African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) Inaugural Conference
Dr. Michael Retallick and Dr. Greg Miller recently returned from an excellent conference hosted by the University of Ghana from October 23rd - 25th, 2019. While at the conference, Dr. Retallick presented on lesson planning and introduced the work of the PBEA Professional Learning Community to faculty from new universities. Dr. Miller conducted workshops on implementing student response systems like Kahoot and Poll Everywhere in the classroom. The workshops were a excellent opportunity to create new relationships and disseminate the work of PBEA-PLC. The content and materials used are available for all users on the PBEA-PLC website.
The PBEA-PLC program may have drawn to a close, but the impacts that it has had will continue on in the classrooms and the relationships that this program have created. One way that you can keep this project going is to SHARE it! Please share the video attached with friends, colleagues, and students. Let's get the word out into the world about the great work that this association of professionals has conducted!!
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Classroom Discussion as Active Learning
Active Learning can often be difficult to achieve in the classroom for even the most veteran teachers, and yet, it is necessary to truly enhance the student's learning experience. Discussion is one of the simplest active learning tools, yet often the most difficult to execute well. The use of discussion in the classroom is important for several reasons:
(1) discussion develops critical-thinking skills
(2) it allows students to connect prior experiences with new knowledge
(3) it challenges student's current belief structure
Check out the strategies below to create new, exciting discussions in your own classrooms.
1. Focused attention Often as lecturers, the expectation that is set is that students remain quiet and respectful. Unfortunately, quiet students may just nod along, text friends, or be working on other homework during class. As long as this behavior is not disruptive and addressed by the teacher, the behavior continues. As a tool to change this behavior, teachers could start by asking better questions. Instead of a simple yes/no question, frame the question in such a way that it allows for many perspectives.
2. Set the Stage Create the learning environment that you want to facilitate on the first day of class. Instead of checking names off of a roster, create an activity to get students using their voices.
3. Syllabus Quizzing Rather than reading your syllabus word-for-word, pass it out to students and develop an interactive quiz to get students talking.
4. Discussing Discussions In one of your early classroom meetings, take the time to have a brief conversation with your students about discussions. Find out what they like. Ask what they dislike. create guidelines for how the classroom discussions will be run. Making students collaborative members of the team makes them feel valued and necessary.
5. Teams Discussion groups in especially large classrooms can feel particularly daunting, yet they are possible. Early in the semester, organize students into teams. Students will work within this team for the duration of the semester, and it gives them the opportunity to practice discussion skills without standing up in front of hundreds of peers.
6. Think/Pair/Share Assign students a partner, then ask questions that allow the partners to discuss and consider their answers. Rather than asking students to share their own answers, have them share their partners great ideas.