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Pedagogy Workshop

ND Philosophy Pedagogy Workshop (2017-2018)

Convener: Meghan Sullivan (sullivan.329@nd.edu)

Fr. Kevin leads a session on Holy Cross philosophy of education

The Notre Dame Philosophy Pedagogy Workshop brings together interested faculty and graduate students to collectively study ways to be more innovative and effective philosophy teachers.  The workshop meets 3-4 times per semester.  All faculty and graduate students in the department are welcome to participate, but aspiring first-time graduate instructors must register for the workshop.  It meets from 3:30-5:00pm, one Tuesday per month in Malloy 107.

Graduate members of the workshop will produce drafts of three documents over the course of the workshop:

  1. An innovative assignment and lesson plan.  How do you make a philosophical argument or concept come alive for an undergraduate?  We will help you identify a creative teaching idea, prepare an effective assignment description and devise a plan to accurately and fairly evaluate that assignment.  The assignment will serve as the cornerstone for a lesson plan for an entire course meeting.
  2. An effective syllabus for a second philosophy course. How do you build a story around a course?  How do you select powerful, appropriate texts to help tell that story?  What kinds of assignments motivate students to make conceptual connections, to ask their own research questions, and to more thoroughly investigate the issues in your course?  We will help you develop a syllabus for a possible 200-level philosophy course at Notre Dame.  This syllabus might be adopted as a course in the department.
  3. An inspiring, example-driven teaching statement. What philosophical principles guide your approach to pedagogy?  What particular experiences have guided your development as a teacher?  In what ways can you uniquely contribute to the curriculum of a liberal arts college or research university?  We will help you craft a compelling 2-page vision for your future teaching that can serve as a basis for your current teaching choices and future job applications.

Session alternate between faculty sharing examples and giving advice and participants workshopping their own ideas.

Aug 29th: Devising Innovative Assignments

Faculty will lead an example-driven discussion of their favoriteassignment ideas.  We’ll look at the motivation behind the assignment, how it is communicated to students, how it is assessed, and how it has developed over time.  We will also talk about generating syllabus ideas and fitting assignments to larger teaching goals.

Sep 19th: Workshopping Assignment Drafts and Lesson Plans

Members of the workshop will give a short presentation of their assignment idea, followed by feedback and suggestions from the workshop team.

Oct 31st: Writing a Compelling Syllabus

Faculty will lead an example-driven discussion of the building blocks of a successful 200-level philosophy course.  We’ll consider the diversity of courses that can fulfill the second philosophy requirement and discuss common pitfalls in course design.  We’ll also talk about strategies for using pace, readings, and assignments to develop a compelling narrative for your students.

Dec 5th: Workshopping Syllabi

Members of the workshop will give a short presentation of their syllabus, followed by feedback and suggestions from the workshop team.  Syllabi for proposed Fall 2018 courses should be ready to submit to Alex Jech by the end of winter break to be considered for adoption.

Feb 13th: Writing an Inspiring Teaching Statement

Faculty will share examples of their teaching statements and discuss the role these documents play in the job search, tenure process, and as a guiding document for your teaching choices.  We’ll also talk about strategies for finding a teaching mentor in the department and building a teaching dossier.

Mar 13th: Workshopping Teaching Statements

Members of the workshop will give a short presentation of their teaching statement draft, followed by feedback and suggestions from the workshop team.

Apr 17th: Teaching Philosophy with Technology

Back by popular demand!  We’ll demo Poll Everywhere, Explain Everything and some other inexpensive and easy tools you can use to integrate technology in your philosophy classroom.  We’ll also discuss ways to get more involved in digital learning projects at Notre Dame

Spring 2017 Schedule:

2/13: Designing a Signature Course

  • David O’Connor teaches the popular Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love course, which he developed over many years.  He’ll join us in leading a discussion about how to think about your signature course(s), what goes into making teaching an extension of your research passions, and where creative course ideas come from.  We’ll also look at other examples of signature philosophy courses at Notre Dame, Harvard, Yale and elsewhere.

3/20: Best Practices for Grading and Grade Communication

  • Are you the kind of philosopher who uses rubrics for evaluating your rubrics?  Do you prefer anonymized grading or extensive, individualized feedback?  Is Sakai the only way to set up a gradebook?  We’ll consider some insights about how to better use your grading strategy to give information to your students, how to weigh low and high stakes assignments, and tricky issues with grading oral assignments and group projects in philosophy.

4/3: ePortfolio, WordPress, and other Platforms for Student Writing

  • In this session, we will introduce you to platforms for making student writing more social.  We’ll talk about how to design an effective writing assignment, how to make writing an extension of class discussion, and debate the goals of undergraduate philosophical writing.  We’ll also teach you how to run writing assignments on ePortfolio and WordPress.  And show you lots of examples.

Fall 2016 Schedule:

In Fall 2016 the Workshop meets on Wednesday mornings once a month from 10-11:30am in the Malloy Philosophy Conference room. Email Meghan Sullivan if you want to be added to the listserv.

8/31: Introduction to the Workshop and Demo of Explain Everything Software 

  • We’ll get to meet each other and set some personal teaching goals for the year.  Then we will learn how to make short videos demonstrating how to close-read a text/argument using iPad software called Explain Everything.  Bring a sample text or idea, and we’ll help you make your own short explanatory video using some iPad Pros and Apple Pencils.  Here is an example (with some hand-drawn animations.) 

9/28: The Holy Cross Philosophy of Education: A Walking Tour with Fr. Kevin Grove

  • What is distinctive about Catholic philosophy of education?  About the Holy Cross approach?  Why does Notre Dame exist?  And why do we require students to take philosophy courses? Fr. Kevin Grove (Theology) will walk with us around key locations of the Notre Dame campus, teaching us about the religious history of our university and the distinctive features of the Holy Cross philosophy of education.

10/26: Debates, Discussions and Dialogues

  • Ever since Socrates roamed Athens corrupting the youth, philosophers have verbally sparred with their students.  In this session we’ll talk about some best practices for in-class discussions, debates and dialogues.  We’ll read about the importance of shared norms, group culture, and psychological safety.  We’ll give you some proven exercises for getting philosophy students talking and analyze the pros and cons of different formats for class discussion.  We’ll also give you a chance to lead our discussion using one of the exercises.

11/16: Epic Failures in Teaching!

  • In the Pedagogy Workshop we celebrate bold experiments… both the successful and not so successful.  In this session, faculty and graduate students will share some stories about teaching experiments that didn’t quite work out.  We’ll also share our most creative in-class activities, inaugurating our department’s Teaching Idea Box. Coffee and donuts will be provided, as well as prizes for most epic failure and best new in-class activity idea.

12/7: Designing an Excellent Course for the Second Philosophy Requirement (with Alex Jech)

  • What features get students excited about an upper division philosophy course?  What are our goals for the second philosophy requirement?  What are some innovative topics we can design courses around?  And how can we do a better job at improving the “old standards”– ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, logic?  We’ll hear from instructors of different second philosophy requirement courses and walk PhD students through the process of proposing their first solo course to the department.