Do students like your teaching? Try this and find out

Teacher A presents a slide presentation on Romeo and Juliet that she designed before class, (perhaps even the year before). Each student has a laptop and is taking notes during class. Every now and then, Teacher A asks if anyone in class can answer a specific question about the character development or how to interpret a quote from the play. Raising your hand is optional. Homework is studying your notes for a quiz on Friday.

Teacher B researched slide presentations about Romeo and Juliet from the U.K. and around the world by using an advanced Google search (Filetype:ppt site:ac.uk Romeo and Juliet (simply replace ac.uk with the extensions of various countries). Teacher B selected six presentations she believes represent different cultural interpretations of Romeo and Juliet and with varied emphases on character development and themes. Students are organized in teams of 3-5 in class and challenged to review the slides of all six slide presentations from the six different countries. Each team is responsible for selecting ten slides from approximately 80 combined slides to create a team slide presentation. The teacher works with the students to develop a rubric which makes clear what the rationale is for choosing the slides, such as differences in cultural interpretations. Each team also has to write a defense of why they selected their slides and post their finished remix to the class blog. Homework is to review another team’s slide presentation and to offer comments that compare to your team’s choices. This class will also have a quiz on Friday.

What I do not mention to the students is I believe there is a significant difference between the learning of the two teachers. Teacher A is not learning very much about her students. Her mode of sharing her slide presentation does not offer her much opportunity to interact with students and understand how each student is interpreting the lesson. Teacher B has almost limitless opportunity to learn how her students learn. As she walks around the room she can observe her students remixing and she can listen to the logic of their debate about which slides to pick. She may even have someone audio record the conversations at the table for her further review. She can also see who is more involved in the work. Teacher A leaves class to get another slide presentation ready for chapter 2. Teacher B leaves class looking forward to reading (and/or listening to) student comments about each teams’ work on the class blog.

Now comes the fun part. When I ask students which teacher they prefer, I get both Teacher A and Teacher B. Here are the explanations of why they make their choice.

Next page: Students explain their learning styles


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