The spring semester is finally upon me this week, and despite having coming down with a plague that has lasted a week (and counting), my syllabi (syllabuses/syllabantes) are finally coming into their final form. One challenge this semester is that each school I teach at prescribes a different textbook: Bonds at one, Burkholder at the other. Then to confuse things further, I am teaching one course that covers 1750 to the present, and then another that covers 1800 to the present. And the former is for non-majors, and the latter is for majors. We'll see if I can keep this all straight, or if by April I am in a hopeless mire accidentally teaching the mechanics of set theory to hapless non-majors who are expecting a lecture on Tchaikovsky. Cross your fingers.
I have a query though: one of my goals this semester is to incorporate more small group work. I have never done any before, largely because when I was an undergraduate I hated such things. Looking back, I think I hated it partly because I was shy, and it always involved awkward social dynamics. And I also hated it because if one was a good student (I wasn't always, but sometimes I was), one might be paired with a bunch of idiots. And that's unpleasant. Plus, a lot of group work feels like it is slightly condescending busywork, which drove me nuts.
That said, I'm trying to experiment on weaning myself from straight lecture-and-discussion teaching, and so I'm wondering if anybody out there has ideas. Have you incorporated group work in a way that was useful for you, and the students?
Thanks in advance!
5 days ago