Tune into Teaching

Workshop Series and Resources

Tune into Teaching Summer Series

(NB: These sessions are open to all new and returning faculty and librarians)

The Course Planning Series kicks off CTSI’s annual Tune Into Teaching summer programming that focuses on preparing for the coming academic year. Building on the Exploring Academic Resilience Workshop Series from Spring 2022 in which instructors developed an understanding of how to foster academic resilience in students through course and curriculum design, this series of hands-on interactive “clinics” takes up two of the core concepts from that series to help instructors plan a course that supports academic resilience:

  • creating space for students to process and reflect on what they are learning
  • creating a supportive course culture

Instructors need not have attended the Exploring Academic Resilience series to benefit from this series of interactive clinics, nor is it necessary for instructors to attend all three of the sessions. Through the below three clinics, instructors will:

  • begin to develop a plan for their overall course structure
  • practice using a series of key
  • considerations for lesson design to plan a key course lesson
  • adapt an existing course syllabus or design a new syllabus that incorporates elements that build community and resilience

By the end of the series, instructors will come away with a variety of strategies to enhance different elements of their course planning with an eye to more effective student support.

The Summer Tune into Teaching Series happens throughout July and August.

Course Planning Series

Course Planning Clinic: Designing Courses for Academic Resilience

July 12, 10am-12pm

Megan Burnett, Associate Director, CTSI
Michal Kasprzak, Assistant Director, CTSI/TATP
Justin Fletcher, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Teaching, Learning, and Technology, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI) and Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT)

In this interactive hands-on clinic, participants will workshop a particular approach to course planning. After first considering the situational factors that inform the delivery of their course, they will develop a few key course learning outcomes. Working back from these outcomes, participants will map out some of the key activities they would like their students to do to develop competence in subject areas and consider what assessments will be needed as the course progresses to demonstrate learning in these areas. They will then use a worksheet developed by Dee Fink (Creating Significant Learning Experiences, 2013) to plan what students will do when they are in class versus what they will do when they are engaged in course work outside of class time. The clinic will end with participants being introduced to the Course Framework worksheet that they can take away and work on as they further develop their course plan. A key goal of the worksheets is to help instructors streamline content to see where space can be created for students to practice using skills and concepts and reflect on learning before being evaluated. Participants are asked to bring to the session the syllabus or outline for one course they are planning.

Syllabus Design Clinic: Build a Supportive Course Culture Through a Learner-Centered Syllabus

July 14, 10am-12pm

Megan Burnett, Associate Director, CTSI
Michal Kasprzak, Assistant Director, CTSI/TATP
Nicole Birch-Bayley, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Grad Student Development & TA Training

In this hands-on practical clinic, participants will work to develop a supportive learner-centered course syllabus. They will be introduced to syllabus design principles and practices that place students at the centre of the course design process and that reframe the syllabus as a tool capable not only of driving learning but also generating a supportive course culture that fosters academic resilience. Participants must bring a course syllabus they are looking to refresh or the outline for a new course they are designing. Excerpts from learner-centred syllabi from U of T instructors will be shared and participants will work through a syllabus checklist to self-assess their own syllabus and provide feedback to colleagues through small group discussions.

Summer 2022 Tune into Teaching Series

Organizing Your Course Content

July 6, 10am-11am

Marko Piljevic, Faculty Liaison, Technology, CTSI/ACT
Sun Ooi, Faculty Liaison, Teaching, Learning and Technology, CTSI/ACT

In this webinar, we will review how you can make your course materials (e.g., syllabus, readings, and lecture notes/recordings) available to your students. We will provide strategies for organizing your content using Modules and Pages in Quercus so that students can access course materials with ease. We will also discuss designing a Home Page that is engaging for students and sets an inviting first impression of your course.

Exploring Accessibility Considerations for Face-to-Face Teaching

July 20, 10am-12pm

Ben Poynton, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Officer
Shayne Train, Faculty Liaison Assistant, Teaching, Learning and Technology, CTSI/ACT

Description to follow.

Quickstart Quercus

August 4, 10am-12pm
In-person! Robarts Library Room 4034 (Teaching Studio)

Derek Hunt, Faculty Liaison, Teaching, Learning & Technology, CTSI/ACT
Marko Piljevic, Faculty Liaison, Technology, CTSI/ACT

This in-person workshop is geared toward faculty, staff and TAs who are brand new to Quercus and those who are looking to review the basics. In this session participants will learn about essential information to get started with building their Quercus course. We will provide participants with tips for effectively organizing and structuring course content using Modules and Pages in Quercus, as well as an overview of the layout and features included in a Quercus course, customizing course settings, communicating with students, uploading course files, and adding assignments.

We will discuss the following strategies and best practices:

  • designing Home Pages that are engaging for students
  • using Quercus Modules to chunk content into manageable segments or learning units
  • structuring content that flows in a logical progression

Building, Managing and Supporting Your Teaching Team of TAs

August 9, 10am-12pm

Mike Kasprzak, Assistant Director TATP/CTSI
Nicole Birch-Bayley, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Grad Student Development & TA Training

In this session, we’ll discuss strategies for working effectively with your teaching assistants, whether in the online, hybrid or in-person environment. Whether you’re working closely with one TA or a team of 10+ TAs, there are important considerations to explore to hire, manage, train and support your TAs. We will provide tips for building community in your teaching team and creating cohesion across your course for your students’ learning. We’ll cover training opportunities and priority areas for TAs identified by the CUPE 3902 Collective Agreement (2021-2023). Finally, we will have plenty of time for questions from faculty throughout the session.

