Thursday, April 24, 2014

Content Classes, minus the PPT and Lecture death

When I cruise by the open classroom doors of some of my colleagues, I can see the power-point screens of death.  12 point, full-sentences, no titles or subtitles.  What is the main point?  Who could possibly tell.  I'm quite sure even those fluent in Korean probably don't know either.  Combined with this is a teacher, standing at the computer, either reading word for word from said slide, or reading from the textbook.  It really, truly does seem like death.  Students are either sleeping or using their phone and maybe only 10% are actually paying attention and taking notes. 

This semester, I have the content class thing going on since I'm teaching advanced writing and presentations/interviews.  Avoiding PPT/lecture death is totally doable!  Here are my top tips:

1. Make your PPT slides simple!  Then make them even simpler.  Main points only!  Refer students to the relevant pages in the textbook for more information. Make them available online so students can just pay attention and listen and not worry about taking notes.

2. DO NOT READ word for word from either the slides or the textbook.  People can read much faster than you can speak.  If I have a page or two in the textbook I want students to absorb, I'll throw up 4 or 5 question on a slide.  Then, I'll give them 6-10 minutes (depending on density and difficulty) to read the pages and then think about answers to the question. 

Then, they close their books and do the little "test" with their partner.  Then, I will very briefly hit the main points. 

3. Use a variety of activities besides just lecturing.  I do the reading on your own/answer questions with a partner as previously mentioned.  I also use a million and one other things, such as group discussion, doing an exercise in the book and then discussing the answers, standing up and finding a new partner to talk about something, warm-up discussion question, watching a video and talking about xyz, worksheets, etc. 

4. Teach what is relevant to the tests!  If students know that they have to know the stuff, they'll have  A LOT more incentive to pay attention.

5. Make announcements/give important information each class, but at random times.  Beginning/middle/end.  That way, students will be far less likely to sneak out.

Lectures are actually one of the worst ways to teach, if you actually want students to retain any information.

RESULTS:  in my classes, nobody sleeps.  I quite rarely notice anyone sneaking out for smoke breaks, etc.  Almost nobody is on their phone.  Sure, some of them look a little bored sometimes, but that's not necessarily something I have control over.  A lot of people shut-down" with the English only thing.  When I compare that to my colleagues, I think that I'm doing pretty well :)

No comments: