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16 July 2014

Summer reading on teaching – and Teaching Naked

“I firmly believe that if every teaching faculty member could carve out the time to read one or two great books on teaching and learning every year, we would collectively serve our students much better than we do already.”  –  James Lang (Top 10 Books on Teaching, June 11, 2014) I think it is safe to say that each of us are challenged to find time to read a book …

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3 January 2014

What I’ve learned in grad school

A couple of weeks ago was my (gasp) six-year “blogiversary”, which I always forget about. But the end of one year and the beginning of a new one always seems to call for more introspective posts, and for my first post of the new year I thought I’d write about the main reason I started this blog: graduate school.

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22 November 2013

Resurrected post: Academic jobs are “laid-back”? Not exactly.

Doubtless those of you who are interested in science careers have seen the many offended blog posts prompted by that fairly ill-considered Forbes article about how professors/academics have the most laid-back jobs because they only teach one or two classes a semester. After getting my hysterical laughter under control, I started thinking about all the comments where people describe how their typical academic day. I’m certainly not surprised by the long descriptions of everything that has to get done (and often doesn’t) during a professor’s day, but I did notice that there wasn’t much there from students.

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19 June 2013

Core Skills in the Geosciences: A Follow-up

Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department here at UB about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department. We realized that many students take winding paths on the way to finishing a major for various reasons, including that they transferred from another school, they switched majors, or they are double-majoring and have time conflicts. A winding path isn’t necessarily detrimental as long as the students come out of the process with a solid geoscience skillset. But what should that skillset include?

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6 May 2013

End of semester update

…and I finally, finally have a chance to breathe. It’s been a really busy couple of months for me – not just because I was teaching a lecture class for the first time, but because I was also getting ready for my technical thesis defense.

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10 April 2013

Core skills for geology majors

A recent discussion that I’ve been having with my fellow grad students lately has been about this question: What are the core skills undergraduate geoscience students should have when they graduate?

Sometimes, because of crazy course schedules, majors joining the department late in their college career, etc etc., it seems like skillsets can be acquired haphazardly or in an order that doesn’t benefit the student. Those of us who teach as grad students sometimes find that it’s necessary to do more review than we’d expect when we’re dealing with a lab or a course. Although review isn’t a bad thing, it can take away time from the main course topics. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to learn the course material as effectively and efficiently as possible – and make it stick.

So, like any good geoblogger, I’m going to ask for help ‘crowdsourcing’ the answer to this question. If you could put together a guide of core skills for geology students, what would be on it? What do you want them to know before they attempt specific classes? What should they know by the time they graduate to be well-grounded in the field?

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11 January 2013

A foray into teaching – and a request for advice!

This semester, as part of an attempt to keep myself funded through the end of my PhD (always an uphill battle), I’m going to be teaching a smallish section of our introductory environmental science course. And the main topic is…deep breath…climate change! Not being an expert on climate change, this has me perusing background information to get ready for the content, but also looking at techniques for teaching controversial environmental topics. And I’m looking for help!

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10 March 2012

Learning moments in geology movies

Between digging into fluid dynamics papers, figuring out stability fields for alteration minerals and generally dealing with being a grad student, I haven’t had a lot of time to post lately. (Plus I had to do my taxes this weekend…) But I did get great comments on the “Survival Geology” post, especially about using movies and TV to teach science, and I thought I’d run with some thoughts on those. …

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6 January 2012

Graduate School Advice: Part 1 – Classes and Teaching

To follow up on my last post about my science resolutions for the new year, based on lessons learned during grad school, I thought it might be worth posting more generally some advice based on my graduate school experience.  As I jotted down notes on what bits of advice I might want to share, it rapidly became clear that it was too much for a single post. So, consider this …

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2 December 2011

Teaching the teachers: Activities for a plate tectonics workshop

A few weeks ago, I helped co-teach a plate tectonics workshop with a fellow UB geo grad. The workshop was intended as sort of a continuing education credit for local middle school science teachers, and rather than talk at them the whole time, we decided to have the teachers try out some activities that they could adapt for their classes. Plate tectonics is a pretty broad topic, and we covered everything from the history and development of the idea to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Because we had so much to cover (it was a six-hour workshop), we did three activities – one about sea-floor spreading, one about viscosity (to go along with the volcanology bit where we talk about magma type controlling landform appearance) and one that tied seismology and subduction together.

