Monday, September 22, 2014

Leaving Class with Questions

So you had a great class, but in the last 10 minutes there was an influx of questions.  Really big questions.  Questions like, "but how do I organize my essay?" or "what if I'm having trouble identifying the rhetorical strategies to analyze?"  It happens to everyone but what if you don't have time to cover it next class?  We're on strict schedules with our curriculum.  Even worse, I only see my students 2 times a week.  And one of those times is in the computer lab!

Frankly, I don't have time to hold the class back one extra day to cover what was confusing.

So what do we do?

Here are three things that you can do to address 
those last-minute questions for next time:

1.  Email:  I have a professor who, after every class, emails us.  It usually starts a little something like this: "After class, I began to think about..."  It never makes us feel like we're idiots and he has to waste his time to teach us more...via email.  Instead, he brings up the issue in a conversational tone and directs us to places (text book pages, website, podcasts, videos, etc.) that will help us address those questions.  He helps us take our learning into our own hands.

2.  Podcast:  If it's not something that you need a visual for, why not just record your voice lecture style.  But make it a short lecture.  Audio without visual can drag if it's too long.  No more than 10-minute sound bytes.  Also, make sure you're using verbal cues to help your students stay on track.  Say things like "3 things I'd like to discuss" and mention "first, second, and third" when you get there.  Using those verbal cues will help them with note-taking.  Feel free to visit my podcast to get a feel for how I do things.

3.  Screencast-O-Matic:  So you like the idea of a podcast but the topic really would benefit from having a visual?  Okay, use  This is a free service that allows you to audio and visual record your screen without installing anything to your computer.  I use it in one of two ways. Sometimes I will create a PowerPoint and go through that while discussing what I naturally would as if I were in class.  And sometimes I pull up sample pieces of writing and do a "read aloud" with my students noticing what strategies the authors are using in their writing.  Both are great options.  The best thing is that Screencast-O-Matic will set up a video page for you or upload it straight to Youtube.  That way you can have it for all the world to see if you'd like!   See one of my examples down below or visit my How-To for your first time screencasting!

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you have a plan before you begin.  Just like you would with any class, you need to have an objective.  If you have that set from the beginning, you're follow-up will be clear and concise!  Good luck!