Regular news/updates from chair of Curriculum & Instruction department

(in reverse chronological order)


Enlightening things
The first lunch time seminar will be Wednesday, September 13, 2006
12:00 - 1:30 PM
"Bacteria Beans: A lesson to teach middle and high school students about the body's response to infectious disease"
Presenter = Steve Ribisi
Location = GCE Dean's Conference Room, W-1-075
Please RSVP to so the right amount of lunch can be ordered.

Honor and responsibility
MaryAnn Byrnes was elected President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), beginning July 2006. Her two-year term will include preparations for Boston's hosting of the 2008 International CEC Convention, expected to draw 6000 professionals in special education.

Administrative things
Please return your checklist sheets so I can note admin. things I need to along for you (e.g., getting a code to photocopier) and then return it to you for you to keep track of things you need to do. These sheets are hanging from the noticeboard in the main C&I office (or see

Useful summary of info about room size & equipment: see

Question for potential GenEd supervisors: Would it work for the monthly supervision meetings and more regular seminars with supervisees to be on Fridays at 4pm in the spring? (This would free up the Wednesday 4pm slots so other C&I courses could be allocated the scarce rooms availble to GCE.) Reactions??

Part-timers' personnel action forms were ready for me to sign yesterday. Will keep you informed of progress through to contracts. I am trying to learn & follow contractual procedures re: specifying additional duties on the ocntract for thoise who are 50% or more lecturers, pay rates, etc. Let me know if something doesn't look right to you.

The spring schedule is about to go to the printers without us having made progress on rational criteria for equitable course caps. Instead, I'm getting many personal appeals: "please make my cap this or keep it that." Please help me not be the kind of chair who rewards the squeaky wheels and leaves behind an opaque system that invites perpetual squeakywheeldom.

To stimulate progress towards rational criteria for equitable course cap let me make a proposal:
Cap of 6 for Intensive supervision at many sites + on-site seminar + reports; Hours /course = seminars (not every week) + 20 hrs/ student
Cap of 12: Intensive writing & revision re: individualized research projects; written submissions 10 weeks of 14; Hours/course = classtime, prep time, office hours, + 8 hrs/ student
Cap of 18: Discussion Seminar or other course with 4 written assignments & extensive feedback ; Hours /course = classtime, prep time, office hours, + 6 hrs/ student
Cap of 25: Regular class with assignments common across students; Hours /course = classtime, prep time, office hours, + 4 hrs/ student
Does your course fit one of those categories or not? Are the figures accurate? If someone's course fits in between and is given a higher cap, they could feel justified in reducing the load of assignments to match the larger cap.


Meetings on 8/31
Department meeting, Agenda & Notes
Links to notes from Program meetings will follow soon.

People who weren't there yesterday -- especialy those who work on campus -- are welcome to join in the "No-grouch lunch date": each person gets two tickets -- one an inviter ticket, the other an invitee ticket. When an inviter finds someone with an invitee ticket they swap tickets (but no reciprocal swapping.) After an initial round of swapping, people still with invitee tickets identify themselves. The inviter has responsibility to follow up to arrange the date. So let me kow and I'll put tickets in yur mailslot and let you know who hasn't yet been invited.

Grants, continued
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $3.5 million for the Boston Ready early childhood education project - a partnership between the Institute for Community Inclusion, the GCE, the Boston Public Schools, and
the early childhood community in Boston. Mary Lu Love and Bill Kiernan took the lead on making this proposal happen and Ann Ebe is the Principal Investigator.

Peter T.'s promotion to full professor and Hannah Sevian's pre-tenure promotion to Associate Professor take effect today.

Office arrangments
Please remove boxes of past semesters' students projects from the main office by 9/12 and dispose of the projects (to trash or by mailing them back to students or..). In your fall syllabi please include a deadline for collecting projects or an alternative, e.g., asking for USPS priority mail labels & stamps. It is extra work for faculty to go to the PO, but it's important for students to get their work back and it's dispiriting for us when they don't bother to collect it.

Checklist of other arrangements
(These were distributed to core faculty by email.) Please return them to me asap so we can take note of the loose ends and then return them to you so you can follow up.

PT's office hours
As an experiment, I want to continue ask for sign ups for office hours. I'm trying to keep uninterrupted time for processing the voluminous emails & for collecting my thoughts about more strategic issues -- and, if I am to keep my spirits up, for other intellectual and teaching work. I'll adjust the time slots as needed as weeks unfold.

Note: WISER is more current than the Wiki at the moment, but some WISER errors remain to be corrected.

