Small Teaching Tip 22: Top Ten Teaching Tips
Best Practices, Small Teaching Tip, Teaching Advice

Small Teaching Tip #22: Top Ten Teaching Tips

I’ve been writing the Small Teaching Tips series for three years and in that time, I have amassed a huge collection of blog posts, books, and articles dedicated to making small, progressive improvements to one’s teaching. There’s no need to make time-consuming, labor-intensive changes to your teaching in order to see incredible results. As author of the book Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning, and TLTCon 2020 keynote speaker, James Lang argues: “fundamental pedagogical improvement is possible through incremental change.” So I’d like to dedicate this post to my top ten favorite tips and hopefully inspire you to try a few in your own classes.

Let your students get to know you

Tell more stories/use more examples

Give students more control

Demystify office hours

Craft a learner-centered syllabus

Prioritize student collaboration

Design with brain science in mind

Always be learning / watch other teachers

Practice self-reflection

Take care of yourself

Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition
Assessment, Best Practices, Tech Generation

Make Your Tech Integration Stronger Using SAMR

In our time online during COVID everyone learned and did  things they never thought themselves capable.  You learned Zoom, OAKS, Padlet, Jamboard, and so many other tools.  You were curious about how to do things differently to achieve better results.

Let’s not let that go!

Just because you are back in the classroom doesn’t mean you should halt your forward progress!  I encourage you to use the SAMR model to look at your teaching and keep that curious reflection going.

If you’re not familiar with SAMR, it’s a model for incorporating technology into your teaching, and life, in a meaningful and efficient way.  With SAMR, the goal is to think of it as a spectrum and shoot for the level that you think is best for your particular goals or outcomes and in a very purposeful way.

Before you go any further however, start by asking the following:
  • What am I hoping to achieve by using this technology?
  • How will it make a difference to my students’ learning?
  • Why is it preferable to not using technology?
  • How equipped are my students and I to use this technology?
  • How much time do I have to invest in making it work?
Answering these questions and starting with a purpose avoids the ‘technology for technology’s sake’ syndrome that doesn’t help anyone

Let’s take a look at each of these categories/levels:

Substitution:

Substitution is often the easiest level to achieve.  It involves substituting technology for a non-tech process.   Before substituting, ask yourself, “what do you or your students gain by replacing a traditional tool for a technology tool.

Examples:

  • Online test for a paper test
  • Microsoft Word doc for a handwritten document
  • Online calendar for a paper calendar
  • Recording a lecture and having students watch it, rather than giving the lecture in person

Augmentation:

Augmentation is adding technology to add something to the traditional method of doing something.  This “something” should improve the process, making things more efficient, easy collaborative, etc.

Examples:

  • Using Google Docs instead of a Word Processor or paper so it can be shared with others.
  • Instead of a standard speech, augment it with images or a presentation.
  • Researching using online library journals.
  • Adding video to your regular lectures to reenforce a difficult concept.
  • Having a video assignment instead of a paper.

Modification:

Modification involves actually changing the lesson’s design and its learning outcome. It’s about designing interactive and dynamic tasks.  The critical question here is, “does the technology significantly alter the learning task?”(1)

Examples:

  • Students produce a podcast summarizing a topic and other students review and revise the podcast.(2)
  • Use a website or blog to post their book reviews, receive peer feedback, and participate in ongoing discussions about their book.(3)
  • Students are asked to write an essay around the theme “And This I Believe…”. An audio recording of the essay is made along with an original musical soundtrack.  The recording will be played in front of an authentic audience such as parents, or college admission counselors. (4)
  • Students use multimedia online resources including audio and video tools and learning to gain greater insight into the motivations of a particular character, based on the text and supplemental learning (5)
  • Students complete the quiz using video as opposed to writing out their answers, allowing for virtual marking (5)

Redefinition:

