Friday, January 12, 2007

Teaching strategies

As I mentioned yesterday, I am trying to make my BIG lecture class more interactive this semester. Today was the second round and I think it also went pretty well. I had more actual lecture time today, because I had to explain some complicated material that wasn't entirely covered in the book. Here are things I've observed over this week:

1) I think I am too timid/nice/empathetic to specifically call on students during class. I need to work on this- I am expecting them to read and I have a seating chart. I could (should)? ask specific people about questions on the reading, but I am afraid! The class has almost 100 students and I know that some students would not feel comfortable speaking in front of their classmates. I don't want students to be afraid to show up if they didn't get to the reading, but I do want to encourage them to get it done. I will be working on this over the semester, so stay tuned...

2) I don't have to 'cover' everything I expect them to know for exams during lecture. I've always 'known' this, but this is the first semester that I am really practicing it. I am going to be touching on the most important concepts in class, but they will have to read their books if they want to succeed on the exams.

3) I actually know enough about this topic that I don't need to have text on the slides. I don't know why I never realized this before- I've only taught this class (or its equivalent) 17 times over the past 11 years*, but it really hadn't occurred to me.

4) Changing my textbook may not be as tough as I thought, since I am only putting figures on the slides for class. I am also writing on the board a lot more than I used to. I think it take some time to get used to switching back and forth between slides and chalk (dimming lights, etc.)

I am optimistic at this point, so we'll see. Enjoy the long weekend, everyone. Cheers!

*In case that timeline doesn't jive with what you know about me- I taught part-time as an adjunct between Master's and PhD.


USJogger said...

I am also too empathetic/shy/whatever to call on students out of the blue. One way that I've gotten over it is to put all the students names on 3x5 cards, and draw a card at random. That's less personal, because they perceive that they had the same chance as everyone else. When I call on someone, I make a note on the card, and then make sure that I call on everyone two or three times during a semester. That would be harder with 100 students.

Addy N. said...

Hey Jogger: I like that idea! Maybe I should do something random like that, too. Thanks for the tip- I liked your lecture photo today- that cracked me up! I also like it when you are in black-and-white photos... You have a fun blog...