The Method to my Madness: Lesson Planning

Check out my resources page for to a convenient list of all the sites referenced below.

Positive Learning Environment (Component Three)

I am interested in this topic because I strive to create a learning environment that encourages risks and mistakes. I already do this is by owning my mistakes, showing students that everyone is human and makes grammatical errors sometimes. One of the areas I want to work on is creating a positive learning environment for my adult learners, who are often vastly outnumbered by “traditional” college-age students. This site from the LBS Practitioner Training provides some suggestions for creating an engaging classroom environment for adult learners. Being more conscious of the difference between adult learners and college age students will improve my ability to better address the needs of all of my students.

Motivation (Component Four)

I teach what amounts to a service course, English Composition, so motivation is a challenge. The University of Oregon’s site for its Teaching Effectiveness Program is particularly useful for its tips on motivating students as is the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. I am particularly interested in learning how better to encourage student preparedness (e.g. completed readings) and facilitate class discussion (something I struggle with). These sites offer useful tips for encouraging student preparedness and class discussion that I am excited to try out as I work towards creating a learning environment that will, hopefully, lead to intrinsically motivated students.

Assessment and Feedback (Component Five)

As a writing instructor, I’m constantly reevaluating my assessment practices (both in and out of class) in order to give students appropriate and timely feedback. After reviewing this component, I’ve become increasingly interested in classroom assessment techniques (CATs). This site from Vanderbilt University includes a basic overview of the concept and provides useful links. Integrating more CATs into my lessons will improve my instruction by allowing me to ensure that my lectures are effective and to respond to issues before students submit formal assignments. I particularly like the idea of either directed paraphrasing or the muddiest point.

Instructional Strategies (Component Six)

I chose this component because I’m interested in developing an assignment that asks students to teach their peers a grammatical concept and I’m not sure how best to structure the assignment and integrate it into my class. I found two links that may prove useful (although I have yet to find a specific instructional strategy that fully aligns with my idea. Any suggestions?). The first gives an overview of cooperative learning activities for college courses and the second discusses group work. Diversifying instructional strategies is a crucial component of my development as an instructor. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my teaching practices to better facilitate learning.

Media in the Classroom (Component Seven)

I’m an avowed proponent of digital media in the classroom, and I use web 2.o platforms in almost all my courses. One of the most useful sources for critical essays and sample assignments is The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JiTP).  In particular, Kate Singer’s “Digital Close Reading: TEI for Teaching Digital Pedagogy” is useful for thinking through the purpose of digital tools in the classroom. Articles such as Singer’s encourage reflection and remind me of the need to align assignments that involve media (digital or otherwise) with course goals/outcomes, improving relevance and student buy-in.

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