Quite often, we leave class and wonder how effective our lecture was. Did I talk too fast? Did I stop for questioning? Were my students taking notes or texting their friends? How difficult/new was the material? Here are some questions to ponder when planning the next lecture.
Notetaking: How are your lectures structured? Do you begin with an outline? How do you signal to your students what is and is not critical information? How do students prepare for your class/lecture?
Notetaking is not a skill that comes naturally; neither is it one that we gain by doing it a lot–badly. Spending a few minutes at the beginning of a course to explain how you lecture goes a long way to making even the first lectures meaningful learning experiences for your students.
Students want to know: Is your material a review of their assigned reading? If so, is it organized in the same way? Is it new/complementary material to assigned reading? What should they do to prepare for the lecture? How will you let your students know the key points (e.g.,”let me repeat that again,”). Do you have any notetaking tips for your students? Do you allow taping of your lectures? Should students copy what is on your PPT?
Content: How much of the lecture content is new material? What is the level of complexity? What have students learned earlier that relate to the new material? With what vocabulary must the students be familiar? Do you use a PPT or other presentation software?
Is your content complex? If so, how about relating it to prior learning, providing concrete examples, or asking the class to contribute an example to check for understanding? Are you planning appropriate pauses to ask for questions? Have you thought about pausing at critical points in your lecture and asking students to write for one minute about their understanding of what you just said, or write a question about what they just heard? How much material do you put on a presentation slide? The JOY OF SIX relates to good PPT use: no more than 6 lines per slide, no more than 6 words per line, and only key ideas and high points. Use the presentation software to include key points and visual examples to add to the understanding of your lecture. What about putting the key points of the presentation on VoiceThread and requiring students to provide audio, video, or written commentary and questions to help you gauge understanding.
These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when considering good lectures. Stay tuned.