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An Index to my Flipping Blog Postings

MISinformation - Aug 15

I've had multiple requests for a more convenient format in which to read about my experience flipping CS161, my undergraduate operating systems class, that I've put together this index page. Enjoy. One Woman's Adventure with a Flipped Classroom (February 4, 2013) Flipped Again (February 7, 2013) Not Flipping Out (February 16, 2013) Addicted to flipping (February 21, 2013) Unflipped! (March 4, 2013) Half Flip (March 9, 2013) Flipping and Testing (March 18, 2013) Inadvertent Flip (April 1, 2013) Missing ...

101 Uses for Summer Squash

MISinformation - Aug 2

It's that time of year again. The zucchini, pattypan, and other assorted summer squashes are ripening and that means that it's time to get creative about how to use up all that summer squash. It starts out slowly enough. You think that a couple of stir fried zucchini dishes and perhaps a vegetarian pasta casserole will keep your zucchini in check. Then you find yourself at the CSA acquiring many pounds more squash. So, what do you do? My old standby that is quite popular with the younger crowd are ...

Advising Junior Colleagues

MISinformation - Jun 6

About two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post about advising grad students . At long last, here is Part II in my (very slow) advising series. It addresses the question, "What do you tell your Junior Colleagues?" Let me begin with a disclaimer: I can't guarantee anyone success. When I talk to my junior colleagues, whether at Harvard or elsewhere, I tell them things I really believe, but (unfortunately) I don't make the rules, I don't make decisions, and what I believe may or may not be right for any ...

A Note on Powerpoint and Teaching

MISinformation - Jun 6

While in the midst of finishing up an upcoming blog post on mentoring Junior Faculty, I wrote up the following. It seemed like a topic that is more generally interesting and that such detail doesn't belong in that other entry, so here it is all by its lonesome. I'd like to talk about powerpoint (or any other presentation software), animation and teaching. For years, I avoided teaching with powerpoint, because I like to scribble on slides -- my slides are typically the outline of what I want to talk about ...

Chasing Mia

MISinformation - May 25

This posting was written several weeks ago, but I was in the midst of my flipping sequence and didn't want to break that up, so I delayed posting this one. As an admitted groupie of the US Women's National soccer team and a Meadowbrook parent, two unrelated postings make me want to write. As this year's soccer season began for the women's national team, I struggled with the emotional conflict I felt as I prepared to watch Abby Wamback overtake Mia Hamm's goal-scoring record . (I predicted last year it ...

Flipping Over

MISinformation - May 24

We are done. The course is over, except for the data analysis, which I expect to entertain me over the summer. This last entry will be a collection of random topics - things that happened over the course of the final exam and grading or observations I've made. End of year party Long ago, in 1993, we started the tradition of having an ice cream bash after the take home final. I don't believe we've maintained the tradition, but I decided to resurrect it. In addition, we continued the tradition of class ...

Flip N-1

MISinformation - Apr 30

The penulatimate week of the semester was a busy one! I have some fun data on how the students view assignments, some experience with the partially-flipped classroom, an interesting discussion of a flipped exam, and finally the totally awesome creativity of my students as expressed via T-Shirt designs. The Pain/Gain Scale One of our former PhD students is now on the faculty at Swarthmore and he suggested to me the pain/gain scale as a way to determine if the degree of difficulty in assignments was ...

Flipped Out

MISinformation - Apr 22

It's Friday, April 19 -- my mother's birthday; my colleague's birthday. I sit at home, working from the relative safety of a town six or seven miles way from the mayhem that erupted in the greater Boston area last night. As is old news by new, within roughly 48 hours of the Marathon Bombings, FBI and police had identified two "persons of interest" who became suspects last night after engaging in a robbery, a shooting, a police chase, and explosives. As of right now (8:13 AM on Friday, 4/19), one of the ...

Anxiously Flipped

MISinformation - Apr 15

It is 4:57 on Marathon Monday, and by the time you read this, I'm sure you all know what transpired today in Boston at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I am grateful to be safely home and am at my keyboard waiting for all my students to check in. As Harvard has classes today, I am optimistic that my students were all in Cambridge, safely out of harm's way. Even so, I'll be happier when I see their messages. If only everyone else would be so lucky. I figured that blogging might be a distraction from ...

