Friday, October 7, 2011

Recent Ideas for Engaging Students with Audio, Visuals


Several posts have recently caught my attention;  I would like to share two with you--one on mind mapping and one on using your iPad as a document camera. 

Mind Maps

The blog "Faculty Focus" published a review of mind-mapping and software that you can use to mind-map.  Mind maps, also referred to as concept maps, can help students organize ideas and think critically.  Plus, since mind maps involve visualizing problems, it appeals to learners who remember visuals more easily than printed text.  You will need to decide whether to use paper and pen or to go with online tools.  With smaller classes, I would recommend large sheets of paper, which you can buy in packs (you can even purchase rolls of paper, the kind used by newspapers, and cut off sections).  Poster-sized post-it notes are also an option, although this is the most expensive method. 

"According to Buzan and Buzan, a mind map should be drawn on blank paper that is larger than standard 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. The rationale behind using a large sheet of paper is that it allows the student the opportunity to break away from the boundaries established by standard sized paper." 

Mind-mapping can be an excellent group activity when you want students to think theoretically or want them to create relationships between information and ideas.  For more on mind-mapping and other visual learning activities, you can visit the TENN TLC page on visual learning.

Using Visuals / Your iPad as a projector

According to OIT, most of the classroom projection systems can work with the iPad VGA adapter cable, and a recent post by Classroom in the Cloud gives us another reason to consider springing for this cable.   There are several OIT consultants specializing in iPad uses: just give them a call and check on which adapter will be most appropriate for your classroom (4-9900).

Have you ever made use of a doc camera?  When students are doing in-class writing, it is an excellent tool.  This is obvious to composition teachers but the doc camera can also be helpful in other types of classes, in projecting the results of student group work.  For instance, suppose you ask students to solve a problem in small groups.  You could randomly call on a group to bring their results to the front and, using the camera feature, project their answer.  You can do this by creating a "stand" (as explained in this blog) or you can simply take and project a photo.

Why go to this effort?  We know from decades of research that involving students in the learning process is most effective.  Holding students accountable for their learning is also highly recommended (we do this all the time with quizzes and tests).  So, if you are wondering how to make sure groups are producing the thoughtful work that you have requested of them, have them produce a document.  To make even more impact, let them know that their group might be chosen to show their work to the class--now they are accountable not just to you but to an entire audience of their peers.  This is a powerful incentive for any student but especially for our peer-focused millenials.

The article also discusses other ways to use the iPad in the class. You could talk to UT's professor Joanne Logan  about her experiences.  She is currently in a TEAL classroom (technology-enhanced) and her student groups are using iPads.   For more ideas on using iPads, see "my bloomin' ipad."

Whether or not you make use of technology, involve your students in class.  Years ago, Bloom (of Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning) asked us to consider, who is doing the most work in the room?  That is the person who is learning the most. His question is still valid.

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