A recent student advising meeting really got me thinking. Although there is hope that we may be turning a corner with Covid (or just getting used to this new normal), there is also a Covid aftermath many are facing right now. An aftermath that is a result of the impact of two years of unexpected life changes, disruption, and anxiety. Like so many, my student started college expecting the “old,” or pre-pandemic normal, but about the time he was feeling somewhat acclimated on campus, March 2020 came along and college became defined by Zoom. It is hard to fully digest this. His college life turned into Zoom...how could that be??? And the impact of this sudden and profound change meant he was changed forever. Class engagement through Zoom was particularly challenging for him. It was harder to concentrate, harder to participate, harder to ask questions, harder to connect with classmates, harder to motivate to do work, harder to study with the ever present distractions of technology, harder, harder, harder. Two years later, this student is doing everything he can to figure out how to change his college habits, to better manage his time, improve his study strategies, pull away from distractions, and also pull up his grades so he can get off academic probation. Before saying more, I do want to acknowledge that colleges did what they could to figure out this new and unchartered territory of fully virtual learning environments. And nuggets of good news emerged, with some students thriving even better in this type of class setting. But I want to focus on the aftermath for those trying to pick up the difficult pieces of an unexpected college life. In this aftermath, there is grief. Grief in what could have been and then the shocking reality of what actually happened. Grief in an expectation of college life that was dashed in merely a few days. Grief in the extended period of disruption that meant months and years of different, not just days and weeks. In the speediness of life, many have not taken a moment to acknowledge, let alone feel, this grief. I hope anyone reading will take some time to reflect on the grief that might still be lingering, maybe with a friend, counselor, mentor, or through journal writing. It’s okay to be angry, sad, and feel frustrated. Sitting in the grief rather than ignoring it can often help us let go of those difficult feelings and truly put the past behind us, or at least provide an opportunity for some healing. Another challenge in the aftermath of Covid is lingering anxiety. College anxiety is already ever present on campuses as students manage new college expectations, challenging coursework, being away from home for the first time, balancing school, work and family life all at the same time, etc. Many of us have to manage underlying levels of anxiety to begin with. Then you add Covid to the mix and anxiety can really invade the mind and body. My anxiety escalated during this period and took me back to my sophomore year of college when anxiety took over and I almost left college. It was an incredibly difficult and lonely time, but thanks to the gentle urging of a college instructor, I found my way to a mental health counselor and a career counselor who became a lifelong mentor. These essential supports made it possible for me to share my struggles with a classmate who was going through a similar experience and felt ashamed that she too couldn’t seem to “handle” college. I found that regular river walks and rehearsals for a singing group (my personal versions of meditation) made a big difference in helping me turn the corner too. Why share this? Well, I recently realized that these very same strategies helped tame my Covid anxiety – consistent mental health support, seeking help from my mentor, honest friendships, walks outside with a new puppy, and joining a church choir. How lucky was I to have a college instructor who could really see what was going on for me? That one compassionate conversation helped me lift the mask I was wearing (that everything was fine) and find my way to essential resources I didn’t know much about and was honestly too proud to seek out. I could then face my anxiety instead of hiding it and recognize that I was suffering and getting low grades, not for lack of effort, but for lack of understanding how I could really help myself. I became open to learning new strategies for coping, which meant I was better able to handle college work. It’s not always easy to know what students need, but honest check-ins can allow them to be more vulnerable and see that they not only deserve the help, but that it is essential to figure out what works given the many resources and options out there. This could mean they too find lifelong strategies that make new challenges, like Covid, easier to manage. And improving health and wellness frees up mental space for college students to focus more fully on what is happening in the present. And so I want to bring us back to the present. By finding ways to stay more present in each moment of our lives, I think it is easier to actually manage what life hands us and remain resilient in the aftermath of difficult situations. And college life in all its excitement and all its challenge hands you so much to manage. The ability to be more present can help with critical thinking, concentration, deep learning, studying, relationships, self-care, and much more – all things that feed into college success and enjoyment. My student has fortunately found a good support system and as a result, he is staying more present to how he can make positive changes for himself. I have told him to take pride in all that he is handling in the aftermath of Covid, and I hope you all do the same.
