Here’s an archive where you can access all back issues of Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Additionally, educators can get a subscription to the magazine free.
CofC Weblog for EHHP Faculty
Here’s an archive where you can access all back issues of Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Additionally, educators can get a subscription to the magazine free.
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.
Reflecting about my fall classes at the end of the semester, I always am looking for methods that will enhance both management and instruction for the next semester. Sometimes lack of classroom civility can undermine both management and instruction.
All of us have pet peeves relating to classroom civility. An issue that is frequently a “burr under the saddle” of most professors is students’ use of cell phones and other devices during class. No matter what our classroom expectations for student behavior, here are some general guidelines that can add to your strategies for success. Following the guidelines are e-resources for maintaining a civil classroom.
The first rule of classroom management is prevention. If there are practices that are not acceptable in your classroom, inform students on the first day both orally and in writing. You can post them in your classroom, put them on the syllabus, or remind students at the beginning of the second class. And, be certain students understand the consequences of their actions.
The second rule of thumb is consistency. If student behavior violates your rule, address every instance in a decisive and timely manner. Follow through with stated consequences–no exceptions.
Third, deal with each violation privately or in a discreet manner if possible. Causing a student to “lose face” in front of classmates can have detrimental effects on the student, your class, and the rest of the day’s instruction.
If the problem is with electronic or other objects not permitted in class, such as cell phones or calculators during exams, collect them at the door before class begins.
Check with your colleagues to see how they deal with these issues.
A website with suggestions for setting class rules and handling incivility http://ctl.ucsc.edu/resources/tips/tips-civility.html
This site includes an annotated list of references relating to civility in the classroom http://www.tc3.edu/instruct/sbrown/fac/civilbib.htm
Another site with good ideas for promoting civility in the classroom http://tinyurl.com/fsucivility
Teaching Strategies That Help Students Learn How to Learn
By Sara J. Coffman
What skills do you wish your students had prior to taking your course? Reading comprehension, time management, listening, note-taking, critical thinking, test-taking? Let’s face it, most students could benefit from taking a course in learning how to learn. But who wants to take a study skills class?
My solution: sneak study skills into your class along with the content.
• Select a textbook that has learning aids (study guides, online materials, and/or audio files) and encourage your students to use them.
• Craft your syllabus carefully. By setting the right tone, you can motivate students.”
• Design clear, meaningful assignments that enable students to accomplish course objectives.
• Space the workload out evenly throughout the semester.
• If students don’t master an assignment the first time, give them constructive feedback, and the chance to redo it. You may not want to do this for every assignment, but doing it for one early in the course “sets the bar” and encourages them to do quality work.
When it comes to retention, the traditional view is that it’s the students’ responsibility to “retain” themselves by doing the work that is assigned in a course and achieving passing marks on tests. However, the growing focus on student success and retention involves increased efforts to help students from admission through graduation. And that means faculty have a big role to play
The first week:
• If your class is small, set up interviews with students individually or in pairs to find out why they’re taking the course and what they want to get out of it. Not only will you learn about who’s in the class, but you’ll increase students’ commitment to work hard and communicate with you. If the class is large, use email to collect information about students and to establish connections.
• Talk to students about how to study for your course. Give them a list of study techniques recommended by students who’ve taken the course and earned A’s.
• Early in the course, have students use their textbooks in class. By using class time, you acknowledge the book’s value. If you can’t afford class time, have students do a homework assignment that they can’t complete without using the book.
• Offer students time management suggestions. Let them know approximately how much time they should spend on the course each week. Talk about how daily study keeps the information fresh and helps avoid cramming. Show how longer assignments can be broken into small pieces.
Techniques for teaching:
• Start class with something that gets their attention and then quickly review what was covered in the previous class.
• Show students “tricks of the trade,” or how you learned the material. Talk aloud when you solve a problem. Show students what you do when you get stuck.
• Provide a partial outline and have your students fill in the missing material during the lecture.
• Leave five minutes at the end of each class for students to check their notes with those of their neighbor, review major ideas, and indicate what they thought was important and why.
• Assign study groups prior to the first exam, have them exchange contact information, and require a one-hour study session outside of class. Help them be more productive by providing a study guide and/or sample test questions they can submit for bonus points.
• Give students frequent tests and constructive feedback throughout the course.
• Give a practice test before the actual exam so students get a feel for the types of questions you ask. If you use essay questions, share an example of an A, C, and F answer.
• Take class time to go over the first exam. Talk in detail about the questions most often missed.
• Have students analyze the first exam, or quiz, by writing you a memo that responds to questions like these: Was it harder than expected? Were any of the questions a complete surprise? If so, which ones? Were there any questions you didn’t understand or found confusing? If so, rewrite them using your own words. What one change are you going to make when studying for the next quiz? What study strategy did you use that worked well?
