2019 Day Zero: Setting the Stage for Success | Quick Tips

Research Boosters: Strategies for Building Student Skills

The process of research is often more complex than students anticipate. Part of helping them succeed is making visible the steps in the research process and helping students recognize that each step will require them to employ different skills. How can we as educators use small, low-stakes activities throughout the semester to help students develop these skills so that they are better prepared to succeed in their research assignments?


Follow this process:

1. Break apart the research process – what are all the steps?

2. Pick a step – what are the skills students need to do this step well?

3. Pick a skill – what is one low-stakes in-class or homework activity that can help students develop that skill?



Catherine Lyons, Assistant Professor, Library
Elisabeth Tappeiner, Assistant Professor, Library
Haruko Yamauchi, Assistant Professor, Library
Linda Miles, Assistant Professor, Library

Class Survey

This exercise is a quick way to learn about your students and to encourage them to think quantitatively while enhancing a sense of belonging as a member of the class.



1. Brainstorm what you want to know about your class or what students know about the subject matter. Also consider what students will be comfortable sharing early in the semester. Decide upon one question for a First Day activity.

2. Select one of the following options: paper (Post-Its work well), Google Forms, Kahoot, Nearpod, or other survey apps. Prepare the question and test it a few times.


1. Ask students download the app (Nearpod or Kahoot), go to the link (Google Forms), or hand out the Post-Its. Give students 2-3 minutes to submit their answer.

2. Look at the data and report back to students how the class responded. Use the SMART board or write the raw numbers and percentages on the board.

3. Ask students to reflect on the responses. What does the data tell us? What else do we want to know? How does this inform our approach moving forward?



Sarah Hoiland, Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Social Sciences

Engage Students Through Questions

Students expect to be asked questions by their instructors. What they may not have much experience with is feeling free to ask engaging questions of their faculty.


1. Set ground rules of mutual respect. For example, how do you wish to be addressed? In the same vein, can you pronounce everyone’s first and last name.

2. Give students a chance to think of questions on a certain topic.

3. Allow time Q & A.

4. Set personal boundaries. They can ask questions about your experiences during a specific event or your opinion of an article. They should not be asking questions about your politics, religious, or personal life.

5. Ask students to then respond to the same question.

6. This can be done in person or in a Discussion forum. instructors. What they may not have much experience with is feeling free to ask engaging questions of their faculty

NOTES: * This is not for the timid, but it is a good way to help students delve deeper into a topic, especially when they are learning how to write reflective responses.



Jacqueline DiSanto, Associate Professor, Education

Lecture Capture – Panopto

Lecture Capture as Instructional Tool

Lecture capture allows instructors to record a lecture and make it available digitally by embedding it within their Blackboard course. Students can then watch the material online before or after class. Lecture capture is useful for any teaching modality, especially for online and flipped learning.

Easy and accessible

There are several tools built into Panopto that allow faculty to create a lecture capture or webcam recording right within Blackboard almost instantly. Videos can be recorded from a desktop computer, tablets, or smartphones. Panopto also provides accessibility features like closed caption.

Benefits for Faculty

Lecture capture complements and enhances the instructor’s ability to create course material from anywhere or record the class. It also provides an opportunity to create videos to explain difficult concepts for students to better understand, and can even be assess through the quiz feature. Panopto can capture the computer screen, audio, video and PowerPoint Slides.

Benefits for Students

Students can view recordings anytime and can pause, search, add notes and take quizzes. By providing the flexibility to watch the recorded lecture wherever and whenever they like, students have much more control over their learning. In addition, being able to access recorded lectures seamlessly via their preferred devices makes it particularly convenient.

Iber Poma, Coordinator of Student Services, EdTech

iPads in the Classroom

iPads as Instructional Tools

One of the characteristics of the modern classroom is collaboration through technology. Mobile devices like iPads can enhance this for students, allowing them to interact & collaborate more effectively.

Learn more about your students

By using selected apps on iPads in the classroom faculty are able to learn more about their students. iPads also create more opportunities to engage students who otherwise will not participate.

There is an app for that!

There is an app for virtually any discipline. For example, a presentation app like Nearpod can create interactive presentations, giving the instructor full control of the interaction and student participation. Students can participate using the iPads or their mobile devices. Faculty and students receive instant feedback to help assess content comprehension and student learning.

Benefits for faculty

iPads allow faculty to use engaging apps like Nearpod and others to present course material in a more engaging way, and offer students opportunities for deeper and independent learning. iPads give instructors an alternative for sharing content without the need of a Smart Classroom.

Benefits for Students

In the same way that teachers use apps to create content, students develop critical thinking skills by becoming content creators. They are able to engage with class material in a more dynamic and interactive way, having control of their learning as they can interact and explore the apps used in class.

Iber Poma, Coordinator of Student Services, EdTech

Smart Boards

Smartboards as Instructional Tools

Smartboards provide students with an enriched learning experience by projecting visual elements. It also makes differentiated learning much easier because teachers are able to accommodate different learning styles. Visual learners are able to observe the whiteboard, while tactile learners can learn by touching the board. The touchscreen option allows teachers to run programs with the tap of their finger.

A Tool for Interactive Teaching

Smartboards allow students to actively engage with material by providing the ability to write, draw, take notes via a tablet (for advanced models), or even get the marked notes from the instructor by email.


Faculty are required to take an online certification course in Blackboard in order to use one of the 27 Smart classrooms available at Hostos. For information on how to get certified, contact Mr. Iber Poma, ipoma@hostos.cuny.edu

Benefits for Faculty

One of the many benefits of Smart Boards is the ability for technology integration. Teachers are able to attach their computers, video cameras, digital cameras, microscopes and pretty much anything else that you can think of to help aid in instruction. It also makes differentiated learning much easier because teachers are able to accommodate different learning styles. Another use of smartboards is to record lessons using a lecture capture such as Panopto.

Benefits for Students

Smartboards enable students to easily access a wide range of resources online to help them complete a project or conduct any research. In addition, content created and annotated can easily be accessed afterwards to review and go through what was previously covered.

Iber Poma, Coordinator of Student Services, EdTech

The Memory Palace

The problem with new information is that it fades away rather quickly. If you want to retain it for later recall, you have to make a conscious effort. Traditionally, this meant time-consuming rote memorization. However, there are far more effective ways to accomplish this.

Most of the different mnemonic techniques operate under the same set of principles. There are two types of memory: short-term and long-term. To retain new information, you have to somehow link it to already existing long-term memories. “Linking” happens when you are able to “place” new info within already established mental landscapes. These landscapes are the mental representations of the world we inhabit: our commuting routes, our current homes, our childhood homes, our favorite playgrounds, parks, etc. Because evolution fine-tuned our brains for spatial pattern-recognition, linking new info to space helps it to move more quickly into long term memory. This technique is known as the memory palace.

1. Picture in your mind a common route in as much detail as you can.

2. As you are acquiring new info for the first time (say students’ names), place it along your “mental” route for later recall.

3. Use other mnemonic strategies such as adding colorful features, personalities, and/or connecting the items you want to remember to things you know well (maybe songs, painting, etc).

4. Retrieve the information item-by-item as you walk through your mental route.

5. Repeat a couple times



Foer, Joshua. 2012. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. Penguin Books.

Víctor M. Torres-Vélez, Assistant Professor, Humanities

Supporting Students as Critical Readers Critical Reading Activity

It’s important that student researchers find appropriate information sources, but if they don’t have the strategies they need to read critically and interpret what they are reading, they may be unable to mine those great resources for the information that will support their research.

1. Read the article through from start to finish.

2. Look back through the article. Determine the author’s MAIN point. Complete this sentence, filling in the missing pieces:

  • To develop [his/her] assertion that [the author’s main point], [the author’s name] states [the reasoning/evidence the author uses].
  • NOTE: you may or may not agree with the author. This sentence is about his/her main point, not what you think about it.

3. Search carefully for the things listed below, and mark up the document (using underlining, highlighting, and/or notes in the margins) wherever you see the following:

  • The author establishes a question, concern, or conflict that he/she is examining.
  • The author evaluates evidence, especially where he/she weighs one piece of evidence against another.
  • The author deals with complexity by stating what is unknown, uncertain, or is being debated by experts.
  • The author draws conclusions based on evaluation of evidence and complexity of the issue.
Linda Miles, Assistant Professor, Library

Supporting Students as Critical Readers Turning Point Exercise: Seven-Sentence Paragraph

Critical thinking is defined by dictionary.com as “disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence”. For each of your four articles, read the article thoroughly. Try to locate sentences that showcase the author’s critical thinking. Underline them.

