Thursday, October 30, 2014

Engaging Students in the Classroom

theaterYesterday I attended a professional development seminar at Furman University. The topic was Engaging Students in the College Classroom: Strategies from the Theater. The presenters were Jayce and Anne Tromsness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour session and could see how it could easily become a full day session. We seemed to touch the surface of things but didn’t have time to go in depth. It made me want to learn more about the strategies.

There were about 13 of us and from all different departments. It was great to talk to people from other departments and see that we all struggle with many of the same issues.

We talked about the similarities between a director of a production and the instructor. We also talked about how every situation is a story.

Then we discussed strategies for positive engagement and I want to share some of my notes with you.

Don’t blame the audience – lower your status but becoming vulnerable. Share something personal (but don’t go too far) about yourself. Audiences love a vulnerable character. Admit when you don’t know the answer.

Teacher as performer – Teaching is action. Make it simple, based on a verb, something you can do. Look at the process more than the end result.

Listen to William Ball = find the positive. “That was great but…” Rephrase what they say and scaffold to the right answer but using some of their words. Go with the offer that sequences to the right answer.

Incorporate the 3D’s: Discovery, Disclosure, Decision. – Disclosure is like Quincy (TV show) talking to Sam, Disclosure is the aha moments, Decision is the forward action. Make sure you disclose (introduce), discover (reveal and expostulate), and decide (give a definite conclusion). Decision should be the last thing before the class leaves.

Listen to Stanislavski – for the passive student. “whatever is on the buffet table that works for you”; ex: Do you have experience with this situation? If no experience, substitute the closest thing. If that doesn’t work, this situation would be as ____ in order to relate to it. (There is no way out of doing/answering/participating).

Establishing the Given Circumstances – organizing the players. Use CRO/OWW – character, relationship, objective, obstacle, where, and when. We learn through story.

Work with the Stimulus/Response model – too much emphasis on the response and not enough on the stimulus, which leads to more memorization.

The Rabbit Hole – come up with a central idea. Then come up with immediate responses on this (words, songs, etc.). Then where does that lead. Everything is related and we just have to discover what that is.

Quick Exercises for In-Class engagement
1. Anonymity – Beginning of class; index cards, post it notes – what don’t we know. End of class: what do we know now.
2. Connection – I-circle (statement – all who agree move into the middle of the circle); word ball
3. Paraphrase – direct answers or text,, ideas, or practical application
4. 5 minute challenges – improvised or written – presenting an idea, moment, or concept as a story
5. What happens next? What do you do next?
6. Once Upon a Time exercise – one sentence for plot review for each person in the circle. Set a time limit.
7. Creating CRO/OWW with unit/subject and having the characters interact

Image: 'Queue The Last Act'
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