Knowing when to let go...

Wow, that could be the post for a dozen different self-help books. But today it was an important phrase to remember in instruction lesson planning. I spent some time this past weekend working on a public speaking instruction session about researching Supreme Court cases and the values contained within each case. The students select one case, research the case itself and the larger value that underlines the case, and creates a speech to explain both sides of the issue and advocate for the side they value. The students are able to find quality sources about the Supreme Court cases through EBSCO and Lexis Nexis databases. Given that they're looking at cases that made their way to the highest court, there is plenty of information about the case. The challenge the students are having is defining the larger cultural value in the case.

Knowing this weakness, I hoped to create some activity/lesson that was more engaging, provided opportunity for practice and feedback, and still allowed for the large degree of personalization that already existed in the assignment. I started trying to take the existing content in a power point and convert it into something based more around video game strategies, like my "Library Dusk" lesson. The more I worked with it, the more artificial the choices and paths began to feel. Helping students determine cultural values leads itself to more of a discussion rather than multiple choice. The discussion realization lead to incorporating small groups in order to discuss the potential values of their cases.

This is the direction I ended up going. After bouncing some of these ideas off my colleague this morning, we decided on creating small groups to discuss the values of the cases they found and then having the groups report out to the rest of the class on the values as well. The discussion, analysis, and sharing of case values should prove more useful for the student than my initial tutorial "ish" game strategy.

Knowing when to let go... for the benefit of the student. I teach because I want to help students learn. I use video game strategies because I know they help students learn and understand. I write because I want others to know how successful game strategies can be. But in the end, video games and game strategies are just another method to engage, motivate, and reach our students. Games are a tool in our instruction toolkit, but just one of many successful tools. Knowing when to use what... well I guess that's what they pay us for.