Teaching Journal: English 160 (After Third Attempt)

Last Thursday, I taught a section of English 160 as part of the teaching requirement for Tech Com 404 (Teaching Technical Communiaction). This was quite different from the previoius teaching sessions I conducted for the course. In the previous teaching attempts, I had the students participate in some group activities that were provided by Dr. Northcut.

In this teaching attempt (yes, I call them teaching attempts because I really have no effective means of gauging if the students have learned the material), I actually delivered content to the students. That day we discussed recommendation reports. Dr. Northcut again provided me with the content for the course. However, I wasn’t very keen on the color scheme she selected for her slides, so I “dressed them up” a little using Missouri S&T English 160 template that I put together. It worked quite well. I also added a moderate level of sophisticated animation so that the point that I was talking about would stand out from the preceding points (it’s not hard to set this up in PowerPoint–it usually takes less than a minute per slide, depending on how complicated you decide to make the slide).

I also wanted to have some “insurance” against any technical difficulties that might occur with the campus network, so I brought my own laptop and projector to class. As it happened, this turned out quite well because I used the laptop/projector for presenting the content for the course and I used the in-class computer/Smartboard to access Blackboard and show students where the presentation was as well as to bring up the quotes Dr. Northcut recommended I use from her first day of class. This way I could have multiple displays going doing different things and presenting different content. I thought it worked out well (especially since the network behaved itself).

As I went through the presentation, I made continual reference to the textbook for the class, emphasizing that all of the material about recommendation reports is contained therein. I also hammered on the point that they need to work on effective design (chapter 11) as well as the revision process (chapter 8).

All in all, the entire class went pretty well. Unfortunately, I still can’t get them to talk much. This may be the hardest part of teaching is to bring students out of their self-imposed cocoons and actually have a voice in the class. I can’t say that I would be any different in their place, though.