September 30 Day 206: It Begins Again

After waiting for what seems an eternity, today was my first day of class for the Autumn quarter. I thought I had all my ducks in a row. I was over-prepared. I wanted to do so much more than I accomplished. Rather than barreling forward, I took the time to introduce students to some tools for success:

  1. The Canvas Calendar. All assignments with a due date (including those from my own class,) appear in the student calendar view. After six years using Canvas, I finally appreciate the power of its calendar. Each entry is a quick-link to the information. And students can see all their assignments across classes in one view. It’s brilliant.
  2. Embedded images rather than attached files to the class discussion board.
    Graded discussions are amazing. In the Canvas CMS, discussion posts align with the original and all subsequent responses are focused on individual contributions throughout a thread. In working to reduce my grading burden, I am having students post solutions and reflect through the course discussion board, with an opportunity for revision before grading. Rather than spend my weekend grading numerous problems for each assignment, I work to build collaboration and community.
  3. Collaborative white board (
    I asked students to post “notes” with what they were good at. It helped us find common ground and included things like computer games, cooking, music, programming, and procrastination. How did they get good at it? Practice, hard work, perseverance, talent, making mistakes, having a mentor, and learning from experts. Maybe not Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours but certainly all the traits I hope to develop in my students.

Today’s lesson? Preparation is overrated. Just go with the flow. Who needs ducks? There are plenty of interesting birds willing to help in their place.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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