Workshop Chaos And Learning

Sometimes, learning is chaotic. 

That was how last week’s two-hour communications class went. Instead of presentations for their final oral presentations, each student had to prepare and deliver a 10 minute workshop.  This was met with a lack of enthusiasm from students who thought this was going to be too hard. 


(Music, martial arts, knots, aerodynamics)

I gave class time two weeks previously for preparation and brainstorming ideas. But then they were on their own. They had to submit their plan the night before, and on the day of, I divided the class into groups, with each student taking a turn as workshop leader.   

(CPR, algebra, more martial art, the fine art of shoelace tying)

I was impressed with the variety, the thought that went into each of the workshops. Students were enthusiastic and took their task seriously, bringing in props and mats for safety, and being conscious of their group dynamics, and of their time restrictions….one karate move as opposed to five, for example.

(Tying a tie, Italian, driving skills, cursive writing)

I walked around to see what was happening. Each Leader was expected to explain relevancy of their workshop….though I left that open ended…and was to demonstrate their activity, as well as allow time for practice, feedback, and individual/peer assessment.

(Basketball shooting, manicures-the guys too, guitar riff, dinner etiquette)

Turns out you can teach a wide number of useful skills in 10 minutes. And can have fun doing it. Students really loved the activity in the end. After every 10 minutes, I gave time for student evaluation of their workshop. I kept it simple, but would modify this next time and instead if numerical values, would ask students to write a sentence about what they liked most, and another offering a suggestion for improvement.

(Fishing fly, how to disarm someone with a knife…using plastic cutlery… Braiding)

It was noisy. So noisy. I’m glad we had the tail end of a Friday afternoon, and an opportunity to move into one of the larger classrooms for this. And since one of the students chose to bring in his electric guitar and equipment to teach a basic riff and hand exercise, we ended the class with some music. 

Next time, I will bring snacks too.