Monday, October 18, 2010

Helping Students Review in a Literature Course

Often, students who are taking high-level literature seminars feel lost in the amount of new material presented in class. Especially, if the class is conducted in the 3-hour lecture format once a week, like my grad seminar in the Golden Age Spanish literature. So I came up with what I consider a great and fun way to help students review: making crossword puzzles.

I take all of my students to the language lab (if you don't have a lab in your department, you can simply print out a grid and bring it to class), break them up into pairs, and get them to prepare a crossword puzzle for their colleagues to solve based on the material we cover in class. I use some of those websites that allow you to create free crossword puzzles. I tell the students that the winning group will be the one that comes up with a crossword that I will find difficult to solve (this hasn't happened yet but they are trying hard.) As a result, students go over their notes twice: when they try to come up with interesting and complicated questions and the second time when they look for answers to their colleagues' puzzle.

Yet another benefit of this activity is that it allows me to rest and do nothing while the students are still engaged in something useful. As I mentioned before, my teaching philosophy is aimed at allowing me to work as little as possible. :-)

1 comment:

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

That's a great idea---better than spending your own time making up a puzzle, as I once did (there's a post or two about it somewhere on the blog). I found that many of my students have never done a crossword, so the free sites that give not-very-dense grids are probably a good way to go.