Redefinition is all about using technology to transform your students’ experiences.  It involves using technology to all you and your students to do something that couldn’t not be done without the tool.  In this case, you ask yourself if the technology tools allow educators to redefine a traditional learning task in a way that would not be possible without the tech, creating a novel experience. (1)

Examples:

  • Network with students at another university or in a K12 classroom
  • Visit museums virtually or using AR/VR
  • Interacting with experts  via Zoom that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
  • As a group, create a documentary video based on specific concepts learned in the class (include interviews as well).
  • Use Google Earth Street View to travel to different parts of the world, to look at architecture, city planning, etc.
  • Recording students as they deliver a presentation or practice a physical skill, then using this recording to prompt student reflection (2)
  • Having students publish their work online where it can be viewed by peers and the broader community (2).

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF AS YOU MOVE THROUGH THE MODEL:

Whatever you do, don’t lose the strides you made during the COVID semesters.  Keep pushing forward and keep being curious!

Resources:

  1. https://www.powerschool.com/resources/blog/samr-model-a-practical-guide-for-k-12-classroom-technology-integration/
  2. https://www.3plearning.com/blog/connectingsamrmodel/
  3. http://blog.mimio.com/see-how-samr-works-in-real-classrooms
  4. https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model
  5. https://classful.com/samr-model-examples/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us0w823KY0g
  7. https://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/04/examples-of-transforming-lessons-through-samr/
  8. https://www.edutopia.org/article/powerful-model-understanding-good-tech-integration
  9. https://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/how-the-samr-model-can-be-used-a-framework-for-education-3-0

 

 

questions
Assessment, Best Practices, Pedagogy

Pedagogy Pointer – What DO your students know?

Research from as far back as the 1980s, and maybe earlier, shows that learning is enhanced and extended if students access prior knowledge before they learn something new.  This give them a frame of reference, or “hook,” on which to hang their new learning (Harvey F. Silver and Matthew J. Perini) thus making recall and understanding easier.  

But how do you know what their prior knowledge is and how can you get them to access it?

ask the


THINGS TO THINK ABOUT…

1First, it’s important to note that the prior knowledge may NOT have to be in the new knowledge domain.  For instance, I may have a breadth of knowledge in various software application but may have no prior knowledge of digital photo editing.  However, when learning Photoshop, my prior software understanding will not only speed up my learning of Photoshop, it will help what I do learn stick, because I can relate it back to what I already know.

2Second, you may be able to rely on their life skills, upbringing, or culture to frame new topics.

3Third, think about asking them to recall declarative (facts/meanings) and procedural (problem solving) knowledge.

4Fourth, try to use high-level orienting questions when possible.  Osman & Hannafin state,

“Explicit orienting questions focus learner processes on

question-specific information-often to the detriment

of higher level knowledge and skills such as problem

solving (Hannafin & Hughes, 1986).
High-level orienting questions, in contrast, require

that to-be-learned lesson content be integrated rather

than simply filtered. They imply relationships to be established,

dilemmas to be faced, and problems to be

solved rather than isolating explicitly which information

to process. “


HERE ARE SOME IDEAS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Model of Prior Knowledge
The model of prior knowledge (Copyright 2007. Hailikari, Nevgi & Lindblom-Ylanne)

Quiz/Questionnaire

Create a quiz.  Questions should be a combination of declarative and procedural knowledge.  You can add a mix of questions encompassing what they should know from previous classes, plus a few questions that they should know at the end of the upcoming module/topic/concept.

  • This quiz will NOT be graded.
  • It can give you a sense of what the students know at the outset and what procedures they can apply.
  • You can use the quiz data to help sculpt your teaching.
  • Students can recall material they should hopefully know.

Group work

Problem or Case

Ask the students, in a group, to try to solve a problem or case study that you would normally give them AFTER they have learned the material.  This will require them to all work together to attempt to formulate a solution.  After they read and review the lectures, etc. they can get together in the group to try the same case study or problem again.

