Category: Collaborative Teaching Ideas

The posts in this category will primarily describe various collaborative teaching ideas which might be useful in the classroom.

Introducing Critical Thinking into the Classroom

by Rose Mary Foncree

(the below is an introduction to the webinar Rose Mary led on this subject which can be found HERE.   The webinar presents the argument for introducing critical thinking into the classroom and provides examples and ideas for doing so.)

For many of us who teach college students, we have likely found ourselves surprised at the lack of critical thinking among our students, especially as reflected in essays and classroom discussions.  When first considering the topic of critical thinking in the classroom, I began to reflect on my own college education and discovered that the courses I had taken for granted as basic requirements for the freshman and sophomore years had vanished from the required curriculum of most colleges and universities.  For example, I had not realized that an introduction to philosophy and a required course in logic had virtually disappeared as required courses.

At the high school level—where many of our interests and abilities are discovered, shaped, and formed—I learned that there is now a dearth of speaking and debate instruction—a consequence of budget-cutting as well as the desire to avoid introducing controversial political topics.  In my own case, I learned almost everything I know about thinking and argumentation from serving as a debater in high school and in college.

Here at Belhaven, we have a faculty mandate to integrate the Christian faith throughout the curriculum.  Foundational to this integration is the understanding that education (in its primary sense) is the acquisition of knowledge by which, secondarily, one becomes wise.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version).  As John Patrick of St. Augustine College has written, a liberal education “is an apprenticeship  in wisdom.”

But how to introduce critical thinking into the classroom remains a challenge for everyone in higher education.  We can certainly teach our students how to identify and avoid logical fallacies.  We can introduce them to inductive and deductive reasoning.  But perhaps more importantly, students must be taught how to find evidence for their assertions and arguments.  We must teach them to take charge of their minds by basing their beliefs and ideas on facts, logic, and reason.

Webinar: Best Practices to Inspire Student Engagement

by Dr. Warren Matthews, Mrs. Kim Priesmeyer, Dr. Ray Smith, & Dr. John Song

Four of Belhaven’s full-time faculty came together to share their ideas on how to increase student engagement in the classroom.  Their ideas are bulleted below but the real value will come when you take the time to watch this WEBINAR.  Each one brings new insights to the subject, applying their ideas both to online and on-site courses.  If you are like me you will be taking notes practically from the first word.  This was a great webinar with some take-away for everyone.  It will also be available in the Faculty Resources area of this Blog, under Webinars

John Song, Full-time Bible Faculty, Atlanta

“My personal contributions consisted of some basic but hopefully helpful principles. The three principles were: (1) relationships, (2) relevance, and (3) reflection.”

Kim Priesmeyer, Full-time English Faculty, Houston

  1. Send out a reminder announcement sent out each week through Canvas regarding what’s due next class meeting.
  2. Spend a few minutes each night with each student giving feedback on writing (require that students bring some writing to class to review before a paper is due)
  3. List nightly objectives/agenda on the whiteboard with approx time to spend (ex:  peer review with first draft, 30 mins)
  4. Show APA videos from Resources during class so we’re all on the same page about APA

Warren Matthews, Full-time Business Faculty, Houston

  1.  Effective feedback is very important, not only in grading but also in class discussion
  2. Socratic questioning is important to add value in the classroom.
  3. In an online class, be visible on a regular basis in the classroom
  4. Share our professional experience and insights.  Give examples from real world situations that are relevant to the course.
  5. Refer to current events as appropriate to apply the theory of the classroom to the real world.
  6. Inspire students by recognizing excellence in discussions and assignments.

Ray Smith, Full-time Business Faculty, Chattanooga

  1. Use of Wall Street Journal
  2. Current movie clips representing text topics
  3. CWV – use of entire books or topics that follow the full course
  4. Technology or mobile devices – turn them into assets rather than distractions
  5. Use small groups (2 or 3) to respond to questions instead of instructor merely quoting text or giving opinion

After the webinar was over, I received this addition from Nick Walters, Adjunct Instructor

Dr. Upchurch – Thank you for setting up these monthly webinars.  Even though many of us have the spiritual gift of teaching, it doesn’t mean we have cornered the market on how to do it.  These webinars have been very helpful.

Setting the Table . . . Insights on Andragogy from IWU

There are a lot of resources available for Instructors to draw from to improve their ability to achieve student learning both in and out of the classroom.  At this LINK you will find an excellent resource from Indiana Wesleyan University Faculty Development Blog.  This particular session deals with group work within the classroom and how to organize and manage group work effectively.

In this series on “Setting the Table” from Indiana Wesleyan you will find other presentations which will hopefully inspire you to try something new and see your role in a fresh light.

Related Webinars

Mind Maps for Enhanced Student Learning

To my way of thinking, mind maps are probably one of the most effective and least used tools for instruction.  I base this on the fact that most people are visual learners who validate the quote “a picture is worth a thousand words” day in and day out and who speak in terminology that reference a visual perspective, e.g. “I see” meaning “I understand.”

