Teaching Circles


Teaching Circles are designed to support faculty dialogue around a particular book or set of readings related to an aspect of teaching and/or learning. Faculty facilitators lead a semester-long conversation, often with four or so meetings over the course of a semester. The Pew FTLC covers the cost of a book for each member of the circle as well as (optional) light refreshments for meetings. All faculty, full- or part-time, are eligible to participate.  

Upcoming Teaching Circles are listed below. Please email the facilitator to express your interest in participating.

If you are interested in proposing your own Teaching Circle, follow the links below to apply for a Teaching Circle Facilitation Grant or receive more information on past Teaching Circles.

Winter 2016

Data Visualization

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus
Co-Facilitators: Whitt Kilburn, Political Science, and Gerald Shoultz, Statistics

We will study contemporary theory and practice in data visualization, and identify strategies to teach these ideas to undergraduates. The selected book, Graphical Data Analysis with R by Antony Unwin, applies techniques of data visualization in the statistical software application, R. The software is a foundation of data visualization by Amanda Cox at The New York Times, who will visit the Grand Valley campus in March. Teaching Circle participants will receive a copy of the book. The Data Inquiry Lab will hold introductory workshops at the beginning of the Winter 2016 semester on using R for faculty unfamiliar with it. To register, please contact Whitt Kilburn.

Never Send a Human to do a Machine's Job: Correcting the Top 5 EdTech Mistakes

Dates/Times/Location: 1/19, 2/9, 3/1, 3/29, from 12 - 1:30pm, 488C DeVos Center
Facilitators: Erica Hamilton, College of Education - Leadership and Learning

According to the book's authors, Yong Zhao, Gaming Zhang, Jing Lei Wei Qui, "technology has transformed our lives, and virtually every school and classroom is connected. Why then, has it not transformed education?" In response to this question, this Teaching Circle seeks to facilitate conversation and learning regarding educational technology and how it can best be utilized to enhance teaching and learning. Through reading and discussing this book, participants will have opportunities to consider (and re-consider) pedagogy and practice as well as share examples and ideas. Conversations will be aimed at further developing participants' understanding of how/when to use technology to improve student learning outcomes. Books and snacks will be provided by the Pew FTLC. To register, please contact Erica Hamilton.

Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus
Facilitators: Ashley Rosener, University Libraries

Through this Teaching Circle, participants will learn about threshold concepts, specifically information literacy threshold concepts. Participants will discover how to create (or edit existing) lesson plans that use information literacy threshold concepts as their foundations through looking at examples created by other librarians as exhibited in the book. Participants will explore how information literacy threshold concepts (in relation to the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education) relate to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Participants will use this Teaching Circle to explore new teaching strategies and lessons and share their experiences implementing them in the classroom. Participants will learn from each other in this space with the intent of growing as teachers of information literacy. To register, please contact Ashley Rosener.

Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field

Dates/Times/Location: Fridays, Jan. 22, Feb. 26, March 25, and April 15, 9:30-11:00am, 3068 JHZ 
Facilitator: Kim McKee, Liberal Studies

Participants in this Teaching Circle will further conversations first initiated in the "What do we mean by Digital Studies" Teaching Circle in Fall 2015 and serve as one avenue to the continued cross-campus dialogue concerning digital technologies. We will explore how we currently use or intend to integrate digital studies/digital humanities into our research and teaching. Faculty will discuss best practices as it relates to implementing digital studies projects in the classroom and how we sustain these projects over multiple semesters and/or courses. We will also explore tools to communicate and teach the web-based skills that are necessary for our students to effectively engage these projects. Conversations will also include dialogue regarding what it means to implement successful digital studies projects in face-to-face, hybrid, or online classes as the method of dissemination may differ due to teaching platform. Finally, we will discuss how we work collaboratively across disciplines on digital studies projects as it relates to our teaching and research. Teaching Circle participants will receive a copy of the book.  To register, please contact Kim McKee.

Contemplative Teaching

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus
Facilitator: Peter Anderson, Classics

Participants in this Teaching Circle will discuss approaches to contemplative practice both as a tool for teachers (in support of their professional activities) and as a tool for students (in support of their academic activities). Emphasis will fall on the pragmatics of contemplative practices and teaching, but discussions will necessarily range widely over issues related to the lives of teachers and students. Teaching Circle participants will receive a copy of  J. Simmer-Brown and Fran Grace’s Meditation and the Classroom.  To register, please contact Peter Anderson.

Online & Hybrid Teaching Circle

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus
Facilitators: Kim Kenward, Instructional Design for eLearning

Sponsored by IDeL (Instructional Design for eLearning) and the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, this teaching circle will provide a venue for faculty-led dialogue and to share collective expertise regarding online/hybrid instruction at GVSU. Support new and experienced online/hybrid faculty through dialogue. Explore best practices associated with online/hybrid teaching and learning. Identify emerging technological needs to support online teaching and learning, Share collective expertise across disciplines.  To register, please contact Kim Kenward.

Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for ALL Learners

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus
Facilitators: Nancy Patterson, College of Education - Leadership and Learning

According to the book's authors, Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison, we teachers tend to focus more on activity and work rather than understanding. By, first, exploding several myths about the nature of human thinking and how it is expressed in classroom environments, the authors show teachers at all levels how to engage students in acts of understanding new concepts. This is linked to processes of explanation and interpretation, acts that form the cornerstone of critical thinking, itself a cornerstone of a liberal arts education. The book lays out a number of classroom procedures designed to help teachers engage students in critical thinking. Discussions will focus on how to apply these processes to the higher education classroom and how to adapt them for different academic disciplines. To register, please contact Nancy Patterson.

Developing Oneself as an Educator: Clarifying the Educational Process in Graduate Education

Dates/Times/Location: TBD by participant consensus, Pew Campus
Facilitator: Cynthia Grapczynski, Occupational Therapy

Participants in this Teaching Circle will be introduced to the educational philosophy around professional education, adult learning and setting the stage for empowering students and faculty in the classroom. The objectives are: 1) Identify classroom strategies that allow students to be a part of the teaching/learning process, 2) Assist faculty in seeing the linearity of flow from program goals, curricular objectives, to learning outcomes, accreditation standards and evaluative measures, 3) Foster faculty comfort with the ambiguity of discussion as a major form of learning in graduate education, and 4) Assist faculty in infusing transformative learning opportunities throughout the graduate curriculum. Teaching Circle participants will receive a copy of the book “The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom”.  To register, please contact Cynthia Grapczynski.

Citizen, An American Lyric

Dates/Times/Location: Wednesdays, 2/17 - 2264 KC, 3/16, 3/30, and 4/13 - 1247KC, 1:00 - 2:30pm
Facilitator: Amy Masko, English

This objectives of this Teaching Circle are as follows: 1) to share materials used to teach Citizen in a variety of courses, 2) to discuss students' response to the book, 3) to reflect on our teaching methods for engaging students with Citizen and the issues it raises about race in the United States, and 4) to connect the issues raised in Citizen to both other literature and social science research.  This Teaching Circle will conclude with a campus visit by Claudia Rankine and participants will receive a copy of the book “Citizen, An American Lyric” (the ’15-’16 Community Reading Project selection).  To register, please contact Amy Masko.

Additional Teaching Circles

Additional opportunities will be published soon!