Missing Flipping

MISinformation - Apr 8

Since I'm back in more conventional lecturing, there isn't much newsworthy to report, so I want to highlight just two things. First, I recently learned that one of my students is blogging the course! I was thrilled when she said I could link to her blog . She is far more poetic than I, and I love reading her entries. Second, I was chatting with a colleague recently who said that she couldn't tell whether I liked flipping or not. I thought I had been making that clear, but just in case, the point isn't ...

Inadvertent Flip

MISinformation - Apr 1

We're back after spring break, and it does appear that most of my students took a much-needed break. We kicked off our first week back with our second peer design review and then on Thursday we dug into file systems. So, today's post will revolve around two topics: observations from the peer design review and a discussion about class participation. Peer Design Review This was our second peer design review and I was struck by two things. First, it seemed that it took longer for the students to read through ...

Testing and Flipping

MISinformation - Mar 18

This was our last week before Spring break, which means two things: First, there will be no posting next week (although it might be the perfect time to slip in a non-teaching related entry) and second, this was the week of the midterm. As I watched my students taking the midterm I was quite literally awestruck. Before me sat a room full of incredibly talented students, and I get the privilege of being part of their educational experience. The only other time I've been struck with a similar feeling was when ...

Half Flip

MISinformation - Mar 9

It's the end of week six -- almost half way through the semester and this week was a perfect way to celebrate that -- half flipped, half not flipped. On Tuesday I gave a fairly conventional lecture. My gut instinct is that the class is a tad more interactive than past years, but I can't attribute too much to that since it's also larger and we're in a different space, and both of those things might contribute. Thursday was our annual midterm review. In the past I've simply gone over an exam in class or ...

Unflipped!

MISinformation - Mar 4

We've entered that time of the semester when the students are busily creating user level processes in their very own operating systems. It is both exhilarating and exhausting. Due to that exhausting part, this is the part of the course where I promised not to make them do pre-class work -- there would be no videos to view and no web work (other than quick surveys about how much time they are spending). That means that, for the most part, I have had to revert to a more traditional class structure -- I talk ...

Addicted to Flipping (week 4)

MISinformation - Feb 21

In theory I was supposed to return to regular lecturing this week, but it didn't happen. It might have to happen this week, but right now, I am addicted to flip (and I have a sense that my students are too). Tuesday I had scheduled for peer design reviews. Let me tell you a bit about how the course works, so that this all makes sense. The three meaty assignments of the course ask students to 1) implement user processes (fork, exec, and a handful of other useful system calls, etc), 2) add virtual memory, ...

Not Flipping Out (week 3)

MISinformation - Feb 16

We've just completed our third week of the semester and my flipping experiment continues. In honor of flipping the class, we will now refer to CS161 as CS191. I'm still a fan. There were no enormous disasters this week nor were there any sudden breakthroughs (I fully expect that simply due to this new course structure, one of my students will inadvertently do something to win him/herself a Turing award, but not quite this week.) So, this week I will write about four happy and unintended consequences of ...

Flipped Again (Week 2)

MISinformation - Feb 7

Last week I was full of euphoria; this week not so much. I'll cut to the chase before diving into details. First, teaching this way takes at least three times as much preparation as teaching "the regular way." I still think it's worth it, but I can tell that it's going to take its toll. Second, in a programming course, preparing pre-class work and in-class work is a detail-oriented process, and if it goes wrong, it can go badly wrong. Third, I am hoping that full transparency, honesty, and a lot of ...

CS161: One Woman's Adventure with a Flipped Classroom

MISinformation - Feb 4

For many years I have wanted to make my operating systems course, CS161, more interactive. I try very hard to engage students in the classroom, but let's be honest -- when they have been up all night trying to get their operating system to spawn processes, they just aren't really up to talking much in class. And when they do, it's the same set of characters and it's difficult to figure out if the rest of the class is really following along or is totally lost. At the same time, we know some typical student ...

