearly, the folks in commercial business are motivated to maximize customers’ desire to purchase their products. And so I began to wonder: What if Mr. Lemonis were judging the efforts I make to market knowledge of anatomy & physiology in my classes?
- Do I use all the parts and pieces provided? Fortunately, I have a bushel of virtual and physical tools at my disposal to help my students learn. I love adding to my collection of videos, models, and slides. To use these optimally, though, I need to continually edit my materials, making sure that every model, every movie, every online assignment is used to further learning. Ideally, those tools should actively engage the senses and enhance students’ enjoyment of the learning experience. How often do I think, “I should do something cool with that?” and then drag my feet about working the clip or item into the lineup?
- What can my students do with the product? This may be the easiest part of my job. Since almost all my students hope to become healthcare workers, they enjoy knowing how the things that they learn in class can be used in their future careers. My clinical career has provided me with plenty of illustrations for every topic in the book. Mr. Lemonis would approve. Still, I’m working on ways to use these clinical scenarios to engage students more fully and to invite them to explore topics in greater depth.
- How am I presenting the product? Ah, here is the “growing edge” for my classes! Any presentation can be made more inviting, more engaging, and more effective by improving time management and incorporating more active learning opportunities. Perfection is elusive, but improving delivery of content is an ongoing challenge that can yield big results for me and my students.
As Marcus Lemonis notes, “It’s all about people, process, and product.” He goes on to point out that in small businesses, including the little knowledge racket I’m running in my lab every day, “We’re marketing; we’re packaging; we’re product development.”
Good advice for my personal start-up.
Each Tuesday, pleasureinlearning brings you Tech Tuesday. Come back each week for more ways to become efficient and effective in your use of technology.
This article is part of a multi-part visit from the Formatting Fairy. Read on to see how to exorcise those Formatting Demons. Comment and tell us about your Formatting Demons.
Before we go much further with formatting, you must understand that there are two types.
- Character Formatting – This kind of formatting applies to whichever characters you select. You don’t have to apply the formatting to a whole paragraph or even a whole word. Examples include Bold and Underline.
- Paragraph Formatting – On the other hand, paragraph formatting applies to an entire paragraph. You can’t just apply it to one part. For example, you can center a whole paragraph, but not a single word. You can also set line spacing, but it must be consistent for a whole paragraph. As a point of note, a paragraph may sometimes be a single line. Any time you press Enter, you are beginning a new paragraph.
When applying any type of character formatting, you must select the characters to which you wish to apply it. Paragraph formatting simply requires that your cursor is in the paragraph to receive the formatting.
When introducing writing classes, I take a moment and walk across the room toward a podium 15 feet away. I walk two or three steps, then back-step a pace or two, making the walk bumpy and inefficient. The second time I walk to it, I go directly without any back stepping, while asking “Which trip was more efficient?” Duh.
Yet the bumpy way typified my reading until after I had a BA degree. I did it in ignorance. No wonder reading had been unduly tedious and physically draining. Change came in an unexpected way. After graduation, my wife and I moved to San Diego for four months before my first deployment in the navy. One day a knock on the door brought a cut rate offer for a reading course and a set of books from the classics. We enrolled and had a great time, strange as that sounds. The course was based on Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book.
The first session introduced eliminating regression, something I had never heard of. Regression means reading a few words and then dropping back so that the next few words taken in by the eye include one or more words that you already read—thus, the podium illustration.
Regression makes reading labor intensive as well as inefficient. You work harder and get less done. To eliminate regression, make your eyes follow your fingers as they move across the text. If you have been regressing, your eyes will react to this new demand as strange, and they will want to revert to jerking back and forth like always—that is, until they get the message, “No go with that anymore.”
The difference is radical. One result is increased speed for no other reason than the end of reading words more than once. Rhythms of a text will stand out more since prose can be musical in its feel. Though there isn’t audio melody, lyrical qualities come through more, and the mind experiences the beauty of the text.
The point isn’t to force speed reading but to let speed adjust to need without regression’s physical disruption. Some texts come in narrow columns, but if a normal page is in view, I find it hard to read without using a pacing device. I don’t like the feel of pages, so I use a closed ball point pen and run it across the lines. That works nicely.
A lot of books would have gone down smoothly in school had I known that regression existed. Oh well, I’m more appreciative that it got discovered and solved. Though not positive about most people that knock on the door, I eagerly say that this one was worth it.
As I get to know my students each term, I’m often struck by the difference between how I see my students and how they view themselves. I often see courage and ability where they see fear and ineptitude. Maybe we are all too hard on ourselves. A recent experiment conducted by the folks at Dove shows us just how wrong we can be when we dwell on our flaws rather than our best features. Warning: six minutes of viewing will linger in your mind for days.
Enjoy yourself, and enjoy your weekend.