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Thank you to everyone who was able to join the Macmillan Learning FYE Conference activities. 'Improve Student Success in the Age of COVID-19 and Beyond' presentation resources are now available. Download the attached slide deck, or view the conference recording below. For more on our suite of College Success resources (including program assessment and retention surveys), please visit: https://go.macmillanlearning.com/college-success-resources.html
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This event is a series of short workshops designed to provide best practices in teaching the First Year experience course in a virtual or hybrid format. Topics will include Student Engagement, Fostering a Positive Mindset and Diversity & Inclusion and will feature a variety of Macmillan authors and experienced instructors. Please join us for the workshops that interest you most and for our Virtual Happy Hour afterwards with Your College Experience authors John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot.
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NOVEMBER 4th | 3:00 PM ET
Looking for new ways to keep your students engaged in an online learning environment? Learning Solutions Specialist at Macmillan Learning, Heather Halter Kimball, will share some of the best tips and tricks for keeping students engaged and on task in your College Success course via our online platform, LaunchPad. LaunchPad is a resource designed to help students achieve better results by providing a place where they can read, study, practice, complete homework, and more.
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It was August of 1970, when I was a psychiatric social worker on active duty in the United States Air Force at the height of the carnage of the Vietnam War and, much more importantly, when the whole world was watching thousands of protesters in the streets outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago, the headquarters hotel of the Democratic National Convention. They were chanting “The whole world is watching; the whole world is watching; the whole world is watching.” And now, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the world watches again as we chant: “I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe!” For decades, US higher education had been the envy of the rest of the world, the gold standard for emulation. In my case, I have had the exhilarating experience of being part of a highly respected educational innovation, launched by one American university in 1972, which has been adopted around the globe: the so-called “first-year experience” movement, philosophy and associated practices. Of course, the same cannot be said of our country now. Even before the pandemic, tourism numbers of non-US passport holders coming to the United States were down. And numbers of international students had fallen off a cliff. So, here at this time when the world is once again watching people in the United States fighting for justice, what can we higher educators do in our institutional settings? Since 1636 and throughout American history our higher education institutions have reflected, affirmed, challenged, and helped change the dominant value systems of American society. As educators, we have both encouraged our students to adopt those values and/or to challenge them and stand for something else. Our campuses have stood for maintaining the status quo, modifying the status quo, or outright rejecting it. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, what are we going to do now, especially when ever the students really do return to campus? Our campuses, no surprise, are microcosms of the larger American society. Thus, we manifest most of the inequities of the country. And certainly our “outcomes” – in terms of who is admitted where and to what programs, financially supported and to what extent, retained and graduated, and with what debt levels, offered the best jobs – mirrors the inequitable outcomes of our society. I lead a non-profit organization that has a strong mission to work in pursuit of social justice, but what else can those of us in academia do within our own spheres of influence? What about our admissions policies? And our financial aid practices? Our pedagogies? Our grading practices? Our curricula? Our gateway course outcomes in high failure rate courses? Our opportunities for on-campus employment, internships, study abroad? Our willingness to provide emergency financial aid? How do all of these still manifest race-based, structural inequities and hence serve to perpetuate that historic and well-established system? This year our focus, surely, will just be on getting back in business. But that “business” has always had discriminatory elements. Are these any longer sustainable? The public is speaking; polls are suggesting record numbers of US citizens, including older whites and even some conservatives, are sympathetic with the causes and concerns of protestors. This is the time then for unprecedented change in our policies and practices. So what could you be doing on your campus that the whole world could be watching and applauding? I have a dream that moving forward some of you/us are going to be doing more than we ever have before. The whole world is watching. We can’t breathe!
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Dear College Success Instructor,
As we all try to adjust to the “new normal” of academic life in the age of COVID-19, we understand that your students may struggle with some of the adjustmen ts they need to make in their daily lives. To support them (and you) this Fall, Macmillan Learning has developed a “ COVID-19 Student Toolkit, ” where our authors directly address students and give them advice on how to overcome the challenges COVID-19 may throw their way. The topics covered in this toolkit are:
Summer Orientation/Bridge - Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz
Academic & Financial Planning - John Gardner and Betsey Barefoot
Distance Learning - Jamie Shushan
Wellness - Paul Gore, Wade Leuwerke, and A.J. Metz
Mindfulness - Elizabeth Catanese and Kate Sanchez
Please feel free to share this online resource with your students and any of your fellow instructors: www.c19toolkit.com
We will be supporting this toolkit with an additional unit in our College Success LaunchPads that contains instructor resources, quizzing and an iClicker Slide Deck. The videos can also be found on our YouTube Playlist , where you can upload them directly to your LaunchPad! (Directions for uploading videos to LaunchPad can be found here .)
