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I need your ideas! (lesson plans)

ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
edited August 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
This fall, I'll be an instructor at my university for what is called a "Freshman Interest Group", i.e. FIG. This is a program run by the First Year Programs department at the university. The idea is that members of a FIG are registered to take the same classes, according to their areas of interest.

So for example:

FIG 1 takes Computer Science 101, Math 101, Physics 101
FIG 2 takes English Lit 101, Composition 101, Poetry 101


This way they get to know each other and hopefully cultivate long-term friendships.

And then, once a week, the students have a session with their FIG instructor, whose job is to basically help them make a smooth transition from high school to college, answer questions, suggest solutions to their problems, and basically act as a guide/mentor during their first term in college.


So I'm preparing my lesson plans for the FIG I'll be coaching/instructing this Fall. The program coordinator is pretty liberal about the kinds of topics we can teach, and I need some ideas about what topics to talk about.

So far I got:

- Asking students about what they expect to get out of college, dispelling myths/rumors etc.
- How to use online resources like online class schedules, tuition payments, registration for classes, reserving computer labs, library study rooms, etc.
- Body language
- Health, nutrition, exercise, sports (hell yes, I get to brainwash them!)
- Choosing majors and career paths, help them make an informed decision
- Social courage, i.e. being social and outgoing, not being afraid to meet new people, being on the lookout for social opportunities... you can define that last one in any way you like :P
- Doing research for writing papers, watching out for bias in information sources, how to search for information effectively and efficiently
- Studying abroad - why they should consider it.

I need more ideas. The audience is a group of 15-20 freshmen, so it would be nice if the topics you suggest weren't too "heavy".

ege02 on


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    citriccitric Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Hm, at my university we instructors dread FIGs because they tend to form cliques in the classroom and kind of insulate themselves from both other students and the instructor.

    So, how about something to combat that? Maybe to go with your "social courage" one, finding groups on campus that interest them individually (like breakdancing, anime, LARPing, club sports, etc.).

    citric on
    No, we need no more tires.
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    Butterfly4uButterfly4u Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    For my first year of college I wish someone would of explained to me about what I call semester fatigue. Every semester I start out fresh and generally liking my classes, but by the last month I'm dreading going to class. I'm bored with the classes, and I just want the semester to be over with. Then I start skipping classes here and there. Last semester my grades really suffered because of it. My GPA went down from a 3.8 my first semester to a 3.5 my second semester. Thankfully I was still able to get into the nursing program starting this spring. My friend, who was also a freshman, had the same problem but he ended up failing classes due to having too much on his plate. This semester we both did a better job of scheduling. Remember a lot of freshman have no idea what they are getting themselves into that first year of college.

    Butterfly4u on
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    perpetuityperpetuity Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    FIGs are usually for people who are still in high school, and want that small population to work from because they are intimidated by the idea of making friends in a 20,000 to 40,000 students university. (if this is a liberal arts college of 2,000 i may laugh, because that was the size of my high school)

    I dropped my "college transition" class after a week because I felt it was a waste of my time.

    Already I would say, you have to be clear between the differences in the types of research writing in college. Writing a history paper is very different from writing an English paper even. talk about different citation styles and approaches to research.

    With the career stuff, don't just refer them to the career counseling center. give them ideas about who to contact (a professor or a professional in the field) they could contact and get personal mentoring advice.

    - how to research housing options, and compare prices and benefits of apartments compared to dorms
    - how to develop a financial organization strategy, and dangers of credit cards
    - college dating, strategies for meeting people, and strategies for meeting someone worthwhile
    - is there a counseling center available? talk about what types of issues it is appropriate to go there with and how normal depression and anxiety can be
    - study techniques (i mean something substantial), this is usually glossed over in these courses and i can never understand why

    on studying abroad, compare the options and talk about goals. studying abroad is extremely expensive, especially if you go to europe and especially if you go for a whole semester, bring up options for the not-so-wealthy student. (asia is often cheeper and a more extreme cultural experience, but people don't think about it)

    or just refer them to
    This Book
    it's actually pretty worthwhile for a freshmen.

    also, it concerns me that you are watchful to avoid too "heavy" topics because they're freshmen. that's exactly that attitude that made me drop the class. i was a college student and wanted to be treated as such, not a high schooler. but i guess most of your class probably still will be.

    perpetuity on
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    perpetuityperpetuity Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2007
    perpetuity wrote: »

    One of the things we learned during training is that people will have vastly different experiences in their FIGs, and the instructor is the biggest factor. I'm sorry that your experience was such a drag, but personally speaking, I had a fucking awesome time during my FIG when I was a freshman and that's not because I was still a high schooler too afraid to make the transition, or whatever.

    Basically my goal is to make sure that I'm a helpful guide for these kids and that they learn stuff from me and not be bored while doing it. If I start talking about different citation methods for research papers, I suspect a lot of them would drop out of the FIG.

    I'll keep in mind what you said, however. Thanks for taking the time to provide your input.

    ege02 on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    If your school has a network, they need to be made aware of file-sharing policies, as the RIAA can still make most schools turn over data if they want it. So warn them to be all legit and legal.

    Maybe basic cooking?

    Make sure they really understand the difference between buying something they need, and something they want. And the dangers of credit card debt. (repeat for emphasis)

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
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    SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited August 2007

    It's never too early to start thinking about them...

    You may also want to talk about things that will derail their success in college... like inability to find balance, skipping class or not keeping up on the reading, things like that.

    Sentry on
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
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    witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    You might also work in a session at the mid and end of the semester for them to suggest additional topics they want to discuss. I'm not really sure how these work as my college didn't have them, but if you meet weekly, set aside two weeks at different parts of the semester where in the week before, they provide suggestsions - annonymously or in a group. Then you can make a class based on those suggestions.

    Also, other things you might want include are entertainment (yes even junk food) in the area, how to be safe on campus (you may need to emphasis college party safety especially for freshmen women), and time management strategies.

    witch_ie on
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    citriccitric Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    You should definitely talk about making friends with instructors/professors/administration. I didn't realize it as an undergrad, but those people are the gatekeepers to not only the college basics (getting your schedule working, etc.) but fellowships, scholarships, internships, grad school, law school, etc. No matter how frustrated a student is with these people, they should never let it show.

    Of course, college freshmen tend not to know what it means to act professionally. They also don't know how to get on the good side of an instructor/professor (and grades have very little to do with likeability). Each of those could easily fill a day, especially if you work in roleplaying and cover email and office hours etiquette. Performance is part of this, which you should stress: excuses or talk can't cover up bad attendance, sloppy work, or acting like an ass in the classroom.

    citric on
    No, we need no more tires.
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