Concept Map

Ask the students to brainstorm a concept map with all of the concepts they can think of that relate to the upcoming topic/concept.  Not only do they have to try to recall what may work but they also have to think about how these items connect to one another.

Think About When

You can do these queries at the beginning of the semester or right before each new module or concept. It’s up to you to decide what method works best for your material.

 

TIPS

  1. Explain WHY you are doing this.  Tell them the theories of prior knowledge and learning and that this is to help them.  This is an important step so don’t skip it.
  2. When possible, allow them to work in groups or pairs.
  3. Focus on allowing them to see their knowledge in terms of the practical world, not just in regurgitating information but using it to solve problems.

RESOURCES:

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., Norman, M. K., Stephens, C., & Audio, T. (2019). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Tantor Audio.

Beier, M. E., & Ackerman, P. L. (2005). Age, Ability, and the Role of Prior Knowledge on the Acquisition of New Domain Knowledge: Promising Results in a Real-World Learning Environment. Psychology and Aging20(2), 341–355. https://doi-org.nuncio.cofc.edu/10.1037/0882-7974.20.2.341

Hailikari, T., Katajavuori, N., & Lindblom-Ylanne, S. (2008). The relevance of prior knowledge in learning and instructional design. American journal of pharmaceutical education72(5), 113. https://doi.org/10.5688/aj7205113

Osman, M., & Hannafin, M. (1994). Effects of Advance Questioning and Prior Knowledge on Science Learning. The Journal of Educational Research, 88(1), 5-13. Retrieved June 8, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27541949

Silver, H. F., & Perini, M. J. (2010). The Interactive Lecture: How to Engage Students, Build Memory, and Deepen Comprehension (A Strategic Teacher PLC Guide) (Strategic Teacher PLC Guides) (Pap/Pstr ed.). ASCD.

motivation
Best Practices, Collaboration, Pedagogy

Pedagogy Pointer – Student Motivation

Motivation is defined as the “general desire or willingness of someone to do something” and it’s what we are all after –

Motivated Students

Motivation can be divided into three types:

  • Amotivation – lack of any motivation; going through the motions.
  • Intrinsic motivation – for self enjoyment or interest; because the individual wants to for their own betterment.
  • Extrinsic motivation – to obtain an outcome; avoid feelings of guilt; to benefit someone else.

Our current educational system relies on extrinsic motivation by introducing “external controls, close supervision and monitoring, and evaluations accompanied by rewards or punishments (grades) into learning climates to ensure that learning occurs.”(Ryan and Brown, 2005)   However, Deci and Ryan (2000) posit that the best type of motivation is intrinsic and they tie motivation to three basic psychological needs, for competenceautonomy, and relatedness.

Let’s take a look at how you can use these three needs to motivate students in your own classes! 

COMPETENCE

This is the feeling that they are not completely over their head.  CAN I DO THE WORK?

  • Hold high but realistic expectations for your students and make these expectations very clear to your students.  When instructors expect the best work from their students, research has shown that students generally rise to the task.(1)
  • In addition to setting high expectations, make it clear that you believe they CAN meet the expectations. (2)
  • Encourage students to focus on their continued improvement, not just on their grade on any one test or assignment.(2)  To do this, you may need to restructure your assessments.  Allow for low-stakes rote learning assessments to be done multiple times until they “master” the material.  Or allow large projects to be done in pieces where you give feedback on the pieces but not a lot of feedback on the final project.  This gives the students the opportunity to learn and develop before turning in the final project.
  • Communicate clear expectations for each assignment (e.g., use rubrics). (2)
  • Provide lots of early feedback to students but only if giving them an opportunity to resubmit and learn from the feedback. (2)
  • Have students provide peer feedback. (2)
  • Scaffold assignments. (2)
  • Praise student effort and hard work (2). This doesn’t mean that you don’t give them a grade eventually or praise poor work. It just means that you acknowledge when a student is learning from their mistakes.  It’s all part of making learning the focus and not making it all about grades.
  • Provide a safe environment for students to fail and then learn from their mistakes (2).  As I said before, this needs to be reiterated at the beginning of the semester and often throughout the term.  This expectation of improvement and moving toward mastery needs to be the mantra of you and your students.