If you need any additional help preparing your course(s) for fall, please reach out to your rep directly and/or visit our instructor resources page. This page contains content and tools to help you create powerful online learning experiences, schedule a demo with one of our learning solutions specialists, and more.
Stay tuned in the following months for more content directly from our COVID-19 Toolkit Authors on how to work with students to overcome the challenges they are facing this Fall!
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by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz Amid COVID-19 closures and delays, college administrators and student-facing staff are turning their attention toward transitioning to virtual orientations and summer bridge programs. What can colleges do to provide a smooth transition for their incoming students? How can they help new students visualize their lives on campus and prepare for a memorable and informed home-to-college transition in these unprecedented times? To address the challenges of transitioning to college, only exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, we wrote How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There) —the first student-facing practical guide for incoming students to prepare for the college transition through exercises and conversations before they arrive. It is a flexible and comprehensive supplement for your online summer programs. In writing How to College, we drew on our experiences teaching and working with thousands of first-year college students over decades. The comprehensive guide offers invaluable advice from college administrators, faculty, student-facing staff, and current college students, demystifying the college transition experience and emphasizing the student’s ultimate self-reliance in the transition to college during this challenging time. How to College sets the foundation for college success with accessible information and simple online lessons and activities that address the kind of challenges students will be facing this summer and fall, including: interacting online with peers to gain a sense of belonging connecting with campus resources such as tutoring and writing centers, career services, counseling services, and disability support to have the necessary support for college success using campus technology resources such as learning management systems, library databases, and college email to be prepared for virtual learning maintaining physical and mental health, wellness, and safety, especially during this stressful time budgeting and financial literacy to cope with the uncertainty of today’s economy selecting co-curricular and civic-engagement experiences to get involved, even in a distance-learning environment understanding college-level academic standards: study skills, time management, writing, professionalism, reading, and academic integrity examining the importance of finding supportive mentors in this life transition How to College also includes exercises and tasks that orientation and summer bridge administrators can easily translate into a distance-learning curriculum: Know before you go - research tasks such as learning about the demographic makeup of the school’s incoming class, and practicing writing a professional email; Do before you go - exercises such as preparing a simple budget, downloading the college’s safety apps, and researching campus clubs and organizations of interest; Discuss before you go : conversation prompts for incoming students and their families on such topics as how to handle emergencies, responsibly using financial resources, and how families will communicate.' Finally, as part of Macmillan Learning's COVID-19 Student Toolkit, we also put together a set of free web resources with some brief videos and our best tips for students this summer. These resources, combined with How to College, can help colleges prepare students for a memorable and informal transition to college during this unprecedented time. You can view our Orientation & Summer Bridge Resources at: c19tookit.com/orientation.html. For more information, including how to order How to College for your program or to receive a free examination copy, please visit the Macmillan Academic website or contact email@example.com .
