One of the books in the “New CETL Books Available” section of our library is Mel Silberman’s Teaching Actively: Eight Steps and 32 Strategies. Since I am always a sucker for things that promise I only have to do a specific number of things to be successful, I opened that one quickly.
Silberman’s eight steps are logical, basically the things any good teacher tries to do:
- Engage your students from the start
- Be a brain-friendly teacher
- Encourage lively and focused discussions
- Urge students to ask questions
- Let your students learn from each other
- Enhance learning with experiencing and doing
- Blend in technology wisely
- Make the end unforgettable
It was interesting, though, to consider the specific strategies described for each step and consider some new options. For example, one of the strategies for “making the end unforgettable” --in other words, for helping students to extend their learning beyond the course itself-- was asking students to create an action plan saying how/when/where they plan to use their new skills and knowledge in the future. Students submit these plans to the teacher, who in turn returns them to the students via email a month or so later, at which point students can revisit the plan, check which actions they have taken, and hopefully reinforce some of the course content.
Have you ever tried something like that to reach beyond the end of the semester? Did it work? If you've had a chance to look at the other 31 strategies, are there any that stand out as particularly useful to you?