I have found that teaching is challenging, more challenging than I thought it would be. Each semester, and each class is very different. My class population varies. In my first semester teaching psychology, I had mostly juniors and seniors in high school, and only 2 community college students who were about my age. Since then, I have had a wider age gap in my classes with still the majority of my students being dual-enrollment high school students, but now I also have some older students in their 40’s and 50’s.
I have been thinking a lot about how to get my students more engaged in active learning in the classroom and how to get them to open up with each other. I think that if they are excited to come to class and to learn, I will also be more excited to come to class and teach. Towards that end, I recently purchased an ebook called 101 Classroom Games: Energize Learning in Any Subject.
I chose “Post-It Scramble” for the first activity with my psychology class. Basically, I gave each student a vocab list from 2 of the chapters, and wrote a bunch of vocab words on post-its and posted them all over the whiteboard. Then I split the class into thoughtfully chosen teams. One student from each team went head-to-head choosing the matching vocab word after I read a definition from the list. At first, some of the students expressed a little anxiety about the activity and that they might get it wrong, but they very quickly really got excited about and immersed in the game.
I offered bonus points on the next quiz to the winning team. It was so successful and enjoyable that after the 1st round was complete, they wanted to play again, so I added more vocab words and we played again. Some of the students got really competitive and I had to remind them to not box each other out (LoL). It worked out really well and the teams were pretty evenly matched; one team one the first round, and the other team took the second round.
I was pleased with my ebook purchase and my activity choice. I am looking forward to using more of the activities in class. I only hope that each activity goes as well!
After reviewing reading logs recently, I found that many of the students were a bit confused with the concept of Classical Conditioning. To help clarify, I used a demonstration involving jelly beans and a choo-choo noise from my iPhone 6s. I appreciated the students’ engagement and surprise when they found that it worked and at the end, they salivated to the “choo-choo” by itself. I also got a little chuckle when I got to say “okay, here comes the ‘choo-choo'” (definitely an “I love my job” kind of moment for me.)