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by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz The transition from high school—and life at home—to college can be stressful for students and their families, and nothing in the college admissions process prepares students for it. Colleges are reporting an increase in underprepared first-year students at startling rates. H ow to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There) is here to help. Authors Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Schwartz guide first-year students to thrive in the transition process, in high school, during the summer after high school graduation, and throughout their first year on campus. How to College is the first student-facing practical guide of its kind on the market. It draws on the authors’ experiences teaching and working with thousands of first-year college students over decades. The comprehensive guide offers invaluable advice from college insiders to college-bound students, emphasizing the student’s ultimate self-reliance. The book is filled with important resources needed to set the foundation of success at the collegiate level including lessons and activities on money; time and self-management; co-curricular and civic-engagement experiences; navigating relationships with family and friends back at home and roommates and peers on campus; exploring new college identities; finding one's voice inside and outside of the classroom; health, wellness and safety; and the importance of finding mentors for support in this life transition. Colleges can use this book during the first year of college as… ...the basis for a first-year experience course . How to College addresses the full college experience, including college academic standards; maintaining physical and mental health and wellness; financial literacy and budgeting; moving to a new community; and engaging in college life in and out of the classroom. ...a guide for peer leaders and resident assistants . Research shows that peer leaders are among the best mentors for first-year students. These successful college students become adept at using college resources and mastering college-level skills, but by definition they do not have decades of experience dealing with the full range of challenges and pitfalls that are common to the first-year experience. They can benefit from a text that includes simple descriptions of these challenges and straightforward advice from experts that they can use to demystify the college experience in language that their student mentees will understand. ...a resource for residence life, counseling center, and orientation staff . Staff will find useful approaches to common first-year pitfalls and challenges. At most campuses, these staff do not have extensive contact with faculty. Written by two professors, How to College provides staff with the faculty point of view on matters such as study skills, writing, professionalism, reading, and academic integrity. The book creates a bridge between faculty and the student-facing staff who are charged with supporting students. This book can also benefit students before college starts in the following ways: Advising programs . Many colleges connect incoming students with an academic adviser, increasingly a first-year adviser, in the spring of their senior year of high school. This first contact is an excellent time to introduce How to College - including by sending it with other materials. Advisers can direct students to these exercises: Setting up and getting comfortable with the school’s technology systems, including email, library research tools, and learning management systems like Blackboard and Canvas; Making good use of academic support services such as supplemental tutoring, writing centers, and resources for international students and students with disabilities; and Sending professional emails. Residence and campus life staff are in contact with incoming college students during the summer following high school graduation. Residence life programs pair roommates and suite-mates and build living and learning communities long before students arrive on campus. Students are “meeting” and interacting on social media and through email before orientation, and without the college professionals’ support. How to Colleg e has great tools to help students build these new relationships from the start, including: Advice about how to have a first conversation with your new roommate(s); Tips to prepare for a successful, low-conflict move-in day; Activities to prepare students to live and learn in a diverse community. For example, we encourage students to learn about the student body’s backgrounds, demographics, and circumstances; to read books or articles by authors who have different points of view than their own; to attend an event that exposes them to a new idea or culture; and to reflect upon their own listening and communication skills and habits. Summer bridge programs for particular cohorts of college students . How to College is a pre-made “bridge” program that can form the basis of in-person programming. It includes materials of particular interest to the college cohorts that summer bridge programs most often serve: international students, first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. Admissions and orientation programs can suggest How to College as a pre-orientation read or send it to incoming students with welcome materials. Tutoring centers working with high school seniors on academic high school transitions can use How to College as a textbook, assigning activities from the book to their students. Of particular interest would be the information presented on: How to read an academic journal Reading without technology distractions Writing a persuasive college paper Using sticky notes for higher-level note-taking Common reads programs expose the entire incoming class to one common text. How to College can be a unique common read in that it exposes students to a series of shared summer experiences, not only a shared book. Students read the text and also engage with a wide variety of useful learning experiences in preparation for their college transition. Common Reads programs can assign students to complete particular activities- for example, setting personal goals as a communicator, participating in a new cultural activity, or taking a financial literacy course-- over the summer. Once on campus, they can then engage students in conversations about the experiences, making college preparation collaborative. For more information on How to College , go to our trade website at us.macmillan.com/books .
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Matthew L. Sanders is an Associate Professor of communication studies and an Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Science at Utah State University. He holds a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Matt conducts research in the areas of nonprofit organizations and student empowerment and his work has been published in acad emic journals in communication, business, and public administration. He is the author of the book Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education, which is used in First Year Experience programs at several universities. Tell us about one initiative you are currently working on that you are really excited about. I’m working on a project to infuse the idea of becoming an educated person into our general education curriculum so students will hear that important message more times than just their FYE course. I think general education reform is the next step in improve the first year of college. What motivates you to work in college success? College can be a transformative experience. It was for me; I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I want to do what I can to help it be a great experience for all students. What advice would you have given to your younger self as you embarked on your first year in college? To remember that the overall goal is to become an educated person and to worry less about what major I might choose. And I would take more classes that would really challenge me and stretch my abilities. What are some trends and developments you are currently seeing in the college success/First-Year Experience course? There is a trend toward focusing on helping students understand the “why” behind everything. It’s just starting, but people get it. Our textbooks of the future won’t just have a short chapter on it or treat it as self-evident. The premise of our work will be to infuse meaning into how students view college. What did you enjoy the most about writing Becoming a Learner? Writing in my teacher voice. Rather than write as an academic writes to other academics, I was able to write and in a way speak directly to the reader in the same way I do in my classroom. That made the writing exciting and meaningful. And I think that’s why so many students respond well to it. And on a personal note... What book has influenced you the most? Parker Palmer’s book, The Courage to Teach, had a big impact on me as a brand new teacher. It made me realize that teaching is about connection. What is something you want to learn in the next year (related to higher education or otherwise)? I want to learn how to lead change among my peers at my university. If you hadn't pursued your current career, what do you think you would have done? I would have worked in training and development. What is your ideal vacation? A guided fly fishing trip to Alaska. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people may know. I speak Spanish.
