Monday, August 17, 2015

"Never Really Alone" with Margaret McFall-Ngai!

As the new semester implacably looms (about two weeks now!), I am remembering last year at this time.  What worked in the following semester.  What could be improved upon. My classes are always a work in progress, and a collaboration with my students. My brain is in quite a ferment (sorry about that) to make things better for the students.

As I have written previously, in the Fall semester last year, I taught my beloved microbiology to juniors and seniors here at the University of Puget Sound.  But I also taught a "freshman writing seminar" to students who had just arrived in Tacoma.

This latter course, which I call "Never Really Alone:  Symbioses and Parasitism Around and Within Us," is intended to introduce new students to critical reading, discussion, writing, and presentations.  Here is the course description.

I focused my course as I did in hopes of stirring up student interest, and teaching basic university skills. And I believe I did both!

One of the reasons for the student interest, I believe, was my luck in getting some very famous and fascinating people to "virtually appear" to my class and interact with my students.  I have been trying to showcase those experiences from last year, to see who I could induce to speak to my class in the coming semester.

Last Fall, I was honored to have Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai as a participant in my class.  I have known Margaret for many years, and she is a world authority on symbioses.  This paper in particular is extremely important, along with this blog summary.  I had students read some of Margaret's work (including those two sources), and then submit questions to her before the "virtual visit."

So here is Margaret's "virtual visit" to last year's class.  Margaret was most comfortable with Skype (and I am not), so my recording of the session was not as smooth as it might have been.  Still, it was a wonderful opportunity for my students, and meant a lot to me personally.

As before, here is the "thank you" my students created.

And here is the drawing a friend of a student in my class created.

Thank you, Margaret!

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