RTC Faculty Focus






Renton Technical College                                                                         November 2004

Office of Instructional Improvement                                                                               Volume 3 No. 4







Noreen Light from the Emergency Dispatch Program has suggested a link on Small Group Teaching.  This short, well organized article reviews the advantages (and disadvantages) of using small groups, the steps in leading a discussion and the characteristics of effective questioning.



Get feedback through a Class Communicator

The October issue of The Teaching Professor describes a tool for getting input from students in a more specific way than the “Muddiest Point” exercise where student turn in questions or list issues that are still muddy.  Suzanne Medina from California State University, Dominguez Hills uses a single sheet of paper, divided into four sections for students to complete for each class session.  She uses the completed forms for attendance purposes. She keeps all the Communicators with questions to answer at the beginning of the next class, and generally feels more connected with her students.   You can request a copy of the Class Communicator template from  http://www.csudh.edu/soe/faculty/smedina.htm


No time for Destinos?

This site teaches visitors Spanish by way of 500 pages of grammar, 2,500 voice examples, 40 minutes of spoken dialogue and 1,800 exercises. The site features links to search functions, language schools, a forum and chat rooms all that aid visitors to learn and speak Spanish better. http://www.learn-spanish-online.de


On-Line Visual Thesaurus

Jinny Wesson from the RTC Library reports: “I just ran across something I hadn't seen before, namely a "visual thesaurus."  It shows synonyms and so forth as nodes on a graph, clustered by similarity in meaning or parts of speech.  Then you can click on a synonym and continue searching.  I loved the visual dynamics as much as the relationships between words.  Check out the trial version at

http://www.visualthesaurus.com/?ad=mw&word=learn  (you can also get there -- for now -- from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary at www.m-w.com )


Index of Grants and Contests

Looking for a grant that would help you complete a project, or a contest for your students?  Then this grants link is a good place to start. http://www.techlearning.com/resources/grants.jhtml


Graphic Organizers

The website has nine generic frames or patterns for graphic organizers, which are a good way to draw a picture of a topic, to show the relationship of the whole topic to its parts or the interrelationship of different aspects.  Each example has short notes to suggest applications.  These are great for visual learners and good to use for introducing or reviewing a new unit.






MAP your presentation

MAP stands for Message, Action Plan and Punch line, the ingredients of an effective PowerPoint presentation. This link to Presenter’s University has a great formula to keep your slide shows on target and effective.  http://www.presentersuniversity.com/Courses_MAP_effective.php



Techlearning.com is a web portal for teachers and administrators with short articles on technology in education plus an archive full of tips from Technology & Learning magazine, Educators’ Outlook, and TechLearning Tips. http://www.techlearning.com/

Resource on the Human Body

The BBC has a rich site of visuals, interactive activities and resources on the Human Body, including the mind, learning styles and multiple intelligences.  A great spot to get materials or have students do a webquest. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/


Individual Whiteboards

Still another source of those handy 6x8” whiteboards for keeping students engaged in learning by frequently soliciting their input and responses.  They are great for true/False, multiple choice answers, answering questions, giving feedback on understanding.  Depending on quantity, these are listed from $2.50-$2.00 each from www.trainerswarehouse.com

That blank stare

Ever ask an open-ended question and get just a blank stare from your students? You’re not alone. This article ponders students’ challenges in handling reflective questions and describes the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) Program, which is a Socratic Questioning method the writer has used for over 20 years. http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=11381


Disabilities Videos

The University of Washington Do-It program produces materials that demonstrate how computer technology can equalize the higher education process for students with various disabilities.  The RTC Library has just added three videos from the program.  These 12 to 14 minute videos are all open-captioned and audio described for the blind.


            Working Together:  Computers and people with mobility impairments (2001)

            Working Together:  Computers and people with sensory impairments (2001)

            Working Together:  Computers and people with learning disabilities (2000)


Quotable: "Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.

~Albert Einstein~




For more information regarding the articles in the Faculty Focus or to give input or suggestions of things you would like to see incorporated into this newsletter please contact the Office of Instructional Improvement



The mission of the Office of Instructional Improvement is to advance educational strategies, seek to improve the quality of learning environments, and support RTC staff as they prepare a diverse student population for work.