Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Recipe for a Fun Section Meeting

This started as a response to one of my fellow gradstudents when she displayed frustration with her students after they were unresponsive in an early morning section meeting. First I told her to make them dance and sing. Then I wrote this, but it became too long to just be a comment on her blog, so I decided it can be a post on mine.

OK. Here's a real suggestion for sections:

When students come in, tell them that they need to do a little writing and that you will collect it at the end of class (sometimes I use these to take role). Write instructions on the board:

  1. Spend 4-5 minutes brainstorming themes from the readings.
  2. Write down 3 "significant" or "memorable" details from the reading (with page references or quotes).
  3. Then I usually end it with one more definition type question that relates to something they SHOULD know at this point, but many are still confused about (for example, in my Russian History class: "What's the difference between a peasant and a serf?").

After giving them enough time to do this stuff (I love watching them writing and thinking), make them share their themes as a big group. Write them on the board. If their really reluctant to share, make them go in a circle. Then make them get in small groups to share their details from the readings and talk about how they relate to the themes on the board. After they've had time to share, make each group report on what they talked about (Encourage them during this point with statements like: Did you come-up with similar details from the text? If not, were they related to similar themes? etc, etc.) Encourage other groups to ask questions of the group that is presenting. Then, after all groups have shared, make some nice transition statements to move them to the last question they had to write about. Make them turn to the person next to them and share their answers. Then, after they shared, ask them what the answer is. After they figure it out as a group, ask them why this is an important issue...

Then class time is probably up.

As you can imagine, there are many possible variations on this recipe for a section meeting.


Oy, why did I write this? Now someone else has to tell me how to concentrate and be productive when I'm supposed to be reading student papers.

As for knitting, I'm done knitting both scarves, and now each just needs a little finishing so that they can be pretty. Pictures and finished object posts to come.


Anonymous said...

That's one awesome recipe! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You are such a good teacher!

Batty said...

Yech, grading! I thought I hated nothing more than in-class exams (and my orals... painful!) until I got to grade student papers and handwritten exams on a tight deadline. Had to sit in class while they were writing, too... wish I'd taken up knitting before then!

You're very conscientious. They should be glad to have you.