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Beginning a class session

Through the years, I’ve had many conversations with adult education instructors about ways in which to start a class session.  Often these conversations include the desire to introduce content and topics into an already overcrowded curriculum. There is also a wish to integrate subject matter with skills in observation, description, hypothesizing, and written/oral communication.  And this is to be done in a short period of time, so that the group can move on to “regular class activities”. What a tall order!! 

What do you do to begin a class?  Here are some of the things I’ve heard:

Some instructors start with a poem of the day; others offer a reference question which leads to a discussion of ways in which to find information.  Still other instructors use an image with which they start the class.  Students are asked to describe what they see in the image and then suggest what that image might represent.  This is often a short writing exercise, but it also can be a group discussion.

Here are some reliable websites from which many astronomical, geological, and geographical images can be found.  The first two sites (courtesy of NASA) supply an image of the day, though there are archives of past images.  The third site, The World at Night, is more of a reference resource from which we make our own choices…I’ve suggested two.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

NASA Earth Observatory: Image of the Day  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php

The World at Night:  http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/index.asp

http://twanight.org/newTWAN/photos.asp?ID=3004908&Sort=

http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/photos.asp?ID=3004900&Sort=

Please add your suggestions for effective ways to begin a class session!

Susan