These simple strategies teach students learning skills that will make them better students in every course.
Excerpted from “Teaching Strategies That Help Students Learn,” The Teaching Professor, 23.7 (2009): 1,8.
Sara J. Coffman, Center for Instructional Excellence, Purdue University.
This link is from Faculty Focus, September 29, 2010
Published in Intervention in School and Clinic, March 2010
Informal Reading Inventories:Creating Teacher-Designed Literature-Based Assessments
Mary C. Provost, College of Charleston
Monica A. Lambert, Appalachian State University
Andrea M. Babkie
Mandates emphasizing student achievement have increased the importance of appropriate assessment techniques for students in general and special education classrooms. Informal reading inventories (IRIs), designed by classroom teachers, have been proven to be an efficient and effective way to determine students’ strengths, weaknesses, and strategies in the areas of reading fluency, decoding, sight-word recognition, and reading comprehension. Although there are commercially designed IRIs on the market, teachers may often have neither the access nor the funds to purchase them. Additionally, teacher-designed tests provide curriculum-based assessment, thus allowing a direct link between evaluation and instruction. This article gives general and special education teachers working in K—8 classrooms information on why IRIs are important, reasons for creating such inventories specifically for their classrooms, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to create IRIs using quality literature.
Here are a few ideas for building interest in your lesson–at the very beginning of the class:
How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities
By Mary Bart
There are many reasons why students don’t like group work, and in the online classroom the list of reasons grows even longer as the asynchronous nature of online courses not only makes collaboration more difficult but almost counterintuitive.
In addition, there may be another issue at play that you haven’t even thought about, and it has to do with how group work is designed in the first place.
“Too often we give students an activity and call it group work when in reality it’s something they could do on their own,” says Jean Mandernach, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Grand Canyon University. “Then we get frustrated when they don’t work together and just do the work on their own.”
In the recent online seminar Online Group Work: Making It Meaningful and Manageable, Mandernach provided tips for adapting proven face-to-face group work strategies to the online environment. The key is to design tasks that are truly collaborative, meaning the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone.
Effective online group activities often fall into one of three categories:
There’s no right answer, such as debates, or research on controversial issues.
There are multiple perspectives, such as analyzing current events, cultural comparisons, or case studies.
There are too many resources for one person to evaluate, so a jigsaw puzzle approach is needed with each student responsible for one part.
Group assignments are slowly finding their way into online courses and bringing with them incredible opportunities and big challenges. Integrating group work in the online classroom requires tailored content, a well-defined structure, and a change in student perception. This seminar will guide you through the whole process.
Online collaboration tools
While Skype and other real-time collaboration tools make it easier for dispersed students to “get together,” Mandernach cautions against overusing synchronous tools. Instead, she says, you should encourage your students to take advantage of the many asynchronous collaborative tools inside your course management system or some of the new Web 2.0 tools. Some of her favorite Web 2.0 tools include: Tokbox, VoiceThread, Creately, Google Docs, and Teambox.
These tools are relatively easy to use and help build a sense of community in the online classroom. They’re also another way to get students to buy into group work activities and using them makes the students more marketable upon graduation.
“If you can use the collaborative environment to really bring them into your classroom and get connected to you and connected to their peers you’re going to see a lot of benefits besides increased test scores,” Mandernach says. “Many employers and graduate schools really view online learning as learning in isolation, and I think it’s important for students to show that they are capable of collaborative work — that they can work independently and with others.”
Online group work checklist
As part of the seminar, Mandernach provided the following checklist for creating and implementing online group projects:
Students understand the value of both the process and product of the collaboration.
Students have guidance concerning how to work in an asynchronous team.
Group size is small enough to allow for full participation of all members.
Course provides numerous opportunities for community building prior to group projects.
Assignment is an authentic measure of student learning.
Assignment will benefit from collaborative work.
Students have clear guidelines of the expected outcome of the collaborative assignment.
Assignment creates a structure of positive interdependence in which individuals perceive that they will succeed when the group succeeds.
Assignment is scheduled to allow adequate time for preparation and communication.
Assignment is designed in a manner to allow students a level of personal control.
Students are provided with tools and instructions to facilitate online communication.
Each group has a collaborative workspace within the online course.
Students have technology skills relevant for asynchronous communication.
Back-up procedures are in place to deal with technology failure.
Grading and/or evaluation strategies differentiate between the process and the product.
Strategies are in place to monitor interaction processes.
Clear grading rubrics are provided at the start of the assignment to guide student work.
Self and peer evaluations are included in the process to monitor individual involvement and accountability.
DID I MISS ANYTHING
by Tom Wayman
Originally from: The Astonishing Weight of the Dead.
Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.
DID I MISS ANYTHING?
Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class
Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours
Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent
Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been
but it was one place
And you weren’t here
WPMU Theme pack by WPMU-DEV.