Gender and Swag

MISinformation - Oct 17

Each year when the Grace Hopper Conference happens, there is the inevitable discussion about the swag (the freebies in registration packets) given out. I have to confess that the first year I heard that companies gave out nail polish and "girlie" things, I was totally offended, but that was before I attended Grace Hopper. After attending, my whole attitude changed. Engaging in this year's debate made me stop and think a bit more about the phenomenon. The high order message is that if you have not been to ...

Stranger in a Strange Land: An Engineer at the B-School

MISinformation - Oct 9

I am an engineer. I like problem solving; I like to build things. I can also read financial statements and understand terms such as ROI (return on investment), EBITDA (earning before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization), and break-even analysis. So, when offered a chance to co-teach at Harvard Business School, I leapt at the opportunity. I was nervous at first. After all, I'd heard all about "the case-based method" and knew that HBS offered its new faculty courses on how to teach this way. I ...

One Woman's Culinary Adventures

MISinformation - Aug 18

Ever since my son became gluten and casein insensitive three and a half years ago, I've pretty much cooked without gluten and dairy (except for the periodic bread-baking for my daughter -- if you'd like a lovely sourdough starter, holler!). On top of that, I love belonging to a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I take it as a personal challenge to use all the lovely produce I get each week from lindentree farm . If I can't, I feel that I've somehow failed. So you can think of each week as a series ...

Confessions of a Soccer Groupie

MISinformation - Aug 10

With the Women's Olympic Soccer competition over, I figured it was time to offer my own tribute to US Women's Soccer. I'm Margo Seltzer and I am a US Women's National Team Soccer Groupie. What do I mean by groupie? I mean I recorded every single US Olympic game (as well as many of those played by the likes of France, Canada, Brazil, and Japan). I listened to semi-final, consolation, and final Olympic matches on my phone while commuting to work, snuck peeks at the game during group meetings and had games ...

How I fell in love with the Turkers

MISinformation - Mar 23

I've been aware of Mechanical Turk for some time, probably since I volunteered to scan images in the amazing search for Jim Gray , but only recently did I have occasion to use it. I am working on a project that begins with the classification task, "Does this web page contain medical information?" Producing a classifier requires having a corpus that is already tagged. As I saw it, there were two options: I could bribe my students, friends, and co-workers with food, or I could try my hand at Mechanical Turk. ...

Margo's Tips on Writing a Thesis

MISinformation - Mar 17

I advise students on writing theses. Sometimes these are my own students; sometimes they are students at Harvard working with other faculty; sometimes they are students who needed an external committee member. I figured that if I wrote down my philosophy about theses, then such students would know what they are getting into before they ask me. And maybe, others will find this useful as well. I believe that it was my former student, Keith Smith, who first introduced me to the idea that every paper (and ...

Flex Spending Account Hell

MISinformation - Feb 8

It seems that my Facebook posting about FSA (Flex Spending Accounts) garnered sufficient attention to warrant a blog post (and let's face it, I haven't blogged in quite some time). For some background, just what is an FSA? (Wikipedia has, not surprisingly, a fine definition and discussion.) Briefly: an FSA is a way that you put pretax dollars away to cover medical expenses that you incur during the year that are not covered by your medical insurance. (I can assume you have medical insurance, because I live ...

A Day on Jury Duty in MA

MISinformation - Aug 6

Lucky me -- I got called for Jury Duty! Having postponed once, all I could do was hope that the dulcid tone on the juror hotline would tell me that I didn't need to report. Although I diligently polled the line waiting for its message to reflect Thursday's message instead of Wednesday's message (when jurors were cancelled), it turns out I had to show up. Like a good citizen I get to the courthouse at the designated time and although they were quick to make sure I had directions both on paper and the web ...

Why Healthcare Costs are Ridiculous

MISinformation - Jul 26

Twice a year I take my son to see two doctors in one appointment at one of the premier children's hospital in the country. He has been seeing these doctors for approximately ten years. During that time our health insurance has never changed. We book these appointments approximately three months in advance. So, this should all be simple, right? We arrive for our 9:30 appointment at about 9:25. I immediately put our name on the sign-in sheet. We start getting signed in at 9:43. For one of the two doctors, ...

