A lecture about lecturing

How can you check for understanding during a lecture to make sure it is engaging?
—S. Ohio

Although I hated lecturing, I often felt the need to do so, particularly in advanced grades. My advice is to keep direct instruction short and avoid mindless note-taking. Some things I can suggest:

  • Have students complete anticipation guides, a reading, KWL (Know, Want-to-Know, Learned) chart, or hand-in questions related to the topic.
  • Break up the lecture into smaller segments and have them complete an activity between the segments. As a student teacher my cooperating teacher taught me that a student’s attention span in minutes is equal to their grade level!
  • Hand out Cloze-format notes (blanks where key words or phrases occur) that the students fill in as the lecture progress
  • Have ‘’students respond to specific “buzz words” during the lecture to receive a small reward such as stickers or a treDevelop a mantra for the big idea of the lecture that everyone chants at intervals: “Space is really big!” ”Everything is made up of atoms!” “Living things need energy!”
  • Ask students to hold up small whiteboards or paper with happy, sad or neutral emojis indicating their understanding. An alternative is holding up a green, yellow or red card small enough to cup in their hand.
  • If the technology is available, use polling software to get responses as you go.

Don’t overlook the importance of note-taking! Use a graphic organizer like the Cornell system to help them learn.

Hope this helps!

Image credit: muhammed_hassan via pixabay

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