Session 5.2: Making Lectures Interactive (PM)

At 1:00, following lunch, Bunce holds a debriefing on the morning session. She asks participants to address the questions she posed before going to the lecture. In talking about what "worked," one participant notes that the lecture seemed to be more material- than instructor-focused. Others point to a range of techniques that kept students engaged and thinking: the use of real world examples; the visuals provided by the computer simulations and the student performances; the instructor coming up into the audience, away from the front of the classroom; the use of humor; small group work; having students convert their verbal and mental conversations into written text during the lecture itself. In talking about what didn't work, some participants note that the instructor seemed to go very fast (although another participant reported that in conversation with some students after the lecture, they felt the pace had been too slow). Other participants feel that there was no room for questions, that all the questions had been supplied by the instructor, and that the small group work may actually have made it difficult to connect concepts because the lecture was so "broken up."

Bunce also addresses questions from participants. One participant wants to know how to incorporate the text in an interactive lecture format. Bunce argues that students approach the text in two different ways: before the lecture as a novel ("to get the lay of the land") and after the lecture as a kind of encyclopedia (Bunce has produced a textbook titled Chemistry in Context, potentially useful in courses which incorporate interactive lectures). Another participant inquires about what student notes in an interactive lecture generally (or should) look like. Bunce notes that they should incorporate the insights of their small group work but doesn't describe other differences from notes in a more traditional lecture. She says that after lecture, though, students should get together and edit the notes of a partner. This not only motivates them to take useful notes during the lecture, it also provides additional help in comprehending the material.

Bunce then offers advice on planning an interactive lecture. Six steps are involved in the planning: Bunce then divides participants into eight small groups of approximately five members each. She asks that each group include one chemist and at least one K12 faculty member.

She asks the groups to work for approximately 45 minutes to develop a lesson plan for an interactive lecture which teaches the concepts contained in approximately 10 pages of a chemistry textbook. (The pages focus on the properties of solids.)

At approximately 2:30, Bunce calls the groups back together and asks one group member to briefly describe the lesson plan collectively developed. The lesson plans incorporate a range of techniques to enable students to better interact with the material: physical demonstrations of the difference between molecular and network solids; assigning "real world" problems for small group work (e.g., what type of material would make the best ice skate blade, or why do higher altitudes require longer cooking times); asking students to develop concept maps; using application rather than comprehension questions (e.g., not "What are molecular solids?" but "Which of the following materials are 'weak' and which are 'strong' and why?").

After a short break, Bunce asks participants to meet in their respective curriculum teams and develop a lesson plan for an interactive mini-lecture around a concept central to their fields. She asks that each group assign a "skeptic," a member of the group who actively questions whether certain strategies will really work with na´ve learners.

At approximately 4:45, Bunce calls participants back together and team leaders briefly discuss the deliberations of their group, the concept they might teach, and how they might teach it. The session on interactive lectures closes at 5:00 p.m.

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