Teaching Thought: Take a Breather — The 10-2 Lecture Method

  • Taking a short break every ten minutes or so when lecturing or presenting new material can help students better learn the material.

In last week’s post, I pointed toward some research that suggested students who write their notes by hand learn the material better than those students who take notes via laptop. This week, I want to continue on a similar path, but suggest a teaching strategy that dovetails nicely with handwritten note taking. It’s easily incorporated, takes very little time or planning, and could produce big gains for your students.

After every ten minutes or so of lecturing, pause for two minutes and instruct students to review the notes they’ve been taking for the past ten minutes.

That’s it. No fancy dances, no scheduled social media posts, no reworking of the syllabus. Just a short break every so often during the lecture where you explicitly instruct students to review what you’ve just told them. I first learned of this strategy, often called the 10-2 Lecture Method (for 10 minutes of lecture followed by 2 minutes of student reflection) at the AVID Summer Institute. I like it for a number of reasons. First, it’s based on the research that suggests the key to learning, especially basic mastery of new concepts, is frequent and persistent review of material. This simply begins that review immediately after encountering that new material, giving some time in class for that process of learning to really begin. I always picture students taking that new stuff, which is sitting unorganized at the front of their brain, and beginning the process of sorting and organizing it, boxing it up to put on the conveyor belt to long-term memory. Maybe that’s a bad metaphor, but the idea that that sort of processing needs to begin early is a sound one, I think.

Second, pausing gives students (who are handwriting their notes, remember?) time to catch up. They can finish jotting down whatever it was you were just saying without risking falling further behind in their note taking. It’s a simple benefit, but one that is important, especially for students who may not be used to taking notes by hand or taking such comprehensive notes.

Third, students can use the processing time to formulate questions. I can easily envision a classroom routine where, after the two-minute pause, the instructor always begins again with “Okay, what questions do you have about what we’ve just gone over?” Maybe they realize they’ve got some gaps in their notes as they review them during those two minutes; they can ask for clarification of a key concept or ask for you to restate a definition. Even better, perhaps they are able to formulate a challenging question to a key idea or concept, something that goes beyond mere clarification of what is known to asking the why and how questions that are so important to critical thinking. Regardless of the types of questions they come up with, taking a breather allows them time to actually generate them. Coupled with a routine expectation that the lecture restart with student questions, this could become a powerful tool to generate student participation and encourage learning.

Forth, it’s easy. It does not require much from the instructor other than mentally noting that one needs to pause every so often. Just look at the clock, stop, wait two minutes, then ask for questions and start again. Sure, you could try to be a bit more precise in your timekeeping by using your phone or watch to keep track of time. I’ve made a bit of a gag in my classes by using wacky alarm tones on my phone to signal transitions. They always giggle at the quacking duck that tells them their time is up. You could also incorporate more community building activities as part of the review or debrief. It would be a simple matter to instruct students to spend one minute reviewing their own notes and then one minute checking on the notes of their neighbor. This technique easily dovetails into a Think-Pair-Share if you want to make the break a little longer.

In any case, the 10-2 Lecture Method is a simple thing to try in your classes that could lead to some big learning gains.

If anyone is already doing something like this, or tries the method and wants to report, just let me know in the comments below!

App of the Week – Swivl

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.28.25 AMThis week’s app of the week is the Swivl app. Early this week we featured a review of the most recent CETL purchase, which was the Swivl device. It is a device that when paired with users’ iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches allows them to record lectures and slides while the device moves 360 along with the presenter. The app itself is free. However, the Swivl is not. If you would like to use the Swivl in your class you may reserve it at the CETL. In addition, you will need a to create a Swivl cloud account. To learn more about that please read the post  we wrote about it. To learn more about this app and device watch the video below. If you have used this app in your life or in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks!

Using Swivl

This past week the CETL has acquired a lecture capture device called Swivl. It allows the user to record 360 video and audio with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. To learn about it works please watch the video below:

In the interest of really testing it out, I created a video myself. I followed all the steps and created a slide presentation that you can see by going to this link: http://cloud.swivl.com/v/18c6c2bbc4ae7225f77a4bf400b2c190 or below with the slideshare embed feature plus a video to go along with with (embedded below via youtube):

*** 9/25/2014 3pm UPDATE: To see the presentation (It is working! click here)


Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.44.36 AM

Image of the email notification.

