Active teaching of law

This blog entry is intended to embellish my active teaching video. In the vid, I discuss keeping even large classes energized and motivated by working them and demanding reciprocation of your energy. By this, I mean you move around the room like a talk-show host, speaking to your slides or whatever other material you want to get students involved in, actively seeking out the students at the back or hiding behind screens. Occasionally sit down next to a student, move right in beside them and ask them their name and ask how they are. This is all done in a pleasant and humorous manner, keeping it light and not bullying. When you have their engagement, ask them the question by using their name, and ask for comment for the class – and they do respond.

I say in the vid that you should be exhausted at the end of these classes, because of the intensity of the interaction. You won’t be able to do this for all classes – it would cease to work. So sprinkle these lectures throughout, use them to introduce new topics by getting the class to start thinking about and getting engaged in the topic early. Then you should take them with you the rest of the way.

I also mention a grand debate I use in class. This is to give the students a chance to engage in oral presentation, but also to give them responsibility for their own learning. So the students organize and run the debate themselves, from a convenor who organizes the teams, to the layout of the room on the day and the organization of involvement of the whole class. I just enjoy and present prizes at the end.

The pub quiz is old fashioned – all students close laptops and just compete in teams while I call out the questions, aimed at revision on a particular topic. It often gets quite rowdy and competitive. The only thing missing is the alcohol! Small prizes for the winning team.

The Haiku competition runs the whole semester and is voluntary but competitive. We collect Haiku on the Wiki on Learn for all to see. Students can enter as many as they like. The Haiku test their skills presenting on a legal issue in a formal writing style, and it’s fun!Students can also talk about the course in a Haiku, so that gives me feedback too.

Good luck developing your own active learning and teaching exercises!

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