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Teaching Arts Lunches

Please join us on the following Fridays for discussions focused on teaching and learning at Smith. Unless otherwise indicated, we will meet in Neilson Browsing Room from noon until 1 p.m., with lunch provided (meat, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free/grain-free options).

FALL 2016

After Orlando: Teaching About Sexual Diversity in the Arab-Islamic Diaspora

Mehammed Mack (French Studies)

"What is Islam’s stance on homosexuality? This question is highly vexed and impossible to answer, as there are not one but many stances, not one but many Islamic schools of thought, and scholars have rightly offered much-needed criticism of the idea that there is one monolithic body called Islam that can be consistent over time and space, let alone have stances.

An equally thorny and interesting question regards what we mean by “homosexuality.” Can we define it as same-sex desire, homosexual acts, or is homosexual identity more central to its meaning?

The answer to this question greatly impacts whether this highly variable assembly of beliefs, practices, institutions and texts we call “Islam” actually condemns what we might think it condemns."
Exerpt from "What Does the Koran Say About Being Gay?" by Mehammed Amadeus Mack. Published in Newsweek on June 15, 2016.

The article in Newsweek by Mehammed Amadeus Mack: http://www.newsweek.com/what-does-koran-say-about-being-gay-470570

A short article about representations of homosexuality in The Kite Runner: http://uwf.edu/bookclub/sexlovesin.html


SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
The Joys and Challenges of Teaching Outside Your Comfort Zone

Therese Huston, Author of How Women Decide and Teaching What You Don't Know, Faculty Development Consultant, Center for Faculty Development, Seattle University

Teaching Arts Lunch from 12:00-1:00 pm; workshop to follow from 1:00-2:00 pm

Most people don't like to admit it, but we know it's true: As faculty, we often find ourselves teaching the unfamiliar. In some instances, we're adding cutting edge research into our courses, and in others, we're teaching topics we haven't studied (or used) since we were sophomores ourselves.

We can immediately picture the pitfalls of this scenario, but in what ways can this make us better teachers and our students better learners? In this interactive seminar, Therese Huston shares her research and interviews with faculty from across the country. What are best practices from professors who teach material outside of their comfort zone and do it well? What are some of the common but avoidable mistakes we all tend to make? Whether you’re teaching a course for the first or the umpteenth time, we hope you’ll join us to examine this experience of “teaching while learning” and what it suggests for how we can work more creatively and innovatively with students.

The poster for this event can be found here.

The handouts for the Teaching Arts Luncheon and Workshop:
Therese Huston's Handout for Teaching Arts Luncheon
Therese Huston's Handout for Workshop


SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
Teaching with Digital Storytelling

Nancy Sternbach (Spanish & Portuguese)
Molly Falsetti-Yu (Spanish & Portuguese)

In this presentation, we discuss how we use Digital Narratives--a three-minute "documentary"--as a research tool in the classroom. In one instance, we show how the Department of Spanish and Portuguese created a team-taught class called "Digital Storytelling" for students to showcase and reflect on their study abroad experience

In the second example, a digital narrative was the final research project in two different Department classes, one in English and one in Spanish. Digital Storytelling methods were adapted to encompass the research process, producing a final outcome, whether in English or Spanish, that included a collaborative input requirement from students at the beginning, a multi-draft writing process, and several one-on-one meetings between student and professor.

Whether the narrative is in English or another language, we lay out the technology, language, and research steps that we used to have our students produce these short films.

The handouts for this Teaching Arts Luncheon:
Teaching with Digital Narratives - Outlines and Resources
Student Assessment Rubric

OCTOBER 7, 2016
What Makes a Healthy College/Community Partnership?

Denys Candy (Director of the Jandon Center for Community Engagement)

While many Colleges and Universities in the USA and beyond place importance on engaging local communities in social change projects and on the practice of partnership, what is meant by key terms such as “partnership,” “engage,” and “community,” is by no means self-evident. This is because partnership is not a “thing” that can be achieved by following a fixed set of steps. Rather, it is a process that necessarily evolves over time.

In this session we will explore the questions: What processes of engagement enable effective partnerships? How do we align rhetoric that “we must have a partnership” with actual collaborative practice among people with diverse affiliations on campus, in organizations and in public communities? Examples of effective college/community work will be offered, along with an introduction to the newly named Jandon Center for Community Engagement.