AUTONOMY

Autonomy allows students to express themselves and their learning in different ways.  These suggestions come from Yarborough, C. B., & Fedesco, H. N. (2020) out of Vanderbilt University.

  • When possible, allow students to choose assignments.  For large assignments or high-stakes assessments offer two or three assignment alternatives.  They should all accomplish the same learning outcomes.
  • Have students choose the medium with which they will present their work.  For example, all students may do the same assignment with the same rubric, but how it looks may be different for each student.   It may be a video, a presentation, a paper, a flyer, etc. When you can give this type of freedom you should.
  • Co-create assessment rubrics with students (e.g., participation rubrics, assignment rubrics).
  • Have students choose the topics you will cover in a particular unit.  Not for every unit but you could leave one or two classes where the students can vote on what’s covered.
  • Drop the lowest assessment or two (e.g., quizzes, exams, homework).
  • Have students identify preferred assignment deadlines within reason.  This flexibility could be as simple as something being due on a Mon, Wed, or Fri of a week.
  • Gather mid-semester feedback and make changes based on student suggestions.
  • Provide meaningful rationales for learning activities.  All assessments should have a “why” with them.  This why will also blend into making class items relatable.
  • Acknowledge students’ feelings about the learning process or learning activities throughout the course.

RELATEDNESS/RELEVANCE

Relatedness revolves around where or not the student sees value or importance in what they are learning.  DO I WANT TO DO THE WORK?  However, it can also relate to how the student feels supported within the class and by faculty and peers.

The University of Wisconsin guide on student motivation states that “students usually direct their behavior toward activities that they value and in which they have some expectancy of success.” (1). Therefore, providing this relatedness or relevance is critical to student motivation.  Below are a few suggestions to increase this relevance.

  • Be enthusiastic about your subject. (1) This enthusiasm will not only be contagious but it will show the students why this subject matters to you and it may begin to matter to them.
  • Design tests that encourage the kind of learning you want students to achieve. (1) Add application questions or use case studies so that your students see the application and relevance.
  • Share personal anecdotes. (2)
  • Get to know students via small talk before/after class and during breaks. (2) Establishing this relationship may help you tailor content to meet students’ expectations.
  • Have students complete a survey where they share information about themselves and how this information relates to the subject.  Again so you can relate it back in lectures and personalize the subject.
  • Require students to come to office hours (individually or in small groups). (2) Again, gives you a chance to get to know them and it shows you care about their success in your class and you can offer the support they may not feel comfortable asking for.
  • Use students’ names (perhaps with the help of name tents). (2)
  • Have students incorporate personal interests into their assignments. (2)
  • Incorporate group activities during class, and allow students to work with a variety of peers.(2)
  • Convey warmth, caring, and respect to students.(2)

Want to know what motivates your students?

ASK THEM

Make it their first homework assignment to reflect on what motivates the to attempt to do well in a class.

 

Remember – Students are more willing to challenge themselves when they engage in meaningful work. 

 


RESOURCES:

(1) Motivating Students, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Retrieved June 13, 2021 from https://www.uww.edu/learn/restiptool/motivating-students.

(2) Yarborough, C. B., & Fedesco, H. N. (2020). Motivating students. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved July 6, 2021 from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu//cft/guides-sub-pages/motivating-students/

(3) Lonsdale, C., Hodge, K., & Rose, E. (2009). Athlete burnout in elite sport: A self-determination perspective. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27, 785-795.

(4) Deci, E.L. and Ryan, R.M. 2000. The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11: 227–268.

(5) Niemiec, C. P., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7, 133-144.

