While I Watched

Some days you just feel like a success, you know?

Today I successfully used two time-saving techniques to implement Fred Jones' goal:

The Discussion Quiz is an adaptation of something a professor did in my first-ever graduate class: when confronted with a group of students who simply would not participate to save their lives, she began handing out self-evaluation forms for class participation at the end of each session.  We were to rate ourselves on a scale from 1 to 4: 4 was a specific, volunteered comment, while 1 was a compulsory, general one.

So, rather than ask for responses to questions I'll then have to grade, I simply distribute a list of open-ended questions, give them five minutes to plan, and then start the discussion.  I make brief notes as to who answered so I'm sure to call on everyone a fairly equal number of times.  At the end, they tally up their scores, and they are frighteningly honest: several students gave themselves fewer than five points out of a maximum of fifteen.  I think it's good for them to learn the consequences of staying out of the class' conversation!

The second strategy just came to me in a pinch.  My Creative Writing class is working on epic poems and of course they're struggling in a way that is, well, epic.  So today I gave them a peer-review day, and as they discussed each others' work, I circled the room and spoke to each student individually with advice that would have been useful for just about any student.  At the end of my tour, I wanted them all to hear what I'd said to others (especially since many of my comments would have helped anyone in the class.)  So, instead of trying to make a list of important concepts, I simply called on the students: "What did I say to you?  What did we discuss?"

Then I sat back and listened with a smile as they recounted my wisdom.  Not working hard at all.