November 12, 2010

Could We Hear from Someone Else, Please?

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Generating participation in a large class discussion is fraught with teaching land mines. We can call on people who raise their hands, but too often it is always the same people. We can ask to hear from someone else and risk offending those who have been volunteering, so that there are even fewer hands. We can call on people randomly and risk embarrassing those who aren’t prepared or don’t understand. Maybe that will motivate them to prepare, or it may just be reflected in our teaching evaluations. I’d like to share an exercise that broadens class participation and offers a way around these potential risks.



April 19, 2010

Do You Talk Too Much? Tips for Facilitating Classroom Discussions

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Sometimes it’s good to revisit an instructional standby. Discussion is a staple in most teachers’ repertoire of strategies, but it frequently disappoints. So few students are willing to participate and they tend to be the same ones. The students who do contribute often do so tentatively, blandly, and pretty much without anything that sounds like interest or conviction. On some days it’s just easier to present the material.




June 17, 2009

Using Twitter to Facilitate Classroom Discussions

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As a history major I usually found most of my history courses pretty interesting. Certainly some were more interesting than others but I think a lot of that had more to do with the instructor than the content. Of course not every student who takes a history class course plans to major in it, which is why I love it when I hear about a history professor (or any educator for that matter) doing innovative things to engage students in one of those “core courses” many students often dread.


March 27, 2009

Creating a Class Participation Rubric

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After years of stating my expectations for tutorial participation orally, I have developed a rubric that I think both improves my accountability as an assessor and provides my students with a clear sense of my expectations for class discussions. It also makes clear my focus in the small group setting: creating a “learners-centered,” as opposed to a “learner-centered,” environment.