Earth Day Tips!

Welcome back, Educators and Book Lovers!

Today is Earth Day, a time when people all across the nation can join in both celebrating the bountiful beauty of our planet and raising awareness of its precious, finite resources. We at Atwood want to take this occasion to share with you a handful of helpful hints on sustainability and how to teach it from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy, and Society.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability

18. Assign a Voice for the Future

In a discussion or debate, assign one individual to be the “advocate” or “watchdog” for future generations, offering perspectives and insights that might otherwise be missed.

Accountability is an essential component of any discussion about sustainability. As a business, program, or organization, it is tempting to grow too fast or too big. That growth can have adverse economic, social, and ecological impacts. Putting someone in the role of “defender of future generations” gives the future a voice for asking about the impact of various decisions on our economy, and natural environment years from now. When someone is given the license to look ahead and serve as a spokesperson for the planet, the insights that arise are often remarkable. For example, in a discussion about a proposed commercial development, designate someone to “speak for the watershed” or be a “spokesperson for the migratory birds.”

24. Show How Sustainability Contributes to Staying “In the Black”

The key to running a successful business is staying profitable. When presenting sustainability-minded projects, lead off with return on investment and economical feasibility.

Traditional business is run with an eye on a single bottom line (financial) as opposed to the “triple bottom line” idea that sustainability presents. Because any good business person realizes the value of staying in the black, anyone presenting sustainability innovations must address the dollars aspect, and is wise to do so first. Simply put, sustainability is about running a profitable business for a long time in an environmentally friendly and socially balanced manner. Ask students to interview local business owners regarding their single and triple bottom lines.

108. Make It Worthy of Media Attention

Get your sustainability news in the news. Whether it is an issue of urgency or a story of success, the general public needs to see it. Raising these issues on the media agenda will ultimately raise them on the public agenda.

For those with a message of sustainability to share, create a public relations campaign. Make contact with media outlets and maintain a positive connection with reporters and others in a position to broadcast your message. Turn your information into materials (such as news releases) the media can use. Make them prewritten and packaged in a way that the media won’t have to do much extra work to reproduce them as stories. Make sure that when you are sharing information through a media outlet, such as newspapers, television, and the internet, the information you produce is easy for everyone to understand.


Tips for a New Year and New Semester!

Happy New Year!

Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year is upon us, ushering out the old and bringing in a new semester full of both challenges and opportunities.

In short, now is the perfect time to brush up on introductions and prepare for starting new classes with these tips!

From Elements of College Teaching, by David K. Irving, comes this tip about the first day of class:

Set the tone

Creating an atmosphere conducive to learning is the teacher’s responsibility. How you conduct your first class speaks volumes about the nature of the course. Here are some questions you should ask yourself beforehand:

  • Will I start on time?
  • When will I administer a brief background questionnaire?
  • How should I react to latecomers?
  • Am I interested in setting a casual or formal tone?
  • How do I want students to address me?
  • What will I wear?
Elements of College Teaching

Elements of College Teaching

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors by Robert Magnan:

9. Start class by telling your students where you’re going.

Give them a preview, a sort of map. Some teachers like to write the main points of their outline on the board, off to the side. Sometimes, especially when we feel really organized, we forget our students cannot sense this organization. A preview may not be necessary if you give your students a detailed syllabus and you follow it scrupulously. But remember: the best leaders are not always those with the best plans, bot those who best communicate their plans.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

And finally, a tip from 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students, also by Robert Magnan, explores tone and practicality in icebreakers:

3. Balance fun and function.

Depending on your students, the subject, and the level of anxiety you expect, the icebreakers that you use might be heavily functional or more on the fun side. Keep that balance in mind as you read this book.

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

Halloween Week Tips and Links!

Happy Halloween!

Here at Atwood Publishing, we’re always looking to scare up more useful, fun-sized teaching tips from our 147 Tips series. Today we’ve sampled some fine examples centered around things that might frighten teachers or learners, whatever the season.

In 147 Publishing Tips for Professors, Danny R. Arnold addresses the inevitable and at times intimidating need for professors to publish in the academic world. His book is full of thoughtful and practical examples and ideas, such as this tip:

Tip 139: Optimize the number of hours devoted to research and writing.

As you settle in to your faculty role, you will have many competing demands on your timeteaching, service, and domestic obligations. You must balance these demands successfully to optimize your productivity in all of the roles. TIME is one of your most important assetsdo not waste it! Just like you may tell your students, “work when it is time to work, play when it is time to play, and do not get the time periods mixed up!”