After creating this video, Swivl provided me with the option to save the video to my camera, upload to the Swivl cloud, to preview, edit or delete it. When previewing the video from my iPad I could see both video captures: the slide presentation and the video capture side by side. When selecting to send it to the Swivl cloud I have encountered several issues. First, the processing time for the video, which was only about 5 minutes long, was super long: almost 12 hours. I received an email (seen below) notification when it was ready, but if you are recording a 50 minute lecture it would take too long to process. I sucessfully was able to download the video to my iPad’s camera roll and I was able to upload the video to youtube (embedded above). However, when I would go on the Swivl cloud to see how my video would look like an error message appeared: “The video could not be loaded, either because the server or network failed or because the format is not supported,” (pictured below), which is odd since I created the video with the software they have provided. I tried to re-upload the recording. This time around the processing time was a lot faster, but I still had the error message in my video.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.50.36 AM

The image of the error message, which you have already seen if you have clicked on the link to my shared Swivl presentation.

I tried to use the support tab on the cloud.swivl.com website, but that didn’t seem to work either. I tweeted to the company (see tweet below) and you can see their twitter response below as well.

I will email support[at]swivl[dot]com as per their suggestion and update the outcome of that here. But ultimately the video recording capability of the Swivl was really good. The quality of it when previewed on the iPad is excellent and I assume that when you see them on the cloud it is great as well. When saved to the camera roll and uploaded onto YouTube the video quality was compromised. Unfortunately, when you save the presentation (video+slides) you cannot save to your iPad camera roll, which would bypass the “network problem” or “not supported video format.” Yet, the Swivl cloud is now in its beta phase, perhaps it will get better from more updates. If so, it will be a great solution for mobile 360 degree lecture capture.

The email notification with the link to your shared swivl presentation.

The email notification with the link to your shared swivl presentation.

*** 9/25/2014 3pm UPDATE: The issue was resolved and to see the presentation click here.

By the way, when you are done with your video you may share it by getting the public link (the hyperlink destination found on the “click here” from the paragraph above) or you may email the presentation directly to the person you want to share this with via email. They will receive an email notification like the image featured here.

Teaching Thought — Note Taking as Critical Thinking

  • Recent research shows students who take written notes as opposed to on a laptop have higher retention of material. We ought to encourage quality note taking in our classes for learning and critical thinking.

A recent article in Scientific American is an excellent summary of research on how students take notes and how that method impacts their rendition of material. Simply put, students who take notes on their laptops retain and remember less than students who write their notes by hand. This is because, the researchers hypothesize, students who take notes by hand are forced to synthesize while writing. Those who type on the laptop can type faster than they write. Thus, they record more verbatim speech from the instructor.  In other words, They transcribe; they don’t really take notes. When students are forced to go slower due to the limitations of pen and paper, they must think more about the material as they prioritize what is being said in order to write down the vital bits. While laptop users took more notes, those who wrote out their notes by hand took better notes. “In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.”

We don’t often draw an immediate connection between note-taking in class and critical thinking. That connection seems more distant; taking notes in class becomes the foundation for critical thinking. Material gained from a lecture is just basic concepts, coming in on the lower level of Bloom’s taxonomy. The critical thinking happens later, when students take those notes and do something with them — use them to solve problems or construct an essay. Except that’s not what the research suggests. Students who are taking notes by hand are engaging in critical thinking as they take notes. This seems counter-intuitive until one reads why the reseachers think those pen and paper notetakers learn more: “[students] listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information.  Thus, taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention.” Summarizing and synthesizing are higher order thinking skills, a level up from sheer memorization. Note taking by hand makes students do that in the moment, while new information is coming at them.
What does this mean for classroom practice? Should we all ban laptops? Not necessarily. They certainly have utility as a research tool. I think the real take away for classroom practice comes in questions we can ask ourselves and our students about how they take notes, how we facilitate that note taking, and what happens afterwards. Do we share note taking strategies and research (like the Scientific American article) with our students? Do we pause when lecturing, taking a minute or two to let our students catch up, reflect on what they’ve written, and maybe even share it with a partner? Are we discouraging the critical thinking that happens when students take notes by hand by posting our own notes and/or presentations for students to access?
I have thoughts about all these questions, particularly that last one (which I think is the trickiest) that I hope to explore in the coming weeks. In the meantime, do you do anything to encourage a particular style of note taking in your students?

App of the Week – Storehouse

storehouseThis week’s app of the week is the Storehouse app. Storehouse is a free visual storytelling app for iOS that allows you to create stories using a combination of images, videos, and written narrative. Once you are done creating your story you can share it through the app or through your social media accounts. To download it for iOS for free click HERE. To learn more about this app, watch the video below. If you have used this app in your life or in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks!

About the CETL

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University (CETL) promotes a student-centered university by providing resources and professional growth opportunities to faculty on enhancing instructional practice, integrating technology, and promoting essential student skills.

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