Telling Berkeley’s story about teaching and learning, across campus and in the public sphere.
Teaching is at the heart of what we do—feeding our collective hunger for knowledge and knowledge sharing. In an effort to enhance teaching-focused dialogue on the Berkeley campus, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) brings you the Berkeley Teaching Blog. See our guidelines and submission policy.
October 25, 2019
March 22, 2019
“Are you an inclusive instructor?” Someone recently asked me that question and I hesitated before I replied “I think so” and in the back of my mind I was thinking “but how do I know if I’m being successful at being inclusive or not?”
December 20, 2018
As the flurry of finals begins to slow, it’s useful to take a few minutes to reflect and prepare before closing the book on another successful semester. It can be tempting to quickly file away this semester’s course materials and not think about them until a few weeks before you teach the class again. At the same time, you can save yourself time and headache later by spending a few minutes now to think about what worked and what didn’t work so well in your courses this semester.
This Fall we experienced what was labeled as “the new abnormal.” Whether we were in the midst of the fires, worrying about loved ones in harm’s way, or downwind breathing dangerous smoke, northern California was rocked and ironically it wasn’t “The Big One” that did it. The fire made me rethink how I’m defining an emergency or disaster for my family and how well we’re prepared. I already had earthquake supplies but I’ve now added an air purifier for the house and a box of N95 masks to our “stash.”
August 12, 2018
This fall, along with the usual excitement and apprehension that accompanies the start of a new academic year at Berkeley, nine faculty members and more than 700 students will help launch the first large general-assignment active learning classroom (ALC) on campus. Wheeler 212, which can accommodate 120 students, is a scaled-up version of the smaller ALCs that have been supporting teaching and learning on campus for the past several years.
April 30, 2018
It’s May and the first line of that old Frank Sinatra song “My Way” keeps running through my head: “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…"
March 19, 2018
March 18, 2018
January 10, 2018
I’m not speaking of lying or delivering fake news, I’m talking about an actual story. Consider this: A story communicates something, by definition, and can entertain, amuse, delight, divert, provoke, offend, disturb, disappoint, but in all, a story can instruct. There’s a lot of background to storytelling—the what and how to use in lecture, but let’s first discuss the why.
I have it right now this very instant --- your Attention. You’ve given it for a few minutes but if this content doesn’t continue to earn it, your Attention will move on. It can’t help it. The Brain is a data-seeking missile constantly gathering key information about surroundings in order to assess what is vital to your survival. If it determines the information on this page isn’t relevant, your Attention will automatically shift to something seemingly more important (perhaps that text message on your phone).
January 2, 2018
Robert Frank says any course, but especially an introductory course, can have no more than five big ideas [The Economic Naturalist, Basic Books, 2008] not fifty (and by the way, professor, none of them is your cutting edge research!). He claims trying to cram too much material into a syllabus actually decreases learning: that students acquire knowledge and skills when the menu is selective and they get to actually use the material, not just have “too much stuff” told to them, during the course.
October 29, 2017
Every second of a class meeting matters so it’s natural to look for ways to streamline the administrative tasks that are a part of course management. Taking attendance is an undertaking that requires time. The larger the class, potentially the more time required.
August 14, 2017
Once upon a time, a Syllabus was written. It was beautiful and contained most of nearly 50 possible information elements that every Syllabus could have. It was reviewed by the curriculum committee, revised and finally approved.
It waited anxiously for the semester to begin.
April 25, 2017
I want to talk about thinking as teaching. Let me start with a story.
January 10, 2017
The Definition of “There”
December 13, 2016
Forgive the over simplistic dualism of the title. Of course we can be, and almost always are (or should be), both teacher and learner at the same time. But, as a semester’s end approaches and a break is in sight, it’s time to consider how to spend that now vacant “teaching” time.