The Interactive Lecture

June 16, 2015
Kevin Gant

Kevin Gant

I’m not going to lie: I like to lecture. This might seem like a problem, since I teach at a school where Project Based Learning is the norm, and a lot of the students seem to think that they signed up for a school where there won’t be the typical stand-and-deliver sort of teacher-to-student interaction.

First of all, I remind them, just because it is PBL doesn’t mean that you can’t have lectures, and second, you ASKED for the instruction when you said you needed a refresher or lecture on (…whatever they needed to know).  That said, as much as I might enjoy standing and delivering, I still want the students more engaged, and less, well, plaintive.

As I considered WHY I like to lecture – it’s fun to share ideas that I know something about – I came to an idea. Could I get the students to experience that same kind of fun as I do, sharing ideas, being the center of attention, etc? Could I make it so that students engage more completely in a lecture format?

Hence was born something that I have been working on for the last two years, and I call it (rather prosaically, I know) the “Interactive Lecture”.

Here is the idea: I create a series of slides (with mostly images rather than text) that invoke students’ previous knowledge, and then build upon that knowledge to create some new knowledge.  I then tell the students that I am not going to lecture to them – they must lecture. Of course, what they say will probably not be correct at first, but if the whole class pitches in, then together they should be able to come up with the right idea for a given set of images, and thus the ideas those images represent.

Once students have done their best to describe a particular slide, then I can augment with any commentary necessary to complete the ideas the slide is supposed to represent.  Then we start the process over with the next slide.

Check out the video. It shows only one slide from a deck I was using to teach about energy production in cells, so that you can see the cycle: students come up, they speak to it, and at the end, I add anything that I need/want to add.

See the video and read Kevin’s complete blog .