Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Still room for the NY ASP Workshop in April

The following is a recent listserv posting from Kris Franklin about the upcoming ASP Workshop (modified because of format problems - still not perfect):

Dear Friends,

A tentative agenda for this year’s NY Academic Support Workshop, to be held at Brooklyn Law school from 9:30-5 on Friday April 1, as pasted on below.  There may still be room for one or two agenda items, and there’s definitely room for folks to join in the conversation even if not leading a discussion.  If you’d like to come for even part of the day, please email me at or Linda Feldman at

.  If I’ve left anyone off who has already rsvp’d, my apologies (just let us know and we’ll make the needed corrections).

Workshop participants, if you have materials to share, please send them to Linda as soon as possible so that we can bind them and make copies available to everyone who is coming.  We’re so looking forward to seeing you all, and to what looks like a comprehensive and exciting event.

Kris Franklin

New York Law School

Current topics for the NY Workshop:

Designing the curriculum through ASP eyes

Pursuing a curriculum that promotes a cycle of learning throughout law school and practice; Twinette Johnson & Joyce Savio Herleth, Saint Louis

Thought experiments in crucially (re)evaluating law school teaching; Mary Lu Bilek, CUNY

Working with student services and faculty committees; Charlotte Taylor & Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus, Touro

ASP courses for credit: adding them and teaching them; roundtable facilitated by Everett Chambers

What teaching business law to undergrads can teach us about curriculum construction; Shane Anthony Dizon, NYU

Improving law students’ reasoning and analysis

Contemporaneous processing in student conferences; Alison Nissen, Rutgers

Formative assessment of essay writing skills; Heddy Muransky, Nova Southeastern

All I need to know I learned playing Apples-to-Apples™; Kris Franklin, NYLS

Pros and cons of a non-graded legal analysis practicum; Robin Boyle, St. John’s

Open agenda

Creating an effective learning environment for students from under-represented communities; Micah Yarbrough, Widener

Is there such a thing as "too much" academic support?; Danielle Bifulci Kocal, PACE

How can upper-level students help to run an ASP program?; Jessica Pollock Simon, U Penn

Closed book/open book exams and bar passage; Angela Baker, Rutgers/Camden

Dancing your way to academic success; Haley Meade & Danielle Friedman, NYLS


March 2, 2011 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PowerPoint for Teaching and Learning

I sat in on an Business Law class yesterday. I sat in the back of the classroom, so I had a nice view of all the open laptops in front of me. I was impressed with how few students were using their laptops inappropriately during class time; I could see only two in a class of over fifty students. Most law professors can only dream of a class with so few students playing games. I was intrigued with how the students were taking notes on their laptops, and I think this method can be of great use in law school classrooms.

The PowerPoints are digitally distributed ahead of time, so students can load the slides on their computer before the start of class. The slides were also projected at the front of the room. The students with computers almost universally had the PowerPoints open, in the "notes page" format. (For those of you unfamiliar with the notes page: in newest version of MS PP, go to the "view" tab at the top of the screen, and on the far left of the format bar, there is a tab for "Normal", "Slide Sorter" and "Notes page". Click on "notes page".) From the notes page format, students could see thePowerPoint on the screen, and take notes underneath. I had never seen students do this before, but it made sense that this was an excellent technique for organizing notes. The notes correspond with the lecture. If a student misses a word during the lecture, they can figure out the context by looking at where they were in the presentation.

The instructor had an interesting method of using PowerPoint as an instructional tool. The slides were used as place keepers for the lecture. Each slide had text outlining a major point, along with some fun visuals, such as a picture of the schoolhouse from Brown v. Board of Education. The PowerPoints did not outline the lecture, just the main point of the topic. Students could not use the PowerPoints as a substitute for class attendance. Therefore, it did not matter if he distributed them before class. I know law school professors fear distributing their PowerPoints because they fear it will create an incentive for students to miss class or play during class. However, what I observed in the class was that the students were MORE tuned in to class lecture. If they lost their place in the lecture, the students did not feel as if they were lost for the rest of the class. They could figure out the context by looking at the slide.

I know that using scaffolds such as PowerPoint help students learn material. I know all the theoretical reasons why PowerPoint is a great tool. This was the first time I saw how student behavior matched the theoretical reasons for using PowerPoint. Most of the research I have read on using scaffolds, such as PowerPoint, to learn in class were based on student's assessment of their own learning, which does not always correspond with appropriate behavior in class. This was my first experience  witnessing the positive change in student classroom behavior when scaffolds are used appropriately. This is definitely a technique I will adopt in my classes in the future. (RCF)


March 1, 2011 in Learning Styles, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Movement to help you learn

Kinesthetic learners are those who learn and focus through movement.  Movement can be actual movement or "white noise" movement.  Each kinesthetic learner will have a selection of movement strategies that will match that student's own needs.  Consequently, one kinesthetic learner may choose different techniques than another kinesthetic learner.

What are some of the movement techinques that are part of the repetoire for various kinesthetic learners?  Here are just a few:

  • Movements to help focus in class: jiggling a foot, twirling a strand of hair, playing with a pen, typing, doodling, shifting in the chair.
  • Movements to help memorization: pacing during flashcard use, studying one's outline while on the treadmill, listening to an audio CD while washing and waxing one's car, talking with one's hands and pacing while learning a presentation.
  • Movements to regain focus: taking short breaks at least every 90 minutes, getting up and walking around for those 10-minute breaks, standing up while reading, moving to a different location, interspersing marathon study group sessions with breaks, volunteering to be the flashcard quiz-master for the study group when focus is flagging.
  • Movements for comfort: spreading out everything on a big library table rather than a small carrel, picking an aisle seat rather than being cramped in the middle of a row,  

Can kinesthetic learners have too much movement?  Yes!  Here are some things to consider:

  • Kinesthetic learners often become distracted more easily, so be careful to avoid anything that increases your distraction level.
  • Also make sure that your movements do not distract other students in their learning.
  • Make sure that taking a break is necessary  and not just an excuse to waste time (for example, you are unable to regain focus by asking questions while you read).
  • Make sure that the 10-minute break to walk around does not turn into an hour in the student lounge.
  • Make sure using your laptop does not become distracting for you - do not email, IM, surf the net, or play solitaire instead of focusing on class or studies.
  • Make sure that you pick a study location that is not distracting: avoid being where everyone will walk by or will stop and talk to you, avoid classroom back rows near doors that border noisy halls, avoid sitting near windows that will tempt you to watch what is going on outside.

What about white noise to help with focus?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn on a fan, dishwasher, air conditioner, or washing machine to mask noise outside your apartment.
  • Listen to instrumental music to drown out competing noises. 
  • Study in a coffee shop or restaurant where the murmur of voices and spoons on coffee cups can provide some background noise - but avoid traffic areas or use ear plugs.

Some kinesthetic learners have damped down the movements that actually help them learn and need to regain movement.  Why?  They had parents and teachers who were not kinesthetics tell them to stop fidgeting and stop taking breaks.  Consequently, they gave up movement for someone else's idea of "proper" studying.  (Amy Jarmon)    

February 28, 2011 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)