The Big “L” Word

child with computer


Yes, I am going to talk about the big “L” word today, Lectures!  Some people love them, some people hate them and some people just deal with them. I have to admit I thought there was only one way to lecture and one outcome from lecturing, sleeping students.  When I say I am a lifelong learner, I really mean it, every day I learn something new. Today I learned there is more than one way to lecture!! Yes it’s true! I just finished Chapter 6 in “The Skillful Teacher”, By Stephen Brookfield’s and he actually can write a full chapter on ways to lecture. I took notes on my readings today and wrote down a bunch of links I wanted share at the end of my post.

I feel like when I try to lecture, I just naturally migrate to a classroom discussion, and then into small group discussions. I am always worried about not keeping my students engaged. I think Brookfield opened my eyes to new possibilities with lecturing. Brookfield (2015) discusses what he calls Lecturing from Siberia which he first learned about from a book by Ira Shor (1996) called When Students Have Power. He explains the zone at the far back of the classroom, sometimes beside the back door, as Siberia. This is an area where students tend to go to avoid being called a pone or to take a nap. Ira describes moving your lecture into Siberia. By doing this he shifts his students focus and in turn can effectively engage them into his lecture.

Lecturing in Siberia leads nicely into the example I am most excited about trying in my classroom. Brookfield’s (2015) next idea is to Use Spartial Separation for “Speaking in Tongue”.  Brookfield explains this as more of an activity, but in lecture form, where he is discussing the same topic but from different points of view. To help students distinguish between the different points of view by He puts up different signs around the classroom. Brookfield then proceeds to move to these different areas and continue his discussion using different voices and different hats to help his students recognize the perspectives. I think this could be a great way to engage your students into lectures. It helps mix thigs up instead of just standing at the front of the class. I feel if the students are curious about what you are doing there is more chance they will be following you instead of drifting off.  I could see myself trying this idea, since I think I could incorporate in some group work with the students, after the initial lecture is done.

I have heard before that keeping your lecture to 10-15 mins is an important part to keeping your students attention and motivation. But what do you do after 10-15 mins, when you still have another 45mins of material to cover in your lecture?  Brookfield (2015) addresses this issue with a few options. You could try doing a one-minute paper, response to the class Twitter feed or TodaysMeet, as mini brain breaks. These are great ways to break up your lecture and to promote classroom discussions. They are also a great way to help you assess where to direct your lecture, based on where your students’ needs are.

Here are some of the links I found helpful in my readings from Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher.

References :

Brookfield, S.D (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Shor, I. When Teachers Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a critical Pedagogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.


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