Today I tried two new elements in class today. First, I incorporated a "speed-dating" like peer-review. I got the idea from ProfHacker which is the education/technology blog from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The original article is here. The idea is simple. Arrange the chairs so that students face each other. The original article has the students in a circle. I did not have enough room; therefore, I had them in a straight line facing each other. Have a completed assignments for the students to peer review. I had them work on Introductions and topic sentences. You do need some way to play music in the background. I went to YouTube and just used the audio (not turning on the projector). When the music starts, students switch papers with their partners across from them. Each student reads the work; however, they should not make comments on the papers. Instead, the students will verbally tell each other the biggest weakness of the work. It is up to the student being reviewed to write the comments down on a separate sheet of paper. Once the music stops, only one row gets up and moves down one. Then the process repeats while a new song is playing. Each work receives 7-10 peer review in around an hour. If a students keeps hearing the same comment, then they should realize that is something they need to go back and address. One class had an old number. I let the odd person each time select the next song. I felt this was a success. Another great thing about this is that students get to read more examples. The more they read, the better they will write.
Another thing that I also incorporated today was class text alerts. I want to use this next semester, so today was a trial. The website Remind101 is a text messaging service for instructors. You create an account. Sign up each class of yours (very simple). Each class will have a phone number and code they will text to. That is it. Then, you can get on the computer and send out text alerts to one class or all classes. This works great since students are glued to their phones. As a test I sent them a text while in class. That was a great example of how many people have their phones out. I can see this working great not only as a reminder, but also if the class location changes.
Please share your thoughts.