AY 375 - Fall 2020: First Day Lesson Plan

Goals for the First Day of Any Section

  • Get out relevant logistical info that students want/need to know. This includes handing out a syllabus.
  • Break the ice, warm up the students to section, and get students participating with each other and you.
  • Set the tone and atmosphere that will persist throughout the semester.
    • (This means using the same techniques you plan to employ later.)
  • Implement effective teaching techniques from the start, including good board-work and question taking.

Goals for Bootcamp

  • Give GSIs an idea of how a first day should feel like
  • Show GSIs first hand what peer-instruction techniques are like – “get a feel for it”
  • Highlight the ways in which the classroom atmosphere can be set on the first day of section
  • Isolate effective teaching practices
  • Give examples of ice-breaking/first-day activities (should be fun, and somehow related to the rest of the semester, through content or otherwise)
  • Point out the resources they can use to plan section
  • Think critically about what teaching means to them, what do they want out of this class and their teaching experience

Lesson Plan

Introductions (5 min)

Before Class Really Gets Started

  • In the chat, post form link: https://forms.gle/qkZPw596ge6LSXrP7
  • Form includes:
    • Name
    • E-mail
    • Dept or Major
    • Year
    • Class GSI-ing for
    • Time of Lab/Discussion Sections
    • Any prior teaching experience?
    • Any technical challenges to teaching remotely?
    • Are you enrolled in Ay375?

Introductory Talking

  • Welcome to Astro 375: Instructional Techniques in Astronomy!
  • Introduce instructor(s)
  • We're going to delve straight into 3 activities.

Activity 1: Horoscope Debunking (5 min)

  • Horoscope predictions will be posted around the classroom on this Google Doc (12 of them).
  • Tell the GSIs we'll be testing the accuracy of horoscopes today.
  • Have each GSI write their name under 2 horoscopes that best resonates with them.
  • One by one, have GSIs stand up if their name is under the horoscope. Then reveal the sign and tell them to sit down if it's not their sign.
  • Count up how many accurate horoscope predictions there are.
  • Comment on astrology vs. astronomy.

Activity 2: What's in the Box (15 min)

  • Instructors have a sealed pink box. In groups (3-4 people), come up with experiments you can do on the box. Box is indestructible and sealed. You must be able to perform these experiments in class. (3 min)
    • Instructor(s) roam around and seed questions (“what do you learn by doing that?”).
  • Each group performs one of the experiments. (3 min)
    • One member of each group performs the experiment and describes the outcome of the experiment to the class.
    • Instructor writes each description on whiteboard.
  • In same groups, decide what’s in the box. Each group comes up with one guess and reason why (2 min).
    • Instructor(s) roam around (“What is the most convincing piece of evidence?” “Are there any alternatives that could also be consistent with the measurements?”)
  • Together as a class, each group reveals guess and reason why. Reveal true answer. (2 min)
  • Discussion: How is this activity related to astronomy? How appropriate is this metaphor? When does it break down? (5 min)

Activity 3: Order of Magnitude Challenge (15 min)

Present one of the following order of magnitude questions to the class:

Bay Bridge Tolls

  • In small group breakout rooms (2-3 each), work to solve the following order of magnitude question: How much money does the Bay Bridge make from tolls in a year? (5 min)
  • Each group should write their solution on the board in a Google Doc (5 min)
  • Have each group explain their answer (5 min)
  • Have each person place a 'bet' on one of the answers (could be their own)
  • Reveal answer here

Distance to the Sun

  • In small group breakout rooms (2-3 each), work to solve the following order of magnitude question: How many marshmallows would you have to stack on top of one another to reach the sun? (5 min)
  • If groups finish early, have them answer: How much would this amount of marshmallows weigh?
  • Each group should write their solution on the board in a Google Doc (5 min)
  • Have each group explain their answer (5 min)
  • After seeing the solutions presented by other groups, would any group change the way they approached the problem?

First Day Activity Discussion (10 min)

  • Horoscope Debunking
    • Good for non-major classes.
    • Grabs attention right away, gets students up and moving.
    • Quick but memorable.
  • What's in the Box?
    • Good for non-major classes.
    • Also attention grabbing. Interactive.
    • How did we just model small group work? How did the instructor(s) interact with the groups?
  • Order of Magnitude Challenge
    • Good for all levels, depending on the question.
    • Posing an activity as a 'challenge' increases motivation.
    • Gets students up and working at the white board.
    • Gets students presenting their work to their peers.
    • Good opportunity to review basic math and promote excitement for the semester to come.

Break (5 min)

Logistics (10 min)

  • Back to traditional Ay375 class!
  • What's our purpose in here?
    • To give YOU the confidence to hold a discussion section.
    • To bring to your discussion sections (and any future courses you may teach) confidence, enthusiasm, and good technique.
    • What do you want your students to leave with at the end of your 50 minutes together? Keep this question in mind throughout the semester as you develop your own teaching philosophy.
  • Refer to the syllabus.
  • Hit the major points (grading and attendance policy, includes brief mention of the various assignments, our goal is that the assignments will help you prepare and evaluate for section rather than being additional work on top of section), but don't dwell on this (will return to it later).
  • How will Ay375 work this semester? Mention important announcements/reminders at bottom of page. Take questions.

What does a First Day Lesson plan look like? (20 mins)

  • Discussion:
    • What atmosphere developed? How?
      • (Comfortable (hopefully!) and collaborative. Humanizing ourselves with answers to questions, humor. Putting ourselves in the circle, not in front of the room.)
    • What precedents were set? How (be specific)?
      • (Group activity will be the main mode of learning. Students are responsible for developing main points. Consensus must be reached. Placing in small groups. Very little lecturing on our part. Not placing ourselves in front/middle, etc.)
    • What did you like? Not like?
    • What was the format of the section? How will your section differ?
    • What does a first section look like?
    • What are some sample first day activities?
  • Syllabus Design
    • There's no need to be very long or hard-edged.
    • The course syllabus should have the key information, but you should emphasize your contact info and any section policies that you want to enforce.
    • It's important to be yourself in your syllabus and try to strike the same tone and tenor as section will in general.
    • More Examples:

General Resources/Wrap-Up (5 mins)

  • Course website contains copies of handouts and links to relevant pages. Point out main lesson plans, assignments, and teaching log prompts. Tomorrow we'll visit the page again and talk about the EBRB and other links.
  • GSI Teaching and Resource Center Website. A wealth of information.
  • EBRB?
  • Instructor(s) and each other!

Assignment #1: assigned 8/26, due 8/27

1. Draft a syllabus for your section. Upload a copy to the Ay375 bCourses page.

2. Draft a lesson plan for your first-day. Think about introductory materials/statements, icebreakers, activities, assessments, and the time each activity takes. What atmosphere do you want to create? What are your learning objectives? How will you assess whether these objectives were accomplished? Bring two copies with you to class tomorrow

Other Reminders

  • Enroll and complete the GSI Resource Center's Online Ethics Course. You are all required to enroll in this course and complete all five online modules during the first 2 weeks of the semester.
  • Make sure you completed on-boarding paperwork and accepted a GSI position from Yasasha so that you will be paid.
  • Sign up for the class if you haven't done so yet. E-mail Yasasha (yasasha@berkeley.edu) if you get waitlisted, or if you're an undergrad who hasn't been enrolled by Yasasha yet.
  • Contact Maria Kies (emkies@berkeley.edu) if you think you will need to use a room in Campbell to remotely teach from. Unfortunately, the deadline has already passed, but there still may be a workable solution if you cannot teach from home.