Summer & Time to Catch Up on Reading

apple sits on stack of books

Summer reading for educators can lead to new ideas for Fall!

At our college, the Spring session is winding down and the heat of summer has been unencumbered by the calendar’s official start. So I find myself thankful for the days in the office when I can enjoy some AC and catch up on the work that always seems to be put by the wayside during busier times. That includes catching up on the stack of reading in my field of graphic design and art, and especially in teaching and learning.

To that end, as I read through some of the articles, I find myself saying “Yes!” I can relate to this situation. How can I adapt some of the suggestions they’re making to my own classroom?

Here are some samples:

  • Lessons from Improv acting for the classroom – Using the phrase “Yes, and…” the author, Kevin Brown from Lee University, suggests this technique from improv theatre for allowing a freer exchange and discussion in the classroom. The issue is that often, when a professor asks an open-ended question, they’re often focused on a defined answer that they already have in mind. This can lead to student shut-down. They know the teacher has an answer in mind, and the discussion is stilted and uncertain. However, by saying “Yes, and…” you can encourage a conversation that can lead to new possibilities and engage students more in the topic at hand. Read more here in the June/July 2017 issue of The Teaching Professor (subscription required – Mott employees should contact me).
  • New Group Approaches to Oral Exams – Tod Outlaw of Wayland Baptist University in Hawai’i has a rather unique approach he’s developed for helping students learn material in a more effective way through the use of oral exams. His concern was how to overcome both anxiety and the braindump effect where students simply don’t remember the material after the test. Employing a series of steps he’s developed, he is able to create an environment where students effectively are tested several times but in ways that don’t seem obvious until the day of the actual scheduled test. The groups work together to research information on the topics list he provides, they engage online via Blackboard, and then also have a brief but furious discussion prior to the oral exam. The results, he says, is that students actually retain the information and understand it better than just having them study for a standard written test. Read more here in the June/July 2017 issue of The Teaching Professor (subscription required – Mott employees should contact me).

For both of the above, I can easily see ways in which I could adapt them to my classroom in Art/Design where we normally do not see traditional written tests for primary grading. However, there are definitely details and topics where an oral exam built similar to the article’s outline could be useful in helping students retain information that’s important for their future development.

I’m looking forward to trying them both ideas in my classroom this fall! How about you? Have you come across some interesting articles with techniques that you intend to build on for your classroom? Share in the comments below, or email me!

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