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Learning to Teach Day

Intersecting Theory, Practice and Technology in the Classroom: A Conference on Learning to Teach for Graduate Students and Post-Docs           


Interested in improving your teaching and communication skills? At this one-day conference, award-winning McGill professors, TAs, and graduate students will discuss effective teaching and grading strategies in an interactive and engaging atmosphere. The conference aims to equip you with the tools and knowledge to help you maximize your teaching potential and create a successful learning environment for students. 

A letter of participation will be issued after the event to all pariticpants. 

 ATTENTION POSTDOCS: please register here

*Note: There are no fees associated with this SKILLSETS workshop. However, space is limited and your registration is a commitment to attend the session. If you cannot attend a workshop you registered for, make sure to cancel at least 48h in advance, otherwise a $25 NoShow fee will be charged to your student account. 

Schedule - November 15, 2014

Please see 'Session description' tab for more information.



Leacock Room

Name of Workshop


9:30 - 9:45


Opening Remarks


Opening Plenary:

9:45 – 10:30AM


What I Wish I had Known When I First Started Teaching

Professor Ariel Fenster



Break / Changeover




Session Full 

Crystal Ernst 
Helena Reddington

Teaching in Your Second Language

Carolyn Samuel 
Guillaume Sirois

Giving Effective Face-to-Face Feedback

Dr. Jason Hartley
Professor Sujata Madan

Teaching for Learner Diversity: Universal Design for Learning

Frederic Fovet
Tanja Beck

12:15 – 1:00PM






1:00 – 2:30PM

Grading in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Mitchell Brown

Grading in the Sciences

Jonathan Verrett
Melanie Segado

Engaging Students Using Active Learning Strategies

Crystal Ernst

Concept Mapping to Promote Teaching and Learning

April Colosimo
Umma Tamima

Leading Effective Discussions

Joan Butterworth
Geoffrey Plint

2:30 – 2:45PM


Break / Changeover


Closing Plenary:
2:45 - 3:30PM



Professor Anthony C. Masi,

3:30 – 3:45PM


Closing Remarks


Session descriptions

What I Wish I had Known When I First Started Teaching

Content A

Designing and Delivering Effective Lectures

Does the thought of speaking in front of a group of people make you nervous? Would you like to give a lecture or scholarly presentation with confidence? This session will explain some highly effective strategies for designing and delivering an informative and engaging talk or lecture.

Teaching in Your Second Language

Have you ever felt that teaching in your second language had an impact on your ability to communicate effectively with students? Have you ever thought that teaching in your second language was an additional obstacle to becoming a successful academic? Join us for an interactive talk about the challenges of teaching in English if English is not your first language. Learn what some of the related research says and share strategies for fostering productive teaching and learning experiences in a multilingual learning environment.

Giving Effective Face-to-Face Feedback

Providing students with feedback during face-to-face interactions can create powerful learning opportunities. As an instructor, how can you frame comments in a way that is constructive and helps promote further learning and motivation? In this session, we will explore both the importance of face-to-face feedback and techniques for answering and asking questions in one-on-one and larger group settings. The learning objective includes understanding principles of effective face-to-face feedback, such as: active, empathetic listening, strategic question asking, and the importance of context (e.g., student motivation, expectations, etc.).

Dr. Jason Harley is a recent doctoral graduate of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill University. He currently works as a postdoctoral fellow in the Computer Science and Operations department at the University of Montréal and as a Research Associate in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill. His research examines emotions, self- and co-regulated learning, and advanced learning technologies, including intelligent tutoring systems, serious games, and augmented reality. Jason’s expertise in giving effective face-to-face feedback stems from his experiences as a course instructor, teaching assistant, and researcher (mentoring and coordinating RAs).

Sujata Madan is a Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Management. She spends a good part of her day giving face-to-face feedback.

Teaching for Learner Diversity: Universal Design for Learning

Have you ever wondered how you can create a more engaging and accessible classroom environment for a diverse student population? Universal Design (UDL) is a research-based framework for designing curricula (educational goals, methods, materials, and assessments) that enables all students to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This session will introduce the basic theoretical framework and principles of UDL. Through interactive discussions and exercises participants will learn how to actively apply UDL within their individual classroom setting.

Grading in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This hands-on seminar will explore the unique challenges and difficulties of grading written work and student research in these fields. Specifically, we will discuss the risks of grading bias and accountability from the perspective of both students and instructors. Finally, will consider the formative and summative components of essays and written examinations as well as the advantages of using a rubric when grading.

Grading in the Sciences

In this interactive workshop participants will learn about grading and feedback in the sciences to speed up the process of grading and improve the quality of feedback. Participants will be shown how to use grading rubrics to mark both more efficiently and more consistently, whether on their own or in a group of graders. Feedback, the non-grade part of the process, is even more important in the students’ future than grading but is often neglected. Participants will be introduced to different types of feedback and shown strategies for when they are appropriate.

Engaging Students Using Active Learning Strategies

Do you find it a challenge to keep students engaged for an entire lecture? Want to increase active learning in your classroom? This session will discuss strategies to effectively select and apply active learning in the classroom and how to overcome challenges in implementing these activities. Selected active learning strategies will be used during the session.