A mind map is a representation of information arranged in a visually stimulating format which sparks creativity and retention.  For instance, if I wanted to start a conversation about Communication, I might begin by framing it with a mind map identifying the basic types of communication.  This has the added benefit of providing structure and organization of thought to the instructional process and allows for the ability to focus on specific satellite groupings individually as well as to think about the links which might exist between different nodes.  An expansion of just one of the satellites begins to spark creativity.  Now I’m beginning to see connections within the subject and how different pieces fit into the overall concept.

The really nice thing about using mind maps in the classroom is their versatility as small group work around a table with 2-4 people, or with the entire class on the whiteboard, or even as an assignment to make sense out of a reading assignment.  Mind maps make a great test preparation tool whether used by an individual or in a group.

The images for the mind maps included in this post come from Mind Mup which is part of the Google App family and easy to install from the Google Web Store from inside Chrome.  It is free and easy to use.    This is software which keeps things organized, easy to print and share.  There are various YouTube tutorials for MindMup and other mind map applications.

Another nice thing about mind maps, however, is that you don’t have to use any software to get the benefit of what this tool has to offer.  You can have a student go to the white board and create a basic mind map of a subject and then have other students add to the mind map or explain the linkages between different satellite groupings.

It is great for note taking, it inspires creativity, is an effective tool for student engagement, fosters collaboration, enhances retention of the subject matter, and is just plain fun.  I strongly encourage you to consider using a mind map in one of your classes soon.  Let me know how it turns out.

3 New Google Drive Features Teachers Should Know About

I know some of you are using Google documents for collaboration purposes with your students and I thought you would find this article from Educational Technology Interesting.  I particularly like the first feature which allows for easy inclusion of citations in the documents.

Check out the article: 3 New Google Drive Features Teachers Should Know About

Visual Teaching Strategies

by Dr. Cynthia Wilkins

Rently I had the opportunity to present a webinar on the topic Visual Teaching Strategies.  I opened with an overview of John Hattie’s theory of visible learning (Click HERE for more information on his theory).  In the webinar some examples of teacher actions and instructional techniques along with their effect sizes were presented.  Some of these techniques were considered “tried and true” but were surprising in that the effect size was much lower than expected.  The webinar moved into a presentation of characteristics of the millennial student – how their lives are different from earlier generations of students, and how teaching can be adapted to accommodate these differences.  Four examples of how technology can be effectively integrated into college-level instruction were presented. At the end of the webinar I answered some of the questions which had been posted when participants registered for the webinar, such as how modifications to PowerPoint and other presentations could be modified to reduce the cognitive load, or overload, on students with a goal of helping them retain more information.

Participants responded to points in the webinar via chat messages with questions and ideas.  A one page summary of effective PowerPoint development ideas and a PowerPoint of ways to integrate technology into instruction were offered to the participants and I would be happy to send this to you if interested (email:  cwilkins@belhaven.edu).

Visual teaching strategies is a perfect match for the adult studies program as it meets the learning style of most adults.  I hope you will take time to watch the webinar.

Great Example for Classroom Use

I just say this post on a blog that I’m following and wanted to share it with you:  Steve Jobs on Communicating Your Core Values

The reasons why I’ve re-posted it here through the link above are:

  1. It is about a key figure in our current economy/society discussing a major brand which our students can identify with.
  2. It speaks to the fundamental importance of core values which can provide an interesting discussion.
  3. In the last sections of the article the author turns to a discussion of message and presentation, which is relevant for marketing/branding discussions.

One way I might use this in class is to either print out copies of the article or have prepared a QR code of the link to put on the screen so students can easily look it up on their mobile devices (How to easily create QR codes).  Divide the class into groups of 3-4 and assign each group to analyze the article.  Assign one group to focus on the core values and cross relevance to their lives/occupations.  Assign another group to focus on the manner of presenting the message and discuss how Job’s approach in delivering the message contributed to the Brand, potential effects for the company and then cross relevance to their own companies and their message. You can duplicate these groups if you have more students.  Then bring the class back together to debrief each topic: the core values, and the message. Remember if you don’t debrief the time spent in these groups and add your observations it is not as effective.

I’m sure you can think of other ways to use this article – please respond to this post with your ideas so others can benefit.

Blessings,

Rick

Teachers Guide to Using Google Forms

The article below comes from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.  They do an great job on providing information to educators about technology that will enhance the classroom experience, as well as ideas about how to use technology more effectively for teaching.

This particular article deals with Google forms.  You may remember this being touched on in one of our webinars: Google Docs in the Classroom.   Google forms is a powerful application for conducting polls, gathering information, etc.  I think if you take the time to read through this guide a lot of ideas about how you can use it will come to mind.

