Classhack: Two Words

keytermsToday’s classhack comes courtesy of Dr. YeVette Howard, director of our college’s QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan), which aims to improve our students’ reading and to foster a culture of reading on our campuses. At a recent professional development meeting, Dr. Howard served up a platter of practical ideas for discipline-specific reading. My favorite strategy can be summed up in two words. No, that’s it: two words. Really…”Two Words.”

Dr. Howard advised us to think of two words whose meaning our students should grasp at the end of the session “if they didn’t learn anything else that day.” We should write those two words on the board at the beginning of the day’s lesson. That sounds easy enough…until you try to do it. systems-thinking

Tomorrow, my students will charge headlong into the challenging topic of muscle physiology. The vocabulary is a thicket of unfamiliar terms, and the sequence of molecular events required to move a single muscle cell is difficult to track. So what words shall I write?

I’m flirting with “sarcomere” and “depolarization,” but I suspect I’ll still be debating on the morning drive to work.

We’d love to hear what words you choose for your classes, so comment or send us an email. Maybe we can start a collection.

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2 comments on “Classhack: Two Words

  1. YeVette says:

    I sometimes ask my students at the end of class what two words we might consider the most important for the day. I also sometimes ask them to mull over our class overnight and come back to class with their two words….just some stuff to think about……

  2. What a good idea! I always like the idea of shifting some of the responsibility for the class community onto the learners themselves…with my guidance, of course. The longer I teach, the more I realize that good prompts can be magical. To quote General Patton, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Students sometimes need some well-crafted parameters, but I’m still learning to let go of the reins as often as possible.

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