Lecture TOYS!

8 months! I’m at my new lecturing job for eight months! I must say it has been a tough journey revamping materials for an enterprise programming course and even today, I’m still generating materials while I’m teaching.

Programming is also one of the driest topic to teach. How to make programming interesting is really an art. I thought my previous few lectures were… well… DRY! But I’m making it a point to to tell more stories and do more demos during lectures. Not forgetting, games!

You might be wondering how am I supposed to conduct games during lectures? Well, my lecture size is only 40 after all, so I do have the privilege to turn my lectures into a workshop. To help me with the interaction, I brought along several toys with me. Over here, I would like to mention someone who influenced me quite a fair bit on my lecturing style: Mark W. Zalkin!

In my previous job, I have the privilege of attending two of his workshops, one on Situational Leadership and one on Dealing with Difficult People (I think). What captivates me is his neverending energy that he brings along, oozing out of him, bringing life into his class. He brought with him this chest load of toys which he used them freely for different occasions.

Without a doubt, I wanted some toys in my lectures too! After all, why should lectures always be me speaking all the time? I was determined to keep my students on their toes, forming a love-hate relationship with them. So here are the toys I bring along with me:

Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Ohio State Buckeyes Football

The Ohio State Buckeyes Football is the most frequent toy I like to use. It is awfully effective in getting students to answer questions. My students know, every time I take the football out, expect the unexpected. This is because, every time I throw the football into the crowd, whoever the football touches will have to stand up, and…

(1) Choose a friend to answer a question by throwing the football at him, or,

(2) Get a friend sitting beside or behind him will have to answer the question, or

(3) Answer the question himself

Wu Kong Magic Stick cum Back Message Pounder

Wu Kong Magic Stick cum Back Message Pounder

Mind you, three options above but the student don’t get to choose the option. I choose that for him.

Sometimes, it does take a bit too long to put the American football act altogether. That is where I have the Wu Kong Magic Stick as a substitute. I’ll just point to whoever I like to answer my question.

Never point your fingers at your students. But who can resist being called upon by the cute and adorable Wu Kong Magic Stick?

It also doubles up and a back message pounder when I feel tired.

Betty the Shrilling Chicken

Betty the Shrilling Chicken

Her full name is Betty the Shrilling Chicken. I saved her from being killed by KFC! Just kidding, no offense to KFC. This chicken makes a squawk when squeezed. I usually have my students do a discussion for about two minutes in the middle of the lectures. This is a chance for them to compare notes with each other and check out the lecture notes if they have not. I WILL TEST THEM after the discussion.

To mark the end of the discussion, I will give Betty a little squeeze and to catch their attention. I consider Betty a premium item. Use too much of it and it may lose its effect. On days where Betty is supposedly “not around” she is either sick or has flown away for a holiday.

By the way, I also slip in references to Betty in my lab quiz and lab examples.

Japanese Gameshow Signage

Japanese Gameshow Signage

Armed with two AA-size batteries, the Japanese Gameshow Signage makes a bim-bong sound when you get the answer correct or booooo sound when you get it wrong. I usually use this toy, coupled with a game-show format. I’ll have two students right in front with me and one of them will have to answer the question. The other student will have to assess if his friend has given the correct answer and show him the correct/wrong sign.

I intend for this to be used as a premium item as well. Perhaps only once or twice throughout the whole course?