Math, Gender, and Race

MISinformation - Mar 5

Here I am at the Massachusetts State Mathcounts competition. These are arguably the top middle school mathematicians in the state, and I have to confess at being struck by some interesting demographics. I don't have the actual numbers for this, but the organization is run by grey-haired white males; the preponderence of the coaches are women; the vast majority of the competitors are male. The male to female ratio is about 4:1. My impression is that if you are a private school, that greatly increases the ...

Margo meets the ChromeOS laptop

MISinformation - Dec 18

I was one of those lucky recipients of a Chrome laptop just a week or so ago. Just for fun, I thought I'd blog about my experience with it. First, the box arrived without any labeling - I had no idea what it was, who it came from, why I was getting it, etc. Being near the holidays, I thought perhaps my husband had bought me another piece of electronics. I checked with him, but he pleaded, "Not guilty." So I opened it up -- it looked kind of like a laptop ... I know I didn't order one of those. The only ...

Ankle Rehab: Mental Rehab

MISinformation - Oct 10

So for those of you who follow facebook, you may have noticed that I returned to the soccer field a few weeks ago (September 26 -- 5 months after the fracture). The planets aligned -- we were playing on a turf field (i.e., no unexpected bumps) and we were playing a team whose average age was close to our own. It was a few weeks earlier than I'd anticipated, but a trip to Maine got unexpectedly cancelled and I found myself home on a Sunday morning. So, how was it? It was Great!!! My teammates were fabulous ...

Advising Grad Students

MISinformation - Sep 13

It's that time of the year when I have new first year advisees, concentration advisees, new grad students, old grad students, and junior colleagues. I find myself dispensing lots of advice - some of which will (and should) be ignored; some of which might be handy. Just for fun, I thought I'd try to do a series on the different types of advice I give different people. Today's installment is about advising grad students. Advising graduate students is really quite unlike anything else you've ever done (except ...

Ankle Rehab: 12.5 weeks post-cast

MISinformation - Sep 2

I knew it had to happen -- Carli made it back on the field before I did. From last night: Second-half substitute Carli Lloyd, making her first appearance for Sky Blue FC since breaking her ankle in a game on April 25, fouled FC Gold Pride’s Ali Riley drawing a yellow card. That said, earning a yellow card the first day back isn't something to which I aspire. And I'm not doing badly myself -- the orthpedist said that the physical therapist gets to decide when I'm ready to play (I think this scared the ...

Two steps forward, one step back

MISinformation - Jul 31

Here I am wrapping up week eight since the cast came off. Things were going well. At the end of last week I started asking about running -- well, I continue to ask about running, but now I feel like I've progressed backwards. I have this sharp burning pain right at the ankle. The PT responded by backing off a bit -- she still lets me do 7 minutes on the elliptical (a very cool one with free moving foot rests), but we're not pushing much. I saw the Orthopedist's PA (Physician's Assistant) and she didn't ...

Me and Carli

MISinformation - Jul 22

Finally -- I actually got some info on Carli Lloyd's rehab. Why am I so obsessed? Because I broke my ankle the same day and while I don't claim to be in the same shape as Carli, I also don't expect to rehab any more quickly than she does. So, here is the article on what she's been up to. And here is my comparison: Me Carli When Injured April 25 April 25 Age (when injured) 48 28 Length in cast 6 weeks 2 weeks Length in boot 2 days 2 weeks Length on crutches 6 weeks 4 weeks Day/week in PT 2 5 OK'd to ...

6 on 6 off

MISinformation - Jul 20

It's been six weeks since I got my cast off. That means I've not spent six weeks in a cast and six weeks out of a cast since I broke my ankle. Let's say that I wholeheartedly recommend the out-of-cast experience more than the in-cast experience. The last sixe weeks have practically flown by while the preceding six, well, let's just say "flying by" isn't how I'd describe them. I continue rehab, usually twice a week. When not in rehab, I'm spinning every day and doing a stretching regime and getting back to ...

Peter Flies Again

MISinformation - Jul 16

Directors Andrea Southwick and Brett Camp brought to life the wonder that is Peter Pan last night on the Summer Fenn stage. Based on J.M. Barrie's story, adapted by Kathryn Schultz Miller, we learn of the story of Pan through our three stars, the twinkling kind, not the tabloid kind, played by Bridget Patenaude, Kylee Bowen, and Teagan Seltzer. The stars tell the story with a luminous attitude, only possible in 10-year-old girls. The Pans, Peter and his shadow, masterfully played by Eleanor Tolly and ...

