Monday, April 16, 2012

RSS Feeds to Journal Articles

Make science reading a regular part of your life.  I use Google Reader as my electronic reader of choice.  I feed my favorite blogs, news papers, and journal articles to my reader by clicking on the RSS feed button on their webpages. 
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed button
To get started, you'll need a google account.  Sign in and start adding RSS feeds to your google reader:

When you click on the RSS feed button on a page, sometimes it will ask you what you'd like to read it on.  Just click on Google and add it to your Reader. 

Once you've got some fun stuff in line to read, start exploring it on the webpage.  Sometimes a feed will just give you a title or an abstract that you'll have to click on for more, but sometimes you can read the full article right on your Reader. 

Now get the Google Reader App for your favorite device and visit it whenever you get some down time!

Here's a few suggested sources for weather, climate, and science folks:

 For fun:

Look right!  I have a Subscribe to Posts RSS feed that you should click on just under the Metro logo!

Here's what my reader looks like on my computer:

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Worst Hard Time

I just finished reading this great book about life on the plains during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.  It is a heart-wrenching example of how humans can alter their environment for the worst.  Eastern Colorado, Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles became a desert with wild dust storms, no ability to grow crops or even grass to keep the topsoil in place.  A drought was made nearly unsurvivable by decades of poor farming techniques that left the soil vulnerable to wind erosion.

I was reading this book during our dry, warm March (warmest on record for the US) and was getting extra nervous that my garden seemed to have turned to sand.  Finally we have active precipitation in the forecast and everything is blooming! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Year Success Course Enhancement Award

More great news!  Professor Virginia McCarver and I were awarded a First Year Success Course Enhancement Award!  We'll spend time this summer pairing my Global Climate Change course with her Public Speaking course with some joint projects that will involve the latest and greatest in technology like blogs, podcasts, wikis, or social media.  The students will be enrolled in both of our courses and learn and produce projects as a cohort.  Dr. McCarver and I met in a first year Faculty Learning Communitysand I can't wait to continue working with her on such a fun and inspiring project!  Stay tuned for what we come up with!

Here's the official great news:


Monday, April 9, 2012

New Climate Change Textbook for fall

After much searching, I finally found the perfect textbook for my two sections of MTR 1600 Global Climate Change that I will teach in the fall.  John Houghton was co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report and summarizes their findings in a very accessible way in this colorful, figure-filled book.  I'm looking forward to spending some time this summer revamping this course for the fourth time, although I think this current semester's class is going extremely well thanks to a really bright group of students.  This fall I'm teaching a First Year Success section of this class MW 11:00 and a regular section open to anyone MW at 9:30.  The First Year students will benefit from hitting two birds with one stone by taking this class; it fulfills both the natural science requirement and the global diversity requirement that 2012 catalog students will have to fulfill before graduating.  Other catalog year students will still get a natural science general studies requirement out of it!

MTR 1600 Description: This course presents the science behind global climate change from an Earth systems and atmospheric science perspective. These concepts then provide the basis to explore the effect of global warming on regions throughout the world.  This leads to the analysis of the observed and predicted impacts of climate change on these regions; the effect of these changes on each region's society, culture, and economy; and the efforts of these regions to mitigate or adapt to climate change. The interdependence of all nations will be discussed in regards to fossil fuel-rich regions, regions responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, and regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 3 credits. (General Studies: Natural and Physical Science, Global Diversity requirements)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Science Literacy Faculty Learning Community 2012-13

I recently got great news that my proposal to lead a Faculty Leaning Community next year was accepted!  I'm hoping to get together a group of 5-10 science professors who are interested in spending a school year trying to solve a problem of epic importance to society, teaching science literacy.  Faculty Learning Communities usually meet for two hours every three weeks.  The members prepare by reading the same literature, researching between meetings, and trying new things in their classrooms, then reporting back to the group.  Some of the most successful groups present or publish their findings at the end of the school year.  The sense of community is really the best part, though.  It's great to find other faculty who are interested in constantly improving their teaching effectiveness.  I still keep in touch with the professors in my first year faculty learning community!

Please email me at if you have any ideas for a book I could use as the main reading for the community.  If you're a Metro professor and would like to join me, we'll have a call for applications in the first few weeks of class in 2012.

Here's the proposal:
I would like to facilitate a faculty learning community for science professors to come together and find scholarly approaches to successfully teach science literacy in the introductory science college classroom.  The new Natural and Physical Sciences general studies requirements starting in fall of 2012, will require us to focus more on science literacy, the scientific method, and general science skills rather than just a slew of information we tend to throw at students on a particular topic in our introductory courses.  Rather than approaching our courses as “An Introduction to My Topic” and treating it like the first class they will take in our field, perhaps we should treat it as the LAST science course our students will ever take.  How can we prepare our non-science majors to use science, logic, math, technology, and skeptical, critical thinking in their everyday lives as citizens?  We can use each of our fields as the channel by which we actively teach our students the scientific way of thinking, rather than focusing on a body of knowledge.  This FLC will use a scholarly approach to search for pedagogical ways to accomplish this in the science classroom, integrate the methods into our courses in the spring, and share successful methods with all of Metro’s science faculty, as well as the broader college science professor community. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Forum 2012

The Center for Faculty Development at Metro hosted this year's Spring Forum on Friday, which is a chance for Auraria campus professors to join together and learn about the latest in pedagogy and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  The day was a success.  Here's what I learned:

I attended a session that taught us how to use technology like social media in the classroom.  The feature that knocked my socks off was this webpage called storify.  Storify allows the students to build their own, fun to read article on a topic.  They can search for web content, then simply click and drag it into their story column, add comments, and rearrange it until they find a provocative order of telling what they found.  They can then share the link with the class and get comments from the other students and professor on their work.  This session offered lots of other fun little ideas that I can't wait to explore more in the classroom.

Teaching at its best author Linda Nilson teased us with a fun activity that showed us how our brains work in learning.  She gave out a worksheet and little did we know, half of the room had one set of directions and half had another!  One half was looking at a series of 30 words and writing down a number for how many times they interacted with this thing in the past two weeks.  Words like "tea pot" or "strawberry."  The other half of the room was supposed to count the number of vowels in the words.  Who remembered more of the words when our memory was put to the test?  The folks who had had an emotional connection to the words, the people remembering personal interactions with the things!  Dr. Nilson had lots of other great advice and I can't wait to dive deeper into her book this summer.  

I attended a talk about how to help your First Year Success students be successful.  One of the greatest things I took away was the idea of giving your students a list of things they must do the first two weeks of class:  buy the text book, send the professor an email, drop by office hours, log in to metro connect to find course materials, etc.  This will get students off to a great start!

Lastly, I presented a poster during the lunch hour.  Here it is:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three fabulous links

It's only Monday morning and I've already run across three awesome weather and climate links that I can't help but share.  Thank you, social media! 

1.  On the Great Warm Wave of March 2012.  Note that March went on record for Denver as the driest ever recorded and the 2nd warmest.
2.   The Carbon Map made visible by adjusting country sizes for how much carbon they emit, how vulnerable they are, etc.
3.  Wind Map of surface wind trajectories.  A cool way to "see" the wind.