Jandon Center faculty director Phil Peake (Psychology) and faculty director emerita Lucy Mule (Education and Child Study) will share their partnering experiences.

OCTOBER 14, 2016
Dynamic Discussions with Lessons from Team-Based Learning

Kimberly Van Orman (Instructional Consultant, Institute for Teaching, Learning and Academic Leadership, University at Albany)

Team-Based Learning uses small groups and in-class activities to drive students learning, engaging all students and keeping discussions focused. Participants will experience Team-Based Learning to learn about it and how to modify its approach to group discussions for non-Team-Based Learning courses.


OCTOBER 28, 2016
Invisible Disabilities in the Classroom

Sarah Orem (American Studies)

When we think about creating accessible classrooms, our first thought is often of students with visible disabilities. We think of ramps and elevators for wheelchair users, captions for d/Deaf or hard of hearing students, and accessible PDFs for visually impaired students. But what about those other disabilities - ones that might not be immediately apparent?

This workshop will address how we can support students with invisible disabilities - from mental illnesses and chronic fatigue to illness, processing disorders, and everything in between. Through discussion and group strategizing, this workshop will address:

  • The challenges that students with invisible disabilities face in the academy
  • How our classroom policies can enable their learning 
  • The issue of disclosure
  • And hot-button issues like trigger warnings and technology in the classroom

NOVEMBER 4, 2016
Fostering inclusion in today’s geopolitical climate - what does it mean to be “international” either in the in the US or abroad?

Rebecca Hovey (Dean for International Study, Co-director of the Lewis Global Studies Center)
Caitlin Szymkowicz (Associate Dean for International Student and Scholars)
Lisa Johnson (Assistant Dean for International Study)

During this session we will discuss possible answers to the following questions:

  • Are students choosing different study abroad destinations due to the current geopolitical situation? Where and why?
  • How do students feel when their home countries are in the spotlight? When home events are not picked up in local media or campus dialogue? Or when national identities are “hidden”?
  • How do we talk about these kinds of issues with our students? What inclusive approaches enhance understanding and learning of contemporary global affairs?
  • What can students learn from studying abroad that sheds insight on local US race and ethnic issues such as Black Lives Matter or the anti-immigration debates?

NOVEMBER 18, 2016

Object-Based Teaching: Integrating Art Across the Curriculum

Maggie Lind Newey (Associate Director for Academic Programs and Public Education, Smith College Museum of Art)

With scholars embracing the “visual turn” across disciplines, interpreting visual material is becoming increasingly central to college-level teaching and learning. Art objects are inherently interdisciplinary and can inspire deep critical inquiry and expansive student-driven discussion. But for our students who are constantly bombarded with visual media in their daily lives, how can we slow down their looking to unpack the multiple meanings in a work of art? Join in discussion about strategies for integrating art into your teaching and assignments, and learn how staff at the Smith College Museum of Art can support you in this endeavor.


DECEMBER 2, 2016
New Tools for Authentic Assessment

Jessica Bacal (Wurtele Center for Work & Life)
Janie Vanpee (French Studies)
Joseph Bacal (Information Technology Services)

We will share how a faculty member, administrator and educational technology staff member developed an integrative curriculum, designed to get students thinking about their own cross-cultural experiences and to self-assess their language skills.

The collaboration evolved from the interests of Janie Vanpee, director of Smith's Global Studies Center and Translation Studies Concentration, who wanted concentrators to develop their own "European Language Portfolios." (The European Language Portfolio, or ELP, is used across the EU to assess language skills and cross-cultural fluency.)

Professor Vanpee worked with the Wurtele Center and ETS, and together they created a set of curricular tools to engage students in talking and writing about the evolution of their cultural competence. They also built a WordPress plugin that allows students to self-assess language-learning within an “exportable” digital rubric, and to include multimedia proof of their levels of proficiency.

The end product is a curriculum and digital tool that guides students in a kind of "authentic assessment," easily-adaptable to any set of academic goals.


Topic: Inclusive Teaching in the Sciences

Kelly Mack (Vice President and Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope, Office of Undergaduate Science Education (PKAL/STEM), AAC&U)

*Please note that the Teaching Arts Luncheon on December 9th will take place in the Carroll Room in the Campus Center instead of the Neilson Browsing Room.