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Luciano Ferrer

Small Changes in Teaching: The First 5 Minutes of Class - 0 views

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    "Open with a question or two. Another favorite education writer of mine, the cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, argues that teachers should focus more on the use of questions. "The material I want students to learn," he writes in his book Why Don't Students Like School?, "is actually the answer to a question. On its own, the answer is almost never interesting. But if you know the question, the answer may be quite interesting." My colleague Greg Weiner, an associate professor of political science, puts those ideas into practice. At the beginning of class, he shows four or five questions on a slide for students to consider. Class then proceeds in the usual fashion. At the end, he returns to the questions so that students can both see some potential answers and understand that they have learned something that day. What did we learn last time? A favorite activity of many instructors is to spend a few minutes at the opening of class reviewing what happened in the previous session. That makes perfect sense, and is supported by the idea that we don't learn from single exposure to material - we need to return frequently to whatever we are attempting to master.But instead of offering a capsule review to students, why not ask them to offer one back to you?Reactivate what they learned in previous courses. Plenty of excellent evidence suggests that whatever knowledge students bring into a course has a major influence on what they take away from it. So a sure-fire technique to improve student learning is to begin class by revisiting, not just what they learned in the previous session, but what they already knew about the subject matter.Write it down. All three of the previous activities would benefit from having students spend a few minutes writing down their responses. That way, every student has the opportunity to answer the question, practice memory retrieval from the previous session, or surface their prior knowledge - and not just the students most likely to
Luciano Ferrer

Small Changes in Teaching: The Last 5 Minutes of Class - 0 views

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    "The Minute Paper comes in many variations, but the simplest one involves wrapping up the formal class period a few minutes early and posing two questions to your students: What was the most important thing you learned today? What question still remains in your mind? Taken together, those two questions accomplish multiple objectives. The first one not only requires students to remember something from class and articulate it in their own words (more about that in a moment), but it also requires them to do some quick thinking. They have to reflect on the material and make a judgment about the main point of that day's class. The second question encourages them to probe their own minds and consider what they haven't truly understood. Most of us are infected by what learning theorists sometimes call "illusions of fluency," which means that we believe we have obtained mastery over something when we truly have not. To answer the second question, students have to decide where confusion or weaknesses remain in their own comprehension of the day's material. Closing connections. If we want students to obtain mastery and expertise in our subjects, they need to be capable of making their own connections between what they are learning and the world around them - current events, campus debates, personal experiences. The last five minutes of class represent an ideal opportunity for students to use the course material from that day and brainstorm some new connections.The metacognitive five. We have increasing evidence from the learning sciences that students engage in poor study strategies. Likewise, research shows that most people are plagued by the illusions of fluency. The solution on both fronts is better metacognition - that is, a clearer understanding of our own learning. What if all of us worked together deliberately to achieve that?Close the loop. Finally, go back to any of the strategies I introduced in my recent column on the first five minutes of clas
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