Archive for the ‘Teaching tips’ Category.

Team learning

Divide students into groups and have each team research a different component of a project or subject. Now reorganize everyone into new groups that include one member from each original team. Students in these new groups share what their team learned, allowing everyone in the class to hear about the entire subject.

This ensures that all students have the opportunity to present their findings, rather than hiding behind their peers – people learn more when they have to explain the information to others. It would also be helpful to have them post their findings to a class wiki so everyone has access to the material at any time.

Jump-starting class discussion

You ask a question and the class responds with…nothing. Awkward silence. They’re afraid they might be wrong, maybe not quite sure which direction you’re headed. So, pair them off and let them bounce ideas around for a few minutes. Then let groups share their thoughts with the class. Most students are far more comfortable with this approach and are more willing to engage in the conversation.

Assessment & grading doesn’t always = learning

Assessment & grades: Practice + feedback = learning. Testing + grading ≠ learning. Give students opportunities to try tasks and skills without worrying about grades. Provide feedback to help them do better – then you can grade an assignment which they should be prepared for.


Rich media projects

Instead of requiring a paper, have them develop a rich media project – text, photos, graphics, video, audio. There are lots of tools to do this, many of them free on the web, and most students already have them on their computers. They can create a presentation, podcast, movie, interactive time line…the list goes on. We live in a multimedia world, so why do we always revert to paper-only work in school?


Writing exam questions

When writing exam questions, make sure students aren’t unfairly cornered into regurgitating the exact answer you’re looking for. Sometimes questions are straightforward, as in 2+2=4. Many times you’d be surprised at 1) how they read the question differently, and 2) how many ways you could approach a certain question. I finally realized that when I had to explain to students “yes, but that’s not what I was looking for there”, I had created a dilemma.