Getting students to speak up in class remains a challenge
for me as an instructor. I know that active teaching and engaged learning
includes generating lively discussions among the students, but it's still not
easy for me to achieve.
When I throw out a question to the students and get nothing
back, it's like that feeling I have when I'm trying to write a report and feel
stymied by the blank page. But after almost 14 years of teaching, I'm learning
a few tricks for sparking discussion among students.
One of those tricks is a technology tool that I find very
easy to use.
My Communication department colleague Kevin Boon introduced
me to Mentimeter
as a way to jumpstart a classroom discussion. It helps me avoid that dreaded
“blank page" feeling when the students are looking at me but saying
Mentimeter is similar to Kahoot! but with some added
features. I've used the 'rank order' option with good success and I know that
the Word Cloud option works well, too.
Regardless of the form you choose, the
tool is low-stress and high-impact.
With the response data visible for everyone to see, the
'blank page' problem disappears and students respond to what they see on the
screen rather than to the instructor. It's remarkable to me how that visual
prompt fuels their willingness to speak up.
Roberta Anderson, in the Applied Computer Education
department, recently used a similar approach to start a discussion about
resumes, but her technique doesn't require Internet access. She asked students
to pull out a piece of paper, she set the timer for 1 minute, and she asked
students to jot down everything they knew about resumes. The result? Every
student had something on their page to help them contribute to the classroom
What's your go-to technique for getting students to open up
and contribute their thoughts and ideas to the classroom conversation?
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Photo by ASHLEY EDWARDS on Unsplash
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