Less Sugar Poster

Challenges: Some challenges require students to post their poster on the wall and groups come around and vote on the posters. The groups are each given a rubric and told, “You  should not vote on your poster.” They usually then ask, “Should not or “Can not?” I then leave it to them to act ethically. Here is a sample poster challenge. We used the Case Study question from http://ethicsops.com/LessSugarMarketing.aspx.



Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Gandhi… Were these people really altruistic or were they displaying the ethical theory of egoism? Well, Challenge #7 was to put one of them on trial and find out. The class was divided in 2- one for altruism and one for egoism. There was a lot of research involved and the teams didn’t complete the challenge in 1 class. Next week when they come back we will try Mother Teresa (night class’ choice) and Michael Jackson (day class’ choice).

The Challenge:

Mother Teresa On Trial: Altruism or Egoism

  1. What is Altruism?
  2. What is Egoism
  3. Find a truly altruistic person
  4. Put them on trial
    1. Background
  5. Altruistic
  6. Egoistic
  7. Present
    1. Opening argument
    2. Direct examination
    3. Cross examination
    4. Closing argument
      1. Who is it? (add picture)
      2.  What are they known for?
      3.  What makes them virtuous and altruistic?
      4. What do people say about their altruistic ways?
    1. Prove their acts are altruistic
    1. Prove their acts are egoistic

Text Books are Resources, What’s that mean?

What kind of Teacher do You want to be: One that jumps in the pool and teaches or the One that Lectures at the student?

I recently interviewed several people for adjunct faculty positions. Usually, after I give my spiel, I ask, “What do you think about textbooks?” Most people look at me a little quizzical trying to figure out how I want them to answer. So I almost always follow it up with, “No, really, how does the textbook fit into your class? There are no right or wrong answers.” I then ask, “How do you feel about Powerpoint?” They again look at me like I am asking the all time most stupid question and giving me a look of, “doesn’t everyone use the textbook and the textbook’s Powerpoint?” To which I jump in, before they can answer, and add, “We want you to be creative. Your goal should be to get the students excited about learning- about the subject matter that you are passionate about. How exciting is it to read the textbook and then read the Powerpoint of the textbook as you recite each word as if you made it up yourself. Tell me how you make learning fun?”

If I have lost them at this point, they quickly throw out words that they have heard. This is where it gets difficult because many people in higher education know the hot button words of the day, but they do not know how to implement them. They know that students learn by doing, but they don’t have the creativity to create the doing activities. Where do I get these ideas, you ask? I would love to take the credit for all my ideas or say, “Oh, I make them up!” But, that is just not true. There are so many resources out there to teach us how to challenge our students by true hands on activities.

Where I start first is in my own law practice. I think about why I became a lawyer and all the fantasies and stereotyping and assumptions I made about being a lawyer before I was a lawyer. I ask the students what their ideas are about an exciting class or an exciting subject. Most people have a glorified idea about what lawyers do. I just play off these ideas and let them be a lawyer for a day (at least in Business Law that is the plan).  I also think, “Maybe, they will go to law school later or be a paralegal. What skills can they learn to work in a law firm through this course.” I teach them those skills, as well.

I also read a lot. I read all the books on what the best teachers do, how to flip a classroom, how to do team based learning… oh and did I mention I watch others teach! I see what I want to adopt and what I say, “Wow I don’t ever want to do that!”

I also remember my favorite classes… and try to forget the most boring classes of all time!

There are so many places to learn better teaching techniques.

But, by far the best place to learn to teach is to take risks and experiment. Always be willing to admit failure and go back to another way. However, a word of caution here-  you must give it time to sink or swim. Don’t just jump in prematurely and save a sinking ship. I taught all my kids to swim by staying close by, gently talking them through it, and only jumping in when they really needed the help. They all swam by age 4. You can do it and so can our faculty!


p.s. I do love textbooks, but I think they are a resource and not the source…

And I am not against the PowerPoint, as long as they are short and sweet or printed out and used as a workbook… I especially love moving animations (turn the powerpoint into a moving story)

Business Law: Getting Ready

The new term begins soon, so I must plan this class. There is only one.. maybe 2 glitches. (note- because of the issues raised in this post, I rewrote how the course would be taught. Instead of the legal disasters arising from clients, they will now arise from disasters that befall a newly formed corporation).

  • #1 I won’t be there for class 1 (because my brother is getting married in a far far away state). So, I must share all my crazy ideas with a colleague so he can teach my first class.
  • #2 The second glitch is that class 2 is a holiday and classes won’t meet. So, I think I am going to make lots of video prompts and maybe use Skype to answer questions. I really need to figure this out so I don’t stress the students out with my crazy ideas about teaching and learning.

My plan is to step the students through what I would expect of them each week by doing each part (in a truncated form) in class the first week. What does that look like you ask?

Well, here you go:

  1. Intro: Introduce students to the class through both my colleague and my video montage- 30 minutes (b/c they need to get their book, library orientation, Moodle sign on, class overview)
  2. Legal Disaster: Make a video of a client (I will probably recruit my husband in the above picture) coming in disheveled and worried about his business law issue (I have to figure out a good introductory case)- 10 minutes
  3. Info Gathering: Send the students off to get all the information they need to solve the case (this would be done outside of class usually- AKA flipping the classroom)- 1hour
  4. Discussion: Bring the students back together and discuss what they think the course of action should be (usually done outside of class)
  5. Individual quiz: (usually done in the beginning of each class)
  6. Group Quiz: (usually done in the beginning of each class)
  7. Boardroom: Students come up with a plan (in their group) to present to the Attorney
  8. Meeting with Atty where the group offers their advice and whether they think the firm should take the case.
  9. Take the case: if the students decide to take the case, we will file motions, argue the case, ADR the case, or take any other action needed to follow through (not doing this the first day) with the client.
  10. Legal Disaster #2 introduced (another video of my husband, I guess)

Wow, I have a lot of work to do… better run!

*side note: each class meets for 4 hours for 10 weeks (since this is a hybrid course, week 10 is made up trhough online discussions throughout the course). Also, I do require substantial out of class time spent learning the legal themes so when they come to class we can have fun being lawyers and paralegals!

Ethics Videos

This is a collection of articles and videos (mostly videos) that I give the students to watch outside of class. The students are given both reading and watching assignments each week. They are also encouraged to learn from other sources what they need to learn about the theory before they come to class. When they come to class prepared, we can jump right into the Challenge of the week and have fun with the theory.

The Need for Rules


Good and Evil


Stanford Prison Experiment

Abu Ghraib


Jeremy Bentham


Overview (essay)


1 Minute Moral Theory

Ross (news article)

Consequentialism v. Deontology

Kantian Ethics

British Lady

Rights and Justice

What are Rights

Positive vs. Negative Rights



Rawls and Nozick

What are Human Rights?

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


1 minute ethics





Audio recording


Ethics: Weekly Voting

Each week the students are presented with a question. The question is taped to the wall and students use a sticky note to vote. They can choose one side or the other or in the middle.

The students are encouraged to rethink their vote throughout the class and change their vote if necessary. The purpose is to encourage deeper thinking instead of a quick superficial decision. Here are some examples: