Alternatives to Lecturing

Create Magical Presentations

magica presentationsWhenever you deliver a presentation, make sure it has a little MAGIC: it should be Memorable, Alive, Gripping, Interactive, and Constructive.  For examples of how you can do this, view my blog post on creating magical presentations.



Create a Video

The concepts we teach would improve learning if we included audio and visuals. They would be even better if we used those visuals and audio to create an animated video.  When I began teaching, I used Microsoft Photostory and MovieMaker to create short introductory lessons, but there are many more tools that are available today…and they are FREE!  Here are a few that I like. Each one allows me to incorporate my own text while using built-in images.

  1. Adobe Spark Video.  Don’t let the Adobe fool you. This is completely free.  All you need is a computer or a mobile device; that’s right, there’s an app.  After choosing a slide layout, add an icon, personal picture, or text.  You can add your voice as well to each slide.  Add as many slides as you need, and when you are done, change the design.  Add a song, and voila!  You can download a file or share a link.  I’ve started uploading the mp4 to YouTube!  Here is an example of a video I created for one of my classes Fall 2016.
  2. PowToon.  When I first learned about PowToon, it took me hours to  – not figure it out.   It was not very intuitive and quite cumbersome.  However, after several of my students successfully completed Powtoons, I decided to give it another try.  This time, a few years after I discovered it, it wasn’t as challenging. It was actually easier to use than it had been a few years prior.  Here is a PowToon that I created to introduce a project for one of my classes Summer 2016.
  3. Google Story Builder.  This is one of the newer tools that I happened upon the summer of 2016.  This tool allows you to create a limited “story” using text only.  As the author, you determine a plot and the characters. Then,  you type your story. Here is a sample story I created for my Education classes Fall 2016.  You can’t save, edit, or download, and you are limited in how much text you can include, but you are provided a link when you are ready to share.

Any of these can be created to view in class or as a homework assignment before the class session.  Using these tools will also help you cut the instructional part of your lesson to a length that is most suitable for learning.

Chunk your Lectures

Many of us have heard that we should not lecture for more than 15 minutes at a time? Why? Because most students tune out after about 15 minutes. But what do you do if you have more than 15 minutes worth of content that has to be covered?  CHUNK your lecture.

When we chunk, we divide our lesson into pieces. These pieces may be topics, steps, dates, etc.  We teach one chunk, and then we provide students with an opportunity (5-10 minutes) to review/practice/apply what was just taught.  Then, we teach the next chunk and give students an opportunity to review/practice/apply the new material.  We continue this process until all “chunks” have been taught.  Here are a few ideas of what students can do during the 5-10 minute review/practice/apply part of this cycle:

  • Complete a Crossword Puzzle – Before you begin teaching your “chunks,”  give students a crossword puzzle that has the definitions or examples of all of the topics you are covering. Once you are done with a chunk, set the timer for no more than 5 minutes and tell students that they have until the timer sounds to fill in as much of the crossword puzzle as possible.  Once time is up, continue with your lecture (for no more than 15 minutes). When you have finished teaching the chunk, set the timer for students again and have them continue to fill out the crossword puzzle. Continue this until all chunks have been taught.  You can use Armored Penguin to create crossword puzzles or other puzzles.
  • Play Jeopardy – If you have a lesson that can be divided into at least 5 chunks, create a jeopardy game that students can play in between your lecture chunks.  You can create a Jeopardy game using the Quiz Show feature in PowerPoint (go to File – New, and type Quiz Show into the search portal), or you can build a jeopardy template using Jeopardy Labs.  Jeopardy labs also lets you search for jeopardy templates created by others.
  • Play Bingo – After your first lecture chunk, give each student a BINGO card.  The next few slides in your presentation should be BINGO questions.  You can display 3-5 questions that cover what you just taught in your lecture chunk, and students will search for the answer on their bingo card.  Once you’ve covered all questions, move on to the next chunk and repeat this process until the end of the lecture.  You can create custom bingo cards here.
  • Give a Quiz – This is not a formal assessment, but this is an easy way to make sure students understand each of the chunks.  If you are using presentation software, build in multiple choice and true/false questions after each chunk.  Give students an opportunity to answer these questions aloud and discuss any misconceptions/questions students may have.

If you have any questions about any of these strategies, please let me know using the Ask Latoya link.



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