Lecturing less is a struggle, at first, but stick with it.
Unlike lecturing, you are going to have to constantly monitor your classroom atmosphere. You might find discussions get derailed and you will need to step-in. Do not let this discourage you. The students will appreciate the freedom and openness you are creating so they can express themselves.
Example for use:
Instead of relying on projecting lectures with heavy text, consider simple changes to activate your students like asking them open-ended questions. You will never know where the conversation will turn, which may be difficult. Start with good questions. The result will not be answers, but more questions.
However, you will find that students have a unique stance that will often surprise you. Yes, you are going to have to constantly monitor your classroom atmosphere. You might find discussions get derailed and you will need to step-in. Do not let this discourage you. The students will appreciate the freedom and openness you are creating so they can express themselves.
Activity: The American Dream
Using Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman we are going to explore the concept of the “American Dream” and how it relates to you personally.
We will start with exploring with reading and discussing Death of a Salesman. Then we will talk about where this idea of the American Dream has had its place in history. After, we are going to talk about how it plays out today as a national group, and then specifically in your lives.
This project is aimed at students grades 10+
Ask your students some open-ended questions about Death of a Salesman like:
How does Willy’s home function as a metaphor for his ambitions? and What role does the fear of abandonment play in Willy’s life? How did Willy explore the American Dream?
Next, get your students to look on the internet to find out about the history of the American Dream. Ask them to find and explain some groups of people in the past who have looked to this dream. Ask them discuss and make a list of some of the components of the dream.
Have your students create examples of various fictional characters to explore the American Dream. Ask them to consider various characteristics such as nationality, age, race, gender, sex, income, family. After exploring, ask them to narrow down their character to one person who they will develop a story in which they explore their American Dream. Have them work through options for narrative progression, as well as the questions and goals of their character.
Have your students write a concise story. After editing and re-writing, use audio recording equipment or their phones to record their stories. Include title of the story, and a byline. Have them work in groups for this. After editing the audio, ask your students to create an image that will go along with their story. The image can be a photograph, drawing, collage, painting, illustration, etc.
The presentation will be the combination of projecting the image and playing the audio. Have students fill out questionnaires in which they choose three of their classmate’s stories that they felt a connection and to explain why.
Inspiration from Teachers
“I wouldn’t want to have it be a slideshow presentation, I would want to have it be an engagement for them, for me, and something that we can collectively create or put together.” –Digital Media Mentor AN
“I feel it is a bit harder to get them engaged and have them listen to a lecture and read the textbook and really get knowledge that way. I am not saying it is impossible.” –Digital Media Mentor DM
“Obviously, there are always going to be challenges everyday. One is making sure everyone stays involved…I do facilitate. I am in and out between groups. If I notice they work well, I just kind of sit back and let them work and I just check in once in a while.” –Digital Media Mentor DM
“The thing that makes or breaks a unit is how groups are planned out. Just having good group chemistry…sometimes we have switched groups around.” –Digital Media Mentor LB
“Even when I am thinking about grading and stuff, sometimes the end product is not what is important, it is the steps.” –Digital Media Mentor LL
“Just being adaptable and if you can do that then you can survive it. It changes every day. I guess if I had a perfect world it would not change every day but then it would be boring.” –Digital Media Mentor KW
“I sat in and observed what he was doing…before the unit started, and it was PowerPoints up there, where he would pretty much read directly off them and underline the things the students need to copy down. You would sit there and watch the students. As soon as a new slide comes up, they would look up, copy it down, and then go back to talking or whatever. As soon as we started doing the actual unit where we gave them things to play with, they were all engaged and asking questions…That was fun to see that shift.” –Digital Media Mentor MH
“There were some people that are drivers, and so you pair them up with people and they will then prompt that group. Everyone will participate. We also saw the flip-side, which is people grouping together who none of them really care, so the whole thing flounders.” –Digital Media Mentor MH
“The second year the process was a lot smoother.” –Digital Media Mentor LS
“It is just embracing failure…You just realize that you have to go for it, and it may not work.” –Digital Media Mentor LS
“I can work with the students that sit in the back corner and are like ‘Fuck this. I am not doing shit.’ I can slide in and get work out of them too. That is what was cool about this second time around. We were able to get good work out of almost everybody.” –Digital Media Mentor LS
“It was cool because it was transformative for the classroom because the energy was different after a project like that. The classroom was more colorful. But the teacher, it transformed her too. She was like, ‘I want to do this all the time.'” –Digital Media Mentor LS