On Course Strategy

On the first day of each learning plan in class, provide students with a list of topics/key words to know (or assign ahead of class time). In my case it was medication information for nursing pharmacology. Have students start with different sets of meds so they are not all working on the same. Have half the class be an Eagle, the other half Hawks. Pair students up into an Eagle-Hawk team. Continue reading

KAHOOT – Fun, Learning, Teaching, Assessment – It’s All That!

Are your student’s phones out in your class? Are they more interested in texting on their phones and looking things up on their phones rather than participating in class? Well, put their technology to work in their learning – Kahoots! Nope, not a sneeze! And nope, nothing to sneeze at! Students LOVE this. They get to use their phones, they get quizzed and find out what they know and don’t know, and the teacher finds out what they know and don’t know as well. It is not only a learning tool, but an instructional tool that faculty can use to reinforce information, or revisit information that their students are not understanding.

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Memory Matrix-CAT


Getting information on student understanding takes place throughout the length of the course in many different assessment processes. We all have lessons that we know create confusion or are a little more difficult for students to grasp. I have found that the memory matrix is a good tool to use to help reinforce what the class was focused on. It can be customized to any topic and allows the students to connect information that was presented in a practical manner. By putting a group discussion at the end of the activity it also allows for the students to understand the perspective other students brought to the topic and builds a larger knowledge base. By using this type of CAT I have noticed greater application of more confusing skills inside of my classes.

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Adjusting to student feedback

Feedback from students is important to make sure that they understand information presented in a way that makes sense to them.  While we may feel the best way to present a topic is a certain way they may not understand the information and need it presented in an alternative way.  At the start of each semester I encourage the students to talk to me if they are having trouble at any point in the semester, but I know that it is a hit or miss expectation based on the comfort level of the student reaching out if they are confused or have a complaint.  I have started to put “check ins” with the classes to see how things are going.  I have them type answers, use blackboard surveys, or one-on-one conversations using specific questions based on classroom management, presentations, and assignments.  This feedback lets me know what they think about the class, what they think works well, and what doesn’t work as well.  Using the information that they provide allows me to adjust throughout the semester to meet the needs of the collective group.  I have found that if they feel their voice is being listened to they become more engaged and take a stronger ownership of their education.  It also helps me stay away from getting stuck in a one-mind track on how to present the topics each time I teach the class.

Uncovering Bias

I believe an important first step toward becoming more culturally responsive and inclusive is to become aware of the biases that are pervasive in our society, and within our own perceptions. I found a useful activity in a book of teaching strategies: Carter, M. & Curtis, D. (1994). Training teachers: a harvest of theory and practice. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

I pair this with a reading of “The Parable of the Ups and Downs” http://world-trust.org/about/resources/1-parableupsanddowns/ followed by an interactive activity exploring the “up” and “down” groups in our society today.   I then hand out the “Isms” activity and reflective journal.

Carter, M. & Curtis, D. (1994). Training teachers: a harvest of theory and practice. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

“Isms” Self-Portrait

Isms Self-Portrait


After discussing the “Isms” diagram in class, construct a “self-portrait” of the “isms” you might be faced with in your own life.  In the chart below, list which group you fall into for each of the “isms”.  You may add other categories if they fit your identity or experience.

+ (dominant group) (dominated group)

Now go back to your categories and add a rating to indicate your personal feelings about your membership in each category.  Use the following symbols:

+     means “I like this about myself”

?     means “I am confused about this part of myself”

  • means “I don’t like this about myself”

!      means “I am most identified with this part of myself”

Reflect on the times when you have been on the “plus” side of the column, and when you have been on the “minus” side.  Consider what it means that each of us experiences a combination of privilege and oppression because of our membership in different societally determined groups.  Reflect on the difference between the societal categories (given to you by “others”) and your individual self-esteem (how you feel about yourself).  Does one influence the other?  How do you maintain your self-esteem when you get negative messages applied to you by society?  What can you do to counter the negative messages you receive about your self-identity?  What can you do to counter the negative messages applied to the children and families you work with?

My goal is for my students to explore their own personal experience of bias and spark awareness of the impact on their self-concept, and to promote their commitment to broader awareness of bias in working with others (especially children and families). Since many of my students are mostly unaware of the impact of bias, this exercise has opened their eyes to the issues and experiences that others have had regarding privilege or discrimination as well as framing their own experiences in a more critical light.

Here are some examples of the reflections from students:

  • “I learned that there are people that struggle with these things each and every day. I have never really thought about how little things like how much money you have or whether you are a man or a woman can affect people, even in this day in age.”
  • “To counter the negative messages about my self-identity I can remember to resist the thought of starting an argument or defending myself in a harsh way to them. It is important to not let other’s opinions affect me, even though that seems to be much easier said than done.”
  •  “I think it’s important to teach children to resist bias because they’re going to encounter people who have opinions on others. We will be teaching the children to respect and embrace differences and acting against bias and unfairness. The goal is to create a climate of positive self and group identity development where children can achieve their fullest potential.”

Joan Klinkner

Nursing Skills….. “I learned that such a long time ago that I don’t remember what to do”

How often have you said to your students, “don’t just memorize this, but learn it for life”?  I know that I say it almost every day, but does it really stick?  I can honestly answer that.  Teaching throughout both the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs from start to finish, the answer to that is NO!!!!!!!  Well, alright, we always have SOME students who do commit their skills to memory and never forget what step comes when; but, we also have those students who memorize the check off list and forget it the minute the check off is complete.  How can we get our students to understand that we really are speaking the truth?  How could I, the instructor, assist my students in reviewing their skills and truly understanding what the steps are?  And more importantly, why is it important for them to remember their skills steps?  Well, let me tell you!

After my students take their State Board exam for nursing(NCLEX), I often follow up with them and ask questions as to how the Boards went.  I ask questions that are very detailed oriented:  what kind of questions did you have, how many were “select all that apply”, how many of each type/area of nursing(pharmacology, Med/Surg, Mental Health, OB, Fundamentals, Math, etc). and so on.  I believe this helps me to develop new activities that will prep my students for the biggest exam of their lives and familiarize themselves with what to expect.  Imagine my surprise this year, when I learned that the NCLEX exam had several of my students put nursing skills in the correct order of performance!  Immediately, I knew exactly what I was going to do to assist my students to be successful in this area!  Basic Nursing Skills is taught in the first semester of both programs and I teach the clinical that is associated with that class: Introduction to Clinical Practice.  This clinical is taught in the long-term care environment.  There are times that this clinical has some “down-time” and I knew this activity would be perfect to complete at this level!  I have taken the Basic Nursing Skills check off lists, cut out each individual step and placed them on flashcards.  During clinical, I will randomly give a student a set of flashcards with the directions to place them in correct chronological order!  What an amazing opportunity to take the classroom learning and apply it to the real-life clinical setting; in the words of a wise Nurse Educator, “This is where the rubber meets the road”!  I cannot wait to try this during the semester. Completing this teaching strategy will allow me to assist my students in being successful.  Repeatedly exposing them to the nursing skills will allow them to commit these important tasks to memory and help them to be prepared for their NCLEX exam!  Stay tuned for the results!