(6) Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: Guilford

rigorous climbing
Assessment, Best Practices, Pedagogy, PLC

Pedagogy Pointer – Academic Rigor

As college professors and educators you know that rigor is important.  But do we really know what that word means in relationship to our teaching?  I couldn’t find a definition on the CofC website so I decided to do some digging.

 

Merriam-Webster defines rigor as:

  1. harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment
  2. a tremor caused by a chill
  3. a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable
  4. strict precision

In the case of academic rigor, I’m going to be looking at “a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable,” and in particular challenging or uncomfortable.

I love the definition by edglossary.org ,“a more expansive view of rigor would also encompass academic relevance and critical-thinking skills such as interpreting and analyzing historical data, making connections between historical periods and current events, using both primary and secondary sources to support an argument or position, and arriving at a novel interpretation of a historical event after conducting extensive research on the topic.”

“Advocates contend that appropriately rigorous learning experiences motivate students to learn more and learn it more deeply, while also giving them a sense of personal accomplishment when they overcome a learning challenge—whereas lessons that are simply “hard” will more likely lead to disengagement, frustration, and discouragement.“

 

The point of academic rigor is not to just make things hard or difficult for the student, it’s to challenge them to think in new and interesting ways and to push them to the edge of being frustrated without overwhelming them (The TeachHUB Team).  This is the space in which they learn more deeply about the subject/concept but also become a different person who can think critically, apply, and problem solve.  According to Matthew Lynch, Dean of the School of Education, Psychology, & Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Union University, “Teachers must challenge students to question assumptions and make connections beyond the assignment and the classroom.  To encourage academic rigor in the classroom, teachers must establish high expectations and then provide ways for students to meet them.”

So from these sources we can takeaway that

RIGOR = CHALLENGE

RIGOR = CHALLENGED THINKING

climb a mountain


SO HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE RIGOR INTO YOUR TEACHING?

I’ve found some great articles that can give you a leg up and some great ideas to get you started.

ESTABLISHING A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT

Before this type of rigor can take place you have to set a classroom environment that supports rigor.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

  1. Get your students to buy-in on the concept of “challenge”.  Discuss with them why you value challenge and how this will change them as a student and a person.  Discuss it with them, don’t just tell them.  Ask them to help set guidelines for the class expectations to increase that buy-in.
  2. Create a community of practice and where it’s okay to make mistakes, that’s how we learn! If students know that it’s okay to be wrong and to tinker and try things, they will be more likely to accept the challenge.
  3. You need to believe that all students are all capable of rising to the challenge, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, or disability.  If you’re not sure, they’ll pick up on it.  You then need to communicate this belief EARLY and OFTEN to the students.  If they know you are behind them and that you are going to do your best to take them through a difficult process, they will be more likely to accept the challenge.2

CONTENT

Start to challenge students’ thinking by using non-traditional materials to demonstrate concepts.

  • Don’t just give them textbooks to read.  Explore different authors with differing opinions and perspectives.  This teaches the students that learning isn’t black and white and encourages divergent thinking.
  • Use a variety of materials, including non-traditional materials such as tweets, literature, newscasts, podcasts, etc to illustrate and teach concepts.

CLASS DISCUSSIONS

Discussions (both face-to-face and online) are the best place to introduce rigor.  This is where you can encourage students to dig deeper.  But for this to work, you questions have to encourage rigor and demand providing evidence from multiple sources and exploring differing sides of a topic. 

