Lecture 04: Lectures

CS298 / EDUC298

Spring 2021

Stanford University

Computer Science Department

Lecturer: Chris Gregg

  • When you think about teaching, what is the first thing you think about?
    • It is likely that you think about being in front of students, talking to them about the course subject -- in other words, you are thinking about lecturing.
  • To lecture, you must be part educator, part scholar, part expert, part actor, part comedian, part motivator, part symphony conductor, and part magician (list not exclusive).
    • In other words -- there are a lot of roles to play as a lecturer. You mix and match those roles as necessary, with the ultimate goal to enhance your students' learning of the course material.
  • Your goal as a lecturer is not to simply produce all the necessary knowledge about your subject to the students
    • First, there isn't time. Your subject certainly contains more to know than what you can deliver in three one-hour lectures a week.
    • Second, as discussed previously, your students will undoubtedly learn more when they do the assignments than when they are listening to you.
  • You should plan on presenting the material in a form that is well-planned, and that provides students with the essentials from which they can dig deeper by doing assignments, reading the course text, etc.
    • You should:
      • motivate the material
      • introduce key concepts
      • provide informative examples
      • teach the students to think in the context of the course material

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Your students aren't going to be able to do something just because you told them about it!
    • Focus on providing them with a baseline of knowledge, understanding that they will actually learn how to apply the skills and knowledge you discuss in lecture when they do the assignments,
  • Considerations when structuring your lectures
    • Small class or big lecture hall?
    • Where in the curriculum does your course fall
      • It is very different teaching CS 106A, CS 110, and CS 221.
    • Is your class a programming-heavy course, a theory course, a project course, etc.?
    • How long is each lecture?
      • Students can only concentrate for a limited amount of time -- you don't want to stay on one particular topic for too long
  • ​Planning your lectures
    • After you have mapped out the topics and when they will fall during the term, you need to start planning the details of each lecture
    • Determining how long a topic will take is tricky! With experience, you will learn how to time your lectures better
      • Practice your lectures! This is especially important early on in your teaching career, and most especially the first time you deliver a particular lecture.
      • ​Over-planning is okay, and don't be afraid if you don't get through all the material you have planned for a particular lecture.

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Your lectures must have a defined beginning
    • This seems obvious, but the first few minutes can be critical
      • Are you going to motivate the material immediately?
      • Are you going to review something from the last lecture?
      • Are you going to start with admin (probably not the very best idea, unless it is less than a minute)
    • Starting the class with an example, or a question that can be answered with the day's material can be a particularly effective beginning.
      • Chris Piech starts many lectures with examples that can be solved by the end of the lecture -- and he solves them at the end of the lecture!
      • Students are going to be learning something they haven't heard or seen before (most of the time), so motivating it is an excellent way to pique their interest.
  • ​After the beginning of the lecture, you can start to dig into the details of the topic(s) of the day
    • Craft a narrative
    • Outline the details the students need to know about the topic
    • Students respond particularly well to examples
    • You are teaching them how to think
      • When you show examples, explain your thought process for coming up with the solution!
    • Students aren't always going to grasp the concept immediately, and need time to process
    • Summarize at the end of a topic -- ask what questions they have (they will have some!)

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Check for student understanding during the lecture
    • Ask what questions they have
    • Have students discuss with a neighbor
    • Ask them to bring questions for the next lecture (or to ask questions on a forum, e.g., Piazza)
    • Student response systems
      • High tech
        • Clickers (students purchase, rent, or use during class)
        • Socrative -- students use their mobile devices to answer
      • "Hi" tech
        • Hands up or down
        • Hand up with 1-5 for answer
        • Hand up with 1-5 for understanding
    • ​Think-pair-share
      • Have students think about a problem or ques- tion, and then pair with another student to discuss it, before finally sharing their thoughts with the class.
      • Alternative: give the students a problem to solve and tell them to “talk to a neighbor” about the solution.
      • Give between 3-5 minutes, depending on the problem
        • I always walk around the class to see how students are doing​

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Concluding lecture
    • You might not finish all the material!
      • If this is the case, still try to do a bit of wrapping-up, summary
    • Plan a good end to the lecture but don't depend on it
    • Your conclusion should tie up the narrative of the day
    • Let student know when they will practice the material (on an assignment, exam, etc.)
  • Delivering your lecture (more details)
    • Decisions you have to make:
      • Will you be using slides?
        • Are you going to print them out for the students?
        • ​Should they read them before hand? (try to provide them beforehand)
      • Are you going to teach naked (i.e., without slides and only a whiteboard / blackboard)
        • This takes more practice!
        • You should almost always have notes
    • ​If you are using slides:
      • Beware Death by Powerpoint
      • Keep your talking somewhat short, stop often for questions, discussion
      • Don't read from your slides!
      • Slides can have lots of information, but there are tradeoffs to this: simple slides are easier for lecture, but not as                     helpful as a resource later.

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Your lecturing personality is critical!
    • You will find your own style
    • You may want to mimic other teachers, particularly ones you found impressive or enjoyed
    • You want to be engaging
      • If you seem to enjoy the topics, students are more likely to enjoy them
      • Try not to rush
    • Determine your own style for how you answer questions -- you will get questions!
    • Always repeat questions
    • Plan breaks for long lectures
    • More than 15 minutes at a stretch is probably too much
    • Preparing for shorter lectures probably takes more time than preparing for longer ones...
  • If you have public speaking fears
    • You are not alone!
    • You can work on it, and it will become better
  • Practicing your lectures
    • Do it! Especially if you are new to teaching.
    • Have someone else give feedback, but use sparingly
    • For code -- always check code solutions! They should be solid.
      • If you are going to live-code, practice actually doing the live coding. It will go smoother in the lecture itself.
  • ​The first day of class
    • Critical, but not world-ending if it doesn't go great
    • Get to class early to set up, test equipment, etc.

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • What if? questions from text

Lecture 04: Lectures

  • Design a lecture on whatever material you want to teach
    • If you have time, design a 50-minute lecture
    • If you don't have time, design a shorter lecture (can be as short as 10-15 minutes)
  • Describe how you will deliver the lecture
    • What is your beginning?
    • How will you assess student learning during the lecture?
    • How are you going to conclude the lecture?

Assignment 4 -- Due Thursday, April 29th, in class

Lecture 04: Lectures

By Chris Gregg

Lecture 04: Lectures

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