If you teach content classes, it can be tempting to rock the PowerPoint out like a champion with slides full of text. However, there is a much better way to teach content classes! Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about teaching content classes, minus the PPT death.
PPT Death Screens
When I walk by the open classroom doors of some lecturers at my university, I can see the PPT screens of death. 12-point font with full sentences and no titles or subtitles.
What is the main point of all that gibberish? Who could possibly tell?
Lecture Death Style
This is often combined with a teacher standing at the computer, either reading word for word from said slide or from the textbook. It really and truly does seem like death, like my heart rate and brain activity would slowly be in decline, until I eventually went comatose.
Almost all the students in these classes are either sleeping or using their phones.
My Semester of Content Teaching
This semester, I’m all about teaching content classes since I have advanced writing for English majors and English presentations and interviews. My goal is to always avoid the PPT/Lecture death since I’m all about student-centred classrooms. Read on for my tips on teaching content classes, minus the lecture and PowerPoint death.
Want to know how you can get a university job in South Korea? How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams
Tips for Teaching Content Classes
Simple!!! Then make your slides even simpler. Main points only! ONLY! Refer students to the relevant pages in the textbook for more information. Make your slides available online so students can just pay attention and listen and not worry about taking notes.
Start simple and make it even simpler.
2. Never Read Word for Word
People can read much faster than you can speak. If I have a page or two in the textbook I want students to absorb, I’ll throw up 4 or 5 questions on a slide and then, I’ll give them 6-10 minutes (depending on density and difficulty) to read the passage and then think about answers to the questions.
After that, students close their books and do the little “test” with a partner. Finally, I very briefly hit the main points and answer any questions.
People read faster than you can talk.
3. Use Variety of Activities
I do the reading on your own/answer questions with a partner as previously mentioned. I also use a million and one other things, such as group discussion, doing an exercise in the book and then discussing the answers in a group, standing up and finding a new partner to talk about something, warm-up discussion questions, watching a video and talking about it, worksheets, etc.
The sky is the limit in terms of what you can do besides lectures.
4. Test what you Teach
If students know they have to know whatever you’re teaching them for a test, they’ll have A LOT more incentive to pay attention.
Test what you teach!
5. Make Classes Unpredictable
Make announcements each class, but at random times, sometimes at the beginning, sometimes at the end. Throw out a serious test hint every couple of classes. Don’t give answers to every single exercise students do. Predictability breeds apathy.
Keep students on their toes.
6. Consider the Bilingual Method
If you share a language with students besides English, consider using it. Some things just take way too long to explain and if you know the vocabulary word in that shared language, just use it. Find out more: What is the Bilingual Method?
Results from Jackie’s Content Classes
In my classes, nobody sleeps. Like maybe out of 20 teaching hours, I’ll have one sleepy student who can’t keep their eyes open. I quite rarely notice anyone sneaking out for a smoke or excessive bathroom breaks, etc. Very few students are on their phones. Sure, some students look bored sometimes, but that’s par for the course since I feel no need to be an edutainer. Maybe looking bored means they’re actually focusing. Who knows. What I do sincerely hope is this:
My students are actually learning something, at least more than what they’re learning when they’re sleeping in their other classes
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Teaching Content Classes: Join the Conversation
Do you have any tips, tricks or ideas for teaching content classes? Leave a comment and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.