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  • Hannah Krimm

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Vanderbilt Center for Teaching’s Course Design Institute. I am thankful that this year they opened a session for graduate students and postdocs -- just in time for me to design a new course syllabus within a structured, supportive, and collaborative environment!


We used the backwards design process:

desired outcomes -> assessment -> instruction (more info here)

This process helps us to

ask what students need to learn rather than what we want to say.

We started by developing course objectives. In doing so, we thought through these questions:

- What does transfer of the learning look like?

- What big ideas do students need to understand?

- What are some provocative questions (i.e., questions experts are still debating) relevant to the course?

- What do students need to know?

- What do students need to be able to do?

- What information should students know is out there?


Working through these questions reminds us that there is value in explicitly teaching foundational principles and value in supporting students in moving past right/wrong, black/white thinking to wrestle with ambiguous questions – a skill that is central to clinical practice.


FYI: Vanderbilt Center for Teaching has tons of awesome resources. Check them out!

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  • Hannah Krimm

I have been listening to podcasts today. Two of my favorites are: Before Breakfast (Laura Vanderkam) and The Effort Report (Elizabeth Matsui and Roger Peng).


In the episode “Be kind to your future self” Laura encourages us to ask: “is this a better use of my time than the other things I could be doing?” Elizabeth and Roger said almost the exact same thing on the episode I listened to this morning. They took it a step further, though, encouraging us to compare new opportunities to specific, concrete examples of other things we could be doing. In other words, learning to ask:

“is this a better use of my time than X?”

They went on to half-jokingly give examples like “sleeping” for X.


Both of these questions remind me of a nugget of wisdom my dad shared with me while I was freaking out about failing chemistry as a college freshman. He told me

“do the best you can with the time you’ve got.”

I have friends, colleagues, and students who would define “the time you’ve got” as the 24 hours in a day. Thankfully, being a college athlete, I had a single, concrete priority around which to make other decisions. Though I didn’t appreciate it in my youth, this clarity was tremendously freeing. The time I had for chemistry was the time that was left after practice, eating, sleeping, etc. – notably NOT all 24 hours in a day. Staying up until 3 a.m. to perfect a chem lab was simply not an option because I had to jump in a pool the next day with my wits about me.


Are you making trade-offs that conflict with your priority? Just something to think about.


P.S. I passed chemistry. Probably in part because Dr. Mary Peek focused on students achieving mastery by the end of the course and set an example I will emulate in my own teaching. But that is another topic for another post.

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Last week I had the pleasure of guest teaching in an Introduction to Exceptionality class full of inquisitive freshman and sophomores. Here are some of the things we talked about:

  1. Speech and language are two different things. Speech happens in the mouth; language happens in the brain. Speech is the mode; language is the message.

  2. Language impairment affects roughly 12% of children (Tomblin et al., 1997). Contrast that with autism spectrum disorders, which affect less than 2% of children.

  3. Children with language impairment often experience reading disability (Catts et al., 2005; Werfel & Krimm, 2017).

  4. Language impairment affects academics outside of just English Language Arts. Most instruction is delivered via language, so we can expect difficulties with math, science, social studies, and even related arts like PE.

  5. Difficulty with syntax is a hallmark of language impairment (Rice & Wexler, 1996). If a child is 5 and says things like "he run" instead of "he runs" or "I jump" instead of "I jumped," his or her language should be evaluated.


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© 2019 Hannah Krimm