Workshop teaching, because it is not-for-credit and often one-off, involves a combination of learning prompts (LPs) and classroom assessment/evaluation techniques (CATs) that are mnemonic and/or formative in nature:
prebrief — introduce yourself (and signal the inclusive and interrogative nature of the workshop), survey the room (about the learners and what they already know)* and on that basis prompt an agenda for the class
teaching — mini-lessons as LPs (asking questions as you go) → templates and mnemonics
practice — individual and collaborative CATs like
- minute papers — writing a brief response to questions like “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?” (constructive) or “What important question remains unanswered?” (deconstructive).
- muddiest point cards — jotting down a quick response to the question “What was the muddiest [most unclear or confusing] point in the workshop?”
- classroom polls
- chain notes — passing around an envelope with a question on it into which a written response can be placed.
- directed paraphrases — writing a lay person’s “translation” of something from the workshop, aimed at a specified audience.
- one-sentence summaries — writing a single sentence that answers the question “Who does what to whom, when, where, how, and why?”
- focussed lists — listing ideas closely related to a term, name or concept from a mini-lesson or elsewhere in the workshop.
- what’s the principle problem-solving — clarifying the problem at hand and deciding what principle(s) to apply to solve it.
- application cards/articles — writing down a real-world application for a concept — or a short article about it.
- memory matrixes — filling in a table where the rows and column headings are given but the cells are left empty to categorize information and illustrate relationships (similar to categorizing grids, where a table is given with two or three superordinate categories filled in and we are asked to fill in the gaps by unscrambling a list of subordinate elements that belong in one or another of those categories).
- empty (or half-empty) outlines — filling in an empty or partially completed outline of a workshop.
- learner-led test Qs — writing mock test or exam questions and model answers.
- suggestion boxes.
debrief — summarize and prompt further action
N.B. Don’t just think about
- what you will teach (content) and
- when you will teach it (sequence, duration), but
- how you will teach, i.e., your
- mode (teacher- or student-led, co-constructed; content- or task-driven) and
- means of delivery (telling: lecturing, talking, or showing: performing, modelling; powerpoint, images, document camera, whiteboard, flashcards, etc.), and
- where you will teach (the room and how you use it), not to mention
- why (although you need to decide how much you want brief the learners on the aims and objectives of the class — some learning can remain beneath the surface).
* This is known as a background knowledge probe: a short-answer or multi-choice questionnaire given to students at the start of a workshop, designed to uncover students’ preconceptions.
- Angelo, T.A. & Cross, P.K. Classroom Assessment Techniques. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.
- Davis, B.G. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.