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Great Ideas For Teaching Students (GIFTS) Seminars

Friday, February 24, 8:00–9:15 a.m.

The Professional Development Committee has arranged for a number of the highly popular “GIFTS” sessions to be held at the TCCTA convention in Austin. These brief programs offer specific ideas for teaching and are designed to be of practical use to educators in all disciplines.

Each session will last approximately 10 minutes, allowing participants to sample a variety of useful teaching techniques.

Coordinator of the GIFTS Sessions is Pam George, Amarillo College


“Why Do I Have to Take This Class?: How to Get Students Invested and Successful in a Required Course”

Presenter: Leigh-Anne Regenold, Tarrant County College–Northeast

In this presentation, I will outline some of the goal-setting and team-building strategies used to engage students in the learning outcomes of my GOVT 2305 and GOVT 2306 classes. By having students create their own learning goals and then by creating “Success Teams” around their shared goals and/or career paths, I help them create and sustain a goal-driven focus and find value in a course most of them would not have taken if it was not a required course. These strategies can be used in any course and are helpful in supporting a Pathways/Career Cluster initiative at the classroom level. Presentation will include an outline of the initial goal-setting and team-building processes, suggestions for team support in your LMS, and a few examples of group/active learning activities that support the team-based learning model.


“Challenges in Embedded Students in Early College”

Presenter: Tanya Sanchez and Karrie Newby, Collin College

Engaging the dual credit high school student can seem impossible. The challenges are many. They range from extracurricular activities to homecoming to individual student stressors. Students embedded within the high school have many more unique environmental challenges. For example, traditional high school students are accustomed to test reviews, multiple test attempts, flexible time schedules, and being allowed up to eight unexcused absences. Approaches to engage the high school student include increased student involvement and input in coursework which provides multiple ways of learning. Another engages hands on experience with role playing and skills development. As faculty, remaining current to movie, media, and pop culture references in relation to discussion may spark their interest. Having open communication with students and high school staff can aid in understanding some of the challenges. Remember, in essence, the dual credit high school student is a dormant scholar begging to be awoken.


“Using Group Quizzes to Improve Involvement and Understanding”

Presenter: Jeff Bronson, Blinn College–Bryan

My colleagues and I have used an extremely useful tool to increase student involvement and improve the learning environment in the physics classroom. Normally, I lecture for forty-five minutes to an hour and a quarter and include some numerical examples of the material. Then a quiz containing numerical problems is given to the students to work. They work in groups of their choosing and are allowed to move around and discuss the problems with classmates and/or me. Each problem is designed to emphasize a particular point of the lecture. I find some students go into tutor mode, helping them and their classmates to understand the material better. I have found this provides an opportunity and encourages them to edit and improve their notes. They also look at their notes while the subject is still fresh in their minds.


“I Started a Joke: Using Multimedia Humor for Engagement and Critical Thinking”

Presenter: Amber Kelly, Howard College

This session will focus on the simple technique of using relevant humor for increased engagement and critical thinking. Deconstructing memes, visual humor, and comic videos not only engages students in the culture of the discipline, it facilitates student understanding of the material. Utilizing such elements as starting points for review and discussion allows students to examine the information from another perspective and requires them to deconstruct the joke itself. These elements not only facilitate higher orders of thinking, but set a tone for the culture of the classroom, no matter the discipline.


“Immersion Gaming in the Classroom”

Presenter: James C. Jones, North Central Texas College

In 1971, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium revolutionized the classroom with the development of “The Oregon Trail”. This simple text based simulation of 19th century American pioneers captivated students and strengthened their understanding of the challenges Western settlers faced, and by the mid-1980s, the game became a classroom staple. “The Oregon Trail” is the most successful example of immersion gaming in the classroom. Immersion games are those where students take on the persona of a specific character, either from the past or a hypothetical character used to illustrate contemporary/future situations. Students are then tasked to make game decisions in the way that their character would. This presentation will cover how to develop an immersive game, setting the scene for the students, the challenges of operating the game, and the benefits of this style of game in the classroom. It will pull from my years of experience using these games in my own classroom to illustrate complex topics ranging from a negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles to mock trials of famous historical figures.


“Health Sciences Simulation”

Presenters: Julie Martin MSN, RN, CHSE and Health Sciences Simulation Team, North Central Texas College

Simulation methodologies can be used in traditional and clinical learning environments. By utilizing simulation teaching tools and strategies, student engagement is improved and learning is enhanced. Some of the simulation methodologies that can be used are role playing using scripts, virtual simulations, task trainers, as well as low and high fidelity simulations. With these techniques, students are able to tap into visual, auditory and kinesthetic modes of learning and retaining valuable course information. Simulation instructors will give examples and allow for interaction with participants demonstrating the use of simulation methodologies and how these tools can be incorporated into any course easily and successfully.


“Engaging Learning with Clickers & Kahoot”

Presenter: Donna Hooper, North Central Texas College

I start the beginning of class with a series of questions using clickers or Kahoot. This is designed to help students understand whether or not they are paying attention and learning the material. Additionally, this game helps the student learn valuable lessons about engagement. The class has the opportunity to earn extra credit; however, if the class does not answer at an acceptable percent (78%) no credit is earned. I express to the students how this represents America, some are prepared and participate and others do not.


“Reflective Portfolio 2.0: Re-tooling the Portfolio to Help Students Become Self-regulated Learners”

Presenter: Amanda Chau, Blinn College

Reflective portfolio is a collection of assignments that will help our students to review their progress and adjust their study strategies. The assignments include pre-test self-assessment, test preparation checklist, test autopsy, post-test self-assessment, and a 14-day study plan/journal. These assignments will enable students to reflect and adjust their test preparation to improve performance. The 14-day study plan had helped students improve their grades by an average of 19.1% (ranges from 12.4% to 31%). Our aim is to encourage students to become self-regulated learners that adapt as needed to improve performance and achieve academic goals.

Download Handout


“Student Engagement Scavenger Hunt”

Presenter: Pam George, Amarillo College

Participants will be divided into groups, sent on a scavenger hunt to locate 3-4 key locations (i.e. voting booths, vendor, student success posters) where they will take group selfies and text them back to me. I will put them in a quick powerpoint slide show for them to see.

We will also compile all the photos to be one big powerpoint slideshow to play at a later convention session.

Used with students at the college for team building, student success activity. Students have a list of key locations on campus from which THEY send selfies and professor builds a powerpoint presentation which is on a loop presentation at their next class meeting.

Download Handout


“Small Group Dynamics”

Presenter: Jill Swarner, North Central Texas College

This session will introduce a variety of approaches to group problem-solving activities that can be used for a variety of group assignments. Sample exercises and case studies will be covered, as well as the reflective thinking method of group problem-solving.


“Powerful Classrooms: It all Begins with the Hook”

Presenter: Chelsea Biggerstaff, Austin Community College

A “hook” is a mental or physical image on which students can hang their understanding as they learn a new concept.” (Astrachan, 1998)

In this GIFTS presentation, participants will go from transactional teaching to transformational teaching through hands-on practical strategies. A participant in this workshop will walk away with a deeper understanding of learner-centered psychological principles and practical strategies and resources for implementing “hooks” in the classroom.

Power Classrooms Presentation
Hook Handout


“Games Teachers Play”

Presenter: Dee Amaradasa, North Central Texas College

Games and activities that can be used in the classroom to increase student engagement and retention. A list of the activities presented will be provided to session participants.