147 Publishing Tips

147 Publishing Tips

The following tip from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity, by William M. Timpson, Raymond Yang, Evelinn Borrayo, and Silvia Sara Canetto, also deals with fearin this case, the perceived threat or risk associated with speaking, and possibly misspeaking, about diversity and identity.

70. Reduce perceived threat.

      Students may feel uncomfortable discussing sensitive issues related to diversity. Instructors should be attentive to their feelings and reduce any feelings of risk.

      You reduce perceived threat when, for example, you don’t chide a student who makes a clearly ignorant or insensitive comment; instead, you find some positive aspect of it and consider only that part as the contribution. If a student makes a comment that seems beyond redemption, simply thank him or her for at least being willing to say something (e.g., to “break the ice”) and move on.

      Identify three or so incidents from previous classes when students said things related to diversity that created some tension or led to a misunderstanding. Evaluate how you handled each situation. Make plans for handling similar situations in future classes.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity

Finally, from Robert Magnan’s 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students, comes this empathetic advice:

1. Understand the anxiety that some students feel.

      Occasionally, it’s even fear. Some instructors believe that the anxiety and the fear are of them, the instructors. That’s not quite itnot completely. Students are also anxious and fearful of each other. Many don’t want to stand out in classespecially for saying things, giving answers, and asking questions that might cause others to consider them stupid or uncool. So, an icebreaker that you feel will be fun for all may not turn out that way for some students. Think back to when you were a student beginning a course. Or just think as far back as attending your first faculty meeting. Even though you probably knew at least some of your colleagues and knew that they had to treat you at least civilly in meetings, you may have been anxious about not looking like a fool. So, let any memories of anxiety and fear guide you in choosing and using icebreakers to ensure a comfortable environment for all your students. If in doubt, pick an activity that’s simple and avoids personal issues or physical activity.

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

Distance Learning Tips

Distance education makes up a huge part of modern higher education, impacting students, teachers, and administrators alike, and transforming the way we as a society think about how we teach and learn, how we share and process information. Online classrooms are virtually omnipresent. 64% of full-time faculty at community colleges teach distance ed courses. (Source) Even faculty who teach in traditional classrooms now use many online media or other technological tools to enhance their students’ learning experience in and beyond the classroom setting.

Distance education is also a huge part of the subject matter of our books here at Atwood Publishing. We have a whole section of our online bookshelf devoted to titles dealing with online learning and teaching, synchronous technology, and how best to design, manage, and teach a distance education course. Now to whet your appetite for this fascinating and pivotal topic, we present some timely tips culled from some of our favorite of those books:

From Essential Elements: Prepare, Design, and Teach Your Online Course, by Bonnie Elbaum, Cynthia McIntyre, and Alese Smith:

Essential Element 8: Design a learning community that is collaborative, engaging, and inclusive.

      A community is a necessary and integral part of a functional learning group. Students need to bond in a community in order to have a sense of trust with each other and respect each other’s ideas. With this level of common trust and value—so that students openly share their thoughts and feelings with each other and respect the viewpoints of their peers—students construct knowledge together as a group. This is where real learning happens.

      Achieving a strong community doesn’t just happen, however; instructors need to build in the structure and activities to offer this “coming together” opportunity to the students. Here, we explore ways to help build community online.

Essential Elements

Essential Elements

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, by Donald E. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki-Dudka, and Simone Conceição-Runlee:


26. Expect learners to be present online and to avoid passively observing.

      One of the great advantages of online learning, especially in an asynchronous mode, is that there is no competition for “airtime” during the class. Each learner can contribute his or her ideas at a comfortable pace. Some learners are more comfortable communicating verbally; others communicate more easily in writing. You, as the teacher, should discuss these preferences at the beginning of the course and indicate your initial expectations for participation, which may include logging in to the class, reading what others have said during discussion, and responding to those ideas. After a week or two, you might revisit your expectations during class briefly, and ask for agreement with or modification of your initial expectations.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

And from 147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning, by Rosemary M. Lehman and Richard A. Berg:

142. Evaluate the technology.

      Evaluation of the technology used for the course is critical. In the ideal situation, technology should be transparent. Knowing that we do not live in an ideal world, we need to identify and troubleshoot any problems that arose during the course. This assessment should be a regular part of the ongoing feedback and also a part of the overall evaluation at the end of the course. You will want to know: Was there an adequate orientation to the use of the technology? Was the audio/visual quality clear? Were there any technical problems at the site? Were there any technical problems on the bridge? Was there an immediate response from the Help Desk? Was there followup on the problems? How were the problems resolved?

