Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: The Puzzle

Application: Kids to College – a launching program toward college exploration for sixth-graders in the local school districts surrounding Cal State Fullerton

Educator: Lea Beth Lewis, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, California State University, Fullerton, CA

Implementation: The students arrive in groups of about 30-40, sometimes with a teacher. I have playful music in the classroom, and the College of Health and Human Development’s webpage on the overhead. We talk about each major in the College (Child and Adolescent Development, Human Services, Health Science, Kinesiology, and Nursing) and how they all need one important element for students to be successful–teamwork.  I introduce the “teamwork” activity by dividing them into groups of 5 or so and asking them to choose a leader. The leader of each group comes forward, and I kneel down, look them in the eyes, hand them a small puzzle box and say “put the puzzle together.” I circulate the room writing down all the comments I hear, and wait until all groups have finished. I ask them to tell me what the directions were – often this takes time! I ask if this was a race or a competition. Then I read back their comments to them, to much laughter. Raising the overhead, I have written on the whiteboard “What if how you did the puzzle is how you do your life?” After we talk about any truth they find in that question, we review the majors again and how they work on a team.

2. Strategy: Adopting Lifelong Learning /Developing Wisdom (Adapted from A Fish Story in the OC text)

Application: Critical Thinking

Educator: Richard Benard, Dean, Bryant & Stratton College (Willoughby Hills Campus), OH

Implementation: I use “A Fish Story” as a course diagnostic the first day of class. Prior to the class, I place class handouts throughout the classroom for students to “find” later. At the beginning of the class I tell my students they are going to have a diagnostic test for the first half of the class. They are given handouts of “A Fish Story” with two questions concerning the story: 1) What do you think the professor in the Fish Story wanted his students to learn from their experience?  2) What do you think I (your instructor) want you to learn from the story?  I also give the students a list of questions concerning the class that can only be answered if they have a course syllabus, the course calendar, the text and other handouts from the class (all of these items are what I “planted” around the room prior to the class). Once I give them the handouts and the instructions that they are to answer the questions (without telling them that all of the resources they need are somewhere in the room), I promptly leave the room for 45 minutes.  During this time I stand outside of the classroom and observe through the window what is going on in the classroom.  In the beginning, everyone starts reading.  It becomes obvious however, when they get to the questions about the class that they have no idea how to proceed.  Eventually, a few students start looking around the room and then conversations start and usually all but a few students catch on to what is happening; they have to find and use resources that were not given to them at the beginning of the assignment.  My peers think I’m crazy to leave the students alone for 45 minutes on the first day of class.  However, this exercise sets the tone for the rest of the semester.  As I explain to the students after the activity: “This Critical Thinking class is designed to make you use and rely on your own thinking skills –not mine, and if you truly want to become critical thinkers you must learn to use all of the resources available to you!”  I have found that the students enjoy this activity and find it a refreshing and practical way to learn about the class as opposed to the first day handouts and lectures they get from their other instructors.

3. Strategy: Responsibility Model & The Language of Responsibility

Application: Training for Athletic Study Hall Leaders

Educator: Kim Sherrill, Asst. Director, Academic Services for Athletes, Appalachian State University, NC

Implementation: The purpose here is to help study hall leaders identify the difference between Victim and Creator language and coach student athletes to use Creator Language. Present the Responsibility Model and then have study hall leaders do the Language of Responsibility activity. Next, ask study hall leaders to brain storm common “Victim Language” they hear (or can imagine hearing) student athletes say in study hall. Next, have role plays in which study hall leaders practice identifying Victim language and intervene, helping student athletes translate their Victim statement into a Creator statement. Hold a discussion of each role play, identifying what the study hall leaders did well and what else they could do to help student athletes take responsibility for their outcomes and experiences both academically and athletically. Two weeks later, ask study hall leaders to present examples of Victim Language they heard and how they handled it.

4. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: CAMP Course (College Assistance Migrant Program)

Educator: Jenica Raigoza, CAMP Instructor, Heritage University, WA

Implementation: Have students write a reflection journal entry on how things are going for them academically. Next have students get into pairs and use the journal entry as the first step in the Wise Choice Process (What’s  your situation?). Have students work through the additional five steps of the Wise Choice Process. Afterwards students write a second reflection journal entry about their next steps and what they learned from the process.

5. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Ethnic Studies

Educator: Juan Gamboa, Jr., Instructor, San Jose City College, CA

Implementation: The goal is to help students understand and make connections between motivation, victim/creator language, and self-awareness and leaders within social movements of the 1960’s/1970’s. For example, select four social change actors you want to examine in, for instance, the Chicano movement:

  1. Reies Lopez Tijerina
  2. Cesar Chavez
  3. Corky Gonzalez
  4. Jose Gutierrez

or especially comparatively:

  1. Stokely Carmichael
  2. Leonard Peltier
  3. Corky Gonzalez
  4. Richard Aoki

The idea is to achieve a more focused, detailed study of these people to bring about a larger, richer, in-depth discussion. Create home groups of four. Each student chooses the person they want to learn more about and then meet in expert groups with other students who chose same person. Students will discuss their subject’s motivation, use of language of responsibility, and/or self awareness, then return to their home group and report back and share what they learned.

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