Using only information from the article, complete these seven prompts:

1. To develop his/her assertion that ______________________________, the author states ______________________________. (For the first blank, fill in the point of view of the author. For the second blank, give the author’s reasoning or evidence.)

2. Based on what the author said above, my question is: to what extent does the author make a fair assumption that ______________________________? (For this question, give an example that shows the author’s fair assumption.)

3. If the question is ______________________________, on the other hand one piece of evidence points to ______________________________. (For the first blank, state a question that you have about the author’s opinion that might challenge the author’s perspective. For the second blank, give an alternate opinion that could come from the evidence that might contradict or challenge that perspective.)

4. On the other hand, a different piece of evidence points to _____________________________. (State a third possible assumption. This could come from another article.)

5. Between these different perspectives, _____________________seems to lead us more toward a conclusion because _________________________. (For the first blank, state the perspective that you feel is best supported by the evidence in the article. For the second blank, give the reason why the other perspective is not the best one. Use evidence from the article.)

6. Although I tend to think the evidence supports ______________________________, to be fair, I am not sure about ______________________________. (For the first blank, state the strongest piece of evidence that is forming your own opinion. For the second blank, state a concern that you have from the evidence.)

7. Therefore, if the question is whether or not the author is fair to assume ______________________________, the evidence seems to suggest that ______________________________. (Use these blanks to give your concluding opinion based on just this one article.)

Linda Miles, Assistant Professor, Library

How to use Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter can be used to create a quick way to communicate with your students to respond their questions or provide feedback. It also offers a way to assess if students read the material before class, or if they understood the content covered in class.


1. If you do not have a Twitter account, go to www.twitter.com and create an account. It is free.

2. Ask students to do the same.

3. Decide on a hashtag for your class, e.g. #BIO110FA2019, #BIOCLASS2010, etc.

4. Login to your Twitter account to add new posts or respond to posts from your students. Be sure to add the class hashtag to the post.

5. Ask students to add the class hashtag for any post or question they write in Twitter

6. To check the posts, simply go to www.twitter.com/search and enter the class hashtag in the search box, there is no need to login to Twitter.



* Even if some students do not have or want to create a Twitter account, they can search for the posts without having an account; however, they won’t be able to post or respond to a post.

** You can use your own Twitter account, or create a Twitter account for the class if you don’t want to share the information from your personal account.

Carlos Guevara, EdTech Director & CTL Co-Director

One-Minute Paper

This exercise is a quick way to get feedback from students about the lesson covered in class.


1. Ask students to write a “one-minute paper” at the end of class

2. Offer a couple of prompts to guide their writing:

  • What is the major point you learned in class today?
  • What is the main unanswered question you leave class with today?

3. This exercise could be done using different technologies such as pen and paper, discussion board post in Blackboard using their mobile devices, or Twitter post using a hashtag you create for the class. Use the technology you feel more comfortable with.

4. Be sure to provide feedback of what you discovered in the next class. 5. Reinforce areas where students said they had difficulties.


Adapted from: https://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current/teaching/tips

Carlos Guevara, EdTech Director & CTL Co-Director

Benefits & Applications of Student ePortfolios

ePortfolio as a Career Tool

  • ePortfolio can be used to showcase student skills and abilities through coursework, projects, and credentials earned such as diplomas and certificates.
  • ePortfolios allow students to demonstrate their understanding of how to apply what they learned, and provide evidence of real work.
  • Using ePortfolio as a career tool provides the highest rate of return on time and effort invested by students

A Tool for Reflection

Students have the opportunity to reflect on their course work like assignments, essays, and projects; and discuss what they learned in the process, as well as identify what learning methodologies were most effective in their learning.


The ePortfolio exists on the cloud and can be shared across the world instantly; it is therefore the ultimate in portability, especially when compared to traditional paper portfolio.

Global Citizenship through Web Presence

In order to join the 21st century workforce, students must first be 21st century learners. By establishing a professional web presence, students are taking the first step in preparing themselves for lifelong digital learning.

Learn more about your students

ePortfolios provide an opportunity for faculty to learn more about their students; hence to be able to tailor their teaching approaches and identifying strategies that will better work for the students they have.

Develop a Sense of Community

Encouraging student peer review through comments fosters communication, collaboration, and support. Students develop a sense community and support and learn from each other.

