More Books for Teachers of Genealogy

My son-in-law, recently retired professional wrestler Adam Firestorm comes from an interesting family. His mother is an actress and journalist, and his father an actor, playwright, author and journalist. Wrestling is just another form of acting he claims, without the stunt doubles. Is teaching another performance art?William Timpson and David Tobin seem to think so. Take a look at their book, Teaching as Performing: A Guide to Energizing Your Public Presentations ( Prentice Hall, 1982). Perhaps you should take a look and see. You may decide that you need a stunt double– or you may get energized.

Two other books that Sandra Hargreaves Luebking recommends are Madelaine Hunter, Teach More- Faster!(Corwin Press, 1995) and Michael McCarthy Mastering the Information Age: A Course in Working Smarter, Thinking Better and Learning Faster, (Jeremy P.Tarcher, 1991)

Look for more on this topic under “Teaching Genealogy“.

I’d be interested in your comments.


3 responses to “More Books for Teachers of Genealogy

  1. Ken,

    Thanks for the book references – I’ll look for them.

    It seems to me that effective teaching can include performance art, especially if the subject is required learning rather than desired learning. My daughter teaches high school English, and most of her kids really don’t want to be there. So she uses dramatic readings, has open discussions about issues, calls on different kids without showing of hands, etc just to keep them on their toes. The kids love her – and hopefully learn English Lit in the process. It’s all about holding interest, I think. The teacher’s demeanor and presentation speak volumes.

    In genealogy, our society has had “performance art” programs with Civil War soldier clothes and weapons with his wife’s clothes; with an “Antiques Road Show” program where an expert appraiser did her thing on our members collectables, and a speaker who asked a lot of questions and threw candy at the right answers…all were very effective because they held interest and “performed.”

    Our people love to hear genealogy stories – conducting the search, how people lived, etc. The most interesting presenters move around, change their voice levels and use inflections, and have interesting visuals. The most boring and IMHO least effective speak in a monotone, lecture without visuals, etc. I tend to spice up my presentations to our group by using pictures or provocative words in some visuals to wake them up (SEX, UFO, etc – then talk about it) or by asking questions. Of course, they all know me pretty well, and now they expect a little wild side. It’s fun for me, also.

    Cheers — Randy

  2. As always, thanks for the comment.

  3. When I teach, I have a Powerpoint presentation on the screen
    I walk around as I talk about, but NOT read the screen
    Students have a page w/ slides & a place for notes
    The talk is punctuated with exercises so that they don’t glaze over (it is a night class) and so they can try things out right away
    For instance, they start with a “family tree” to fill in with boxes that are numbered to segueway to pedigree charts
    Then they pick a focus ancestor and long/short term goals
    I show snippets of videos I have collected (they always love the one where William Baldwin’s is done by the History Channel…how can they do the same?) I also use audio files to fill in subjects
    All of my handouts are annotated, if they are not of my own design
    They also get a CD with PDF files of each lesson & PPT files
    We also use the Internet each session and tie the surfing in with class topics
    As the amount of experience in the class often varies, students are encouraged to be SMEs (Subject Matter Experts)
    We all share lots of stories (I do have a few), but we probably won’t best the two ladies who drove to Madison to do some research….oblivious to fact that it was home football game day! We added “Check football schedules” to our Genealogy Research Checklist
    I also vary handouts. As well as the traditional 3 hole punch notes, I use MS Word and make booklets to cover topics. My students make a ‘business card’ with their surnames listed. (We all have the list of our GREAT 8–the 8 ancestor surnames that we are interested in, as well as any locality or other research interest)
    Each person gets a laminated Research Process card to remind them of the steps required.

    When we do the ‘know yourself first,’ we dump out our wallets to see what we can find out about ourselves. (save that DL, in IL the DL number starts with the soundex code)

    I love sharing ideas about things to do–I wish we had more than 4 2 hour sessions!

    I recently purchased the Tom Bodett series about Migration Trails and thought that might make a great topic for a one night lecture.

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