Annual Faculty Reviews -- deadline extended till 9/14.


College, Department, & Program Meetings, Thursday 31 Aug.
9-10 GenEd, SpEd, ID, CCT Program coordinators meeting in C&I Chair's office
10-1 All-college meeting, incl. lunch, Healey 11th floor.
1.15-2.45 C&I Department meeting, Healey 11th floor.
3-4.30 separate Program meetings (CCT in M-4-272;.GenEd in Healey 11th floor, SpEd TBA, Instr Des ?)
4.45-5.45 GenEd, SpEd, ID, CCT Program coordinators meeting in C&I Chair's office, part II

Department meeting agenda
There are many issues about organization and policy that the separate programs need to discuss before bringing issues back, when appropriate, for discussion by the Department as a whole. 
In the meantime the Department can work on 1) fostering a stronger sense of collegial connectedness, and
2) exposing concerns so that no-one can say "I had no idea this was a worry."

A more detailed email about the meeting will be sent out later to cue in those who cannot come.

Program meetings will follow the department meeting on 8/31. I have asked each coordinator to assemble by 9/12 a plan for program administrative tasks, including structure, membership & duties of sub-committees. These start fresh for '06-07 and are internal to programs, so do not simply assume that ad hoc "department" committees of previous years continue as previously constituted. The program meetings will surely contribute to formulating these plans and identifying needs for staff and other support.

Who participates in Program meetings? From Chair & Coordinators' Roles: In view of the constitutional categories of Department and program membership, and of the distinction in the Union contract between lecturers whose responsibilities include service and other lecturers, if coordinators want to restrict attendance in any program meeting, say, to voting members only, or to voting members plus lecturers expected to be doing service, they should be explicit and consistent about which categories are invited and should communicate what happens to the full program membership. An agenda should always be circulated in advance and allow for input from program members. Although program coordinators must take initiative in proposing policy and seeing that it is implemented, program plans, policies and practices are decided democratically by the voting members of each program.

Check-list for things to do now or very soon or to take note of
Mosty relevant to full-ime faculty. This will help us avoid using meeting time for informational or bureaucratic matters (principle: use meetings for things that can't easily be done by other means).
Annual Faculty Reviews and professional goals due next week for full-time & benefitted faculty.  


Rooms -- response needed asap
For various reasons we won't go into your course may not have a room or may have a room that will accommodate the number of students you will have.  It is a mess if you find this out on the first night of classes. Therefore, please take the time asap to:
a) identify what room you have, how many students are registered, and what the capacity is (using [Call Aralisa 617 287 7591 to get this info if you don't have access to WISER.]
b) Visit the room and then let me and Aralisa know that it's Ok, bigger than you need, or too small. Or lacks the equipment you'll need regularly. If you can't do it yourself this week, please call Aralisa to ask her to check.
c) Stay tuned for a switch of rooms.

Getting ready to start classes
Is the Room Ok for the size of your class?
Can you get access to roster of students in your sections on wiser?
Stress that students need to arrange email forwarding from their umb account to their real accounts.
If new employee, have you received and completed the new employee paperwork?

If you had or still have outstanding reimbursements, check the summary and send updates or additions to me

College-wide meeting, 8/31, 10-1, Healey Library, 11th Floor

Departmental & program meetings, 8/31
Directly after the all-college meeting, 1.15 & 3pm, resp. Places to be confirmed.

Grants received
Hannah Sevian has received another grant from the NSF. This is a ~$700k, 3-year supplement to the Boston Science Partnership, though it is essentially a new project. It will involve including Bunker Hill and Roxbury Community Colleges in the Boston Science Partnership to accomplish four objectives:
1. Involve community college science faculty in ongoing vertical curriculum alignment work that we are currently doing with UMB and Northeastern science faculty and Boston Public Schools grade 6-12 science teacher leaders.
2. Expand professional development for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) faculty, including science faculty from BHCC and RCC
3. Align freshman science courses (biology, chemistry, physics) between UMB, BHCC, RCC and BPS (the BPS freshman science courses are AP science courses)
4. Pilot an Emerging Scholars program in freshman biology at BHCC, with a UMB biology grad student leading the discussion sections.
There is also a large research component to the project, which I will be leading, and I am currently conducting a search for a post-doc to work on with me. The research will explore why students persist or drop out from STEM career pathways in the urban STEM pathway from 11th grade in BPS through graduation from UMB, with and without passage through BHCC and RCC. Since roughly 20% of BPS grads attend UMB, BHCC and RCC, there is an excellent sample to study. We have already received IRB approval to conduct the study, so this is beginning immediately.

