Week 3 Teaching Tips

Hello Faculty,

Welcome to the third week of the semester – we hope you are well into the swing of things. We will also continue to provide quick and easy strategies to break up your lectures and engage students in the material and with each others.  This week’s Tips will also start an exploration of how to make groups work better in your classes. 

How can I break up my lectures to engage students? 
  • If you are using slides, periodically include discussion or multiple-choice questions​.  You could have students “vote” for the best answer to multiple-choice questions by using finger voting, teaching them sign-language letters, using voting cards.  If students vote for more than one answer, have them talk to a student with a different answer to “convince them you are right.”  If you want to use smart/web devices, check out Socrative (http://www.socrative.com/) or Poll Everywhere (http://www.polleverywhere.com/); you will likely have enough students with devices that you could have them in groups of 2-4 students
  • Have students write exam questions based on the material so far.  You can have them do this without names then pass them around the class so students can practice with these.  You can also collect them as a way to get feedback on how students are understanding the material and to use for your exams to save you the work of writing questions.

How can I help groups work better in my classes? 

Many of has been a part of groups when we took classes or tried using groups in the classes we teach, and some of these groups worked better than others, and this might prevent us from using groups when we teach.  But, research shows that having students work together can improve learning, retention, create community, etc.  To help improve group work in your classes, we will explore the five elements of cooperative learning starting this week.

(1) What is cooperative learning?  

“Cooperative Learning involves structuring classes around small groups that work together in such a way that each group member’s success is dependent on the group’s success.” (From: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/index.html, see this site to learn more)

(2) What are the key elements to help groups work better?  (We will explore one each week)

“Positive Interdependence: You’ll know when you’ve succeeded in structuring positive interdependence when students perceive that they “sink or swim together.” This can be achieved through mutual goals, division of labor, dividing materials, roles, and by making part of each student’s grade dependent on the performance of the rest of the group. Group members must believe that each person’s efforts benefit not only him- or herself, but all group members as well.”  (From: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/whatis.html#elements)

  • Have group assignments result in a group score
  • Create activities for the groups to bond such as coming up with a team name, ice-breaker activities, starting with a no-points team building activity (e.g., the marshmallow challenge – http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html), projects that require creativity such as making a visual or model
  • Give each person in the group a different reading or different supplies so that they need to work together to get all of the information or create a project
  • Use team roles such as recorder, reporter, manager, time keeper, summarizer, safety officer, etc.
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