Monthly Archives: August 2012

“A Worthy Performance”

What makes student work or performance worthy of an “A” in your class?  The college has an official grading scale; however, each of us determines what needs to be accomplished to achieve each level. Clearly conveying your expectations for student performance, as mentioned in last week’s tip, helps to support their success. Here are a few steps to help you communicate your grading rationale to students.

First determine what constitutes a “passing” grade. What criteria does student work or performance need to meet in order for it to be deemed a satisfactory job? Notice that I didn’t say a good job but rather a satisfactory job. Satisfactory means they performed at an acceptable level. They did not do an exceptionally good job. They certainly weren’t excellent, but they didn’t produce poor or unacceptable work either.  This defines “C” level work. Of course if most criteria are satisfactory and one or two is at a higher level they might end up with a C+ or a B-. If instead one or a few criteria are below satisfactory the student might end up with a C- or a D+.

Moving up the scale…If a student goes beyond satisfactory to a job that’s particularly well done, if their performance not only meets all of the requirements but meets them well in an observable or measurable way, they are in “B” territory. If a few of the criteria are only satisfactory while the rest are done well, the student will probably end up with a B- or even a C+.

Excellence means students have gone beyond doing a good job. Instead, they have done everything (or just about everything) extremely well. Or perhaps, they’ve added value to what was required – they’ve gone more deeply or broadly in a manner that serves the original intent of the assignment.

A single point rubric can be useful both in grading and describing an assignment. Students who are given a clear picture of satisfactory performance can be led to postulate and describe what evidence of beyond satisfactory would be. The same process can be done for below satisfactory. A single point rubric, discussed with students when an assignment is given helps them to understand what is expected of them. It also provides the instructor with the opportunity to notate the evidence she or he observes in student work, to justify the grade given, and to grade fairly.

Try it, you just might like it – Happy grading,


Katheryn Wright on the Hunger Games

If you’re a Hunger Games fan, check out Katheryn Wright’s recently published “Revolutionary Art in the Age of Reality TV” in Of Bread, Blood, and the Hunger Games (2012) edited by Mary Pharr and Leisa Clark. Her chapter focuses on the use of televisual aesthetics in the popular trilogy.

The reasonably priced (!) book is available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle!

Toni-Lee Sangastiano exhibits at the Tate Modern, London!

The Tate Modern is one of the top ten art museums in the world according to Reuters. Toni-Lee exhibited her sideshow banners, portraits of sideshow performers, and a video installation at the Tate Modern’s new space The Tanks. The mass participation, one day event, Undercurrent: Tracey Moberly’s TWEET-ME-UP!, aimed to promote the acceptance of individuality and freedom of personal expression. The Undercurrent festival is part of the Tate Modern’s Art In Action. Evan Wilder invited Toni-Lee to be part of the exhibition.

The projected artwork created an installation that constantly transformed within the space and it also included projected texts, tweets and other social networking sites such as Instagram, YouTube and Soundcloud.

August 24th was also the “International Day Against Intolerance, Discrimination and Violence based on Musical Preferences, Lifestyle and Dress Code”. This designation was created to support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend were severely beaten in 2007 by strangers because they were dressed as “Goths.”

Here are more photos and videos of Toni-Lee’s work at the Tate Modern.

Demonstrate at the Mini Maker Faire, Shelburne Farms, 8/29!

Champlain Mini Maker Faire

Do you make things? Are you a tinkerer? Are you an artisan of the unusual? Do you find yourself repurposing disposable items? Making, rather than buying, your own…whatever? Maybe you just have a hobby that’s gotten a little out of hand?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I urge you to get involved with Vermont’s first ever Maker Faire. The Maker Faire is not a crafts-for-sale fair, but rather an event where makers show their work, share their skills and teach others how to make things. I guarantee there will be something for everyone. So come see what your neighbors have been working on in the barn, basement or garage all that time – or come show what you’ve been working on.

If you’d like to participate, sign up on the website or contact Ken Howell.

Ken is willing to guarantee a booth space for you!!!!

ECHO Center Hosts Faculty Reception: Race: Are We So Different?


The ECHO Center is going to host a reception for faculty members from Champlain, UVM, and St. Mike’s, in conjunction with the “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit. The reception will serve two purposes: 1) to familiarize faculty with the exhibit and its contents, to facilitate their connecting the exhibit to their classes; 2) to allow the faculty members from the various colleges to interact, swap ideas, and talk about their classes with the larger academic community of the Burlington area.

For more information, please contact Mike Lange

The exhibit runs from October 6, 2012–January 27, 2013

“Begin as you wish to continue.”

There’s an old saying, “Begin as you wish to continue.”  I’m not sure who said it first but it definitely applies to teaching. Create the positive experience you envision for your students and for yourself by paying special attention to how you begin in these three areas:

Roles & Behavioral Expectations:  You’re the professor – what does that mean in your classroom? Is your role to facilitate and guide or to design and dictate? Perhaps it’s a little of both…? Does your role change as the semester progresses or during different assignments? Do you encourage diversity of views or are you immersing students into needed and rigid foundational knowledge? Can your students question you? Call you by your first name? Do you want a more formal or informal tone in your classroom? Whatever your expectations in each of these areas, BE SURE that you communicate them early and often to your students. Don’t assume that they know what you want and expect from them.

Learning & Rigor:  You expect your students to work hard – how do you want them to do this? Is your class rigorous because you assign a lot of work or because you expect your students to think at a higher level such as evaluation or creation? Do you expect them to form their own supported views of course concepts? Do you approve of students helping each other to learn? Be sure to communicate both the PROCESSES and the OUTCOMES you want students to achieve in your class. Tell them before, during, and after each learning activity and assignment.

Purpose & Goals:  You believe what you’re teaching is important – why should your students agree? Identify the goals of your course from day one. Be sure to convey the purpose and benefit of obtaining these goals in your students’ education, career, and post-graduation life. Refer back to these benefits and goals often over the course of the semester.

May you begin an effective, engaging, and successive semester and continue you on in the same fashion.

All the best for Fall 2012,

P.S. Student Engagement is a worksheet that provides a list of roles you can use to help students form effective small groups and some thoughts about levels of student engagement for you to consider.