Bob Selby’s Artic Adventure!

The US Coast Guard ship that Bob will be on as part of the Coast Guard Art Program.

The US Coast Guard ship that Bob will be on as part of the Coast Guard Art Program.

Bob’s adventurous summer consists of: …finish illustrations for a web site on women’s history (Clio History) but as I mentioned, I’m going to the Arctic on assignment.  I used to go on assignment when I was a newspaper illustrator and I have done commissions for the Coast Guard in the past.  This assignment is a result of my connection to COGAP, the Coast Guard Art program.  The creation of original art has been a long standing tradition in all of the military services, but some services like the Coast Guard and Air Force rely upon civilian artists instead of in-service personnel like the other branches.

On this assignment, I will fly to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian chain, Alaska to meet the USCGC Healy a Coast Guard Ice Breaker.  It’s new and the biggest cutter in the fleet.  We will cast off bound for the Arctic during the relatively warm month of August (average temps ought to hover at about freezing where we’ll be).  The Healy is basically a research vessel that houses on-board laboratories and cranes, etc. for gathering materials. They normally carry 50 scientists per voyage to conduct Arctic research in climate change, Oceanography, Meteorology and more, in addition to conducting more traditional missions like channel maintenance, rescue and oil spill mitigation.  My assignment will be threefold:

1. To submit real time sketches and commentary in an “artist’s journal” to the Coast Guard Blog (the public interface for the service).
2. To capture CG personnel working in support of scientific research in the polar region in paintings that I will do when I return.
3. To participate in Coast Guard outreach to Inuit communities in the region (I’ll go off in a helicopter to observe CG personnel bring aid and services to outlying communities, including vaccination for sled dogs!)

I expect to see polar bears, walrus, the midnight sun and many wondrous things.  They’ll bring me off in Barrow and I will make my way back across Alaska to return in time for school, a bit jet lagged, but very excited.  Thanks for your interest.




CIPs Teaching Tips – Spring 2013 #13 “Are your prompts and assignments more or less developmentally effective?”

According to the Sunday, April 14, 2013 issue of “Education Life” in the New York Times, “the Common Application has overhauled its essay prompts. The most popular option — write on a topic of your choice — is being eliminated. Instead, students will find prompts … designed to help them find focus and to encourage more personal reflection.” This is, of course, news that affects applying students and admissions officers, but those of us in the classroom can learn something from it as well.

Though the essay prompts provided are open enough to provide room for students to use their own voice and to formulate and convey their own opinions, they are also focused enough to help students  grasp what is being asked of them. This is extremely effective with prospective students and also with first year and sophomore students. Why? Because these students need guidance to build an idea. They need “representations” of concepts in order to grab hold of an abstract thought. Developmentally many of these students, no matter how bright, still have to work hard in order to apply abstract thought. These “representations” become a kind of abstract concrete for them to latch onto and use to build meaning.

Here’s an example of one of the prompts:

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?”

This might not seem that guided, but it is much more guided than asking students to write “about themselves.” It also provides more focus than asking them to “Describe a time when you challenged a belief.” The second two sentences in the prompt act as building blocks. They help students to latch onto experiences, memories, or emotions they already possess in order to begin to construct their response.

The librarians will tell you how first and second year students come looking for sources about topics as broad as a particular era in history. Often this is because these students are not yet familiar with how to research well, but sometimes we do our students a disservice. We treat them as if they are graduate students. We expect them to be able to abstract and connect in ways that they truly have not learned yet. They are bright enough; they simply are not cognitively advanced enough.

This upsets many of us. We expect them to be ready. We might even demand they be ready. How can we reach them if we don’t meet them where they are and then propel them forward? When most of us went to college, it was filled with the best of the best. These were usually students who were bright and also the cream of the crop, as in, the most cognitively advanced. Many of our students will not be as cognitively advanced as we were when we entered college until their senior year, or perhaps not even until they graduate. More students go to college now than in years past. This means that the average level of cognitive development has changed.  Just because some of your students are as advanced (notice I did not say “bright”) as we were in undergraduate or even graduate school, this does not mean that they all are.

