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LAE 6389.001 Practice Teaching Literature

Class 5: Teaching Methods

Reading Assignment:

Showalter, chapter 3
McKeachie, chaps. 3-6
Post #3 Group A

Class Objectives:

    Lecture-Discussion-Active Learning strategies
    Discuss first class routines
    Student Presentations: Literature Review
    Student Presentations: Syllabus Check
    Assignment: sample assignment-peer review

Notes and Discussion Questions:

Our readings for today review the common methods of teaching: lecture, discussion, and modeling. Interspersed throughout there are tips and suggestions for active learning methods. The readings also cover the first class and what instructors can accomplish.

While both books cover similar material, Showalter's focuses much more explicitly on the methods for teaching literature, whereas McKeachie offers us research and methods on teaching effectiveness. Together they can stimulate your own ideas for teaching literature.

Evaluate the three methods of teaching literature: lecture, discussion, modeling. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Which are you likely to embrace and why?

What is the role of close-reading in the teaching of literature? (This is not an opportunity merely for bashing New Criticism.)

In McKeachie, please review his "philosophy" of teaching (pp. 5-6) and evaluate.

How can you model effective reading of literature for your students?

If students attention span is limited to fifteen minutes, how can you use lecturing effectively?

If it is your responsibility to engage as many students as possible in your class, what methods might work best?

How can you turn lecturing into active learning?

These texts suggest that it is much more difficult to prepare for an effective discussion than a lecture. Why? What does it take to make a good discussion of literature?

What are some examples of good discussion questions? What questions are likely to fall flat?

How can you get more students involved in discussion? What do you do with discussion hogs?

How important is your body language in class discussion?

First day -- what to do? What not to do?

What are some of the problems with first day routines? How can you make the most of the first day?


Active learning and discussion

Showalter and McKeachie agree that active learning methods in the classroom are the most effective. My experiences suggest the same. Let's focus on what active learning is and how it is achieved.

Below are examples of the type of active learning we can try in class. What active learning / creative assignment can you come up with? Describe in detail an assignment you want to try in your class. Consider whether this will be graded or not. If so, be clear about what you are looking to evaluate and how it will be scored. If not, consider what learning objectives this assignment meets. How long will the assignment take? At what point in the semester will your students be able to do this assignment? What skills are needed to complete this assignment and do the students have them? What is the benefit of doing this assignment?

This time, let's get in groups of four and discuss the different assignments. Evaluate and offer constructive feedback. Share ideas!!

Activity #1

Reading questions: to promote active reading, one can supply directional questions on the literature before the students read. For examples, browse the courses on my website. Evaluate the reading/discussion questions for any given class. What are they aimed at? What objectives might they achieve?

Activity #2

Reread the sections in Showalter (53-55) and McKeachie (39-41) on leading discussions; pay particular attention to the types of questions that promote good discussion. What are they?
As a group read Blake's "The Lamb" and "The Tyger". Take ten minutes and write down two good discussion questions using the strategies mentioned. Share these with the group and discuss the different outcomes.


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