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John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot were some of the early innovators of the college success course. In keeping with that theme, the LaunchPad which accompanies the 13 th edition of their text, Your College Experience, we include innovative ways to engage your students with the course content. As your Learning Solutions Specialist, let me take you on a tour of what’s available. Each chapter contains a n interactive self-assessment quiz, which gives students an opportunity to reflect and learn more about themselves and the chapter topics, providing targeted advice to help them develop a personalized learning plan. Multiple-choice Case Study Quizzes ask students to apply practical strategies and concepts discussed in each chapter. Students receive instant, helpful feedback after each response to help them contemplate the scenarios further. My personal favorite resource is our student voices videos, which shows real college students sharing their experiences. Accompanied by a set of open-response questions, two Video Activities per unit allow students to reflect on course topics and deepen their thinking, as well as encourages application of helpful strategies discussed to their own lives. You can talk and talk and talk about how important time management is, but it might not really hit home until they hear it from their peers! All of these live alongside an interactive ebook, instructor resources, and LearningCurve Adaptive Quizzing. If you’d like to learn more about how LaunchPad can help enhance your course, sign up for a one-on-one session with your Learning Solutions Specialist: https://macmillanlearning.com/Catalog/event/training-demos/LaunchPad/Demos
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ACES, the Academic Career Excellent System, is the flagship feature of our College Success list. Though it is a student inventory, it also has benefits for instructors. As the Learning Solutions Specialist for College Success, it is my job to help get instructors up and running with all of our digital resources, including ACES. And, as a and a former instructor myself, I'm personally invested in making sure your classes are using the resources in the best way possible. We’ll explore its many uses throughout the semester, but, today, we’ll just start with the basics for those not familiar with it, or as a refresher if you haven’t checked it out in a while. Specifically we’ll focus on the Initial Report and its use as a Pre-Test. It is found within several of our LaunchPad online platforms, including the Connections Franchise and LaunchPad Solo. Typically assigned during the first few weeks of class, the inventory looks at how prepared students are for college in 12 key areas: Critical Thinking and Goal Setting, Motivation and Decision Making, Learning Preferences, Organization and Time Management, Reading, Note Taking, Memory and Studying, Test Taking, Information Literacy and Communication, Connecting with Others, Personal and Financial Health, and Academic and Career Planning. Students rate their level of agreement with statements such as “My notes are legible and well organized”, on a 6 point scale from “Strongly Agree” to Strongly disagree.” It consists of 80 statements and takes about 20 minutes to complete. Once completed, students see how their scores compare to our national norm based on college students across the country. They are also provided with information on what their scores means, and how they can improve upon certain areas. As an instructor, you see the aggregate of your class on that same national norm. Scales with green bars indicate a high skill level, consistent with the highest 25 percent of the national sample. Scales with yellow bars indicate a moderate skill level, consistent with the middle 50 percent of the national sample. Scales with red bars indicate a low skill level, consistent with the lowest 25 percent of the national sample. When given as a pre-test at the start of the semester, you get a glance of what you should focus your time on throughout the semester. Spend more time covering the areas in red, and maybe less time in the green areas. And of course, you can also work individually with students as well. We’ll look at more ways to use ACES in your course in future “Tech Tuesdays.” If you’d like to learn more right away, or get assistance setting up your LaunchPad course space, sign up for a demo with your LSS Specialist. http://www.macmillanhighered.com/Catalog/support.aspx