Peter Taylor has received from NSF a "small grant for exploratory research" (which looks even smaller when compared with the above!), on "The Implications of Heterogeneity for the Philosophy, History, Sociology, and Science of Biological Determinism." (To be explained further at a lunch time brown bag at a later date.)

Departmental Life
The first lunch time seminar will be Wednesday, September 13, 2006
12:00 - 1:30 PM
"Bacteria Beans: A lesson to teach middle and high school students about the body's response to infectious disease"
Presenter = Steve Ribisi
Location = GCE Dean's Conference Room
Please RSVP to so the right amount of lunch can be ordered.

Anyone have an iMAC to spare and/or a USB mouse for a MAC?

Responsibilities of Chair & Program Coordinators
C&I has always consisted of a number of graduate programs with separate student bodies and academic procedures, but after three months of working as the Chair under the revised constitution that explicitly acknowledges that "federalist" structure, I see the need to respond to clarify how the Chair's and the program coordinators' responsibilities are divided and related....


Fall schedule
See latest version. Alert me to problems (or discrepancies with WISER). With a few sections cancelled or combined, there were no surprise cancellations and rearrangements when the enrollments are reviewed by the Dean on 8/22.

The GCE computer lab (W-2-209) has been reconfigured so that the computers are around the edge and a seminar table is in the center. If any of you teach a seminar course that sometimes uses computers and would like to move to that room , please put in a request to in Counseling & School Pysch.
Also, if any of you teach a seminar course and woudl like a room where stduents can sit aorund a flat table, please let me know. I am exploring options for the fall.

College-wide meeting, 8/31, 10-1, Healey Library, 11th Floor
followed by department & program meetings, places TBAnnounced

MTEL Foundations of Reading prep workshop:
Date confirmed for Saturday, October 28th.  9:00-3:00

Chenfeng Zhang has resigned from UMB. News about the position he is taking up may follow in a later news. New faculty member, Janna Kackson has stepped in to teach his "Computers Technology & Education" course for the fall. Other adjustments are in the works.

Space & facilities
The printer is back on line. The copier will be able to send out emails when the second jack is activated. This is being (re)requested. (Brave soles can unplug the ethernet cable from the printer and plug it into the copier, down the bottom of the left side. But sometimes this doesn't "take.")

Course release review
The provost has circulated figures on course releases for 05-06 as a part of his review of the level of these. The C&I figures do not match my information at many points. I will be able to correct this if faculty (re-)send me what releases they had lst year and on what grounds. (Better still, send me your AFRs which are due at the start of the semester.)

No news about possible re-framing of the searches.

Work requests
Please submit any work requests to Aralisa with a slip attached that specifies the info below. This will help me and her in prioritizing.
Submitted by:
Date submitted:
Completion date & time requested:
If not able to be done:
Date & time to be notified by:
Contact number or email:

Other procedures
See evolving set of procedures. Suggestions welcome.


Fall schedule
See latest version. Alert me to problems (or discrepancies with WISER). With a few sections cancelled or combined, there should be no surprise cancellations and rearrangements when the enrollments are reviewed by the Dean on 8/22.

College-wide meeting, 8/31, 10-1, place still TBA
The main agenda item is to discuss "What is our urban mission?" Some take this as to focus on preparing teachers, counsellors & principals for poor school districts in urban Boston and helping to improve teaching in those districts. Others say "urban mission" has to be a synonym for engagement in social justice work in the various GCE programs, which range much broader than preparing teachers, counsellors & principals, with the students who come to UMB, which range much wider geographically than urban Boston. Still others say......
To help you fill in the ..... and form your thoughts, you might view some things written about this in & in review criteria (see intro to Personnel Review Guidelines).

Discussion about the framing of the searches continues:
One view of a Chair's search is that an outsider needs to be brought in because the C&I senior faculty were hard pressed to complete their terms and produce a replacement. Another view is that the Department needs another senior member and, after three years as Chair, somone else would take their place.
One view of what areas we should be searching for is that a College of Ed's heart has to be general teacher preparation and if we hire more people within ths program, we'll be able to (re)build student numbers. Another view is that areas should be hired where the existing student numbers divided by number of faculty teaching in that area indicate the most need (which at the moment is Instructional Design -- they have no lines at the moment -- then Special Education -- even more so because Glenn is 75% seconded to NACTE thru '08).
Dir. of Teacher Prep: The scope and interweaving of job description for the professional staff supporting C&I programs (mostly Gen Ed at this point) is being fleshed out.
An ongoing challenge that won't be resolved in this round of searches is that entrepeneurial initiatives later compete for resources with regular programs. So, how to foster initiative, but not stretch faculty too thin to do their work in a sustainable manner?