  1. Set strategies for in-class discussions and don’t accept lower-level thinking answers.  Encourage them to go further; deeper.
  2. Don’t ask yes/no questions.  Ask higher-level, thought-provoking questions; questions that play devils advocate or that asks students to challenge the norms; questions that ask them to provide evidence to back up their response.
  3. Require high-level answers from your students.
  4. Have your students formulate their answers in pairs.  This takes some of the pressure off and provides support for them when they are learning to dig deeper.(1)
  5. Allow for wait time. Give your students the opportunity to formulate and express their thoughts, regardless of how tempted you are to answer the question and move on.(1)
  6. Ask for evidence with questions like, “How do you know?”(1)
  7. To increase actual discussion, require students to elaborate on another students response then, ask an additional question.
  8. Require students to take and defend positions.(3)

ASSESSMENT

  1. Design lessons that require multiple steps that build on each other and necessitate lengthy analysis over time.(1)
  2. Get your students to synthesize multiple sources as a way to understand a variety of perspectives. Considering other viewpoints requires critical thinking.(1)
  3. Make sure your assignments are systematically scaffolded from one to the next.
  4. Give examples of desired outcomes and undesired outcomes are overtly shared with students.(2)
  5. Students have opportunity to revise their academic attempts.(2)
  6. Assignment is made relevant and relatable to student background information and interest.(2)
  7. A balance of formative and summative assessments intermittently provided.(2)
  8. Students reflect on their learning progress and efforts.(2)
  9. Require design thinking (3).  This means to allow them to tinker, try things, get things wrong, rework and try again.  This is done with a formative assessment and in class groups.
  10. Require students to take and defend positions.(3)

Remember – Students are more willing to challenge themselves when they engage in meaningful work.

The International Leadership for Leadership in Education created a rubric that you can use to help you implement rigor in your teaching.

Rigor Rubric

rubric


RESOURCES:

(1) Academic Rigor: You’re Doing It Wrong and Here’s Why, MATTHEW LYNCHj, The Edvocate, October 30, 2018.

(2) What is Academic Rigor and What Do We Do with It?, The TeachHUB Team, March 6, 2014.

(3) 10 Strategies To Add Rigor To Any Lesson, Unit, or Assessment, ASCD Guest Blogger, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, October 23, 2013.

(4) A New Definition of Rigor, Brian Sztabnik, Edutopia, May 7, 2015.

(5) https://www.edglossary.org/rigor/.

(6) How to Develop Rigor in the Classroom, Matt Christenson, The Art of Education, 2017.

(7) Rigor Rubric, International Leadership for Leadership in Education.

#OneNewThing from TLT
Assessment, Best Practices, Presentation

Make Your VoiceThreads Play Like a Video

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Did you know that you can configure your VoiceThreads to auto-advance so they play more like a video than a slide show?

Here’s How:

  1. Go into VoiceThread (VT) and mouse over one of your VTs and click EDIT.
  2. In the upper right corner, click on the OPTIONS gear icon and choose PLAYBACK SETTINGS.
  3. Check the box next to AUTOMATICALLY ADVANCE TO THE NEXT SLIDE AFTER _____ SECONDS.
  4. Type a 1 in the box before Seconds.
  5. Click SAVE.

NOTE: if you want all of your future VTs to auto play, click SAVE AS DEFAULT before clicking SAVE.

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Now when your students view the VoiceThread it will automatically advance to the next slide without them clicking on the Next Slide button.

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Question Formulation Technique for Deeper Inquiry
Best Practices, Collaboration, Innovative Instruction

Using the Question Formulation Technique to Get Students to Dig Deeper

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We all want our students to ask “good” questions and to dig deeper but we also know that this isn’t a skill they often come by naturally.  When faced with a statement or a problem you may hear,

I don’t even know where to start… 
OK, but now tell me what to do…. 

The Question Formulation Technique, or QFT, can help students get past the “I don’t know” roadblock.

 

WHAT IS QTF?

According to the Right Question Institute, “The Question Formulation Technique (QFT), created by the Right Question Institute, helps all people create, work with, and use their own questions — building skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and democratic action.”

Basically, it’s a questioning technique that removes hesitation and allows your students to dive right in to the questioning process.

The Benefits are many:

  • All students are heard.
  • There truly is no dumb question, all questions are recorded.
  • Encourages students to think of a question then work with the question later to improve it.
  • Encourages deeper thinking and questioning.
  • Gives a structured, guided way for students to participate and learn.