147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning

147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning

Instructional Technology Council. 2010. Distance Education Survey Results. Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges.

Dodge the Mid-Semester Doldrums

As the school year marches forward, educators everywhere find themselves facing the age-old dilemma of how to sustain the momentum and excitement of the beginning of the semester.

Any given course will develop a rhythm unique to its circumstancesthe classroom environment, the content, the students, and of course, the instructorand that can be a good thing. A sense of consistency can ground students and make them more likely to feel comfortable participating. But if that rhythm becomes too uniform, making the entire class predictable,  boredom and apathy can set in.

As Donna Killian Duffy and Janet Wright Jones ponder in their book Teaching within the Rhythms of the Semester, “What can be done to improve this situation? Need we professors confront such periods of low motivation? Yes, we must, for it is these flagging energies and this failing motivation that feed the doldrums. And it is at this period that a number of students drop out of classes” (163).

Below we’ve selected a few excerpts from some of our favorite books offered here at Atwood Publishing, all examining inventive ways to shake up the rhythm of your class and keep students engaged and learning.

In Classroom Communication: Collected Readings for Effective discussion and Questioning, edited by Rose Ann Neff and Maryellen Weimer, contributing author John H. Clarke proposes structuring a discussion as a cycle of inquiry, maximizing participation and engagement with the issue(s) at hand:

“Every good discussion is an investigation, conducted by a group of people who see the importance of seeking answers to an important problem. For a discussion to work, students must become aware of some unresolved difficulty in the content. They must feel the pressure of their own need to know. They must have access to the conceptual tools of the discipline, the terminology, the methodology, and the logical framework used to solve problems. They must agree on the sources of factual information related to the issue. Most of all, they must be led to see that their own management of the issues, concepts, facts, and interpretations is the real work of learning at the college level.”

Classroom Communication

Classroom Communication

In The Dynamic Classroom: Engaging Students in Higher Education, edited by Catherine Black, contributing author Kathy Cawsey advocates for the strategic use of silence in discussions, varying rhythm and drawing out student participation with the pause:

“The timing of the pause is its most crucial aspect, and there is a rhythm to it. You ask, you wait, you rephrase, you wait, you narrow down, you wait, you explain.

The waits are crucial. This is the chance for students to think about the question, to formulate their response, to see if anyone else will answer, and to test you to see if they can get away with not answeringif you will answer your own questions. . . .

If the silence stretches, you can break it by rephrasing the questionand then wait again. If no one answers at this point, then narrow down the question to make it easier to answer. At no point in this process do you answer the question yourself: each rephrasing or narrowing down of the question should move the class closer to the answer you are aiming for.”

The Dynamic Classroom

The Dynamic Classroom

Last but not least, in Teaching and Performing: Ideas for Energizing Your Classes, authors William M. Timpson and Suzanne Burgoyne explore the use of performance skills to enliven lectures and discussions. One possibility to change up the rhythm of a class is the use of props:

“Props can definitely enhance student engagement and learning in class. If you’re discussing the burdens of power for one of Shakespeare’s characters, for example, borrowing a crown from the theatre department can add a wonderful visual touch. As students respond, each can try on the crown. . . . When discussing some aspect of molecular structure, a three-dimensional model can be invaluable. In particular, students who are new to a subject may benefit from having these kinds of concrete representations available. Trying to clarify complex ideas with words alone can be difficult in any discipline. As simple as these props might seem to you, they can be memorable for your students.”

Teaching and Performing

Teaching and Performing


Duffy, Donna Killian, and Janet Wright Jones. 1995. Teaching within the rhythms of the semester. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Top 3 Tips for the New Semester

A new semester has rolled around again, and classes have begun all across the country. Amid the excitement and the bustle of fresh beginnings and different duties, take a moment to make some new discoveries. Check out these three featured tips from some key books in Atwood’s 147 Tips series, all championing practical ways to manage the joys and stresses of launching a new course:

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups by Donald E. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki-Dudka, and Simone Conceição-Runlee.

5. Understand your audience.

In marketing a program or course, it’s important to understand the needs, backgrounds, characteristics, and expectations of the target learners. Online courses that attract participants from diverse locations may have learners with different needs. Some learners, for instance, may require special accommodations, such as large print on course materials, or software programs that assist in decoding graphics or text in a web-based environment.

