Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Classroom Activity that Worked Pretty Well

In my crypto class, my students are working on semester-long projects. (Not all of them are writing papers.)

Up to this point I've had incremental deadlines: submitting a topic, a list of possible sources, a proposed thesis statement/main idea, etc. A first draft is due at the end of next week.

This week we're doing presentations, the topic is, "what I've done so far and what else I hope to accomplish." Each student talks for about five or ten minutes about his or her project. The rest of the class asks questions and provides some written feedback, including constructive suggestions.

Since there are only 11 students in the class and the classroom dynamic has been pretty laid back all semester, these presentations were fairly informal. Students would talk about background while they waited for a file to load. Instead of hooking their laptops up to the projection system in the room, we would gather around the student who was talking and look at the important images directly on the laptop screen. If anyone made PowerPoint slides, we didn't see them.

The presentations that we saw on Monday were really amazing. I think that some of the students who haven't accomplished very much are now motivated by seeing the competition.