Prep Prep Hooray!

After stalking me for weeks, the spring semester has finally caught up. I’ve spent a while ignoring it. I was able to get out of town for about four weeks and see some family and friends back in Alabama I haven’t seen in months and, in some cases, years.

And, like a good rookie prof, I brought some of my class materials with me so that I could spend some time prepping during the holidays. Any of you veteran profs want to take a guess as to how much I actually accomplished?

Right. But, I did complete and post my syllabi. I even added an exam to one of my classes (much to the faux chagrin of some of my students who follow me on Facebook).

Now I’m back in work mode. I spent Friday sorting through a month’s worth of mail, answering e-mails, and scheduling important dates during a faculty meeting (in addition to signing up for summer and fall classes). Now I’m spending my weekend doing more classroom prep. My three classes for this semester are Media Writing (which I taught last semester), Feature Writing and Media History.

I’ve tweaked Media Writing a bit, incorporating some things I learned while teaching it last semester. I’m still building the history and feature writing classes because I haven’t taught them yet. I’m spending today working on Media History. I’m familiar with both the textbook and a methods book I’m using, but I’m having to reread them in their entirety because they are new editions. And, I’m going to experiment with my teaching method for this class.

I’m thinking of doing a freestyle, no PowerPoint slides kind of thing. I want to foster discussion and thinking, not lectures and note taking. I’ve noticed that no matter what I’m talking about, as soon as a new slide pops up on the screen, students drop their heads and start typing/writing everything that’s on the screen. I find that to be kind of a drag on the class. So, I’m hoping that they’ll instead focus on our conversations and respond to my cues, such as “Hey, I want you to remember this.”

Am I being naive? Perhaps walking into a rookie prof pitfall?

P.S. When I talk of prepping for classes, I can’t help but think of my colleagues at Chung Dahm Learning in Seoul. It seemed like we were ALWAYS prepping for our classes. That’s one of the reasons why they’re among the best teachers in South Korea!
2 Responses to “Prep Prep Hooray!”
  1. Sheree says:

    Hi Butler,I gave up on PPT during my last year at Oklahoma State. Experimented by NOT using any PPT during lectures and everything seemed to work much better. I still made the PPTs I had at the time available via WebCT or D2L. Since then, I don't use any PPT with lectures, although I occasionally distribute a handout containing a selection of various slides from years past, sometimes updated, if I think the students need something extra.I've also experimented with using a "notes outline" with key concepts to help students take notes. I've found that most students won't take any notes unless they are prompted. Not sure why that is, so I came up with the idea of using an outline containing just enough information to begin to clue them into what might be important. Most students seemed to like this, although one evaluation said it was "too confusing." Not sure whether I'll continue the practice. Just an experiment in one course that, by it's nature, has to be more lecture (media law).

  2. Butler Cain says:

    Glad to hear it has been working for you, Sheree. I like your outline idea, too. I'm planning to give my students an outline of each chapter assignment to make sure they focus on the really important stuff I want to discuss in class.

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