Reading Aloud: A Guided Student Participation Experience

Ken front1.jpg

Recently I was sitting in the back of a class presented by my young friend Bill Terry. Bill was trying to show a bunch of us old dogs some new ideas on making our goals into daily activities. He was struggling with the learner-participation thing and shared an intensely personal experience in examining his life priorities. But he needed to work it into the framework of these new ideas. What he did was control the participation by assigning short readings of just a couple of lines to several students and then one by one had them read, make a short comment, then he tied it into his personal experience. How could you use this in your lectures, workshops, classes?

Lets say you were teaching a class on evaluating and weighing evidence. When it comes to weighing evidence you have four people in the class read one of four statements. Each is the asked "Why?" You listen to the explanation thanks the student , then add whatever clarification is needed and move on.

Consider, for example,the following possible reading. On page 10 of Christine Rose's book Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (San Jose: CR PUblications,2005) under the heading of Some Generalities When Weighing Evidence there are four statements.The first reads, "Normally microfilm, scans, and photocopies have more weight than handwritten or typed transcripts or abstracts".

You hand out slips for all four statements, and ask for each in turn to read their statement. When they finish, you ask "Why?" and the student talks about what she thinks is the difference between an image copy derivative and other derivatives.

You thank the student, then turn to the class and invite them to comment if they want, then move to the next one, and so on.

Strangelas it may seem, I have seldom used this technique in the genealogy education context, though I have used it in other adult learning situations. The key first to select short passage of no more than three or four sentences, then to get the passages to be read into the hands of the learner before you begin the presentation. The process keeps you in controll of the content, draws on the students' knowledge, and breaks up the monotony of your voice! It works best I find in groups of 25 and smaller.

Have you used something like this? Has it worked for you? It gets controlled participation so we do not get off topic. But do you think it works with adults?

Your comments are welcome.

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