Transparency in assignments

I’m such a big fan of Project Information Literacy. So here is a round up of the things I find inspiring.

Apparently students (and especially minorities) learn better if they know WHY they are doing an assignment. Here is a template from the Transparency Project to help.

I’m also really interested in questions. I ask lots of them and think they are important. Apparently I’m not alone. Here is a summary of the Question Formulation Technique. I may have to read the book:

Question Formulation Technique

Produce Your Questions
Four essential rules for producing your own questions:
• Ask as many questions as you can.
• Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer the questions.
• Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
• Change any statement into a question.

Improve Your Questions
• Categorize the questions as closed- or open-ended.
• Name the advantages and disadvantages of each type of question.
• Change questions from one type to another.

Prioritize the Questions
• Choose your three most important questions.
• Why did you choose these three as the most important?

Next Steps
• How are you going to use your questions?

© The Right Question Institute. Used with permission.

Head lice

My suggestion is that you get the following supplies: a real metal nit comb, a ketchup bottle, cetaphil (tm or generic), a hair dryer, a bonnet attachment (optional) and a dryer that has a high heat setting.

1. Comb hair and apply a lot of cetaphil to everyone’s heads. Follow the directions on the link carefully.

2. Use the bonnet to bake the cetaphil on without making yourself crazy. Stick child in front of electronic device while everything dries/heats up.

3. The directions above say you don’t need to use a nit comb, but I did, and I don’t regret it. Consumer reports says this is really the only part that helps. I’m ok with redundancy.

4. Dry anything you’re worried about being contaminated on high in a clothes dryer for 10 minutes. But, don’t worry too much.

I believe that the head lice in our Eugene schools are resistant to the over the counter pesticide shampoos that were available a year or so ago. [See point 5 in the summary of key points.] The suffocating treatment detailed above isn’t FDA approved, but worked for us with the nit comb and the clothes dryer. Your milage may vary. In addition, there are some new products to try, if you’d rather.

Good luck!

Menus for instruction

From ILI post  [ili-l] Follow up: Menu of services and timeline for course instructors
sent:Sunday, August 09, 2015 11:24 AM

Links to menus:









  • Candice Benjes-Small and Blair Brainard

And today we’ll be serving: An instruction a la carte menu

Coll. res. libr. news February 2006 67:80-96


Candice Benjes-Small Radford University, Jennifer L. Dorner University of California, Berkeley, Robert Schroeder Portland State University. Surveying Libraries to Identify Best Practices for a Menu Approach for Library Instruction Requests. Vol 3, Issue 1, 2009.[]=Vol3-2009AR2&path[]=84

How useful is AV/ video for instruction?

Best practices in Screencasting:

Meredith Farkas says use videos for conceptual overviews, step by step screenshots for instructions/how-tos.

And then the whole mess of evidence about utility of videos including:

The graph I saw like this:Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 1.59.48 PM

But seems to be based on this work:


Carl Wieman reading list

His work on evaluating biology teachers that I’d like to investigate about possible transferability to what we teach. His teaching Practices Inventory:

Includes articles about the inventory, a clean copy to use (modify or build on), and why this is a better way to evaluate and improve teaching than student evaluations, peer observations, teaching portfolios and/or pre and post testing.

I didn’t realize that the inventory is supposed to be for self evaluation (and is therefore perhaps a good way to practice some structured reflective teaching practices.)

Also, we have read this article of his in several contexts and it continues to be compelling introduction as to why we shouldn’t always lecture:

And, his reply to the meta-analysis about teaching (includes the bloodletting line):





resources for curriculum mapping

from the Claremont Colleges:


ACRL is coming to Portland, you should check these spots out…

These fine places are helping the University of Oregon Libraries purchase the Ken Kesey collection. Details here:
-Voodoo donuts – 22 SW 3rd Avenue Portland Oregon, U.S.A.
The Easy Peasy Lemon Kesey was made especially to help us purchase the collection. Much more here:
-Rogue beer – keep your eyes open for this bottle:
-Townsend Tea – – although the Division Street and Alberta Street locations are hardly close, Townsend is also helping the University of Oregon with the Kesey Collection. Pick up a bottle of their kombucha if you’re into that sort of thing:
Blue star donuts, the new “it” donut:
Purrington’s cat lounge just opened. It’s a 10 minute bus ride from the Convention Center, but really, was there ever a place more suited to ACRL?
Spirit of 77 sports bar across from the convention center.

