teaching tips

Book stackThese resources for planning successful and effective lectures come from the University of Minnesota‘s Center for Teaching and Learning, a free source of great information about undergraduate instruction available to those within and beyond the University. They offer a number of resources on ‘Designing Smart Lectures,’ but today we’ll focus on lecture planning and delivery. 

3 important things to keep in mind when planning for the lecture:

  • Articulate the goals for every lecture to yourself, and plan to share those goals with your students at the beginning of your presentation
  • Determine which key points can be effectively developed during the class session
  • Develop an introduction, body, and conclusion to your lecture to meet those goals and to help your students follow your thoughts

Specific tips on lecture organization:

  • Stick to 3-4 main points in a 50-minute period
  • Vary your format of presenting every 15 minutes
  • Organize material in logical order:

Cause-Effect: Events are cited and explained (i.e., one can demonstrate how the continental revolutionary movements of the late 1700’s affected British politics at the turn of the century).

Time sequential: Lecture ideas are arranged chronologically (i.e., a lecturer explaining the steps in a clinical supervision model, talks about the first step to be undertaken, the second step, and so forth).

Topical (Compare and Contrast): Related elements of various selected topics are focused on successively (i.e., a professor lecturing about etiologies, typical histories, and predisposing factors of various diseases).

Problem-solution: The statement of a problem is followed by alternate solutions (i.e., a lecture on the Cuban missile crisis could begin with a statement of the foreign policy problem followed by a presentation of the alternative solutions available to President

Pro-Con: A two-sided discussion of agiven topic is presented (i.e., the lecture is organized around the advantages and disadvantages of using the lecture method of instruction)

Ascending-Descending: Lecture topics are arranged according to their importance familiarity, or complexity (i.e., in a lecture introducing students to animal diseases, the diseases of primary importance could be discussed first, the tertiary/less important ones last)

PowerPoint 12Many instructors are now using PowerPoint to present lecture material, integrate technology in the classroom, and project videos for their classes. Below you will find some useful tips and tricks compiled by University of Minnesota PhD candidate Jon Smajda, also the Web Editor of Contexts Magazine.

  1. Use the Dual Monitors mode in Powerpoint: Ever wished you could look at your own notes on your laptop screen while keeping the Powerpoint presentation up on the projector screen for your students? You can do this! You have to enable Dual Monitor mode on your laptop and Powerpoint and then you put the Powerpoint slide on one “monitor” (the projector screen) and have your own laptop monitor free to do whatever you want. Here are the instructions: http://www.onppt.com/ppt/article1026.html.
  2. Navigating to a specific slide: Say you’re on slide #12 and you want to go to your web browser to show the class a website or you want to bring up a Word document to show the class. When you go back to Powerpoint, you select View Show from the Slide Show menu and you’re right back at slide #1. Then you have to quickly cycle through each slide to get back to slide #12. There are three ways to avoid this. First, before you enter slideshow mode, instead of using the menu use the tiny “Slide Show” icon in the bottom left corner of your screen (its icon looks like a projector). If you click this, you’ll be taken straight to the slide displayed in your editing mode window, not the first slide. Second, while you’re in slideshow mode, if at any time you type a number and click return you’ll be taken to that slide: so “12 return” takes you to slide #12. Third, if you right-click anywhere on the screen while in slide show mode, and go to the “Go” menu you can go straight to any slide that way.
  3. Drawing on the screen: If you type control-p (or command-p on macs) while you’re in slideshow mode, you’ll get a pen icon. You can then draw on the screen. This is helpful if you’re looking at graphics or lots of text, for example, and want to draw attention to one element (or if you simply want to pretend you’re John Madden drawing out football plays on the telestrator). If you click “E” your drawings will be erased, and if you go to another slide and come back, they’ll also be erased.
  4. Blank screen: If you click “W” while in a slideshow, you’ll get a blank white screen. If you click “B” you’ll get a blank black screen. Just click W or B again to return to your slide. This is helpful if you want to move into a discussion portion of the class and don’t want everyone pretending to study your slides as a way to avoid making eye contact with you when you ask them questions.
  5. Other shortcuts: Microsoft has a table of other shortcuts like this available on their website: http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/assistance/HP051953031033.aspx

Also, if you are looking for more detailed online tutorials and references, check out the links below…

Know of other great tricks for making the best use of PowerPoint in the classroom? Comment below!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Contexts Crawler, this blog provides summaries of sociological research in the news as it hits the presses (or the web). The site houses daily posts of news articles from national and international news sources and summarizes the key findings of social science research and highlights the relevant discussion by the media. The Contexts Crawler can be a valuable resource for instructors of sociology to bring current events into lectures and in-class activities. You can find up-to-date news stories on the topics you cover in the classroom, using newspaper articles as a way to help your students understand different sociological concepts with current and innovative research…

How to use the Crawler to find articles for your classes…

All of the posts in site are fully searchable, using the ‘Search’ function on the left-hand side of the site (about halfway down). Using this function, you can look for news stories on particular topics like race, gender, sexuality, youth, and work – among many others.

Another handy way to navigate the Crawler is to use the tag cloud on the left-hand side of the page. (See this for an explanation of a ‘tag cloud.’) This part of the site displays the number of posts on a particular topic by the size of the text. For example, the tag ‘culture’ is used more frequently than the tag ‘youth.’ Although stories are available for both of these topics.

Visit the Contexts Crawler at www.thesocietypages.org/crawler

For beginners: What is a blog?