Some students aren’t motivated. Some are lazy. Some are struggling to understand what you want from them. They feel stupid. They probably aren’t. Help them out. Meet them where they are. Don’t “dumb down” your courses; remember, these students are bright. Rather, design your prompts and your assignments in a manner which helps them to make connections and create ideas. Give them the building blocks they need. Then go ahead and grade the hell out of whatever they build.

Here’s to another good year done and an even better one to come,


NY Times article cited:

CIP, Center for Instructional Practice

Resources and support for every cycle of teaching…

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip

CIPs Teaching Tips – Spring 2013 #12 “One way to build a lesson”

Here’s a quick guide for creating a lesson based on mind, brain, and education concepts. Click on the link below. Click on “Okay” and then click on the arrow to play the Jing. You can scroll to the bottom of the document (as usual) on the sidebar.

You can use this format to make the lecture portions of your classes more interactive OR you can add more of the suggested activities for increased hands-on learning

Hope you find this useful,


Here is the link if you need to copy and paste: \\cosmos\AdminHome\Bonino\1 MASTER FILES\Student jings videos or voice threads\One_way_to_build_a_lesson.swf

CIP, Center for Instructional Practice

Resources and support for every cycle of teaching…

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip

Wait! You want us to tell our students to turn their cell phones ON?!

Check out a recent article by our own Andy Burkhardt, and formerly ours Sarah Faye Cohen:

“Turn Your Cell Phones on”: Mobile Phone Polling as a Tool for Teaching Information Literacy”

(Click on title for access to webpage; you’ll need to scroll down to the table of contents on the site and then click on the article. A PDF version (full text) will be available there as well.”


While mobile technologies are ubiquitous among students and increasingly used in many aspects of libraries, they have yet to gain traction in information literacy instruction. Librarians at Champlain College piloted mobile phone polling in a first-year classroom as a less expensive and more versatile alternative to clickers. By utilizing a technology that virtually all students have in their pockets librarians found that it increased engagement from previous iterations of the session. In addition, by asking poll questions about students’ experiences, librarians were able to facilitate in-depth inquiry into information literacy topics. Ultimately, from direct experience in over 30 different classes, we found that mobile phone polling is a useful tool for any librarian to have in their pedagogical toolbox.

CIPs Teaching Tips – Spring 2013 #11 “Grading Quick Tip”

It’s that time of the semester again – grading is or is about to pile up around our ears. Keep in mind that grading is your chance to give personalized feedback to your students. Good feedback helps them to learn. Make sure your feedback delivers this opportunity. If it simply gives them the ultimate, perfect answer instead of facilitating their growth; or if it ends up as a rant about what they did wrong, take a deep breath and change it. Turns out…we can learn a lot from grading too.

May your piles diminish in wonderful ways,


CIP, Center for Instructional Practice

Resources and support for every cycle of teaching…

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip

April 18th—the “Meaningful Books” of Laurel Bongiorno


Dr. Laurel Bongiorno
Program Director, M.Ed./Professor, Division of Education & Human Studies

When: Thursday, April 18th, 1-2:30

Where:  Vista Room, 3rd floor Miller Information Commons

Join us as we learn more about some of the books that have made a difference in the life of Professor Laurel Bongiorno—books that she refers to as her “favorite beach reads!”

Laurel is recipient of the 2012-2013 Edward Phelps Lyman Professorship Award, and continues to be one of the most engaged faculty members at Champlain. Her doctoral research is in PLAY and she tries to practice what she preaches.  So, in that spirit, for the Meaningful Books Series presentation,

she will share favorite beach reads in preparation for your vacation this summer!  And not just a few — she’s a SERIES reader, so there will be stacks of recommendations from Clive Cussler’s “save the world” novels to Sookie Stackhouse’s vampire novels (Book 13 comes out May 7th!) t

o our own Vermont author, Chris Bojalian –(she just finished reading The Night Strangers)

Refreshments included!