Summer Plan

My family and I agree that things work best when I work pretty strict hours—I work 7:45 am to 5 pm during the school year. I do very little work at home. However, I need to do a lot of prep work during the summer to make this possible. Because of this, I work a lot in the summer (we allow for 6 weeks of vacation for the year, so the default mode for the summer is “work”), although my hours are now 8:15 am to 5 pm.

Here is my plan for the summer:

  1. Take care of all of the annoying paperwork-type-stuff that needs to be done. This includes some work that I do every summer: updating my CV, updating websites, and reading and summarizing course evaluations. I also have some jobs that are particular to this summer, such as determining which mathematics courses should be considered for transfer credit at some neighboring colleges. (I am happy that I have already done this entire item).
  2. Do some reading about redesigning general education requirements. My college is considering restructuring these requirements, and my main goal for the summer is to try to determine (along with my other committee members) some sort of reasonable process for this. Fortunately, this is paid work (mostly).
  3. Plan my geometry (and prob/stats/graph theory) course for elementary education majors for the fall. This is also done, largely because I taught this course in the spring. I kept detailed notes (I am grateful I did this), and I mainly updated this course by building in more feedback. In particular, I wrote all of my quizzes for the semester, created solution videos for each quiz, and updated my examinations.
  4. Plan my calculus course. I am planning on using Team-Based Learning, which I learned about from Eric Mazur in this video. Again, planning includes (in chronological order) creating all learning goals, creating all assessments, and creating all class activities. When the semester comes, my main task will be briefly reviewing the plan, adapting that plan based on the students’ needs, recording what actually happened (and how I might improve things next time), meeting with students, and grading.
  5. Do research. I have 3–4 papers that I need to write up, and I hope to re-start work on two projects that have been on hold for too long.

Finally, one benefit of working during the summer is you can be amazingly productive. I am often the only person here, and I can be very productive in such an environment.

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7 Responses to “Summer Plan”

  1. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    UCSC went through a long process to update its general education requirements a few years ago (the new requirements started Fall 2010). The results were decent (certainly better than the old system), and the new requirements were adopted without too much fuss (a big change from the previous attempt to change general education requirements, which passed on the Senate floor, then failed by 4 votes in an e-mail ballot).

    Broad consultation with all the faculty and pedagogic justification for each requirement are both important.
    provides an entry point to the requirements from a faculty perspective (with more details about what students are supposed to learn than what the students are given about the GE requirements).

    I blogged about it at which includes a pointer to that talks about the history and process (which are probably what interest you most right now).

    You may also want to look at the course approval forms at

    Click to access course-approval-form-supplemental.pdf

    which gives the questions that must be answered about each course before it can get a gen-ed code. When the gen-ed system was changed, courses were NOT grandfathered in—everyone had to justify the new gen-ed code for their courses. Even 4 years later, we’re still finding courses that should have had a gen-ed code added, but didn’t.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Thanks so much. We are actually way behind all of this. We are trying to figure out how we will decide what the goals should be (we are NOT deciding what the goals should be), how we will decide how to assess, and how we will decide how we will meet the goals.

      I will definitely be reading over your information carefully in about a year. I am happy that things improved at UCSC (even though it sounds like it was a ton of work).

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        Luckily I wasn’t part of the team doing the work this time (I was on the failed attempt about a decade earlier). The archive link has a lot of information about the process used, which you might want to look at this summer.

      • bretbenesh Says:

        The archive link was the one link I didn’t check; thanks for making sure I did!

        I am sorry about you being on the committee for the failed attempt. We had three committees fail the last time we did this, and there seems to be some lingering bitterness on their part (which I completely understand).

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        I’m not bitter about the failed revisions—my lack of political skill may have contributed to the failure. I’m sorry that it took so long for another attempt to be made, but the new committee did a better job, both of the pedagogy and of the politics.

      • bretbenesh Says:

        I am happy to hear that you have a good attitude about it, and I am happy that you ended up with an even better set of requirements.

  2. Mutt vs Gmail Revisited | Solvable by Radicals Says:

    […] I am a person who functions best when rules are black-and-white. I can be good at complete abstinence from things, but I am generally bad at moderation. I think this could work for me, and I am looking forward to the increase in productivity (especially since I keep to a strict work schedule). […]

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