Concept Mapping to Promote Teaching and Learning

This session will discuss concept mapping as a method for engaging students in active and meaningful learning. In addition to exploring a wide range of applications for concept mapping in teaching, participants will create their own concept maps and be introduced to the software CmapTools.

Leading Effective Discussions

The aim of this session is to share strategies for grading papers and essays in ways that are rigorous, fair, and efficient. We will examine the standards we apply intuitively when reading student work, experiment with designing and using rubrics to make these standards explicit, and talk about best practices in terms of generating constructive feedback for students.

Closing Plenary: Technology and Media in Higher Learning: The 21st Century Classroom

Globalization, technology and media are shaping teaching practices in higher learning settings. For example, massive open online courses (MOOCs), blog sites and social media networks break the boundaries of time and space by providing digital, interactive spaces for teaching and learning. Educational practices in the classroom are also shifting with the use of technology such as clickers or mobile apps, which re-define how teachers and students engage with the course content and each other. In this plenary, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of technology and media in higher learning settings, and the shifting roles of educators and students in the 21st century classroom.

How good are you at giving feedback: A self-assessment - MIT

Giving feedback for a recurring problem - MIT


Tips for grading in the humanities - Stanford University

Grading methods for group work - Carnegie Mellon University

Example science rubrics - Cornell University

Teaching and Communication

How to surive teaching your first course - University Affairs

How to give highly effective lectures (and job talks and conference presentations) - Columbia University

Engaging Students

Tips for encouraging student participation in the classroom - BG State University

Engaging students through active learning - The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Engaging students in large classes - University of Michigan

Preparing your Teaching Portfolio

A guide to the teaching portfolio - Tufts University

Creating a teaching portfolio - Washington University in St. Louis

Writing a winning teaching statement - Columbia University

Teaching in your Second Language

English language resources for international graduate student instructors - McGill University

What did Learning to Teach Day participants say about the conference in the 2012-2013 academic year?

92% thought that the conference was useful for their professional development

89% said they would recommend the event to their colleagues

When asked "what was the most useful part of the conference today, participants replied:

"All of the speakers were knowledgeable and passionate about the topics they spoke about and it was clear that they put a lot of thought into the content of their presentations and what messages they wanted to convey."

"Teaching is learning. Be confindent with what you are saying. Ask questions!"

"Different strategies to motivate students, to keep them engaged in the process of learning and to determine how they can take more responsibility over their learning and their academic success." 

"Presenters sharing their personal experience on overcoming difficulties associated with teaching"

"The importance of having a strategy to teach and of developing a constructive relationship with students that can be rewarding for both sides."


 Something has to be said about Learning To Teach Grad Life blogger shares her experience after attending the day-long workshop Learning to Teach, hosted by McGill Teaching and Learning Services (TLS)

Past Offerings - Check out previous sessions offered at Learning to Teach Day

November 2014

Concept Mapping to Promote Teaching and Learning Arpil Colosimo
Umma Tamima
Presentation Slides - Concept Mapping
Giving Effective Face-to-Face Feedback

Sujata Madan
Jason Harley 

Handout - Some Different Types of Questioning 

Handout - Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice 

Engaging Students Using Active Learning Strategies

Crystal Ernst

Presentation Slides - Engaging Students

Grading in the Sciences

Jonathan Verrett
Melanie Segado

Presentation slides - Grading and Feedback

Grading in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Mitchell Brown

Presentation slides -Grading in the SS&H

Handout - Writing Rubric Sample

Teaching for Learner Diversity: Universal Design for Learning

Frederic Fovet
Tanja Beck

Presentation - Teaching for Learner Diversity 

March and November 2013

Presentation Skills: Designing and Delivering Effective Lectures

Adam Finkelstein

Presentation slides - Effective Lectures
Designing Effective Multiple Choice Questions Mariela Tovar and Patricia Minor

Presentation slides - MCQ

Handout 1 - MCQ

Handout 2 - MCQ

Handout 3 - MCQ

Improvisation: Emotional Intelligence for Creating and Leading Learning Environments Joan Butterworth Presentation slides - Improv
Giving Effective Face-to-Face Feedback Jason Harley Presentation slides - Feedback
Engaging Students using Active Learning Strategies Eva Dobler and Marcy Slapcoff Presentation slides - Active Learning
Grading and Feedback in the Sciences Torsten Bernhardt Presentation slides - Grading in Science
Grading in the Social Sciences and Humanities Alexander Deguise Presentatation slides - Grading in SS&H
Teaching in One's Second Language Carolyn Samuel and Guillaume Sirois Presentation slides - Teaching 2nd Language
Teaching for Learner Diversity: Universal Design for Learning Frederic Fovet and Tanja Beck Presentation slides - UDL

Bring your Presentation to Life: Strategies for Effective Communication

(March 2013)

Meaghan Thurston Presentation slides - Presentation skills

Preparing your Teaching Porfolio

(March 2013)

Dr. Laura Winer and Heather Braiden

Presentation Slides - Teaching Portfolio

Handout - Resources for Preparing your Teaching Portfolio

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