NCATE workload
One view of NCATE is that much of the work is what we should be doing anyway. (Of course, this would seem more reasonable if that had been made to happen since the first NCATE review and not be compressed into this year ahead.) In any case, see "Required and Volunteered Materials Needed from Faculty." Please try to complete the cv, goals, syllabi tasks as yo get ready for the new semester.

Subject area point persons
The Dean wants someone in GCE to take responsibility for each subject area, even if that responsibility is to get people from CLA & CSM departments to produce the needed data etc. for licensure & NCATE renewals. Please review the assignments & confirm or otherwise respond.

Fax machine?
Does C&I need its own fax machine. The new copier allows us to send out the equivalent of fxaes using scan & email. We could (as we used to) receive faxes at the downstairs number. Reactions?

Website changes
Volunteer still needed to be point person for the department's input & feedback on changes underway in the GCE website.


Flow forms etc. for GenEd students -- advisors take note

Aralisa's office has been changed to W2/94 and the copy machine and mailboxes have been moved back to W2/93. The locks have been changed already so everyone can still use the same key they use to get into their office. The copy machine is currently offline (can't email scanned pages) but IT is working to have this problem fixed. Printer is still in Aralisa's office, until ethernet jack gets reactivated in the larger office (requested 2 weeks ago, but...). (That means, alas, it's only accessible during Aralisa's work hours.) If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Aralisa.
The challenge now is to arrange the main office so it's a congenial, convivial space we use.

Fall schedule
Coming together nicely -- stay tuned for second installment of news later today

RA needs for spring
Core faculty: Please let me know if you have a research project that can use an RA in the spring (including continuations of the fall projects for those who have them)  by 8/22. That way we can tell fall RAs soon about the likelihood of their continuing in the spring (subject to good performance).

Book exchange
The main office has a few shelves of books. If any belong to you, please reclaim them. If you are interested in taking any of them for your own use, please do. You are also welcome to bring books in for others to take provided there is room on thee shelves.

Office furniture
Two 2 drawer filing cabinets are available for the taking outside the main office and some multidrawer cabinets are out in the corridor. First come, first served.

Final Coordinator on board
Having pushed hard this summer to complete her book ms. and materials for tenure review, Lisa Gonsalves is now on board as coordinator for General Teacher Ed. She joins Dennis Maxey (Instr Design), Nina Greenwald (CCT), and Glenn Mitchell (SpEd) for the year.

Meetings on 8/31
College, Department, & Program Meetings, Thursday 31 Aug, 10-5, places TBA
9-10 GenEd, SpEd, ID, CCT Program coordinators meeting in C&I Chair's office
10-1 All-college meeting, incl. lunch
1.15-2.45 C&I Department meeting
3-4.30 separate Program meetings
4.30-5.30 GenEd, SpEd, ID, CCT Program coordinators meeting in C&I Chair's office, part II

Student email forwarding
Please inform and reiterate to your students that all official info from registrar goes to their UMB email accounts so they must go to to set the forwarding option to the email addresses they actually look at.

Access to WISER
To start with WISER, go to
Next, click on faculty self-service
To obtain Log in information, you can access the ID Lookup Tool
There you will input three pieces of personal information
Your start-up password will always be: The first letter of your last name (Capitalized), the second letter of your last name (lowercase), followed by your birthday in the MMDDYYYY format.

Rep on personnel c'tee
The tenure-track untenured faculty need to appoint a rep to the personnel committee. This is a new position under the revised constitution. A democratic way to do this woudl to be have all of you as candidates and use a preferential voting system ( to arrive at a winner. Other suggestions or (self)nominations welcome.

Funding for MTEL prep sessions has been approved, but we decided to hold only one Fundamentals of Reading (Jen Yaeger -- note new date of 10/21) and one Communication & Literacy. Stay tuned for more details.

Documentation from faculty for NCATE
This includes submission of syllabi electronically to Aralisa. If you give her enough time (say 8/31 at latest), you are welcome to request that she makes the copies for your classes.

Departmental lunch around our "work and lives" colloquia (dates TBA)
Refreshments/light lunch will be provided courtesy of funds from Counseling Department.


