Doing homework in class

Over at The 21st Century School House, there is an interesting post about a school in Colorado that is doing “homework” in class and saving lectures and presentation of materials for at home.  While I can’t access the video in the post to see exactly what they are talking about, it got me thinking. First of all, it reminded me of the ideas behind JiTT.  They are:

  • 1. To maximize the efficacy of the classroom session, where human instructors are present.
  • 2. To structure the out-of-class time for maximum learning benefit.
  • 3. To create and sustain team spirit. Students and instructors work as a team toward the same objective, to help all students pass the course with the maximum amount of retainable knowledge.

As I look back on the semester that has just ended, I think I am most unhappy with the way I used class time.  I think the courses were OK and that I did a pretty good job, but I think I could have made much better use of class time.  Especially in the class in which we focused on the development of oral skills.  When I started, I wasn’t sure what access students had to technology after class, so I set it up to do most of the work in class.  When I figured out that they all had their own computers, I was so caught up in the rhythm of class that I didn’t really change it.  I shifted some work around, but I don’t think I used class time as effectively as I could have.

On the other hand, I don’t so much lecturing, so I can’t really record lectures and give students access to them before class.  So what could I do?  I think the shift I have to make is to do more group work, more of any and all kinds of interaction activities in class.  Students spent too much time working on their own or consulting with me in class.  That wasn’t a bad use of time in most cases, but I think I did too much of it.

That’s the problem with being able to teach and structure a class however you want: it doesn’t always work, and you have no one to blame but yourself!  But rather than worry about the blame, I want to see what I can do better next time!


3 thoughts on “Doing homework in class

  1. John says:

    Perhaps you could record some key points for reminders or review that they could use at home. From reading your blog, I know I have a different style of teaching, but I try to give students as much from the class as I can including PowerPoints, answers for material covered in class and for additional material I give them hoping they will do it.

  2. Bing says:

    Nancy, You raise an interesting issue about the best use of class time. I, too, struggle with that. I am finishing up teaching my first year of 21st Century Journalism and grappled with the same issues you described. Most of class time was spent working on their own or consulting with me. In a way, I think that reinforced (unintentionally) that they did not have to work out of class. A lot of what they did in class could easily have been completed outside of class, while the benefits of collaboration and group work (something very difficult to replicate outside the classroom) seems like a good use of class time. That’s a lofty challenge for us teachers.

    No matter what, the fact that you are reflecting on these finer points of teaching is the most important – even if it means having to cast a critical eye back on yourself! 🙂 Thank you. I enjoy reading about it.

    • Nancy says:

      You mentioned something that I hadn’t thought of — but have to now: That it gave them the idea that they didn’t have to work outside of class. I can see that in some of my students last semester, the ones with less English, of course, who needed to work hard outside of class and get the extra help in class. Ohh… More to think about! Thanks!

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