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Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Further Five-Minute Feedback

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Whatever teaching methods you use it’s not always easy to know whether your crystal-clear, carefully-crafted, teaching has actually been understood by all of your students.

This is something I’ve previously addressed with the original Five-Minute Feedback Form that allows you to quickly and efficiently collect some very simple, useful, information about the most important things students think they’ve learnt during a class.

One drawback with this Form, however, is that although it can be used to inform your teaching – are students taking-away from a class the most important points you’ve made about a topic and, if not, what can I do about it? – the format means you can’t easily explore deeper questions:

• What are my students learning?
• What are they not learning?
• Does my teaching always have clarity?
• How could something be taught better?
• What could students do to improve their understanding?
• What teaching techniques do my students like?
• What teaching techniques don’t my students like?

To remedy this omission, the Further Five-Minute Feedback Form – an idea I’ve adapted slightly from “The One-Minute Paper” developed by the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence” – lets you ask different types of questions depending on the specific feedback you want for each lesson.

• On some occasions you might want to ask a direct question to test student understanding (“What did you not understand in this lesson?” or “Was there anything in the lesson you found confusing?”). For this type of question where you might need to do some follow-up teaching with individual students, there is space on the form for them to add their name.

• At other times you might want to ask more general questions (“How could the lesson have been improved?) that don’t require students to identify themselves by name.

The Further Feedback Form follows much the same general principle as the original Form: you set-aside 5 minutes at the end of each class to allow sFurther Feedback tudents time to think about and complete the Form.

While it’s possible to use both Forms at the same time this is probably too much to ask of your students – and having to sift through a lot of feedback at the end of each class probably defeats the objective of the exercise.

If you keep the time students spend giving feedback to a minimum, a short, regular and expected session that closes the class for example, you’re more-likely to get honest and useful responses – particularly if your students can see you listening to and acting on their feedback. (more…)

Learning Mats: A Generic Version

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

The Learning Maps we’ve previously posted have rightly proven popular, both because of their quality and because they meet a need for tools that help students to structure their work in a simple and effective way – one that has the added bonus of providing a tightly-organised and highly visual method of revision.

Good as they are – and I’d certainly recommend downloading them to see how they meet your teaching needs – they’re generally designed for a specific (AQA) Specification and while they can be edited to meet the requirements of different Specifications, students and teachers, this involves time and effort that might not always be readily available.

This led me to wonder about creating a generic “one-size-fits-all” version of the Mats – one that involved teachers doing absolutely no work whatsoever in terms of creating Mats that could be used in a variety of situations and ways across a range of different Specifications.

What I’ve tried to do in this Mat Template, therefore, is focus on what I think are the key elements students would need to cover for a good knowledge and understanding of a concept, theory or method (although, to be honest, I’m not sure about how well the version I’ve designed would work with the latter). In basic terms, this might involve:

• Describing a concept / theory / method.
• Identifying its key proponents, critics and studies.
• Identifying its strengths and weaknesses.

(more…)

Structuring Actions: Classroom Discussion Strategies

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

One of the first things we usually teach students in Introductory Sociology classes is the idea that our actions are structured (the basic “roles, norms, values” etc. stuff) and classroom discussions can be an integral part of this teaching and learning process – encouraging students to think about what they’re learning and developing their knowledge and skills by exchanging ideas with others in a similar situation.

Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, all the important “structure and action” stuff tends to go out of the window when it comes to actually managing discussions – and it can be frustrating when you fail to ask questions that open-up discussion or, worse-still, end up having an exchange of views with the loudest, most-opinionated, students while the rest of the class twiddle their thumbs (or, more-likely, surreptitiously text their friends).

Luckily, someone like Jennifer Gonzalez has thought more deeply than me about this problem and actually done something about it – the upshot of which is “15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging”. (more…)

Really Simple Series: Five-Minute Feedback Form

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

5mfbformGetting feedback from students can help you:

  1. Check student understanding at an individual level.
  2. Reflect on your teaching in terms of how lesson content is conveyed and understood.

But it can also have practical and theoretical drawbacks:

• In terms of the former, for example, it can be time-consuming to create and interpret.

• In terms of the latter there are potential expectancy problems – students effectively tell you what they think you want to hear.

One way to avoid these problems is to develop a quick and simple way of gathering feedback – and this is where the five-minute feedback form comes into play. The form is given to students to complete at the end of a lesson and allows you to gather evaluation data in a way that focuses on identifying:

(more…)

Psychology: Teacher’s Toolkit

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The Teacher’s Toolkit grew out of discussions and contributions on the otoolkitld TES Psychology forum and while it’s been through a number of revisions this, I think, is probably the latest (2013) version.

In basic terms it’s a massive (100-odd page) compendium of teaching ideas and activities aimed at A-level Psychology and loosely arranged around categories like:

  • Lesson Notes
  • Starters and Plenaries
  • Introductions and Simulations
  • Studies and Theories
  • Strategies (self-and peer assessment etc.).

The vast majority of the activities are simple and straightforward to grasp and put into practice (a typical activity is effectively explained in a short paragraph) and the range of the collective contributions from numerous teachers is truly impressive.

Download Toolkit

Sociologists?

While the Toolkit is aimed at Psychology teachers (the clue is in the title) and some of the activities are aimed specifically at teaching and learning explicitly psychological theories, concepts and studies, there’s still a great deal here that Sociology teachers can take from the Toolkit (albeit with the need for a bit of tinkering to orientate activities towards sociological interests and concerns).

Flipped Classrooms

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

The Flipped Classroom is something of a rarity in contemporary educational thinking and practice in that the concept is based on a reasonably-sound argument (at least as far as something like a-level study is concerned), namely that in an exam system designed to test a range of weighted skills (knowledge, understanding, application, evaluation…) it makes sense to organise teaching time around the best possible ways to teach and learn these skills. In other words, where something like evaluation is highly-rewarded in the exam it makes sense to devote precious classroom time to developing and honing this skill, rather than using said time to focus on something (like acquiring knowledge) that can be usefully carried-on outside the classroom via various forms of guided learning.

While flipping the classroom may (or may not) be “the future”, 10 Reasons Flipped Classrooms Could Change Education is an interesting overview of why you might want to look at this idea further (and includes some reasons why you might not…).

Surveying teachers in the classroom: Blended Learning on the Rise

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Short article and infographic on how teachers are using different types of technology for blended learning.

Flipped Classrooms

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

If you’re looking to flip your classroom anytime soon, you might find this article interesting (and even if you’re not, you might still find it useful if you use video in the classroom).