One way to address the anticipated cognitive or performance needs of your learners is to send them pretests or surveys before the start of the class, or to have them compete portfolio reviews during the course. By understanding the learners’ needs, you can vary the presentation of materials to fit diverse learning styles, develop supporting materials, and present content in ways that offer learners different labels for the comprehension of concepts.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

From 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students by Robert Magnan:

4. Think about tone.

This icebreaker will probably be the first connection that you make with your students. A more serious icebreaker may send a message that your course may not be very enjoyable. On the other hand, a silly icebreaker may cause students to assume that they can take a casual attitude toward your course. It can be a touch call. How have students reacted to the course in the past, with you or with colleagues? If they seemed anxious or even afraid, then it may be better to err on the side of fun. If they seemed too relaxed— attendance problems, inadequate effort on assignments, insufficient preparation for quizzes and exams—then you could start out better with a more serious icebreaker, preferably focused on the course content.

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

Finally, from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors, edited by Robert Magnan:

8. Work with your students as a team.

We may be perfectly organized, yet our students have trouble following us. Or we may enter the classroom still trying to put it all together, and emerge triumphant, knowing our students were with us all the way. Strange? Not really. Often our feeling of organization actually undermines our progress. Two different worlds: we create organization through preparation, but our students perceive organization through communication. Show your game plan!

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

Enjoy! And have a great semester!

Professional Development Sizzle Reel

During our recent appearance at the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning in Madison, Atwood Publishing debuted our new Professional Development Package, to much excitement (there was even a raffle drawing!).

The brand new recipe consists of a powerful duo of complimentary titles:

-The latest arrival in the ever-popular 147 Tips series, 147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars, designed to help higher education professionals navigate the manage and balance competing career requirements

-And Attaining an Academic Appointment, a practical and insightful guide for academics seeking a new position, delivering strategies to maximize opportunities and minimize unwanted surprises.

This fantastic combination is available for only $35.00, saving you over $5! And to further whet your career development appetite, we’re dishing up some exclusive excerpts from these two wonderful titles below.

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From Attaining an Academic Appointment:

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success,
and if you do what you love you will be successful.
— Albert Schweitzer 1875-1965
These words of Albert Schweitzer, one of the world’s greatest humanitarians,
are important to keep in mind before you make your next career move.
Whether it is for a position as a starting assistant professor or a jump from
professor to administrator, determining the job that best fits your personal
and professional goals takes a substantial investment of time, effort, and
A professorship is the best job in the world—if you find the right fit. A
bad match can turn it into the worst job in the world. Hopefully, reading
this book and discussing your future with mentors and advisors will assist
you in clarifying the type of position that will be compatible with your lifestyle
and career goals. As you go through this process, keep in mind that
your career will be made not only by the jobs you choose to accept, but by
those you turn down. Accordingly, during a job search you are simultaneously
trying to convince the employer that you are the right person for
the job and trying to ascertain if the job is the right fit for you. To successfully
meet both goals, my first suggestion is: invest the same amount of energy
in your job search as you did in your graduate studies.

And from 147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars:

44. Identify the professional and academic conferences which fit your content area/s and method/s of research.
When we work on our research, we always have in mind not only venues for publication, but also conference presentations. Indeed, it is helpful to present your work at conferences prior to submitting for publication, because you can gain valuable feedback and insight about your analysis, discussion, and interpretation. With these purposes as the premise, select the conferences where you believe you may gain the most relevant and best feedback for your work. How do you determine which conferences suit your specific needs? First, we consider whether a professional association or conference publishes or sponsors the journal within which we aspire to publish. If not, we determine which conferences our target journal’s audience attends in order that we might engage with them. Third, if we also do not know where they attend, we identify the best conferences in the discipline that welcome scholars at our level of expertise.


You can find out more about these and other exciting titles at our website:



Next Week!

A quick announcement: We just wanted to let you know that Atwood Publishing will be hosting a booth at the 30th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning August 12-14 in Madison, Wisconsin. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this event is a great place to hear leading experts and share best practices with colleagues from around the world in the field of online education and training. Plus, Madison is a beautiful place to visit in the summer. If you’re not familiar with this event, and want to find out more, I encourage you to visit their website at Hope to see you there!


Tips of the Week 7/22/14

After an unforeseen delay, the Tips are back, and with a vengeance! This week we’re doling out four tips for the “price” of three.

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, by Donald e. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki-Dudka, and Simone Conceição-Runlee, comes the following handy tip, which will help you know how to set the tone for interactions in any online learning environment:

112. Gain agreement with the learners about rules, norms, and procedures for discussion and do so from the start.

Interactive online courses depend on the relationships and trust developed between and among you and the learners. If the learners are to play an active role in developing the course atmosphere, you must preliminarily define the structure, rules, norms, and procedures for course discussions upfront — but then give your learners the chance to suggest important modifications.

