Materials for Professors, Instructors, and Teachers

Suddenly, I found my name listed as the part time professor teaching an introduction to geology class, a class I hadn't even thought much about since I took it so many years before. What I really wanted was the soltuion manual to the question "How do you teach the very best into to geology course?" so that I could copy what was written and change a few things and then focus more time on giving students feedback and the other 4 jobs I was working. I created this website to avoid having to use canvas or blackboard. I mean, I created this website to provide the answers I came up with and collect all the other great ideas. As one of the key gateway into the geosciences, I hope you send us your fantastic ideas and find the other ideas and resoures on this site helpful.

Adventures with cellphones in the classroom

Exams on the phone: I have had great sucess with low stakes in class exams on the cellphone. This is somewhat similar to an iclicker, but without the cost. (Much to my surprize, every single one of my low income students has had a smart phone, for students without smart phones or who don't like using the smart phone pen and paper works just as well and can be used during the smart phone exam.) Here is how I ran exams: 1) I pulled up a new powerpoint with the first page containing a link to the exam. I also had a QR code on the projector slide. This link took the students to a google forms form. (Important, make the exam have only 1 page. Do not use the built in "require email address", but instead make a required question that asks for their email address). My google form only had the question number and the answers listed (not the actual questions). In the powerpoint I had the questions, and the answers on the board. I tried to keep the free response answers simple so that not too much typing on a phone was needed. As a class I would change the slide to a new question, read the question allowed, and wander around the room. From the back of the room it was easy to see cellphone screen colors, so I always made the google form have a unique color (like a light yellow backgorund) it was easy to see when a stuent was NOT on the correct color screen. The small screen text made it nearly impossible for a neighbor to see and cheat off of a cellphone screen. Typically I planned the exam such that it was right beofre out break. After going though the questions I would collect the written exams and tell everyone that they had better have a time stamp at the ending time. During the break I was usually able to input the few students who did the exam on paper. After the break we would review each question using the google forms pie diagrams. I would typically use the {windows key} + {right/left arrow key} to split the screen so I could have the exam slides and the google form side by side. We could see which questions students had trouble with, and which questions everyone got. I would review questions we didn't do so well on in more detail. Later I used the email address of each student to link their grade and missed questions to their accounts, and even used all this data to generate retake questions specific for each student which was printed out on their paper midterm exams.

More information and ideas coming soon

  1. Google Project doc This is a tutorial and a series of geology/data questions that walks students though using Google Earth, and Google Earth Engine to observe and think about geology and remote sensing. The amount of time needed to complete the assingment varied considerably depening on how much computer experience students had, and I think breaking this up into smaller mini-assingments might have gone over better. The math and calculation relating to the mid oceanic ridge confused about 1/3 of my students and I usually needed to go over this in class or office hours.
Example term paper assingments
  1. Important Project docxStudents write an academic style research paper on a topic that they think is the "most important aspect" of geology. The assingment helps students understand the format of modern scientific papers, and how scientific writing is similar to, but diffrent from "english class" writing. To help framiliarize students with the scientific format, an in class parter quiz was given which required them to find a scientific paper (Geo, bio, chem or phys), report on its format, figure out which sections might provide specific information and write its citation.
  2. Outside Project docx Students explore the outdoors and write a scientific report on the geologic features they observed. Typically assigned midway though the course but not due until the final exam so that students could plan trips/outings to places that actually intrest them. This assingment stresses the use of visuals (photos, and drawings) to convey the scientific story, and important part of scienfici communication that all too often seems to be neglected in science enducation.
  3. Reference Managers Students enjoyed hearing that real scientisits don't like formating references either, so they invented tools to do it for them: MendeleyZotero