# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)
Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.
Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.
Moving away from the lecture format
Last night I made some more progress in moving my teaching style away from the straight lecture format to a more inclusive style.
(Note: I have a small class this semester, a dozen or so students. I'm sure the approach I'm taking would be a bit more difficult to manage in a larger class, but not impossible.)
I started the class with a brief introduction, then assembed the students into groups so that they could discuss the assigned reading. I listened in on the discussions as they were occuring, in case they seemed to stall or go too far off track, but they didn't. Although it was difficult to not jump into the discussion, I resisted. My feeling is that the moment I were to join the discussion, the whole dynamic would have changed. The discussion would no longer have been among peers, but would have included an authority (me). I think that would have reduced each student's engagement in the discussion. Besides, they were doing fine without me!
Another factor that I believe helped the discussion was that the week before I had asked them to write up their reflections and thoughts on the reading and submit it to me at the beginning of this class (for marks). This forced them not only to do the reading, but to think about it in a deeper way then they might normally have done. This helped to prime the in-class discussions.
Listening in to the discussions, I made a few notes on points I wanted to come back to later in the class. I also made note of the apparant knowledge and experience levels of the various students, something I will take into consideration when I form the discussion groups in future classes.
After the group discussions I brought the class back together and asked the "reporter" in each group to share some of the points the different groups had come up with. Here I jumped in with my own perspective on things, clarified points, answered questions, etc. By the time we were done that, it was time for the break.
When we got started back up again, I lectured for about an hour or so (only a dozen slides!), going into more depth on this week's material, adding stucture and pointing out the key ideas. Just before the end of class, I gave out the next assignment (reflection paper on the assigned readings), then called it a night.
The class over, I felt satisfied and energized. I had lots of ideas for next week's class, and for the final project as well. Although we're still in the honeymoon period (i.e. that time between the start of the semester and the first big evaluation), I'm feeling good about this group and the course as a whole.