Teaching Tips

Spring in full swing

Welcome back from the winter break!  From the hustle and bustle in the hallways, it’s clear that students are happy to be back.  These beginning moments are so important for our courses because they influence a student’s choice about the course.  There are other influences, such as a student being required to take the course, that impact the classroom environment, but we, as faculty, do have a primary role in encouraging students from beginning to end.  Our design encourages students to engage or disengage. 

During our pre-spring workshops, faculty were able to attend several sessions of their choosing.  I chose to attend sessions on writing, active learning, flipped classrooms, and new technologies.  Each of these sessions provided me with some take-away that I am excited to integrate or have already implemented, so I wanted to share a few gems that have worked for me just from day 1!

  • List of qualifiers: while this is not the actual name of the activity, I thought it sounded accurate.  Have students write down a list of phrases or words that they feel represents them as individuals.  Students will share this list, so they will need a reminder to write down what they’re comfortable with others knowing about themselves.  After the students have several minutes to write, they take turns reading their lists allowed.  This can happen in a circle or even by popcorn style (where students self-volunteer who reads next).
  • Word summary: again this is not the actual name of the activity, but it’s my blogpost, so it’s what I am naming this activity. J This strategy can be a get-to-know-you activity, or it could even been used as a formative assessment tool.  Give the students a prompt and have them fill in the word that they feel best represents them.  The prompt I used was, “The word that I would use to describe literacy is _____________.”  What the students shared was very telling for me about their fears, excitement, engagement, and more regarding literacy.  I’m planning on using this at the beginning and end of some classes as a reflection about the activity.
  • 60 sec pop up: This is another get-to-know-you activity, as well as a great community builder. This could also be used as a content related activity or a mini-assessment.  Most importantly, it encourages simple, yet effective, movement in your class.  For this activity, I read statements to the students and then they were to stand if they were true.  They would then sit between each statement.  At the end of my statements, I encouraged the students to create a few statements that they wanted to know about their peers.  Here are all of the statements the students were asked:
    • I am in WRIT 120.
    • I am in a sport.
    • My favorite food at the pub is a milkshake.
    • I know my major.
    • I am a new student.
    • I am a freshman or sophomore.
    • I am a junior or senior.
    • I like to read for pleasure (when I can).
    • I have siblings.
    • I like to dance (salsa).
    • I like diverse music.

Feel free to use any of these strategies for your courses whether in the beginning, middle, or end of the semester.  If you’re curious about how to adapt these strategies, feel free to contact me.  Also, post below if you have a gem that you’d like to share!

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