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If you are interested in talking to a faculty member that is using this in their CofC classroom, just let me know.

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THE PROCESS

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INSTRUCTOR:

  1. Create one or more focus statements (NOT questions).  Here’s an example, “The only way to motivate students if through grades.”
  2. Determine time limit for each Round (see below).
  3. Divide into groups of 3-4 people. – Identify one person as your note taker.   
  4. Give the students the rules for producing questions
  5. Ask as many questions as you can.
    • Do not stop to answer, judge, or discuss the questions.
    • Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
    • Change every statement into a question.

STUDENTS:

  1. Round 1: Produce Your Questions
    • Within a specified time (10 min), students in each group start saying questions (following the rules above).
    • Notetaker writes down every question as it’s said (if it’s a statement the notetaker must remind the team to state it as a question.)
    • You can use a notetaker strategy but you can also use Padlet or Google Docs to allow students to type in their own questions.  If you use this method, still have the students say the questions out loud.
  2. Round 2:  Improve Questions
    • Students work with the questions they produced. This step helps students do high level work with their questions and identify how different types of questions elicit
      different types of information and answers.
    • Questions can be open- or closed-ended: Closed-ended questions can be answered
      with yes, no, or with one word. Open-ended questions require an explanation and cannot be answered with yes, no, or with one word.
    • Categorize questions as closed or open-ended: Students find closed-ended questions and mark them with a “C”. Students find open-ended questions and mark them with an “O”.
    • Discuss the value of each type of question:
      • Students identify advantages & disadvantages of closed-ended questions.
      • Students identify advantages & disadvantages of open-ended questions.
      • Change questions from one type to another: Students change one closed-ended question to open-ended. Students change one open-ended question to closed-ended.
  3. Round 3: Prioritize Questions
    • Prioritization instructions should bring students back to teaching objectives and the plan for using student questions. This step helps students think convergently. The instructor should have select the number of questions they’d like the groups to settle on (example, top 5).
    • The students rank their questions, all of their questions, then select their top most important things they need to know.
  4. Round 4: Discuss Next Steps
    • How will questions be used? Next steps should align with priority instructions. For students, this further contextualizes how their questions will be used.
  5. Round 5: Reflection
    • Students should reflect: • What did you learn? • How can you use what you learned?
  •  

 

Steps of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT)

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online teaching tips
Best Practices, discussion

Online Teaching Tip: Determine how your students can comment in VoiceThread

Did you know that you can direct the students to comment in a certain medium in VoiceThread (VT)?  Say, for instance, you only want them to do video comments, but inevitably you have those students who ignore in the instructions and only type their comments.  Well, here’s how to prevent that.

  1. In VoiceThread, go to either Create (to create a new VT from scratch) or Edit (to change an existing VT).
  2. Click on the Options Gear icon in the upper right corner and choose Playback Settings.
  3. From the three tabs at the top, choose Playback Options.
  4. On the right you will see Allowed Comment Methods.
  5. From here, check ONLY the options you want to be available to your students when they comment.
  6. Click Save.
    Screenshot of the Comment options with all options checked

 

 

 

 

 

Now when you or your students comment in your VoiceThread, they only see what you allowed in these settings.

Screenshot of a VT with only the video recording option showing

 

online teaching tips
Best Practices

Online Teaching Tip – Assign Each Student an Accountability Partner

Students are struggling this year to stay on top of content and class work.  Some faculty are having success assigning students to an accountability partnership.  This partner is someone they can go to if they miss class, have questions, or just want to talk about the day’s lecture or assignment.  It’s a way to help students stay on top of what’s due and when as well.

keyThe Key Is Making Them Work

In order to make this work, you, as the instructor, need to want this to work.  That can be done via modeling in your interactions with the class.