Walk the East Bank Esplanade or the Waterfront Park Trail & bridges, just walk over a bridge to get to the Waterfront Trail and the parallel bank for the Esplanade. One option here:
Doug Fir/Mississippi Studios for music during the week. and
If it’s open – the new remodel of Washington High School – it’s now chock full of businesses and a coffee shop? –
Ace Hotel Lobby – it’s a hip thing to do –
Grand Marketplace for overpriced urban antiquing –
10 for $10 Yoga for those needing some exercise –
One of my favorite things to do is the following: take the MAX or the bus and head to the Pearl:
Start and/or end at Powell’s City of Books. There’s lots more shopping and treats to be had in the area, just walk around.
Coffee is serious in this town: There’s always Stumptown, but some other top-notch coffee joints for people who care to make a pilgrimage:  Spella (no seating, but amazing coffee and right downtown), Coava, and of course (not coffee but still…) Cacao, which offers incredible “drinking chocolate” shots in several locations:
Stop in at Pearl Bakery while you’re visiting Powell’s. Such good baked treats, and good coffee too!
Beer is also serious. For just a SE Portland Beer tour try Apex, Beer Mongers, Green Dragon, Cascade Brewing (sour beers), Baeleric, Base Camp, Burnside Brewing, etc. But, there’s so much more.
Food picks from my nieces and nephews, PDX born and raised (and younger and cooler than I’ll ever be) – closer to the Convention Center, getting further out:
Nong’s khao man gai (SE location) –
Bunk Sandwiches –
Pine State Biscuits –
The lucky lab –
5th quadrant (a Lompoc brewing location) and nearby Toro Bravo. – and
Fire on the mountain is a cool place for wings and beer  –  The burnside location isn’t too far from Lloyd. –
Dining on Division is a popular thing to have on your list (rightly so, but the waits are long)
Farther away is a stroll down NE Alberta (with a stop for ice cream at the Salt and Straw) or N. Mississippi (eat at Por Que No for tacos)
More adventures farther afield:
Japanese Garden/Rose Test Garden
the 4T Trail  (Train, Trail, Tram & Trolley)  5 T if you add tacos at the end.  Start at Lloyd Center Max.  Take Max to Zoo.  Find trailhead.  Hike to OHSU and take the Tram to the waterfront.  Trolley into downtown and catch a ride back to Lloyd District, or weather permitting, walk back from downtown.

Exploring ACRL Framework for IL: Information Creation as a Process

Learning outcomes: At the end of the session, learners will be able to:

discuss different ways to show information creation is a process.
critique different active learning activities attempting to show how information is created

Pre-class: To facilitate how I’d use this in a classroom setting, please read/skim the short letter to the editor here. (I realize it’s science, but I hope it’s of general interest to many.)

Schwarzfuchs, D., Golan, R., & Shai, I. (2012). Four-year follow-up after two-year dietary interventions. The New England Journal of Medicine, 367(14), 1373–4. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1204792 [open here: Schwarzfuchs_2012]

Using a curriculum map, you may be either introducing this as a topic or expanding on it.

slides here

Introduction: 1 minute essay

scenarios: in pairs complete 1 of the following. complete another one if time.

a. Large lecture class, 100-220 students with iClickers, we’ll use poll everywhere for the activity today.

b. Smaller research class, 20-35 students, with or without laptops, arrange the index cards to represent information creation.

c. Smaller research class II, 20-35 students, arrange the pieces to create a story.

Jigsaw: switch groups and discuss what worked and what could be improved.

Summary and wrap up.

clicker questions

some of the finer points of using them:

Ready, Set, React: Getting the most out of peer instruction using clickers

I liked how this source had me consider when and how to start a clicker poll, how to consider the answers I got and the variations I could expect to see.

These were also helpful:

The Clicker Resource Guide: (
CWSEI has some great resources on its Clicker page.

I still think I need better questions though. Most of mine are very simple, “are you paying attention?” and I’d like more challenge questions that expand on student understanding.

using technology v. using information

in response to this:

“The Horizon Report annually provides insights into the future trends and technologies in higher education.  The 2015 edition has just come out – – and I am more than a little dismayed by the chapter on “Improving Digital Literacy,” (p 24-25).  Apparently academia is now waking up to the reality that students are using technology, but not very effectively, for educational purposes.  … They can’t even agree on a definition for “digital literacy,” but instead appear to be circling the wagons around the idea that students somehow need to learn how to use their phones, tablets and laptops with skill to deal with information intelligently. …

Am I just a curmudgeon, or are we still on the outside looking in on an academia struggling with issues for which we have solid answers?”

- William Badke

“What they fail to understand is that digital literacy (using technology) is a different beast from information literacy (using information). They lump the two together. I see digital literacy as the mechanics of using the computer – ie, how to push a button. But once they can use technology, then what? …how to apply that knowledge to other buttons? That’s information literacy. Lumping the two together may be efficient, but it does a disservice to… the work we do to help students move beyond the mechanics.”

from A. Rovner, librarian from Charlotte, NC