Introduction to the Academic Toolbox

August 15, 2pm-3pm

Justin Fletcher, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Teaching, Learning & Technology, CTSI/ACT
Sun Ooi, Faculty Liaison, Teaching, Learning and Technology, CTSI/ACT

In this webinar, we will provide an overview of the Academic Toolbox, including Quercus and other tools that can support teaching and learning goals, for all course modalities (face-to-face, online synchronous, online asynchronous, and hybrid). Specifically, we will focus on ways in which the Academic Toolbox can support: organizing your course content, connecting and communicating with students, assessing student work and providing feedback, and teaching from a distance. We will share tips and strategies on choosing appropriate educational technology tools and methods for your course context. We will also describe and provide example Quercus course templates.

Active Learning Anywhere

August 18, 10am-12pm

Justin Fletcher, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Teaching, Learning and Technology, CTSI/ACT
Nicole Birch-Bayley, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Graduate Student Development and TA Training

In this webinar, we will provide tips and strategies for incorporating active learning that can be used in any learning environment (face-to-face, online synchronous, and online asynchronous). We will model various activities that you can incorporate into your courses. This webinar will highlight how you can use Quercus and the Academic Toolbox to support the implementation of these active learning strategies. Please note that this session will feature an activity that allows you to experience breakout groups.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify active learning strategies that can be used in different course modalities
  • Implement active learning strategies using tools in Quercus and the Academic Toolbox and various classroom affordances
  • Navigate Quercus and active learning support resources

Making Your Syllabus Work for You and Your Students

August 19, 10am-12pm

Megan Burnett, Associate Director, CTSI
Tamara Bahr, Manager, Teaching, Learning and Technology, CTSI

A well-crafted syllabus ensures that students understand the essential requirements for participating and succeeding in a course. A well-designed syllabus can also serve as a learning tool to enhance students’ experience in the course, beyond listing course policies and due dates. This practical, interactive session will consider the essential elements of an effective syllabus, review current best practices in syllabus design and examine a model University of Toronto course syllabus. Participants will then work in pairs to provide feedback on each other’s syllabi (see below) with CTSI facilitators providing additional guidance.

As a participant in this session, we ask that you have one of the following at hand during the workshop:

  • A proposed course syllabus for a new course you would like to teach one day


  • A course syllabus for an existing U of T course you are seeking to refresh

The goal of this workshop is for each participant to leave with a well-developed plan for revising/crafting a powerful syllabus that works for both instructor and learner. Participants who join the session without a document to work from and discuss in break-out groups will not benefit as fully from this session.

Setting the Tone for Success: The first day of class and beyond

August 23, 10am-12pm
In-person! Robarts Library Blackburn Room

Megan Burnett, Associate Director, CTSI
Cora McCloy, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, CTSI

This in-person session will provide strategies for getting your course off to a welcoming and productive start, including:

  • what to do in the first week of classes
  • how to present the course objectives and syllabus to your students
  • how to initiate and sustain excitement about your discipline
  • how to motivate and prepare your students for the requirements and responsibilities of the course.

Participants will have the opportunity to generate a plan for their first class and will be provided a Worksheet in advance of the session to use throughout the workshop. Group activities will be integrated throughout to allow opportunities to share ideas and first class strategies that promote a welcoming class environment and can set your students up for success.

Designing Better Assignments

August 24, 10am-12:30pm

Andrea Graham, Ph.D., Learning Strategist, Academic Success
Andrea Williams, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Director of Writing & Rhetoric, Innis College, and Writing-Integrated Teaching, FAS

Assignments have been called the creative engine of teaching: they can increase student engagement and learning and make the grading process for instructors and TAs more meaningful. But what exactly are good assignments and how do we create or adapt them?

In this session we’ll review the principles and strategies of assignment design that apply to all disciplines and to both online and in-person environments.

Participants will gain new tools and resources they can use to improve their own assignments.

Through discussion and activities, such as analyzing sample assignments and rubrics, we’ll consider how and why to:

  • sequence and scaffold assignments throughout a course
  • build in feedback at key junctures
  • communicate evaluation criteria to students
  • foster academic integrity
  • provide resources to guide students through assignments

Myths and Realities About Grading

August 25, 10pm-3pm
In-person, Robarts Library Blackburn Room

Alison Gibbs, Director, CTSI and Professor, Teaching Stream Statistical Sciences, FAS
Megan Burnett, Associate Director, CTSI

In this session, we will discuss a range of misconceptions about institutional grading procedures and provide clarification around some key issues and common scenarios related to grading at U of T. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions through a facilitated dialogue on grading policies that will inform teaching practice. Topics include distribution of grades and assignments, managing grading with Teaching Assistants and posting student progress in Quercus.

Summer 2021 Tune into Teaching

Sessions and Resources

If you have any questions about the Tune into Teaching series, please kelly.gordon@utoronto.ca.

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