Teaching Tools

Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade

Every Story Tells a Picture or How to Vignette

By Maryann Henck

Angelia Velosa & Cristopher Gomez, Door 95 in the Rua Santa Maria – The arT of oPEn doORs/Projecto aRTe pORtes abErtas, Funchal, Madeira; Photo credit: Maryann Henck

In the age of social media, it’s the image that rules. Instagram is the perfect example: It not only feeds some people’s insatiable need to document and offer glimpses into their private lives but also caters to a certain audience’s desire to consume and experience these slices of life vicariously. Instagram refers to the images posted as “stories,” a designation that fits in perfectly with the proverb: Every picture tells a story. And stories are almost always subject(ed) to interpretation. In the case of these Instagram picture stories, often the only clue is a brief caption or hashtag.

But what if the focus were to be shifted and that proverb were to be reversed? Read more »

Improving Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

By Maria Moss

f course the title is facetious: I certainly don’t want to – even if I could, which I can’t – improve one of the best and most anthologized poems in the English language written by one of the greatest lyrical voices of all times. What I ‘do’ want to do, however, is write about a teaching tool that initially sends shivers up every student’s back: continuing a poem, using the same rhyme scheme and meter. Once they’ve mastered the task, however, they’re quite proud of themselves – and rightfully so.
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Elsewhere: From Interview to Podcast

By Sabrina Völz

“Elsewhere” by Cassidy Coy

It’s never too early to think about the next semester. Perhaps you and your students would like to try your hand at podcasting. I have to admit that the first time around has its ups and downs, but after that it gets easier. Wiebke Fischer has already blogged on her experiences creating and writing scripted podcasts as a tool for learning English. Building on those suggestions, my students and I have continued to experiment with the potential of podcasting. In a project seminar, Leuphana University students from various majors came up with the idea to transform recorded interviews with American students studying in Lüneburg into 10-12 minute, theme-based podcasts named Elsewhere. The first few are already online.

After many hours of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the most helpful teaching tools for creating podcasts can be found online. So don’t waste your money on useless how-to books.

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Drew Hayden Taylor at Leuphana

From November 3 to 5, Canadian Anishnawbe author and playwright, Drew Hayden Taylor, will be giving talks in various seminars at Leuphana. Topics range from tools of the creative writing trade to the postcolonial situation of Native people across North America.

If you happen to be in the area, feel free to stop by!

 

What’s your story? In two sentences or less…

By Kai-Arne Zimny

People love stories. And apparently, they always have. Neuroscientists suggest our yearning for stories is rooted deeply in the human brain; supposedly stories even help us master all kinds of life tasks, e.g. solving logic puzzles, conveying facts, and remembering stuff. Stories are second nature to us. Thus it seems safe to say: People will always love – and even need – stories.

So, got a story? Yes? Well, let’s see…

Sometimes we think we have a story when all we have is a vague idea. This happens when we get caught up in the beauty of a flashy fantasy or wondrous world we’ve created without considering an actual story that sets everything in motion. And now, after a long intro, let me get to the core of this story: loglines.

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Connect-the-Cards: Making Academia Exciting while Fostering Critical Thinking Skills and Meaningful Conversation

By Sabrina Völz

Question and answer. Question and answer. Question and answer. And then silence. Lasting silence. It happens to the best of us. The routine of working with texts can be an excruciating experience for both learner and instructor. But it doesn’t have to be.

A while back I came across a must-do activity that works in a variety of educational settings from middle schools to undergraduate seminars. Connect-the-cards may have a painfully dull name, but this text-based exercise can lead to deep learning and engage students so much so that they lose track of time and leave their smartphones in their pocket. So if you want to know how connect-the-cards works, you are only one click away.

Credit: Based on Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford’s exercise “Connect-the-Cards”in Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understanding, Portland: Stenhouse Publishers, 2011. 106-107.

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