Innovation in the classroom keeps the material fresh so I like to find new ideas that help me engage with the particular mix of students I have at any given time.
Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the material. To achieve this, I aim to “lecture” for no more than 10 minutes before incorporating an activity into the classroom. Activities can include in-class writing about a concept or idea we have discussed, applying new learning to their own work (through self or peer editing of a previously drafted assignment), small group discussion where students are encouraged to dig deeper into the material and extend their thinking, and inquiry-based hands on learning. My classrooms are sometimes noisy, usually busy, and–I hope–always engaging.
At St. Lawrence College, I was instrumental in promoting the idea of an Active Learning Space, and in fact got permission to create my own active classroom in 2017-18. This was unfortunately discontinued in 2018-19 due to space restrictions, however, came back in full force thanks to the great collaborative work of our new VP-A, our School of Contemporary Teaching and Learning (who frankly, were likely tired of hearing me ask about it) and IT. The third floor of Aultsville now boasts a 42-student Active Learning Space and a second one is being tested in Brockville. I am proud to work with colleagues on this.
Technology In The Classroom
Students like technology, so I often incorporate this into my lesson planning, but always remembering that technology is just a tool; the technology is not the point of the activity. Taking a page from Jose Bowen’s book, Teaching Naked, I like to use technology to create podcasts, video, and interactive white board mini lessons that students can use as reference both prior to class (also known as flipping the classroom, which can lead to greater learning activity during class) or afterwards to reinforce key concepts. in class and for homework.
In 2013, I was one of the pioneers of hybrid learning, blending on site classroom hours with online hours. This was partly because our communications team embraced digital learning early on and incorporated elements into our regular classes, so we felt prepared to branch out. I have worked consistently with the SCTL to continue to learn and promote not just hybrid learning but also digital pedagogy.