These are some seriously short chapters. They offer some concrete, well-explained activity ideas tied to specific purposes AND tied to a “classic concept” of straight-up ed psych.
Observing Group Behavior – people exhibit three kinds of predictable behaviors in groups:
- task-oriented (initiating, summarizing, etc.)
- group-building (encouraging, compromising, etc.)
- self-oriented (blocking, bulldozing, etc.)
Renner suggests specifically teaching these before doing a lot of group work – it can help people be more aware of their role in making a productive group.
He also references Schultz’s stages of groups, specifying that they can happen in any order and often repeat:
- need for inclusion
- need for control
- need for affection
Rallying Learning Circles – ask a question and go around the circle letting each participant answer round-robin. Each question should start with a different person. Circles can be the whole class or sub-groups. This is a way to gather ideas and a great strategy for showing that input from all learners is welcome.
Brewing Brainstorms – to generate ideas without judging them. Post the topic in writing. End with evaluation, such as selecting the top three.
Directing Role-Plays – to add some real life into class, and to highlight different points of view. Set the stage, direct the play, and debrief. Interesting tips for intervening: have the performers reverse roles; stop them in the middle and ask what they’d like to change; direct them to exaggerate; allow them to turn to the audience and ask for help if they’re stuck. Renner also ties this to body language and work done by Mehrabian about how much facial expression and tone of voice convey. It’s now on the syllabus.
Teaching by Demonstration – Renner suggests watching Julia Child’s cooking show and John Cleese’s management training videos. I added them to the syllabus. He ties this to Gagne’s nine conditions for effective instruction.
- Gain and control attention
- Inform the learners of the expected outcome
- Stimulate recall of relevant prerequisites
- Present new material
- Offer guidance for learning
- Provide feedback
- Appraise performance
- Make transfer possible
- Ensure retention
My Overall Impressions
I didn’t find myself particularly inspired to ask questions much deeper than “how can I apply this?” And I think for such short and concrete chapters, that’s probably forgiveable.
These chapters are useful to me, especially in thinking about how to work with my advanced ESL class. A more challenging question to me is how to apply them in our GED classes, which currently have a little less structure.
The brainstorming chapter, as cursory as I found it, resonated with me because that’s what my pilot syllabus has turned into – a resource brainstorm. It’s definitely valuable as such, but it will have much more value to me when I get farther along in the project and organize it in terms of what to tackle next and what’s a nice idea for “someday.”