Suggestions for making classes more interactive

One of my introverted junior colleagues asked for suggestions on how to keep students engaged for a 3 hour block class without completely exhausting him and also to make sure they don’t skip the readings before class.  Here’s some of my suggestions.

I really like Boice’s suggestion with teaching, “get them to do the work,” and keep that in mind when I’m coming up with new class preps.

Here’s some more targeted suggestions:

– Provide them with discussion questions to go along with their readings, then hit those discussion questions in class discussion. Since everybody will have something written down, you can cold-call and/or round robin around the table to get everyone’s answers.
– Have them come up with discussion questions.  Have them post the discussion questions online prior to class for everyone to read.
– Ask them to present on specific topics. (I find presenting about the details of different public programs to be kind of boring, so I’ll let them pick off a list for one of my classes. It’s something they can present on without a huge amount of econ knowledge.)
– Have them find literature or news stories that directly relate to the topic for the week.
– Have them follow people of interest on Twitter and pick a tweet or two that deal with the topics of interest in you class. You can start class going around the table and asking them about what’s going on in current events based on their twitter feeds.
– Cancel regular class prior to a major written assignment but require them to stop by your office individually to get feedback on their papers prior to submission.
– Have them workshop each other’s papers in class. (Your campus writing center may have resources to help you do this.)
– Debate
– In-class exercises
– Guest lecture
– Ask the library for help on research
– Show videos, discuss the videos

What suggestions do you have for breaking up long classes and keeping students engaged?

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It’s not you, it’s me: We really are busy!

A lot of folks on the interwebs have been talking about a need for socialization, and wanting new IRL friends.

I remember feeling like that when DC1 was a toddler, but I don’t feel that so much now.  Really I haven’t felt like that that since DC2 was born.  So some of that is that I’m just getting a lot of interaction at home, both overall and with people whose maturity/cuteness quotient is greater than 1– as DC1 grows up, interacting with hir is more like adult interaction, and there’s only so much personal contact this introvert can have before it’s too much.

Part of it, I think, is that I get a lot of interaction at work.  I consider a lot of my colleagues to be friends, and I get some socializing each day.  It helps a lot that even in this male-dominated field, my department has a lot of women!  And there’s junior guys at similar life-stages to my own, so we can talk about kid-related stuff, from, you know, an economist perspective.  I don’t do a ton of socializing at home other than the occasional kids’ party.

Right now, we’re living someplace super easy to socialize.  I have friends from high school and college within a 30 min drive (some are even in walking distance!).  DH has friends from high school and graduate school.  I’m working in the same building as professional friends.  It would be so cool if I were an extrovert or had lots and lots of free time.  (I mean, it is cool, but I’m really not taking advantage, you know?)

And it was really cool… back when we first moved here, when I was recovering from moving and didn’t realize that I had pressing deadlines about to attempt to suffocate me.  Friends from various parts of our lives used our moving here as an excuse to throw parties so we got to see a bunch of people (and often their new babies) all at once.   We had obligatory dinners or lunches with several other close friends from previous lives.

But now.  Now I am just so tired.  DH and/or I are out of town for seminars/conference/work/grants/#2’s wedding every week from the month after we got here until November.  Relatives from outside of paradise are setting up times to visit (even though we don’t have an extra bedroom).

I haven’t told my college roommate who lives a few towns over we’re in town.  I swear I will… once things settle down.  Once we have some time.  Which may be never.

It’s not that I don’t love my friends.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with cool and amazing people, both new and old.  It’s just that it’s nice to grab some time to myself.  Or with just my family.  Where I don’t have to watch what I say.  I don’t have to perform.  I can’t feel foolish.  Or I can just quietly be.  Maybe with a cat or two.  And I do have close friends who accept me for who I am… but they’re still not close enough that they want me hanging around without pants.  That’s really an immediate family-only thing.

Do you want more social interaction?