Small Changes Activity


Call to mind your most recent class. Can you recall the first or last five minutes? Choose to recall either the beginning or ending of your class. What was it like? (Try to imagine this from the students' perspective, i.e. not what you as the professor did or what your goals were, but what did they experience?) Spend five minutes reflecting and write a brief summary.

First five minutes
Last five minutes __
- discussion
- revisited prompt from last class
- discuss plan for day
- greetings and socializing
- reading quiz
- freewite +1
- setting up a mini-scholarly conference in that class period ... this one wins!
- feedback on feedback
- ID goals for the day, and why they matter; harrassing students; schedule questions; + quiz
- class objectives, general responses
- responding to prior nights email conversation.
- Individual work, with troubleshooting
- web searching
- escaping
- free writing, applying learning from earlier in class
- reviewing instructions for the next project

James Mill - Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning.

Mill approaches classroom practice with questions like "How do we foster a growth mindset in students?" and "How does metacognition improve student learning?" These are not specific to writing or literature instruction but can prompt us to think differently about our own teaching practices.

Let's read, pair and present on of two excerpts from his book published in the Chronicle.
Groups 1 and 2

Groups 3 and 4

Summary - What's the thrust of "The First Five Minutes...?"
  • Make efforts to call up prior learning (from course/ prior class meeting, and life)
  • Connecting with the trajectory of the "class" --
  • Get their attention; do something to make the class seem meaningful; engage; hone focus
  • Ask a question?

Summary - What's the thrust of "The Last Five Minutes...?"

  • Close the class with attention to initial quesitons
  • Challenge students to summarize what we learned?
  • Write to consolidate learning (what did they learn? What do they still need to know)?
  • Make connections to the outside world / external knowledge
  • test / probe "illusions of fluency"
  • model good "study habits" --

Group brainstorming: What are some first/last 5 minute techniques adaptable to your English 101/202 and where you are in your course plan this semester?

  • deliberateness - how to frame a self-reflective question: "Why did we do that? What did we learn?"
  • Modeling metacognition (did what you just did work?)
  • Why does this matter? (Can you connect this with something beyond this class?)
  • Find ways to signal (reinforce) important moments, such as class discussion?
(Time permitting: 5 minute writing activity: take something from our reading and discussion today and reflect on how you might implement it this week.)

Teach Like a Champion (2.0). Lemov


  • Mentees should submit evaluation materials (see checklist below) to Jackie by Feb 23.

  • Mentors should submit evaluations by 3/1 (Ken will send you a template to use as a guide)

  • Prof. Matt Vetter will be a guest next session, demonstrating how writing for Wikipedia can be a useful ENGL 101/202 activity; he'll be previewing the Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thon, to which you and your students are invited.

Of potential interest, Pittsburgh Regional Faculty Symposium: Small Changes Advancing Learning. Free, March 16, Duquesne U.