There are a wealth of ways to present and practice content in the classroom. Choosing from the available methods depends on your objective and your audience. You’re looking for the activity or learning method that best matches what you want your students to be able to demonstrate at the end of the lesson.
Besides the standby of readings and PowerPoints, consider these options:
Discussion Questions are good for exploring concepts. An open-ended question can foster exchange of ideas between students, leading to examining an idea in greater depth and complexity. Consider the following when developing questions:
- Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom
- A Syllabus Tip: Embed Big Questions
- On Classroom Discussion
- How Many Faculty Discussion Posts Each Week?
- The Role you Play in Online Discussions
- Tips for Using Chat as an Instructional Tool
- Tech Project Questions to Ask: Why? Who? What? When? and How?
Lab or hands-on work are commonly seen in the sciences because the student needs to know how to conduct the experiment. But like discussion questions, hands-on work encourages students to share ideas because labs are frequently done in groups and can also be incorporated into the humanities or social sciences.
- Group Work that Works
- Five Things Students Can Learn through Group Work
- Designing Group Work
- Group Work Recommendations
- How to Design Effective Online Group Work Activities
When considering how you’re going to present material or ask students to practice material, don’t limit yourself to the tried-and-true methods. Experiment with different methods to see what generates which result. Liza Ryan shares what happened when she let student interests guide their final biology projects.
In Spring 2013, Dr. Stan Vittetoe sent an article to faculty that suggested the use of music in the classroom to welcome students into the classroom and for relaxation during the break. As a science teacher, I didn’t see immediately how I could meet this challenge, but tried it out in BSC 1005 Biology for non-science major class that semester.
Dean Brown provided a couple of songs to play before class and during our 10 minute break at the half time of this two hour and 40 minute lecture. By virtue of his time, interest, and passion an expert in music, Dean sent new songs each week and built a library of “biomusic” over the course of the semester, creating at least one of the arrangements himself. Justin Hagerty, a poet with a deep interest in theater, then stepped in to write lyrics to Dean’s songs. Jennifer Thorp, a sign language interpretation major, then asked if she could sign the poems to the class.
The article on music in the classroom was the seed to invite each student to bring something they were passionate about into the classroom. The goal was to connect non-science students to their biology classroom. Catherine MacDowall is a vegan and is passionate about genetically modified foods. She prepared a presentation for our unit on the digestive system. Christina Synodis, whose goal is to become an SPC professor, was my right hand in assisting with the course and helping each student create their own active participation in the classroom.
The project grew to include everyone in the class and culminated in a website created by technology management major Lisa Milian. Students posted each week on Facebook for this class and at the end of the semester, we voted on the Top Five. It was very difficult to choose because the students did such a tremendous job that there were so many incredible articles and information to choose among.
Thank you, Liza, for this great example of how to incorporate different teaching and learning methods for our students! Share what teaching methodologies you use with your peers in the comments section below!