February 2011

Connection is the Goal for CETL Reading Group
By: Ellen Zamarripa

Professor of Nursing, CeCelia Zorn said connecting class assignments that are relevant to students was one of the goals for the educators who participated in her CETL reading group during the 2010 FCeCelia Zornall semester.

"We discussed how to go about designing activities to help students see the value in what they do so it's not just busy work," Zorn said.

Zorn has been involved with CETL in various ways including participating in discussions and projects associated with CETL initiatives. Her project last semester was a reading group that met to discuss the contents of the book Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old written by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen. Zorn said with the help of the book, the group focused on trying to understand students' backgrounds, why educators are seeing certain behaviors in classrooms, and how to approach those behaviors.

"According to the authors, adolescents want to become young adults, but the system in many ways has not encouraged them to do that," Zorn said. "In our efforts to be caring and nurturing as parents and teachers, we have kept them in this little safe bubble and they have not taken risks. Maybe it's time to move beyond that and give them experiences that are meaningful and tied to the real world where they can contribute and want to contribute. "

The group explored activities, assignments, and incidents in isolation and discussed the causes of student reaction and how teachers can effectively address the situation. Zorn said the combination of the information in the book along with the group discussion helped her consider students individually.

"It [group discussion] deepened my awareness of what is happening in the classes I teach and it helped me understand what is meaningful for the students," Zorn said.

Participants in Zorn's reading groups have the opportunity to anonymously provide feedback to CETL about the value of the reading group. Many group members said it was beneficial and enjoyable to work with educators across departments towards one common goal. Others found the reading and discussion to be important in their day-to-day teaching. One participant commented: "What I and others in the discussion group learned and discussed was directly linked to the work we do in the classroom/clinical site with students."

If you are interested in joining or leading a CETL reading group, or have a book idea, e-mail us at cetl@uwec.edu.

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