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The morning after the 2016 election I found myself driving—bleary-eyed after a restless night—to the English department at Florida Atlantic University to host a book fair. Weeks earlier, when I had scheduled the event, I overlooked the fact that it was the day after the election, though I could not have predicted the dramatic turn of events and the resulting atmosphere of charged emotion. At the time, I was the Macmillan Learning sales rep for South Florida, before coming in-house as an editor, and I never felt closer to my virtue as a Macmillan rep than when hosting a book fair. I think that in all of the talk about learning and course objectives, people can forget the tremendous power that books have to simply help us understand one another. On that particular morning, instructors stumbled in, grabbed a hot cup of coffee and sat with me and the books for a long moment or two, before heading on to the rest of their day. We shared some laughs, and some cries, but above all—despite the confusion we were feeling—we felt connected to all of the humanity I had spread out across the table. The textbooks and the readers, but also the Macmillan trade titles I had brought—George Packer’s The Unwinding , Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones , the essay collection This I Believe ... While moving slowly in South Florida traffic on the way home, in my mind I began writing my own This I Believe essay. I helped Broward College select This I Believe II for their College Read program, and I had been meaning to write one. A week or so later, after sharing my essay with a few professors, I was invited by Broward to read my essay and lead a discussion on a documentary, Glen’s Village , they were showing in conjunction with College Read. After the screening of the documentary, I led an open-forum discussion about the film. In one of the most striking parts of the film, Glen and his community fight to keep his public high school from being closed and demolished due to budget cuts. When they lose the fight to keep the school open, Glen then fights to preserve at least "the culture of the school." I asked the attendees to talk about the culture of their school, Broward College. What is it, what should it be, what role does it play as a part of your community? We had some really heartfelt discussion. One student said that the school "is like a piece of you, and when you lose the school, a little piece of you dies." A professor said that so many of us as individuals come from broken places, and he saw Broward as a place of healing, and that all of us need to be part of that feeling for ourselves and each other. I then talked a little about the College Read program, and the idea that everyone reading the same book and sharing their stories can help strengthen their community. I read a selection from This I Believe II—a quote from Edward R. Murrow about why the “This I Believe” project was founded. I asked if his words resonated with them, particularly after the election—lots of nods and yesses. Then I read my This I Believe essay, and invited students to read their own essays—or to read ones from the book they wanted to share. One student picked "Living with Integrity" by Bob Barrett. In closing, one of the professors read "The Right to Be Fully American" by Yasir Billoo, from This I Believe II. It opens: "I am an American and like almost everyone here, I am also something else. I was raised to believe that America embraces all people from all faiths, but recently, that long-standing belief--along with both parts of my identity--have come under attack. And as an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, this attack is tearing me apart." Before reading the essay, she gave a very moving speech to students: "In light of the recent election, I just hope and pray that we as individuals and we as a community can still hold on to our integrity and our values and to understand that each and every single one of us, regardless of our background, of our heritage, of our religious beliefs, of our height, our weight, our color, our anything, that we all treat each other as human beings. And nobody--nobody--is better than you. Nobody. And nobody on this planet is worse than you. And please always, always remember that. Take that with you in every walk of life." As an editor, I believe my job is helping build communities. Because that’s exactly what a good book is--textbook or trade--a means for helping us understand one another, heal us from the broken places we’ve been, and reveal to us our enduring, common humanity. Allen is the Program Manager for College Success & Human Communication at Macmillan Learning. He is an advocate for College Read programs as a way to foster social belonging on campus and in our larger communities. You can read his This I Believe essay, Crying in Baseball , here.