David Dos Santos, Instructional Design Specialist, EdTech

Common Blackboard (Bb) Problems and Solutions

  1. Switch to Firefox as the browser
  2. Clear the browser cache (found under “Preferences”)
  1. Make sure the course is available. (Check Properties under Customization)
  2. They could have a block on their account, and should check CUNYfirst for details.
  3. They could be marked absent on the Verification of Enrollment Roster if they missed the window to log into the course.
  • Enter Student View to see if this is happening on one account or for all students.
  • They should first log into Bb before following the link.
  • Make sure submissions are MS Office files for Turnitin, and MS Office or PDF files for all other assignments.
  • Check the due date and availability settings in the test options.
  1. Check if other students are having similar difficulties.
  2. Decide if you want to give extra test attempts.
  1. Under File Attachments: Course Copy, select Copy links and copies of the content
  2. DO NOT Include Enrollments in the Copy.
Eric Ritholz, Online Initiative Coordinator, EdTech

Helping to Ensure a Healthy & Safe Learning Environment

All members of the college community can help ensure a healthy and safe learning environment. Disruptive behavior is detrimental to the academic community because it interferes with the learning process for students, impacts the quality of classroom instruction, and diverts resources away from the educational mission. It is important to recognize when a student is experiencing emotional distress or behaving in a manner that raises concerns for the well-being of the student and the safety of others in the community. Concerns of this kind or incidents which rise to this level should be reported to Public Safety and\or the Dean of Students. When appropriate these incidents will be discussed with the college’s Consultative & Assessment Team (CAT) that is composed of staff members in the Counseling Department, Dean of Students, OAA, College Legal Office, Public Safety, etc. The Consultative & Assessment Team can help you to explore the best means of helping care of students in crisis. We will mitigate potentially dangerous situations and connect students with appropriate supportive services.

How can you help keep the campus safe?

Simply reach out to us for help! You can email, call, or request an in-person meeting to report classroom disruptions, academic integrity, and potential threats and risk to public safety.

Counseling Center



(718) 518- 4461

Public Safety



(718) 518-6888

Dean of Students



(718) 518-6556

Office of Student Life



(718) 518-6789

You can also contact:

Chief Arnaldo Bernabe (abernabe@hostos.cuny.edu), Director of Public Safety

Lt. George London (glondon@hostos.cuny.edu), Assistant Director of Public Safety

Lt. Thomas Rodriguez (trodriguez@hostos.cuny.edu), Assistant Director of Public Safety


Thank you for your support in helping HCC and CUNY continue to be a healthy, safe and supportive learning environment for everyone!

Seven Most Common Classroom Management Cases

Disruptive Behavior What to do?
Verbal or Physical Threats (menacing, assaulting, bullying) Call Public Safety Immediately. Report the threat to Public Safety and Dean of Students.
Classroom Disruption (use of profanity; disrupting the instructor’s judgment, authority or expertise; failure to follow direction) Redirect student to syllabus. Go over classroom etiquette and expectations. Ask student to start to make a change. Report to Public Safety, Dean of Students and Student Life Specialist for intervention following the Henderson Rules of Public Order.
Use of cellphone Redirect student to syllabus. Go over classroom etiquette and expectations. Ask student to start to make a change.
Excessive Absences or Lateness Raise a flag on Succeed at Hostos (Starfish) online reporting platform, which will notify the student’s academic adviser.
Grandstanding Go over classroom expectations with student.
Expressions of disagreement Civil expression or disagreement during times when the instructor permits discussion is not in itself disruptive or prohibited. If expressions result in classroom disruption, contact Dean of Students for consultation and follow up with student.
Cheating Fill out reporting form attached to Academic Integrity Policy and submit it to Dean of Students and Student Life Specialist. Do not issue grade until matter is resolved. If matter is addressed by the instructor with the student, issue grade, make notation on form and submit completed form to Dean of Students and Student Life Specialist.


Effective Strategies:

Avoid questioning a person who is in distress and ask others for help. Be brief, be positive when bringing a matter to the student’s attention. Once the issue is addressed, do not hover over the student, and move on to the next task. Ensure that you document any issues that may arise in your classroom. Include your expectations on your syllabus and use photographic tools when needed. Do not infer that students may have a problem, such as an emotional or mental disorder, but rather describe the disruptive behaviors. Students who may be considered disabled and are protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA are also held to the same standards of conduct as any student.

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