Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great Sandwich

Thanks Chris, that was a fantastic sandwich....

I enjoyed class last night. I think that I could have been clearer about what I was looking for in the first task- but I think that good conversation was happening and so I saw no need to interrupt to ensure small group discussions conformed to my 'plan'. That said, in my experience discussion based classes need a bit of variety in order to 1) stay fresh, and 2) ensure that we don't limit ourselves to one or two ways of expressing ourselves. In fact, my goal for the class is to conduct a large group discussion where I (as the instructor) am not positioned at the center of the conversation (in other words, where I would not call on people to contribute and where members would speak to one another rather than to me). This is something that I have found to be quite difficult in any teaching context- and it probably carries its own set of pitfalls.... but I'm definitely interested in the possibility of class conversations where I could be just another participant.
Small group work has been effective at instigating discussion between class members (where I am not playing a mediating role). But again... I think I'll have to keep considering alternatives.

My question of the week:
In what ways do particular classroom formats favor certain kinds of participation and certain voices? To what degree is the form of the conversation as important as or more important than the content of the conversation?

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments and questions....

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