I made a note-to-self at a recent staff development day to “reflect after class sessions to see and think about what worked.”
I was just typing it up in a google doc and decided to post it here instead.
This was a Human Development course – Transition to College Success
from the course description:
This is a developmental level course designed for entering freshmen with priority needs. It provides an overview of key aspects, knowledge, and skills needed in the transition to college life. Students identify their educational goals, personal strengths, and areas for development; become familiar with college resources and services; and briefly explore strategies for academic success such as time management and study skills. Course formerly called Orientation.
This course is not for college-level credit.
This particular section was focusing on basic math and the teacher had given them an extra credit assignment to find two articles about overcoming math anxiety and then share two things they learned with the class.
I started the class with the basic hello, welcome to the library, hours, printing, checkout, contact overview. I had a handout at each of their laptops and asked them to pull up the survey I was going to ask them to fill out at the end so they could be thinking about it as we went along. This was a stumbling block – a few of the students were unable to enter the tinyurl without errors and then unable to troubleshoot to see that spelling errors were what was causing the problem. I helped a few, but eventually decided to move on and said I would come back to help those who hadn’t gotten to the page, but that I was going to ask them to tell me what was most helpful and what was least clear.
I don’t think I’ll have students pull up that page at the beginning of class again, but it was an important reminder that the majority of students I work with do not have the level of computer use skills that I tend to assume they do. In particular, typing skills and comfort with a laptop touchpad as a mouse. I need to remember to stop and check that everyone is able to follow along more often throughout the presentation.
The first two parts of the class were think/pair/share exercises. The first was on keywords and the second was on the more nebulous, ‘where might you find this?’ I had found from the last few batches of feedback that students were very interested in the idea of keywords, but not at all clear on what they were or how to choose good ones. I had the class group up by table and gave them 5 minutes to come up with all the words they could think of relating to math anxiety. Then I took one word from each group and asked if anyone had more to share. As they were sharing I was putting their answers on our Smartboard. I’ve found that on our Smartboard you have to write very large and slowly or it is completely illegible. As it was, it still looked pretty bad and a few students were beginning to giggle. They also thought it was pretty cool though, so I asked if anyone wanted to give it a try and had a taker. It slowed down class a little, but I think it was worth it for the positive atmosphere. I tend not to use many of the features of the Smartboard simply because it’s so buggy and unreliable, but I’m going to integrate the Smartboard more in classes where that aspect seems to engage the students.
The second think/pair/share activity was a new one for me, but I think it went really well. I wanted to get them thinking about who is creating the information they’re looking for and why. I gave an example of gun control – who cares about this issue? Who’s writing about it? Where do they share their writing? Etc. then let them discuss the same questions for math anxiety in their groups. I was really impressed that they came up with all of the ones I had brainstormed ahead of time and a few I hadn’t.
My time management for this session was not great. They only had 5-10 minutes at the end of the session to actually find their articles and I typically like to allow closer to half of the class for that so they can walk out with the bulk of the assignment finished.
I also hadn’t prepared a good explanation of the term databases, so I stumbled over that section more than I would have liked.