During the last week of our College Success Seminar, I have a number of activities that have become a tradition. These activities are spread over the 3 hours that the course meets that week:
1. As a course review, students call out the topics we have covered this semester, and I record the list on a white board while students write them in their journal books.
2. Students now discuss with a partner what the most personally valuable topics were for them and why. Time allowing, I have pairs join another pair, and continue to discuss their choices for personally valuable topics.
3. Next, as feedback for me (and to help cement the review in their memories), students write and I collect their responses to two sentence stems:
My most valuable discoveries/rediscoveries in this course include…
Changes I would recommend for improving this course include…
4. Students are now invited to come to the front of the class and speak from the heart (not from notes) about what were their most valuable discoveries/rediscoveries in this course. I ask students to take personal ownership of their discoveries (“I learned…” rather than “What you learn in this class is…”). I video-record their brief presentations (which I sometimes show at the beginning of the next semester’s class). I play the video back after class, and students who want to see themselves presenting to the group can stay to watch it. About half stay.
5. Students and I bring food to share for a potluck meal. When the meal is underway, students read their final written projects, and we all applaud.
6. As the final activity, we focus on one person at a time (in my class we do it by going around our circle), and classmates acknowledge that person for contributions he/she has made to them or to the class during the semester. This activity creates laughter and sometimes tears when someone learns what a positive impact his/her actions have had on a classmate.
Here’s the collateral learning I hope these six steps have: I want to create a lasting memory of the course information, classmates, and the personal lessons learned. I also want to intertwine in their memories the social/experiential aspect of a learning community. Finally, I want them to remember their power as an individual to impact others, as well as themselves, with their actions and their ideas. I want them to leave believing that who they are, what they know and express, and what they do…matters.
–Skip Downing, Facilitator, On Course Workshop, Skip@OnCourseWorkshop.com