Ankle Rehab: Finishing up Week 3

MISinformation - Jul 1

So, what does it feel like to be three weeks off crutches? My mobility is quite good -- most of the time I can walk normally, although when I first stand up after sitting for a long time or after a long stint on my feet I do limp. What causes the limp? There are two things: first there is now a fairly constant pain on the outside of the ankle. The PT says this is pretty normal, and she didn't find anything wrong. Second, the ankle still swells a lot. After standing for a reasonable length of time, it will ...

Who's the Biggest Baddest Bureaucracy of them All?

MISinformation - Jun 29

I happen to work for two very, large bureacracies: Harvard University and Oracle Corporation. Today's entry is a lesson in how those enormous bureaucracies treat their employees. I am typically pretty good about filing expense reports. When I travel, I almost always file expense reports as soon as I return. With monthly expenses (e.g., my Internet connection for Oracle), I am somewhat more lax -- the stupid charge happens every month and I only work for them one day a week; I hate spending the time doing a ...

The 2010 World Cup and the 2008 Superbowl

MISinformation - Jun 26

So what do the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 Superbowl have in common? The simple answer is that they made us believe. In 2008, with 35 seconds left to go, history convinced us that Tom Brady would lead the Patriots to a quick touchdown and another championship. With 12 minutes in the first overtime and 15 minutes in the second overtime, we believed that team USA would prevail -- they'd tie it up with Ghana and either score in injury time or win it all in penalty kicks. Alas, we were wrong on both counts. ...

Thoughts on the ADA

MISinformation - Jun 26

Having spent six weeks on crutches, I have some thoughts on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the implementation thereof. I recall when I first had kids and found myself wandering about with a stroller being grateful for wheelchair ramps. Ramps were less of an issue this time -- my top list of interesting things are: Doors Hotel rooms Common Courtesy Doors Big heavy doors are a real problem. Automatic/handicap doors are a big win, but even within that class, there is some variability. For ...

Why I Love the World Cup

MISinformation - Jun 24

I am a geek; I admit it. As a result, I spend a lot of time talking to geeks. In fact, my typical discussion circle consists of geeks and parents with kids like mine. In normal times, my conversations with non-geeks and non-parents is pretty limited. For example, "Could I have a small latte with skim?" and "Thank you!" Even with geeks, conversation covers a few standard topics. But -- for the last few weeks, geek and non-geek conversation alike, I get to engage in conversations about my other passion: ...

Ankle Rehab -- end of week 2

MISinformation - Jun 21

I finally had my PT evaluation last Thursday (4 days ago). I'd been pushing pretty hard on flexibility and strengthening, so I was able to walk into the place with only a minor limp. The limp seems to be caused mostly by the swelling in the ankle that prevents me from flexing properly when I walk. However, as I learned, I am capable of flexing more, so it's just a question of forcing myself to do so. First, overall status: I can spin bike now for 30 minutes and figure that it's no longer the ankle that's ...

Ankle Rehab -- day 4 or 5, depending on how you count

MISinformation - Jun 11

The euphoria at being off crutches is waning now. I walk with a pronounced limp, mostly due to the fact that the ankle is stiff and doesn't flex properly. However, no crutches, no cane, and best of all, two hands with which to do things! Managed 15 minutes on the spin-bike today -- the ankle gets tired, but I was able to push it just a tad harder so that I could tell I'd done something after 15 minutes. I still wouldn't call it a cardiovascular workout, but it's something that reminds me of what a ...

Ankle Rehab from the Inside

MISinformation - Jun 9

After 25 years of playing adult recreational soccer (having never played in high school or college), I had my first serious injury on April 25 -- a broken fibula and tibia (OK, so the tibia only broke off a small portion of the lateral condyle , which is the knobby part at the end of a bone). Yeah, yeah, I'd ruptured my plantar fascia the previous fall, but that was nothing compared to this. Anyway, as I have just gotten the cast off and am beginning rehab I find myself wanting to know what this is going ...