Friday, April 19, 2013
A huge thank you to Myra Orlen, who wrote this summary of events for the blog.
The 2013 NY Academic Support Workshop was held on Thursday, April 2013, at Brooklyn Law School. Thanks – once again -- to Linda Feldman and Kris Franklin for organizing and convening a totally successful event. This workshop consistently convenes a dynamic group of presenters in a supportive setting in which everyone participates and comes away inspired. This year’s event was no exception.
David Nadvorney, of CUNY School of Law, began the day with a presentation entitled “Teaching Students Legal Reading.” David demonstrated methods of working with students on law school reading that I will use with my students. He stressed that the best method of delivering ASP is across the curriculum, i.e. in a doctrinal context. David shared materials from his close case reading workshops. In these workshops, he teaches students to recognize rhetorical devises that will enhance their comprehension.
Next Shane Dizon, of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hosfstra University, gave a presentation entitled “Professional Advisory: Explicit Content! Make Labeling Mandatory.” Shane’s presentation focused on the importance of students’ ability to spot issues on exam questions. Shane led us in an exercise; with scissors and preprinted labels in hand– we marked up a constitutional law essay question. The labels corresponded to the issues that the professor wanted students to identify on the exam question and will ideally come from the students’ course outlines. This exercise teaches close reading and can serve as an intermediate step between the professor’s memo on the exam and the students’ understanding of the exam question.
Robin Boyle, of St. Johns University School of Law, addressed critical reading skills and placed those skills in the exam context. She noted that our legal writing colleagues are noticing that students are evincing increased difficulty in critical reading this year. Robin shared her experience in working with students on exam taking skills – with a focus on critical reading.
Zelma Rios, of Cardozo School of Law, shared her idea of having students annotate portions of briefs: the question presented and the statement of the case. In doing so, students focus on language structure, word choice, and tone. Students then meet in groups to discuss their annotations. This exercise affords students the opportunity to see cases in context. The cases are the continuation of the story presented in the brief. When asked how to use this exercise in the ASP context, Zelma had a ready answer; she distributed the briefs copies of the Palsgraf briefs. As one person noted, this exercise allows students to see themselves as lawyers from day one.
Jeremiah Ho, of the U. Mass. School of Law - Dartmouth and Rebecca Flanagan, currently of the U. Conn. Law school and soon to be at the U. Mass. School of Law- Dartmouth, explained how to use Jerome Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum in 1L Contracts. Using the process that Rebecca described in her April 12, 2031 entry to this blog, she and Jeremiah demonstrated how the Spiral Curriculum can be used in Contracts to teach the mirror image rule.
Angela Baker, of Rutgers Law School, presented on the development of summer pre-law programs for law students. She told us about the development and implementation of Rutgers’ program which brought diverse, rising sophomores to Rutgers for a four-week program. The program was an intense mixture of classes, speakers, and field trips aimed at encouraging participants to consider law school.
Kris Franklin, of the New York Law School, led us in an exciting game of TabooTM Law. The objective of the TabooTM is to get your teammates to guess a word, without using a set of words that are listed on the card as “taboo.” After providing a demonstration, Kris distributed Civil Procedure cards that her students made. In making the cards, students knew which words to put on the cards to “screw” their classmates. The game illustrated that law school can be fun and that one need not be afraid of the law. To give good clues, students use legally descriptive terms. Thus, the students learn to explain and, thereby understand the terms.
Ann Forlino, of the U. Mass. School of Law – Dartmouth, spoke about the necessary relationship between ASP and Disability Services. Through the discussion that Ann led, we learned of some of the different ways that these two areas are treated in law schools.
Last – but certainly not least – Elizabeth Corwin of Pace Law School spoke on her experiences working with at-risk 2Ls. In her presentation Elizabeth described the course that she teaches to at-risk students: Overview of Legal Analysis. The course is designed to enhance students’ exam taking skills. Elizabeth noticed that her students had problems with logical thinking and introduced us to a series of videos that explain concepts in logic:
(Myra Orlen, WNE Law via RCF)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
As Amy stated in her post regarding Academic Advising, thinking about whether a course is bar tested is an important aspect of registration planning. Often, I am asked, “Should I take all of the courses that are bar tested?” My answer (as it is in many situations) is: “It depends…”
Therefore, when confronted with this question from students, I ask them a series of questions in return. This self-assessment helps students to become experts in their own learning and helps them to set appropriate learning goals for their future. Here are a few sample questions for your students to consider:
- How have you performed in your first year?
- Was legal writing difficult?
- Do you prefer multiple choice exams or essay exams?
- Can you identify characteristics you valued in your first year professors?
- Can you identify characteristics you disliked or did not work for your learning style?
- Did you have closed book, timed exams in your first year? If yes, how did you perform?
- Do you prefer large classes or small seminars?
- If your first year was (extremely) challenging, have you been able to assess why?
- What areas of law interest you most?
- Do you have a clear career plan? Practice area/job prospects/jurisdiction?
- What would be your ideal law school schedule?
Once these questions have been answered, I can more specifically address whether students may need to take certain bar tested courses or whether they need to work on other skills to help them succeed in law school and beyond. Taking bar tested courses merely for the bar exam is unwise. However, there are situations where taking more bar tested courses may be helpful.
If you do not have time to meet with students individually, you can give them a list of questions like these to review on their own. Once they have taken some time to reflect, you can post general advice regarding the skills necessary to pass the bar exam, how specific courses may help build those skills, and the specific subjects tested on the bar exam in your jurisdiction. This will help guide their course selection and will give them a better idea of what to expect on the bar exam.
Thank you to Jeremiah Ho for alerting us through the listserv about Rebecca Flanagan's receiving the Honors Teacher of the Year award at the University of Conncecticut. The award selection is on the recommendation of students and faculty.
We have all benefited from Rebecca's insights on teaching throughout the years. It is well-deserved that she is being recognized by her university for her excellence. Congratulations!