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30 September 2011

Back to school: Accretionary Wedge #38

Anne over at Highly Allocthonous wants to get us thinking back-to-school thoughts in this month’s Accretionary Wedge, and as a (grad) student, I’ll tackle the question aimed current geology students:

If you are a current or future student… what do you want to know about life and careers in the geosciences? Are there things you aren’t getting to learn or do in classes that you think are important? What sort of experiences do you want to get out of school and how do you think school can or should help you prepare for a career?

One of my biggest questions – and one that I think a lot of my peers share – concerns a deficiency that is built into the very academic system we “grow up” in. It’s our propensity for taking a graduate student, or someone with a newly-minted graduate degree, who up until this point may have been concentrating solely on learning geology, and plunking them into a classroom with little to no training on how to teach geology.

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19 July 2010

Why I Blog: Ed Adams (Geology Happens)

Guest Post by Ed Adams, geology educator Several years ago, I started teaching summer field classes for teachers in need of additional science credits for their endorsements. To facilitate the exchange of information and to provide a repository of data links for my students, I created a series of web pages. This enabled my students, some of whom I only saw for a week, to access the data we used …

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7 March 2010

Close to home: The 2010 Ed Roy Award

Some great news from Geospectrum – the latest Ed Roy Award winner is Jason Pittman, the lead science resource teacher at Hollin Meadows Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. This has me completely excited, because Hollin Meadows was the first elementary school I attended, and it’s literally steps from home. It’s a math and science focus school, and it’s one of the first places I started getting excited about geology. (I …

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2 October 2009

Looking for something to do for Earth Science Week?

Even if you can’t give your time to sponsor an event for Earth Science Week this year, you can help people realize the importance of Earth science by giving a little bit of your money. (For instance, I’m swamped with coursework and research and totally unlikely to pull together any event bigger than a Facebook post, but at least this way I can help someone else with an Earth science …

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30 August 2009

A new semester

For me, this means some welcome changes. As a result of earning an NSF Graduate Fellowship, I don’t have to TA this year, so I actually have more time to sit down and work on my own research (instead of spending a lot of time – including whole weekends at one point – just keeping up with grading). This also means that my committee has been encouraging me to take …

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21 May 2009

It’s course evaluation time!*

And so far I’ve seen (paraphrased, of course): Labs/TA were horribleLabs/TA were okayLoved labLabs were informative and relatively harmless (I would have laughed even more if it had said ‘mostly harmless’ and referenced the HGTG)TA is elitist (Because I wouldn’t give this person a second make-up date for a quiz they missed, never mind that I didn’t have to give them a first one)TA is responsible and patientBoring lab material …

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21 February 2009

Using Google Earth to visualize volcanic and seismic activity

I haven’t been posting much lately (teaching labs and trying to wrap my head around volcano seismology is eating up my free time), but I have been trying to keep up with new developments. One really neat one is the release of the newest Google Earth and the Oceans layer. My last two labs have been oceanography and waves/tides/currents, so I’ve been leaning heavily on Google Earth to help my …

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28 January 2009

Best labs for introductory geology courses?

My department will be restructuring some of their introductory geology labs soon, and I was asked my opinion of the labs that I taught last semester. I was pretty brutal about some of them: they were difficult both to teach and to get the students to understand. When you’re spending most of your time apologizing for the shortcomings of a flow chart that the students are supposed to be using …

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26 October 2008

Don’t let them see you sweat

One of the students in my intro lab was chatting with me in class recently and mentioned that she was planning on applying to grad school, and wanted to know if I had any advice for being a TA. Now, I’m still working the bugs out of the process myself, since I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but it did get me thinking about what I should …

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