Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I have thousands of students in my past in a variety of classroom styles. I have won teaching awards and I feel very confident in my teaching. But this year I have a class that just won't talk. Oh sure, there's always one. But this one is the worst I've ever seen.
The first day of class, I had a large chunk of students actually try to refuse to announce their name/major/expectations for the course. Not one but THREE got red in the face and looked on the verge of tears.
I have tried the socratic interactive method, the listing method, the barebones-basics where no one could get the answer wrong (what is the name of the author?), the group-work-and-presentation method, the preparation-for-submission so you'll have the answers right in front of you method, the LOOK AT THIS PICTURE WHAT DOES IT SAY TO YOU ANY ANSWER IS CORRECT STOP BEING SILENT method.
And after the last one failed to spur their little mouths into action, I'm stuck. I have a lot of experience with professional training and pedagogical theory. But even when I ask them about them, their lives, pop culture, music, what they are watching, anything, they shut up.
I have never ever encountered such extreme shyness before. They all prefer to "listen" they say. That's bull shit. Because listening to lecture does not equal learning. That's passive learning, and the retention rates in lectures are ridiculously low compared to discussion, interaction, collaboration, etc.
If this were online, it'd be fine: just check the comments and grade accordingly. I cannot simply retract attendance points here, because then I'd have to reveal that I cannot remember any of their names. And name tags? No.
Please: give me an activity that will get them talking.