Near-Disaster Pedagogy

Sometimes the best classes happen when you start out thinking the whole thing is going to fall apart. I finished off this week—my first full week at the College of the Marshall Islands—with a lesson that began that way. I had planned to have students use Google Drive to download, upload, and edit documents—largely so they could learn how to do it—but at first this plan seemed unworkable. Some of the computers weren’t turning on. Some of them couldn’t access the Internet. Some students couldn’t remember their passwords. The sharing link I provided wasn’t working.

On reflection, it was probably good that we ran into these difficulties together, so I could show students how I solved them.

At the time, however, I was sure my lesson was going to fall apart and I would have to dance and sing to fill the remainder of the hour and 15 minutes. (I can just about manage the latter.) Still, I was eventually able to get most of the students logged on to download and complete a worksheet I had prepared about the use of auxiliary verbs, and I had those who could not get logged on partner up with those who could.

But then came the real test. At the end of the worksheet was a link that would allow students to edit, together, a list of interview questions.Despite some initial difficulties getting into the file, and some initial reserve about adding to a group document, the students ended up getting very involved in the project. They especially started to enjoy themselves when I showed them how to use the chat and comment functions, and I’ve already received several requests from them to do more activities in Google Drive.

the art of teaching’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (
Write it!) like disaster.

 

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