If you have any questions or would like some personal instruction on using google forms, or just want to brainstorm on a teaching idea, don’t hesitate to contact me: rupchurch@belhaven.edu

Teachers Guide to Using Google Forms

Google Forms is a powerful tool with huge educational potential for teachers and educators. Besides being free and easy to use, Forms works across different devices and is seamlessly integrated with other Drive services such as Docs and Spreadsheets. As a teacher, you can use Forms for a variety of purposes including: planning an event, making surveys and polls, creating quizzes, collecting feedback and other information from students and many more.  READ MORE

Although this is a separate article from Educational Technology, it bears on the above in that it shows you how to set up forms so that you can be notified when students submit responses to the form(s) you have created.

Read about this here

Strategy for Using Peer Reviews to Improve Student Papers

By Kim Priesmeyer
Full Time Faculty, Belhaven Houston

As an instructor who assigns a lot of writing, I’m always looking for ways to engage students in peer review.  However, just telling students to “peer review each other’s papers” can be unproductive, or even worse, dull.  Typically, students don’t know what to do with those papers, and comments can be uninspiring.

One way to bring energy and effectiveness to the process is something called Round Robin Peer Review (also available on the Faculty Resources tab under “Other Resources).  It’s pretty easy for any instructor to use, and it can be modified for any assignment depending on the requirements.  It keeps students and papers moving, and it gives peer reviewers a specific focus.  Here are the basics:

  1. Pass out the peer review form and have each student write his name at the top where it says “writer’s name.”
  1. Tell students to pass their paper and their form to the right. They should now be holding someone else’s paper and form.
  1. Inform students that they will be given 10 mins. to critique just the first category on the peer review form. Set a timer.
  1. When the timer goes off, students will pass the paper and form to the right. The next peer reviewer will critique only the second category for 10 mins.  And so on…

Ways to modify for your course:

  • Change the categories to peer review
  • Set different time limits for each session
  • Provide critique expectations (for example, I might require a three-sentence critique minimum)

Ways to coach students before the process begins:

  • Model the process with a couple of volunteers
  • Provide examples of “critique” comments that are specific and useful
  • Tell students it’s OK for the peer reviewer and writer to communicate during the process
  • Prepare students for constructive criticism: it’s not about complimenting each other; it’s about improved writing
  • Tell students they’re not required to make suggested changes, but they must at least consider them
  • Give students permission to write on each other’s papers; peer review isn’t always neat and tidy

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.  You can email me at kpriesmeyer@belhaven.edu

Collaboration is More Than Busy Work

I know there are some who are reading this whose opinion of collaborative exercises is low, that is assuming they read this at all!  I have to confess that I have seen some collaborative exercises/assignments that really were nothing more than busywork, or worse.  It is a fact that any collaborative exercise or assignment that doesn’t have clear learning outcomes probably fits that description.

However, I’m glad to say, that is not the norm.  When well designed and thought through, collaborative exercises/assignments are powerful tools to achieve student learning, particularly with adults.  There are quite a few posts in this category already here on the faculty blog (simply click on the Collaborative Teaching Ideas link under Categories to the right) and many more examples of excellent activities can be found by searching the web.

But I want to reinforce the importance of having clear learning outcomes before adding these activities.  I’ve said this before and I truly believe it, collaborative teaching can feel like controlled chaos, and sometimes only marginally controlled!  Without the boundaries of clear learning outcomes, the can quickly activities deteriorate into a waste of classroom time.

It takes some time to effective plan and implement these activities – which is one of the reasons I think many Instructors eschew them entirely or find them ineffective when they do try them.  Planning the outcomes, and then designing the activity so that it achieves the outcomes, including the debriefing which is a big part of the learning, can make connections for adult learners that just don’t happen through lecture.

So here is the process I use:

  1. What is the subject or topic that I want to reinforce/teach?
  2. What do I want the student to walk away knowing? This is the learning outcome and I put this down in a clearly written sentence.
  3. Think about what learning activity can I use which will get the students to engage the topic or subject.  Sometimes it is a hands on experience, other times it requires movement, other times it can be problem based or through role playing or debates.  There really are so many options that it is hard to list them all.  I have included a longer list under Faculty Resources/White Papers titled Collaborative Teaching Options.
  4. Work out the plan for implementing the exercise in class including resources you need to bring with you and how much time it will take.  It usually takes a few times to get the time figured out correctly.
  5. Conduct the exercise, being cognizant that things can drift out of control and you need to stay engaged and provide direction.  It is not “Practice that makes Perfect,” but “Guided practice that makes perfect.”
  6. Debrief the exercise and hone in on the learning outcome by asking questions that direct the students to think about the exercise in relationship to what you wanted them to come away with.  You may want to plan your debrief questions ahead of time.
  7. Refine the exercise for the next time you use it.

I hope you’ll give it a try.  It can be amazingly rewarding to see the light come on in a student’s eyes as they engage in the debrief and make a crucial connection to their life.