Engaging Students Within the First Five Minutes of Class
Everyone processes differently. There are two ways of taking new and/or difficult information in–analytically or globally. Learners either require a sequential introduction to the content escalates in difficulty, or they need to know why this material is relevant either to the course or to life in general before they can begin.
By providing two different introductions, neither of which takes more than five minutes, you are setting the stage for more effective—and more enjoyable—instruction to take place. One way to do this is to have a short reading that defines the day’s topic, provides a short class agenda, and explains its importance. Students can read it while attendance is taken.
Another tactic more specifically targets each processing style. Offer analytics a couple of questions or problems based on the day’s work as a brainteaser. Have a brief conversation with the global learners where you provide the reason why this material is necessary. Offer the choice. Some people are integrated and can appreciate both sources of information.
If you prefer to get right to the day’s work, the introduction can actually be assigned for homework. Have all students research the next day’s topic. They can look for a timeline, methods of doing something, key definitions, or flow charts—all of which appeal to learners who prefer information in escalating steps of difficulty or occurrence. They should also identify a practical application of the topic, which will engage the global learners.
We already provide material that appeals to the individual processing styles. Syllabi, tables of content, class schedules, and assignment directions are intrinsically analytic. Illustrations (especially in full color), document-based questions, and anecdotal discussions provide a global perspective. If we are purposefully introducing new and/or difficult material to address the processing styles of all students, we are adding to our existing repertoire of instructional techniques.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. By satisfying the need to get started of analytic people who do not need the reason something matters to dive into the lesson and by responding to bigger-picture curiosities of the globals, you will have set the stage for a successful class.