  • Talk about the partners when it seems appropriate, to continue to bring the partnership to the forefront.
  • Encourage them to ask their partner before asking you.
  • When doing partner work in the classroom or online, keep your partners together to help them form trust.
  • Have students share their weekly academic goals with their partner to help with accountability and scheduling.

However you do it, encourage the students to use this partnership to their advantage.

lightbulb

 A few tips

  • Conduct FUN ice breaker activities to help the partners get to know one another.  An example may be to do a virtual escape room together.
  • Ask them to schedule regular video calls with each other to go over what’s coming up that week and planning for future assignments.
  • Ask them to set goals at the start of the week and then show how they accomplished them the following week.
This “Buddy” system, if implemented and encouraged, can be a great resource and support system for your students and will hopefully increase community in your classroom and give the students the relationships and connection they are craving.

 

online teaching tips
Assessment, Best Practices, Distance Ed

Online Teaching Tip: Using Respondus Lockdown Browser to Deter Cheating on Online Tests

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As was mentioned in a previous Online Teaching Tips, with ANY quiz, test, or exam there is a chance a student will cheat, even in a face to face class.  But the temptation is often greater in an online class because there is no one watching.  With Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLDB) you CAN watch them, so the experience is more like taking a test in class. I want to be clear, NOTHING will deter a determined student from cheating, it will only make it more difficult.  In addition, RLDB only works with the OAKS Quizzes tool and not with any other publishers’ sites, third-party sites, or Akindi.

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How does RLDB work?

LockDown Browser® is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment (a student’s computer) within OAKS Quizzes.  It has two tiers of restrictions to help secure your online test:

  1. Lockdown Browser only – this method locks the student into the quiz/test and prevents them from going anywhere on the computer or web, from taking screenshots, or from recording their screen.  It cannot prevent them from checking their phones or getting help from others in the room. 
  2.  Lockdown Browser + Webcam (Respondus Monitor) – this method locks the student into the quiz/test and prevents them from going anywhere on the computer or web, from taking screenshots, or from recording their screen. It also requires them to have a webcam on throughout the entire test, show their picture with a picture ID and show their testing area.  When the test is finished, you can look at the videos of anyone flagged as suspicious.

    *If you select this option and see a prompt that indicates you need to contact the administrator if you are interested in using it, just click Continue to Respondus Monitor.  You do not need to contact anyone to use this. 

So if you need more security, select option 2, if you need just a bit of security, choose option 1.

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Pros and Cons of RLDB

Pros

  • It secures the student’s computer so they cannot go to the web or your OAKS class to search for the answers.
  • It allows the instructor to “watch” the students take the test after the fact.
  • It helps ensure that the person taking the test is the actual student.

Cons

  • It doesn’t work on Chromebooks, only on Macs, Windows, and iPad machines.
  • It requires an application be loaded before the test can be taken so students should be informed of this in advance.
  • It can instill a feeling, amongst the students, that you don’t trust them which can harm community building efforts within the class.

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Important Best Practices

  • Students will NOT have access to Insert Stuff,  Insert Image, or Insert Quicklink options when taking a quiz so if you are using those questions types that require any of those options then you cannot use Respondus LockDownBrowser. 
  • Students need to be aware that they will have to download and install Respondus LockDown Browser and possibly disable certain settings (e.g., remote sharing) and apps (e.g., screen capture) before attempting the quiz. Knowing this, students should NOT wait right before the deadline to attempt the quiz, as this process may take 5-10 minutes or longer. A statement/warning should be included in OAKS, as well as in your syllabus. 
  • Consider letting students complete a practice quiz, with Respondus LDBM enabled, before their first graded quiz. Alternatively, you could enable Respondus LDBM on your Syllabus Quiz. 
  • Consider using this only for high-stakes tests and not for every quiz, test or assessment.

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[button link=”https://blogs.cofc.edu/tlttutorials/2020/08/13/respondus-lockdown-browser/” newwindow=”yes”] Watch our tutorials to learn how to use RLDB[/button]

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