Monday, March 12, 2018

SWCASP Takeaways

Last week's SWCASP workshop at UNT-Dallas was informative once again.  I want to thank everyone who spent time putting the program together and presenting.  I want to personally thank my colleague Jennifer Warren at OCU for taking the lead organizing the event this year.  She worked diligently to put together the slate of speakers and organize the event.  Preyal Shah did an amazing job at UNT Dallas hosting this year’s event.  Lastly, I want to say thank you to all the speakers for preparing such amazing discussions.  Here is my brief synopsis:

Scrapbooking for 1Ls: A Hands-On Approach to Legal Synthesis

Preyal Shah and Jessica Haseltine, UNT Dallas College of Law

Preyal and Jessica demonstrated an excellent exercise to help visual and kinesthetic learners.  They provide students with different sizes of paper that are different colors.  The sizes and color correspond to a hierarchy for outlining diversity jurisdiction.  The exercise is setup like a puzzle.  Students must take their Civ Pro class notes and fill in the rules and then piece together the hierarchy.  After visualizing the structure and context, they transition students to writing essays about diversity.  The exercise was outstanding.  I can’t adequately describe the visual effect of seeing the rule structure.  If you have struggling visual learners, definitely contact Preyal (or anyone attending) for information.

Emerging Adults

Rebecca Flanagan, University of Massachusetts School of Law

Rebecca was amazing, as always.  She explained the characteristics of our new group of students.  The semi-accurate quote that struck me was “Law School is based on students we used to have not the students we have now.”  I definitely agree our students are different now than they were even when I first started in ASP.  Rebecca explained how adulthood is defined by milestones, which can include getting a mortgage or having a full-time career.  Previous generations of students met many of those milestones, but most of our students meet none of the adult milestones.  Her discussion advocated for changing teaching to provide more context, scaffolding, and basic professional skills.  Watch out for Rebecca’s articles as they are published because they will be a great resource for improving our teaching.

Helicopter Professors

Emily Grant, Washburn University School of Law

Emily’s presentation was based on her law review article about Helicopter Professors.  This is an interesting topic.  I felt convicted after listening to her speak because I am probably (most likely) a helicopter professor.  This is also interesting because the research says helicopter parenting is on the rise, and new parents are also our new generation of law professors.  The idea that parenting styles would then enter the classroom makes sense to me.  Helicopter parenting and teaching may not always be bad, but Emily does a great job of demonstrating some of the problems.  I personally always worry that if I am not clearly structuring everything students should be doing on an hourly basis throughout the summer, then students won’t do what is necessary to succeed on the bar.  My strategy may or may not really help students pass the bar, but it is definitely not helping them become an independently motivated attorney.  I need to buy into her quote “Excessive Guidance that hinders learning.”

For Technical Assistance, Please Press 9

Kirsha Trychta, West Virginia University College of Law

Kirsha is definitely more tech savvy than I am.  She provided resources to make ASP work more efficient and fun.  The highlight for me was definitely how to make a lightboard.  If you make videos for students, the lightboard is a fun way to make it more interactive.  Here is the youtube video explaining lightboards.  She was able to make the lightboard for approximately $2,500.  If you want to build one, contact her about her experience.  I plan to setup a meeting with our IT department as soon as I get back to see if this is possible.  She also talked about making her outlook calendar public so students can see whether she is available.  This decreases the number of students emailing or calling asking when she is available.  They can look at her calendar and email for specific appointments.  The aspect I enjoyed was students can’t see the specific appointments, but they can see when she is busy or available. 

Law Success after Year One: Using a Mandatory Skills Curriculum to Tackle Bar Passage Rates

Zoe Niesel and Mike Barry, St. Mary’s University School of Law

Zoe and Mike built a comprehensive ASP program focusing on law school success, bar exam passage, and practice ready skills.  First, I would applaud St. Mary’s for committing the resources to allow Zoe and Mike the ability to build such an extensive program.  They have classes virtually every semester of law school with over 10 faculty and staff in their program.  I loved their 2nd semester 1L course focused on professionalism and practice ready skills.  They teach client interviewing and business communications among other skills.  Students are grouped in law firms and must interview a simulated client played by a drama school student.  Students then meet with a volunteer local attorney to present a strategy for the simulated client.  I think students interacting with senior attorneys helps build professional skills students will need in the summer after first year.  The contextual learning will also deepen student learning.


Great job by all the presenters.  If you are interested in slides, Jennifer Warren from OCU will have all the slides.

(Steven Foster)

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