Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Session 2 Part 1
• Trickle in start --- introduce yourselves to
others in the room
• Were you here for the first session? If not, did
you review the first session blog posts?
• What do you remember from either the
session or the blog that was interesting?
• What did you experiment with that was
different than what you might have done
SOPHIA’S STORY I
Dear Hope and William,
I have been eager to jumpstart how I have been approaching the basic intro to acting course for some time. The
curriculum/content is fairly set, but I have wanted to try different strategies to create a more dynamic experience
for the students (and myself!).
I was particularly taken by the idea of maximizing team aspects to the course experience as much as
possible. From our workshop, I wanted to take the idea of questions -- small ones for each class and the larger
one/s for the course -- to be made more explicit. I also wanted to invite the students to engage by making more
space to share their starting point with the material, to meet the students where they are.
For the first class, I tried a visual mapping exercise. I asked the students to form small groups and riff on the first
words that came to mind when they thought of the idea of Acting (What is Acting?). Individually they came up
with five words, which they shared only in their small group. They were then asked to come up with one word the
group could agree on. That group word became the starting point of the branches for the mind map. I also asked
them to come up with an image, which a representative from each group drew next to their word. (Next time, I
would also have different colors for each of the branches!) It was then extremely organic to ask the students what
came to mind based on each word, creating patterns, repetitions, contradictions, specific references, etc. They
could not stop talking -- and listening! I simply acted as scribe and transcribed everything I heard on the board
and when it was full we all looked together to observe the cumulative, collaborative, non-hierarchical, collective
thought. I then mentioned that this is our starting place -- some of what was on the board will be confirmed
through the experience of the course and some of it will be fall away as we test everything! I took a picture of the
class map for our ANGEL site and will forward to the workshop.
SOPHIA’S STORY II
I also tackled differently the way I assigned and asked them to process reading and
preparation for discussion. I had them again get into groups of two. From a short
list of questions, they got to choose which two they would focus on for the
reading. I asked them to prepare sharing their responses to the reading questions
in their own words for the next class. I also shared that the list of questions was
the quiz itself they would all take in two weeks. This energized them to be
prepared and listen to each other for the next class, and to do well on the
upcoming quiz. Simultaneously, as is the nature of acting work, the exercises were
approached in class by reinforcing the language they used in discussion. This team
assignment approach involves much more scaffolding which seems not so much to
hold the student's hand, but rather to give him/her a specific, doable focus.
This group work not only ties into the key values of the class, i.e., collaboration,
but also helps to build a safe and solid environment in which to take creative risks,
strengthening them for individual presentation work ahead.
As a professional, I am so grateful to have the opportunity for this kind of baseline
professional development. I am deeply appreciative of the work and effort to plan
and organize what for me has been a much-needed tuneup.