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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/25/2014 2:41:11 PM

AALL Session Review: Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverence While Teaching Legal Research (C3)

Presenters: Kristina L. Niedringhaus (Georgia State University College of Law) and Carolyn Broering-Jacobs (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law)

This session was unique (to me) in that it focused not on tips for teaching legal research, but instead on the importance of instilling a certain mindset for learning.

The presenters gave a brief presentation before the audience broke into groups to brainstorm (conveniently, we were seated at round tables).

The highlights of the presentation:

  • studies have shown that the quality of perseverance is more important than talent as a  predictor of success
  • instructors need to create an environment in their classrooms where students feel safe to risk failure, thus instilling a "growth mindset"
  • students need to become self-directed learners; as attorneys, they will be life-long learners 
  • be sensitive to students; attempt to avoid a perception of disparate treatment
A handout with ideas for instilling grit is available at http://lawlibrary.gsu.edu/grit/.

Posted By Colleen Williams at 7/25/2014 2:41:11 PM  1 Comments
7/16/2014 4:48:00 PM

AALL Session Review: R3: Own the Room: Presentations That Captivate and Win Over Any Audience

Presenter: Steve Hughes, founder and President of Hit Your Stride, LLC

"Any questions?" We've all said it when making a presentation or teaching a class - but how often do questions actually follow? Rather than asking an audience a question they can easily just say no to, try replacing the open-ended query with a more specific one, like, "What questions do you have about using secondary sources to find primary sources of law?" This was just one of the many simple, but effective tips Steve Hughes shared in this fascinating presentation, Own the Room: Presentations That Captivate and Win Over Any Audience, which was actually Part II of his presentation at last year's meeting in Seattle.

For those who were unable to attend Part I, Steve briefly recapped his method for getting an audience engaged. Rather than wasting time at the beginning of a presentation with introductions and a roadmap of where the presentation is headed, Steve suggests opening big - capture the crowd's attention first with a surprising statistic, picture or video, story or real-life example, or even a thought-provoking question or quote. Once they are hooked, keep them engaged throughout, asking questions and focusing your attention on one audience member at a time.

Steve expanded on these concepts for this year's presentation. Participants teamed up to practice the elimination of the dreaded space-fillers, "um" and "ah," by speaking in phrases and "embracing the pause" as we were relating a story to our partners. Steve also demonstrated the effectiveness of using  physical movements while presenting, rather than stifling natural gestures, as many of us believe we should. This movement, he pointed out, boosts volume and increases inflection while also increasing visual interest. Movement also has the added benefit of reducing the nervous energy that often accompanies public speaking. He wrapped up his remarks with very concrete suggestions for fielding questions confidently. Listening carefully for the real issue in the question being asked, for example, ensures your answers demonstrate both that you were listening and transparency in your response. Steve also suggested preparing a few questions and answers in advance that you as the speaker can throw out and answer if your more specific request for questions yields no response.

As a teacher and frequent presenter, I found this session professionally relevant and helpful. I will certainly be implementing his tips and ideas in my upcoming presentations to first-year students to boost their interest and attention span. You can read more about Steve and see him in action at www.hityourstride.com.

Posted By Sara Gras at 7/16/2014 4:48:00 PM  1 Comments
7/14/2014 4:14:46 PM

AALL Session Review: Deep Dive - Inventing the New Classroom

Presenters: Debra Denslaw, Coordinator & Speaker, Valparaiso University Law School; Susan Boland, Speaker, University of Cincinnati College of Law; Jennifer Mart-Rice, Moderator & Speaker, Northern Kentucky University; Jesse Bowman, Speaker, Valparaiso University Law School

Summer is the perfect time to rethink strategies for teaching legal research, and the ideas generated in this session provide the perfect fuel for an overhaul. The presenters kept their remarks brief and practical, leaving ample time for attendees to interact and brainstorm with the guidance of well-constructed exercises and questions.

Susan Boland began the session with an overview of the flipped classroom model, an oft-discussed trend that is appealing, but somewhat intimidating undertaking. Susan’s comments focused on concrete examples of best practices for creating plans for a flipped class, and fair warning of the challenges this model may present. Jennifer Mart-Rice followed with a very thought-provoking presentation on question formulation as a part of effective teaching. She highlighted the ways in which multiple choice questions, if carefully constructed, can actually reinforce learning objectives and serve as study aids. Jesse Bowman concluded with suggestions for bringing social media into the classroom as a means of enhancing traditional instruction. Many of his ideas, such as utilizing Google Hangouts for guest speakers, creating Pinterest boards instead of traditional pathfinders, and asking students to create blogs or wiki entries instead of completing worksheets, were especially innovative.

Participants then had the opportunity to work through exercises and questions created by the panelists, including the creation of a lesson plan for a flipped class, an aspect of this new teaching style that is often difficult to conceptualize for those who are used to more traditional lecture-style classes. The suggestions for in-class activities provided in the activity packet were especially useful in generating creative discussion. The group then moved on to brainstorm ways of using social media differently in the classroom, and finished with some exercises on question context and structure, an activity that I found personally very useful and enlightening.

This session did an excellent job of blending ideas and concepts with concrete suggestions and examples to facilitate innovation in teaching. A bibliography of selected articles and resources on flipped classrooms and collaborative learning, as well as links to useful tech tools is available via the AALL2go Learning Center by searching with the session name.

Posted By Sara Gras at 7/14/2014 4:14:46 PM  0 Comments