Another great write up from Faculty Focus contributors, this time Maryellen Weimer reminds us how to create a climate for learning on the very first day of class.
Below is the summary of the activities that will help you set the tone for the rest of the course.
- On the board write “The best class I’ve ever had” and underneath it “What the teacher did” and below that “What the students did.” On another section write “The worst class I’ve ever had” and then the same two items beneath. I ask students to share their experiences, without naming the course, department or teacher, and I begin filling in the grid based on what they call out. – I move to the best class section of the board and tell students that this is the class I want to teach, but I can’t do it alone. –
- Students are invited to walk around the room and write responses, chatting with each other and the teacher as they answere these questions: “I learn best in classes where the teacher ___” “Students in courses help me learn when they ___” “I am most likely to participate in classes when ___” “Here’s something that makes it hard to learn in a course: ___”
- Students sit across from each other, each with a copy of the syllabus that they’ve briefly reviewed. The teacher asks two questions: one about something in the syllabus and one of a more personal nature. The pair has a short period of time to answer both questions. Teacher checks to make sure the syllabus question has been answered correctly. Then students in one of the rows move down one seat and teacher asks the new pair two different questions
- Put students in groups and have them respond to a question: “What are the five things faculty do that make learning hard?” Or, ask positively, “What are the five things faculty do that make it easy to learn?” Collect the lists and make a master list to share in class or online. Below the five things faculty do, you can also list the five things students do that make it hard or easy to teach.
All of these activities can be done in online courses as well. Specifically in D2L Brightspace by using a Discussion board and Groups tool, or including an obligatory Syllabus quiz. If you are not sure how to translate your favorite in-class activities to the online learning environment, we are here to help! Stop by Miller Center 118, Monday – Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.