How we will approach the class

I am excited to be teaching this class again, experimenting with a new way of teaching and learning. This year, I’m experimenting with Ambrose et al (2010), Weimer (2013), 60-second summaries, and group-led interviews.

Students change, politics changes, and the demands on you will change, even over the duration of this one-semester course. We will adapt. I am as committed to your success as you are.

Principles for teaching, supported by research:

  1. Prior knowledge – what do you already know?
  2. Organizing knowledge – how will you structure it?
  3. Motivation – why is this important?
  4. Mastery = components, plus integration, plus practice
  5. Feedback – from your peers in your language (writing partners
  6. Course climate – your class (see below)
  7. Self-direction – take charge of content and questions

Changes to class practice:

  1. I will facilitate, not lecture. We will use Moodle to manage collaboratively.
  2. We will share decisions about learning
  3. We will focus on skills, not content: your ability to read about, write about, understand and explain Canadian civics and society
  4. You are responsible for your learning and the learning environment
  5. You will make decisions each week about your learning

Class climate conducive to learning:

  1. You have an opportunity for personal interaction in every class
  2. each of you will be engaged in every class
  3. the group should be friendly and supportive, respectful of divergent views
  4. you should enjoy the class
  5. each class should be oriented towards tasks
  6. the course should be innovative and different because of your efforts
  7. you should be treated differentially according to your personal circumstances and learning objectives

Textbooks, telephones, and online resources:

The textbooks are a small start and a narrow window on the content. There is a world of online resources, people, organizations, and media to inform our learning about politics. You will help to decide how we use it. Wireless laptops and smart phones are a valuable resource for this class. You are encouraged to bring them to class, keep them open, use them to look up resources for in-class exercises and contact people outside the class. We will not let the classroom walls or our class schedule confine our learning.

60-second summaries(60s) 5-minute debates(5D)

At the Norwegian Military Academy, cadets practice delivering 60-second summaries of complex readings, or the elements of a reading that are relevant to a particular problem or audience. This may be followed by a 60-second critique or rebuttal from a classmate.

Pairs or larger groups may engage in 5-minute debates about the key ideas or questions, then go to Q&A or 60s.

Group led interviews – call-in or visit (GLI)

The Field Study in Peace and Conflict was an experiment in cadet-led learning culminating in a 10-day study visit to Israel-Palestine. A group-led interview is a way of structuring an engagement with a subject expert. You decide what you want to understand, who can help you to understand it, how to contact them, how to approach, engage, and understand the content. Here they are going into the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv. Be prepared to identify people, places, and organizations we can learn from. Be prepared to do the leg-work to make the learning work. Prepare before, engage, process afterwards.