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Teaching Without Talking

The following learning activities-- for individuals, pairs, or small groups of students-- may be used in place of, or in combination with, lecture presentations:

"Read your notes"
Give students time to check their notes and fill in any gaps.

"Read someone else's notes"
Invite students to exchange and discuss notes so that they can add to their own notes and compare approaches.

"Read some material"
Ask students to read part of a handout and note their response to it. Alternatively, ask them to read from a transparency. May be followed by small group discussion.

"Write a question"
Ask students, individually or in pairs/groups, to write down one or two precise questions on the lecture topic.

"Ask your questions"
Invite students to ask their questions of the people around them. Invite a few questions from the whole class.

"Take a test"'
Ask students to respond to a few short questions on the lecture topic. You can use multiple choice or true/false questions. Present the questions on a transparency or the chalkboard.

"Make an estimate"
Ask students to make an estimate (e.g. costs of designing a product, range of accuracy of an instrument). They can compare their ideas in buzz groups. Then show them the correct answers.

"Set a problem"
Ask students to set a simple problem that is based upon the principles in the lecture. May be done individually, or in pairs/groups.

"Solve a problem/Answer a question"
Set a problem or question based on the lecture topic. Ask students to solve the problem or answer the question, individually, or in small groups, or individually followed by group work.

"Give an example"
Ask students to invent examples of the presented concept and compare them with another student.

"Think about it"
Invite students to think about the implications of the lecture material and write a brief personal response.

Ask students to discuss, in small groups, the material presented in the lecture.

"Watch a video clip"
Illustrate the lecture concept with a video, giving students clear instructions on what to look for.

"Observe a demonstration"
Ask students to watch your brief demonstration of the principle/strategy that has been presented, with clear instructions on what to look for. Or, ask students to provide a demonstration, if appropriate.

"List pros/cons"
Ask students to consider briefly likely advantages and disadvantages, or strengths and weaknesses, of a procedure or theory. Then outline your view of the advantages and disadvantages, so they can compare their views.

Depending on the purpose of the task, the size of the group, and the amount of time available, you may ask students to share with the class (orally or visually) the outcomes of their individual and/or group work, or you may take questions from the class after they have worked at the task for some time, or you may simply provide your own answer/views after a certain period of time and then move on to the next topic.

  • Adapted by the Instructional Development Centre from Dr. George Brown's workshop materials, May 1994, Queen's University.

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    Last updated June 24, 1997

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