By: Martha Diede, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Syracuse University

As you adapt to new teaching modalities, consider the following recommendations for taking “small bites.” 

• Pause. While teaching, taking breaks is an opportunity for students to catch up on their note-taking and to take a stretch break. Pausing a little longer after asking students a question also gives them time to think through their answers and increases the tension so that students actually respond. You might find that you become uncomfortable with a longer period of silence; just keep in mind that students need time to think in order to respond. Silence doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.

• Use a table of contents for your class sessions. You have planned what your class period will accomplish, but you might not know what your students wish the class period would accomplish. At the beginning of each class session, ask your students what they hope to learn that day. You don’t have to take all of their ideas, and many are likely to be similar to the goals that you have for the class. Write down a bullet list of your plan and include some of the students’ ideas. As you move through the list, check the ideas off. This simple technique helps both you and your students to track what you accomplish in any given class. It also helps to engage students in their own learning.

• Use free recall. In free recall, you have students put away notes or slides and give them three minutes to recall the three most important points from your previous mini-lecture. This technique allows students to practice recalling material from your class and gives you a chance to re-set in order to move ahead. To take this idea one step further, have your students put away their notes, write down the three major points and then compare their notes in pairs or triads. The extra 1-2 minutes students use comparing their notes can help them (and you) to see whether students fully grasp the main points.

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