In January, the Faculty Center offers workshops to support teaching faculty as the new semester begins. This month, we hosted sessions on Brightspace, AI course policies, future-focused course planning, and more. One of our most popular sessions gathered faculty to share strategies for encouraging discussion in the classroom. Faced with ongoing pandemic conditions, faculty at SUNY Oneonta (and beyond) are thinking anew about how to engage students in conversation, both as a way to achieve learning objectives and to build community.
“Getting Students Talking in Your Classroom” opened with participants generating some of their favorite strategies, including Think-Pair-Share, passing an envelope from student to student to give the opportunity for written exchange, and jigsawing assigned homework reading. Then, we turned to this resource to add some additional approaches. We discussed and demonstrated strategies for building a culture of conversation, adding structure to the conversation, small-group and paired practices, cold-calling, and lowering the pressure on talking.
To put some of these in action, participants took part in a four-corner debate focused around the question: should we cold-call students? This activity asks participants to join groups in different corners of the room based on their answers to a controversial question. In several rounds, students discuss their views, read additional literature that might change their minds, and have the opportunity to move to another group. We had a robust discussion about calling on students in class and came to the consensus that most of us could endorse “warm calling”—using metareflective comments to guide conversation and encourage many voices in a kind and inclusive way.
For another opportunity to continue the conversation on getting students talking, join us for Talking Teaching: A Community Roundtable, on February 22.