Workshop Teaching

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.


See Classroom Assessment Techniques at Iowa State and Hawaii.


  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s