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Since we first launched the ACES self-assessment back in 2016, we’ve seen program after program make the simple decision to give each one of their students, on their first days of college, one of the most powerful gifts--self-knowledge. It all starts with the simple, 20-minute ACES activity: a set of survey questions expertly designed by three counseling psychologists, through which students create a quantitative self-portrait of their strengths and growth areas--the ACES Initial Report . Over 30,000 students have now taken ACES in their first weeks of college, so many of them for the first time discovering the power of a growth mindset, goal setting, and how to cultivate their inner assets to overcome adversity and be their best selves. Over the past year or so, we’ve been beta-testing an ACES “post-test,” so that students could take the assessment again and reflect on their progress. An impetus for developing the post-test was that instructors could now have a powerful tool to help quantify the progress students were making in their FYE course. But the real driver behind this second instance of ACES is a pedagogical reason--its metacognitive benefits. Having a second ACES report, at the end of the term, provides students with an important opportunity to reflect on their progress, practice gratitude, and gain valuable positive reinforcement. It also gives them an updated version of their quantitative self-portrait. By seeing change in their skills, abilities, and attitudes, the end-of-term ACES report provides them with real, first-hand experience with growth-mindset, neuroplasticity, and above all, the power to change oneself for the better. To emphasize these powerful benefits, the beta post-test will be replaced in early Summer 2019 in all ACES LaunchPads with a new, permanent, second instance of ACES to be taken at the end of the semester. The report students will receive from this second instance of ACES will be called “ The ACES Progress Report .” Instructors will also have a new “ Comparison Report ” in their report dashboard so they themselves can reflect on the impact their course has had on their students. In addition, there will be a brief guide added to all ACES LaunchPads to help students compare their Progress Report with their Initial Report from the beginning of the semester. Connections, Second Edition --the new edition of the textbook program developed in conjunction with ACES by the same team of counseling psychologists--gets an even more powerful end-of-semester feature: an assignable Capstone LaunchPad activity that automatically pulls in students’ ACES results from the entire term, and leads them through a metacognitive reflection to set them up for long term success. These new features--the ACES Progress Report , the ACES Comparison Report , and the ACES Capstone Activity --are truly the product of the collaborative spirit at Macmillan Learning. I’m so inspired by how our wonderful authors, our senior editor Christina Lembo, our senior media editor Tom Kane, our technology team, and our faculty and student partners across the country, came together to bring you these new products, fostered by our spirit that together we can achieve more. With these new features, our hope is that you will now be able to give your students something as powerful as the self-knowledge you offer them when they walk into your class--self growth, as they walk out.
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It’s #TechTuesday! Here are 10 useful and free apps we love for both instructors and students to live informed, balanced, simplified, and successful lifestyles:
Some of us just aren’t morning people, but sometimes life throws us 8 a.m. classes anyway. Whether you’re waking up just to be at class or you have to teach it, attendance and punctuality are important. Alarmy is one way to ensure that you get out of bed -- your alarm will be set with tasks that must be completed to turn off the dreaded noise.
Who has time to watch or read the news everyday? Morning Brew delivers a newsletter of major updates to your email inbox every morning. Designed for millennials, the app provides quick and quality news coverage of diverse topics including a stock market recap, business news, and a short lifestyle section.
Whether you tend to procrastinate a little or a lot, physically blocking out distractions can be helpful in completing assignments in a timely manner. SelfControl lets you block your access from certain sites and apps for a predetermined period of time. Even if you restart your computer or delete the app, you won’t have access to blacklisted sites until the timer is up.
In need of a professional, direct means of communication between organization members, students, and instructors? Slack is a cloud-based messaging and collaboration app that offers organized instant communication, file sharing, screen sharing, and calling through its free and secure service. It’s the perfect real-time alternative to email.
Find yourself without your wallet and with a growing list of IOUs? Venmo makes it simple to pay back your friends for split meals, Uber rides, concert tickets, rent, and much more. The app securely connects to your bank account or credit card to send or request money to friends, family, colleagues, and now even many businesses .
If you’re a big list person like me, you’ll love Google Keep , one of the lesser known apps in the Google Suite. You can take notes, make checklists with tick boxes, create drawings, insert photos, change colors, and set reminders.
This mobile and web based app allows students to study content through flashcards, quizzing, and a variety of study games. Quizlet is extremely popular with students because it can be used on the go and study sets can easily be shared. Instructors can use it as a tool to review course information, track progress, and engage students.
While writing a halfway decent essay is a prerequisite of college admission, properly citing one is not. EasyBib makes it easy for students to correctly cite their sources and avoid plagiarism. All you have to do is plug in the link to the article you’d like to cite and the app picks out and formats the necessary information.
My Fitness Pal
Students and instructors alike can fall prey to bad eating habits under the stress and time constraints of school. My Fitness Pal is a free app by Under Armour that keeps track of daily exercise and diet habits, allowing you to set attainable personal fitness goals. Users simply enter their current and goal weight, then input their meals and daily exercise to track their progress against the recommended calorie intake suggested to achieve their goal.
College is often the first time young adults manage their own money, usually with little guidance on how to do so responsibly. Try Mint to proactively (or counter-actively) save money. It’s an all-in-one app for budgeting, investments, bills, security, and credit.
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