Some teachers routinely build in and act upon opportunity for revisions in the course plan and structure. Doing so gives learners a sense of ownership for the community that they’re helping create.

And from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation, by William M. Timpson, Edward J Brantmeier, Nathalie Kees, Tom Cavanagh, Claire McGlynn, and Elavie Ndura-Ouédraogo, we ‘ve mined this sharp piece of insight:

66. Help Restore Happiness and Create Fulfilling Lives

As Nel Noddings (2003) suggests in her book, Happiness and Education, at the present time educators and those interested in education are focusing on financial aims in schoolseducating students to support a strong economy and to be financially successful, rather than to flourish as adults. We need to remember the key to what helps us to flourish is living happy, peaceful, and fulfilling lives. Tom Cavanagh writes: “I suggest if we want our children to be happy and flourish as adults, then we need to ask them what makes them happy and help them learn how to build healthy relationships and heal broken relationships.”

Using the Peacemaking Circle process (with a talking stick), let us take the time to ask the students we teach what makes them happy and listen to their answers. [For more on the Peacemaking Circle process, you can check out Tip 34 from this volume.]

Finally, we present two additional gems from the forthcoming latest book in our 147 Tips series, 147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars, by Kathleen King and Ann Cranston-Gingras.

6. Develop or join a local research or writing collaborative.

Anyone who participates in local research or writing collaboratives
can testify to the power of the experience for personal and professional
development. A group of scholars with similar goals can create their
own collaborative with the choice of at least two basic models: writing
circle or collaborative. In the writing circle model, each individual contributes their current manuscript for the other members to evaluate and offer recommendations for improvement. Using the collaborative
model, the group identifies a project which they are all interested in and
have the skills to pursue. They divide the effort and work among them in
order to accomplish the goal. In both models, we might tweak the old
adage and observe: “Many minds make light work.”

20. Consider new trends in your discipline or field that you
can explore.

Contrary to popular belief, professors are not all-knowing. The most
productive faculty are those who are life-long learners and who thrive on
new opportunities to develop their knowledge base and skills. What
new trends could inform your current work? Are there new trends about
which you have questions? Currently, knowledge and research grow
faster than ever before; as academic researchers, we cannot afford to
tune out new developments and rely solely on our doctoral preparation.
New developments may serve as vital parts of your growing research


Tips of the Week 6/3/14

Here’s a new batch of tips warmed perfectly by the summer heat, just in time for the start of June! As the semester closes and you transition into summer mode, remember to refresh your mind every now and then with new tips for your classroom, your practice, and yourself.

For educators looking to publish, here is a great tip (we should know!) from 147 Publishing Tips for Professors by Danny R. Arnold:

48. For each  project, decide whether you will write to a target audience or write the manuscript and let it find a home.

Should you tailor an entire project for a specific  target journal, or should you simply do a good job writing up the project and then find a home for it? The answer is YES. Actually, it depends on the project. At some point before you finish the manuscript, you certainly need to tailor it for a specific journal.

Two cautions are pertinent. First, developing a project for a narrow and/or unique journal can be dangerous. What if they do not like it? Second, you may want to evaluate early in the project whether the resulting manuscript might fit a small cluster of journals. Having multiple options for your work is desirable.

And from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity by William M. Timpson, Raymond Yang, Evelin Borrayo, and Silvia Sara Canetto:

68. Insist on responsible language

One fundamental ground rule for a safe environment that all members of the class community instructors and students alike respond to each other with understanding and empathy, especially when there are sharp disagreements.

Reexamine the language used in a particular class that dealt with some aspect of diversity. For the purposes of expressing and discussing more precisely, consider the impact of alternative language terms, concepts, qualifying adjectives and adverbs that could have been used.

Finally, we have another splendid tip from our forthcoming latest edition to the Tips series, 147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars by Kathy King and Ann Cranston-Gringas.

11. Identify and list the areas and strengths of your academic preparation and research interests.

Some of the strongest determinants in one’s early research and publication agenda will be one’s academic preparation focus and initial research interests. Indeed, for doctoral students, we recommend exploring research areas, building a foundation for your likely dissertation topic. In this manner, your work will build valuable background knowledge and perhaps data for your future effort. For early career faculty members, it is likely that your initial research and publication agenda will stem from your dissertation. Revisit the recommended future research sections of this document and your notes from your dissertation defense to see what leads you may uncover. We encourage faculty to explore more than one theme or focus of research in order to provide fresh perspectives, additional collaboration, publishing and funding opportunities.