Departmental lunch around our "work and lives"
From Steve Ribisi (
"Starting in September I would like to establish a meeting for all faculty in the department at which we will have an opportunity to share our research and other intellectual interests with one another. I am envisioning a
meeting to be held at lunchtime (12-1:30) on a different day of the week each time at which one of us will make a presentation and lead a discussion. This is meant to be an informal seminar that will give us a chance to get to know each other and our work a bit better. Any topic directly or even tangentially related to your academic work would be appropriate.
I will lead off in September (date to be announced shortly) with a presentation of a biology education project that I have been thinking about and working on since I was a postdoc at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Please let me know if you would be interested in signing up to present in the coming months (October - May) or if you have any suggestions to help make this departmental seminar a success."
P.S. from PT: I can imagine this being more frequent than once/month, but Steve may need a co-host to pull that off. Volunteer? Refreshments will be provided -- stay tuned about whether this will amount to a lunch or...

College-wide meeting, 8/31, 10-1, place TBA
Agenda: Announcements, incl. introduction of new faculty & staff; Discussion in break-out groups of "What is our urban mission?," Lunch.
Department meeting then program meetings will follow (in the same vicinity, we hope).

Fall schedule
I'm tracking down the source of discrepancies between WISER & the version of the schedule on the wiki (esp. caps & some times). Won't bore you with details. Making sure we have rooms will be a challenge. Please counsel your students (and yourselves) that we care, even as we recognize that changes (past or upcoming) inconvenience them. Rather than spend time blaming the past admin, let us simply promise a tighter ship for future semesters.

The provost has authroized searches for a chair, and early childhgood/elemntary faculty person (replacement position for Mari Koerner), and a Director of Teacher Preparation (professional staff person). Search c'tees yet to be estabished for last two positions.
Stay tuned to hear of the searches are set in stone. (The case has been made to the Dean for fusing the Chair searches into both of two area searches, thus allowing a Special Ed. search as well. SpEd has highest ratio of Student FTE to faculty equivalents, and it is said things need to be data driven. I apologize for my not being on top of data during first weeks on the job when it might have been easier to change the request to the provost.)

Graduate assistants
Research assistants have been assigned for the fall to core faculty who requested. Please let me know by mid-October if you have a project for the spring. Students who applied, but weren't matched with faculty are in a reserve pool for the spring. Depending on faculty requests for the spring, faculty getting a fall RA may or may not get to a spring RA and it would then be up to you to decide whether to continue with the same person.

Space changes
The switch of mail room and Aralisa's office will happen soon, but there'll be room for input about the arrangement of the main office after the switch is done.
The possible move of downstairs staff back up to 2nd floor depends on things, such as, checkup on possible environmental problems with carpet downstairs.
The Dean's conference room is being rearranged so it can serve also as a seminar and departmental meeting room.

CCT event
Wednesday, September 27: 4-6:30 PM
The CCT Program takes pleasure in presenting one of the leading lights on teaching creativity!
Professor Anna Craft, University of Exeter, England and Harvard University visiting scholar, will present her work on Possibility Thinking which incorporates the context, immersion, and dispositions that are associated with imagination and playfulness as critical components of creative thinking. Qualitative research methods, manifestations of Possibility Thinking by children, and pedagogical strategies used, will be included in her compelling presentation and lively discussion with the audience -- an extraordinary professional development event with implications for powerful teaching and learning at all levels.
Details to be announced; please RSVP soon to (617) 287-6523 or 6520 or

Ethernet changes
Likely date for changing computers etc. over to dynamic IP addresses for 2nd floor GCE is 8/28, from 9-1.

Annual Faculty Reports
These are due from core faculty and benefitted part-timers at the start of the semester. Although the form does not convey this, you are welcome to add narrative, e.g., to explain changes you have made in response to course evaluations, or to provide an overview (which would help the AFR-review sub-committee draft quality summaries of faculty work). Please submit these electronically to
(P.S. We're still in the process of getting full sets of everyone's past AFRs on file in the department. )

Under the original NCATE plan, core faculty were supposed to have been submitting annual professional goals that would be reviewed at the start of the year and evaluated afterwards. This process lapsed, but is being revived using template linked to (Any questions: Contact Rona Flippo.) These should be submitted at the same time as the AFRs, but will not be part of the AFR sub-c'tee's review of AFRs. They will, however, be discussed with the Chair in one-on-one meetings to be scheduled after your AFRs & goals are submitted.

Faculty Career Development Award
Applications for $2500 grant due 9/11. Untenured, tenure-track faculty are the usual recipients of this award, which supports research. The Dean prefers only one application from GCE, so let me know by 8/22 if you are interested in being considered. A 1000-word proposal will be required if you apply.

Website changes
Volunteer needed to be point person for the department's input & feedback on changes underway in the GCE website.

Past news