An Effective Review Session (without Teaching to the Test)

by Stacy Jackson, Energy & Resources Group
Nearly everyone has attended review sessions that provided a big boost in preparation and sessions that were a huge waste of time. All of us hope to deliver the “big boost” session, but how [do you] provide effective preparation without teaching to the test, especially in the common situation of having seen the exam in advance?

Teaching Basic Musicianship: An Ode to Chaos

by Emily Frey, Music
The lowly sounding course title is thus deceptive; teaching Basic Musicianship II is a baptism by fire. Desperate times, I thought when I received the assignment, called for experimental measures. With its mélange of skills, requirements, and student backgrounds, 20B is chaotic by nature, and it seemed unproductive to try to work against that.

The Theory Scare: Teaching Students How to Grasp Abstract Ideas

by Polina Dimova, Comparative Literature
I needed to teach my students to trace complicated theoretical arguments and pinpoint and articulate the concepts that underlay them. I had to empower my students through theory and not let them despair by succumbing to the theory scare, to their assumption that theory is just too tough and they just don’t get it.

Making It Fun: Framing Literary Discussion as a Social Practice

by James Ramey, Comparative Literature
I was dismayed to find that we had been located in a small, windowless basement room in Haas Pavilion. Claustrophobia heightened my awareness of the need for the students to get along, which led me to wonder how I might structure my course, not only as an intellectual opportunity but also as a social one.

‘Telling’ Tales: The Quest for Meaning in Indian Folklore

by Vasudha Paramasivan, South and Southeast Asian Studies
To my class, it seemed almost irreverent to read into such marvelous tales, prosaic explanations of power struggles and gender discrimination. While their skepticism was welcome, I had to find some way of addressing their resistance to the idea that there could be meaning and purpose behind folkloric narratives.

Making a Connection to the Distant Past

by Catherine Becker, History of Art
I, the eager GSI, launched into an examination of Jomon pots and Yayoi bells; however, so many of the students’ basic questions had no answer that the class became frustrated and uninterested…I wanted to encourage more student participation. How could I engage my students in a productive and thoughtful conversation about objects from the distant past?

Undergraduate Astronomy Journal Club

by Louis-Benoit Desroches, Astronomy
My semester as a GSI for Astronomy 7A…reminded me of my time as an undergraduate taking the same type of course, eager to learn all I could about the wonders of astronomy. And indeed, students walk out of that course and the Berkeley astronomy undergraduate program in general with an excellent astronomy education. But just as I did when I was an undergrad, students here are asking for more.

A New Way to Appreciate Cicero’s Style

by Yelena Baraz, Classics
I was used to students complaining about Cicero’s personality, but in the past, when we were reading the speeches in the original, I could combat their irritation by getting them to appreciate the stylistic accomplishment, the beauty and the polish of the Latin. This time, though, Cicero wasn’t able to help me.

If ‘Writing about Music is Like Dancing about Architecture,’ Maybe it is Time to Draw: Using Visual Aids to Introduce Musical and Stylistic Analysis

by Francesca Rivera, Music
Without the terminology or solid knowledge of the historical context in which the composers worked, students can’t move beyond simplistic taste statements…or value-laden judgments. My problem, then, was to help them quickly memorize key musical concepts with sufficient depth of understanding to recall the term and apply it effectively, and, to help them connect the works of individual composers with the larger time period in which they lived.