Title slide from Reading a Culture presentation


Last month, I presented at the Statewide Teaching and Learning Conference in Waterloo, Iowa with my faculty colleagues Shelby Myers-Verhage from the Iowa City campus and Judith Wightman from the Psychology department.  We have been working together for at least the past year on leading reading circles for faculty at KCELT.

Rationale for the reading circles include collaboration, exploration, and focus on student success


In the Fall 2014 semester, Shelby organized a reading circle at the Iowa City campus on High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing from the Voice of Witness series, which she highly recommends to anyone interested in reading about the voices of men and women most closely affected by injustice.  This reading circle was an extension of the Culturally Responsive Classroom course in that it helped Iowa City faculty learn more about the backgrounds of our students who moved to Iowa from Chicago.

During the same semester Judith, Kevin Shroth (also a faculty member from Iowa City), and I organized a reading circle on Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.  This was inspired from Kevin’s first year Mentor-Mentee Project, which was shared on this blog at http://kcelt.org/learning-institutes-initiatives/mentor-mentee-projects/course-development/busting-myths-about-learning-styles/.  All three of us agreed that there was too much misinformation about the science behind good teaching practices, and we offered the reading circle to help clarify best practices.

This semester, Judith, Shelby, Lynne Zeman (from Iowa City), and I organized a reading circle on Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do in response to faculty feedback on the Culturally Responsive Classroom.  This book provided more in-depth details on stereotypes and how stereotype threats affect students’ academic performance.

At the conference, we shared how we recruited faculty, organized online and face-to-face discussions, and collected constructive feedback.  We also discussed how we try to help faculty design final projects that are relevant to their teaching contexts by making changes to their curriculum, syllabi, and/or pedagogy.  For many faculty, these reading discussions have helped form a community of faculty dedicated to the issues raised in the books.

List of hints to lead your own reading circle, including needs analysis, starting early in the semester, marketing, and keeping it user-friendly


The presentation ended with an open discussion on ideas and topics for future reading circles.  Ideas we introduced were more books from the Voice of Witness series and the American Library Association’s One Book, One Community initiative.  I’d like to end this blog post with reading suggestions for summer professional development.

Summer 2015 Reading Suggestions

Good Is Not Enough book cover


Good Is Not Enough by Keith Wyche is a book that was recommended to participants at the 2014 SIETAR-USA Conference, in which Natalia Cherjovsky (from the Communications department) and I attended to share our success with the Culturally Responsive Classroom.  This book is targeted for minority faculty and students who plan to enter the professional workforce.

Blended book cover


Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools is the book that many of us at KCELT will be reading over the summer.  This book focuses on how to manage different types of learning through online and face-to-face instruction.

Minds Online book cover


Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology is a book that was buzzing around social media among connected educators earlier this year.  It focuses more on research of the mind and cognitive psychology.  From that perspective, Michelle D. Miller is able to provide instructional tips and strategies to teachers who have students and classrooms with accessibility to a plethora of information communication technology.

If you are interested in joining a summer reading circle on these books, please let me know and I would be happy to co-design and co-facilitate one with you.  If you’d like to organize your own with these or any other book over this summer, then please visit fill out the KCELT proposal form at https://www.kirkwood.edu/site/index.php?p=34496.



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